Saturday, March 12, 2016

Jean Lester's "Faces of 84" paintings worth seeing at Fairbanks City Hall

Bessie was one of the last Salchaket speakers and is buried in the Salcha Native cemetery

In 1984, Ester artist and writer, Jean Lester, embarked on a project to paint portraits of 25 average Fairbanksans to help celebrate the 25th anniversary of Alaska statehood. The portraits and oral histories of the people depicted are included in Jean's book,  Faces of Alaska: A Glimpse of History through Paintings, Photographs and Oral Histories.

Nilo was very active in the Fairbanks community. He was a teacher and a member of the Alaska Legislature

After completion the finished portraits hung in the old Federal Building for many years. Then they were moved to a remote hallway in the labyrinthine interior of the Fairbanks City Hall. Several years ago the portraits were moved to the hallway right outside the mayor's office on the City Hall's second floor where they are easily accessible for anyone to see.

Jean was an Episcopal priest. Originally from California, she married James Dementi from Shageluk

They really are worth going to see. The people portrayed in the paintings represent a cross-section of Fairbanks citizenry. I was even surprised to see the portraits of people that I have written about. I've put up three portraits today. As I learn more about the people depicted I'll put up more pictures.

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