July 2022


Whatchamacallit 78: Sivaluaq’s Eagle Drum.

Sivaluaq Eagle Drum

This is one of two paintings I have by Sivaluaq, both acquired during my trip to Alaska in January/February 2015.

I paid $69.95 (plus tax) for this one while waiting to board my United flight from Anchorage back to Denver, en route to Berlin. It is on caribou skin.

Sivaluaq, also known as Jerry Lieb, Jr., is a Yup’ik artist from Bethel, Alaska.

When buying this one, I knew that I had bought a similar work at some other shop – with the notion that they looked similar, but since the first one was buried deep inside my suitcase and I was wandering the concourse, it was not until I was back in Berlin that I realized that both were by the same artist.

A quick google reveals, among other things, that his work is on display at the National Music Museum, which is at the University of South Dakota, located in Vermillion, SD – funny thing: I’ve been there. My parents took me to that very museum during one of our summer vacations when I was in elementary school.

But I digress.

I’m not good at reading what the imagery is here: clearly it is a bird. Based on its claws, I would guess an eagle? The price tag only tells me the price and the material that it is painted on.

Regardless, I love the style, which is probably why I ended up with two pieces of art by the same artist accidentally.

Alaska was a great vacation – even if it was January and February. I experience -40° weather – the point at which it does not matter if you’re talking F or C. It’s fucking cold.

The memory that stands out the most, the one that I share most often, is when I went to the front desk of hotel in Barrow and said, “I would like to walk to the heritage center museum, can you confirm the directions?” The receptionist said, “A bear has been reported in the neighborhood.” I immediately changed my request, “Could you please call me a taxi?”

Of course, I bought both works by Sivaluaq in Anchorage – so the story isn’t immediately relevant…

During the Covid-19 crisis, I am going to try and make a point of writing a blog post about an object in my home.

We’ll see how long this lasts.

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