Juneau sculptures to raise funds for whale project

AP Photo/The Whale Project

ANCHORAGE (AP) — Art lovers in Juneau are turning to whale-tail statues to raise money for building a life-sized bronze sculpture of a humpback whale breaching over a fountain pool.

Ten large resin tails, each uniquely painted by local artists, will be auctioned Sept. 14 by The Whale Project, a nonprofit group working with the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council to realize a long-held dream that's estimated to cost $2.1 million. That price tag includes land and site preparation to be provided by the city.

The so-called Whale Tail Trail is another fundraising effort for construction of the 25-foot sculpture by local artist Skip Wallen. The tails are scattered around town and range in looks from regal to abstract to whimsical.

"It's a fun way to get a community buzz going," Whale Project chair Kathy Ruddy said Thursday.

The bronze sculpture will be located on a reflecting pool at the city's waterfront. An artist's rendering shows a massive monument with water cascading all around it as crowds a fraction of its size stand before a mountain background.

"I think it'll be pretty impressive," said Nancy DeCherney, executive director of the arts council. She said the pool needs to be large enough so it doesn't look like the whale would "conk its head" in the breach.

An eight-foot model of the sculpture has been created and sits on the lawn of the Juneau Arts and Culture Center.

Before the actual sculpture becomes a reality, however, another $750,000 still needs to be raised, according to Ruddy. She said people have been very generous about the "monster project" so far and she hopes everything is in place next year.

"We have this extraordinary group of whales in southeast Alaska," she said. "We're excited about this, to have this icon for Juneau's waterfront."

11/10/2016 - 2:18pm