The line separating observers from exhibits was thin during Gallery Walk.
More than a few of the over 40 Gallery Walk displays and events asked audiences to get involved or incorporated the art and photos of everyday people. Gallery Walk is an annual arts and entertainment takeover of downtown Juneau during the first Friday of December. It’s essentially the monthly First Friday arts walk on steroids.
At the Triangle Club Bar, folks were able to vote for their favorite of 23 different bar napkins decorated by bar patrons, a wall inside Amalga Distillery featured printouts of photos taken by customers, and the multimedia, interactive exhibits in Centennial Hall asked Juneauites to share their thoughts on leadership.
“I think it’s really valuable when people are an integral part of the art that’s created, and it’s not precious,” said Sarah Campen, the artist behind “The Rolodex Project//On Leadership.”
Work on “The Rolodex Project//On Leadership” started three years ago, when Campen, who resides near Icy Strait Point, envisioned a Rolodex that connected the young leaders of Southeast Alaska. While the project started with a regional focus, Campen said given the political climate, people tend to view it through a national lens.
“It’s difficult to navigate that because it’s such a direct tie-in,” Campen said.
Campen has made interactive pieces in the past, but she said the one that opened during Gallery Walk at the Davis Gallery is the most involved.
The exhibit, which will be up through Feb. 23, tasked people with adding names of leaders in their lives to a Rolodex, writing what society thinks of leaders on blue note cards and sharing their thoughts about leaders on pink note cards.
Blue note cards included words such as “powerful,” “tall,” “all business” and “no time.” Pink note cards included “kind,” “planner,” “risk taker” and “validating of others.”
Nathel Sims added “collaboration focused” as a quality she perceives as a characteristic of leaders.
“Collaborative solutions are a really good thing,” Sims said. “It’s important to see input from everyone at every level.”
Sims said she has a real-life example of that trait in her boss, who prefers to keep a low profile. She added she appreciated the exhibit.
“I think thinking about leadership is important,” Sims said. “We can all be a leader in some way. Even if we can’t, we can be really great followers.”
Some people also acted out leadership traits in a small veiled area to be used for a video piece featuring colorful, humanoid outlines carrying out the evocative motions.
The figures partially resembled the colorful line art against a black backdrop of an Iron And Wine Album cover.
“My goals were to highlight the movements and abstract it in away I found beautiful and provide more anonymity for the people on camera,” Campen said. “We’re basically creating a collaborative dance piece.”
Downtown Juneau was filled with hundreds, if not thousands of people for Gallery Walk — Juneau Arts & Humanities Council printed out 1,200 maps for the event.
On the portion of Front Street closed to traffic, walking was turned into a dadaist experience for the steady stream on people making their way to one of the dozens of galleries, sales or music performances.
DJ Chicagoff played thumping takes on holiday tunes while dance lights flashed in his small booth, people scrawled messages on the pavement with chalk and a pair of Sith lords battled with light sabers.
Miranda McHenry and Bryce Pilny were dressed as Kylo Ren and Darth Nihilus from Star Wars. The two are members of the 501st Legion, a Star Wars costuming organization, and were out to have fun and pose for photos.
Tristan Roberts, 6, beamed while high-fiving the black-clad combatants. Roberts wasn’t intimidated.
“No, not really because I’ve seen them before,” Roberts said.
When asked if he thought he’d see them during Gallery Walk, Roberts gave his head a hard, side-to-side shake.
• Contact arts and culture reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or firstname.lastname@example.org.