Art auction draws a crowd

In this photo taken on Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014, art handlers Laine Rinehart, left, and Miguel Rohnbacker carry out David and Zach Boxley's carved and painted red cedar chest during the Tináa Art Auction, a fundraiser for the Walter Soboleff Center, at Centennial Hal in Juneau, Alaska. The chest sold for $18,000. The $20 million Soboleff Center will be a Native cultural and educational center run by the Sealaska Heritage Institute.(AP Photo/The Juneau Empire, Michael Penn)

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A capacity crowd attended Sealaska Heritage Institute’s first art auction featuring works by northwest Native artists in Juneau, collectively raising more than $300,000 for an educational facility under construction.


The Tinaa Art Auction Saturday night drew a sold-out, black-tie crowd of more than 300, the Juneau Empire ( reported Monday. The auction title, Tinaa, is a Tlingit word referring to a traditional copper shield representing trade and wealth.

The art auction was a fundraiser for construction of the planned Walter Soboleff Center, named after late Tlingit leader Dr. Walter Soboleff, who died in 2011 at 102. The facility will house a variety of art programs, a retail shop and performance and exhibit spaces.

The weekend auction was held at Centennial Hall and featured 13 live-auction items, 40 silent-auction pieces and a Native fashion show.

The works committed by artists for the auction included weavings, jewelry, paintings and carvings.

Many of the artists attended the event and several took turns at the microphone.

The artists included David Boxley, a Tsimshian carver whose bentwood chest was among the largest items in the live auction. Also in attendance was Haida artist Robert Davidson, who donated a black-and-red painting called “Greatest Echo.”

The runway fashion show was held before the auction and featured northwest coast fashions that included a salmon skin dress made from 35 Kenai River salmon. Also on view was a coat made from sea otter fur.

In organizing the event, institute officials drew on research of the Santa Fe Indian Market, a yearly event held in New Mexico every August since 1922.

At the end of the Juneau event, heritage institute president Rosita Worl said the outpouring of support for the Sobeleff Center was an overwhelmingly positive example of working together for a common goal of creating a regional hub in Juneau for northwest coast art.

“We are going to make this the northwest coast art capital of the world,” Worl said.

Sealaska Heritage Institute is the nonprofit cultural and educational arm of Juneau-based Sealaska Corp., a regional Native corporation.