Northern Latitudes: The Frye and Alaska

After the Klondike gold rush, Seattle began booming. The Frye-Bruhn Meat Packing Co. was one such local beneficiary; and it opened branch operations in the lower Alaska panhandle—helping create the fortune that established the Frye Art Museum in 1952. With paintings and historical photos, Northern Latitudes: The Frye and Alaska explores that link. (Its companion show, On Arctic Ice, celebrates Alaska artist Fred Machetanz.) With the exception of some painted church glass by Eustace Paul Ziegler, the historical materials are more noteworthy; and the best thing on view is a six-minute silent newsreel made in Skagway in 1918. The old nitrate was decayed and splotchy when transferred to tape, making pre-statehood events seem more historically distant than they are. Big dogs, oversized strawberries, and cute kids are paraded before the camera. Members of the Elks Club march to celebrate Independence Day—even in a territory, patriotism runs high. And in one artful touch, director Burton Holmes illustrates the artistic process in a series of dissolves from an artist’s sketch board to a nature scene and back: It’s a special effect achieved in-camera, with the film rewound twice and exposed thrice, pioneer filmmaking on the frontier. Also, be sure to examine the old Frye-Bruhn photos and product labels on the way out. Anyone care to sample the Sugar-Cured Loin Backs? BRIAN MILLER

Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sundays, 12-5 p.m.; Thursdays, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Starts: June 19. Continues through Sept. 19, 2010

 
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