Christy Ruby discusses the creation of her seal-fur scarf at the opening reception. (KRBD photo by Elizabeth Gabriel)

The Ketchikan Area Arts and Humanities Council is hosting their fifth annual Artists of Ketchikan Invitational at Main Street Gallery. The gallery includes 18 artists from Ketchikan and Prince of Wales. Four of the artists talked with KRBD’s Elizabeth Gabriel at the opening reception.

Ketchikan Daily News arts and education reporter Danelle Landis isn’t just a writer. She’s also an artist. Her family sailed here from Seattle in 1981 and she has been painting since 1982. Previously, she had two solo shows at the Arts Council, both focusing on animals. Her work in this show is an oil on canvas titled, Greatest Shark.

Danelle Landis’ painting Greatest Shark depicts one of her favorite animals. (KRBD photo by Elizabeth Gabriel)

“I love sharks. I’ve pretty much watched every cheesy shark movie there is—every creature feature,” said Landis. “I love the videos of the great whites leaping out of the water to grab the seals and the sea lions. They have this innate power, but they’re also very—kind of subtle.”

A sculptor for over 20 years, this is Litzi Botello’s first show at the Arts Council. In the gallery she displays two art pieces created from clay. Botello began creating aquatic art after she started fishing with her husband. After facing various life struggles, she said creating art is therapeutic.

Litzi Botello stands next to one of two art pieces; Jellyfish. (KRBD photo by Elizabeth Gabriel)

“[There were] pretty major happenings in my life and then I couldn’t do it,” said Botello. “And I think to be in a really creative space, to create something beautiful that you think is good, you have to be in the right head space. And it took me a while to get back, but now it’s fun, you know? And not necessarily to sell because it’s fun to create something that you can look at and I guess be proud of, you know?”

Mike Gates originally moved to Ketchikan in 1987. He is a self-taught photographer who has been taking pictures since the seventh grade. He said he’s mostly known for landscapes, but he likes to shoot anything from portraits and nudes, to architecture. Gates said he’s continued photography because he enjoys witnessing the magic.

Mike Gates smiles next to his self-portrait. (KRBD photo by Elizabeth Gabriel)

“Back when I was little I liked things like magnets and recording tape—and you know, making tape recordings and stuff,” said Gates. “And it was natural for me to like to make pictures because—I did darkroom stuff at the same time. I learned to do darkroom stuff probably at the exact same time I started shooting pictures, and it was magic. Seeing things—seeing things appear on the paper.”

Gates’ submission to the show is a black and white self-portrait.

Christy Ruby has been a seamstress for 12 years. She said she started creating pieces after making a pair of seal moccasins for her mother. As an Alaska Native, she is one of few who can legally hunt seals and sea otters. Ruby has won three awards from the Santa Fe Indian market, as well as an innovator award from the Cherokee art market. After two years of trial and error, she says she is the first person to dye seal fur white. As she continues her work in fashion, she hopes she will garner a new title.

“A lot of people do know who I am, as far as publicly here, but a lot of people here in the beginning knew me as the seal hunter,” said Ruby. “And I kind of want to erase that. So now maybe I’m the fashion fur innovative designer?”

Ruby’s piece in the show is a purple velvet dress with a dark brown and ivory seal-fur scarf.

What My Dreams are Made Of is a sculpture created by Rhonda Green. It’s composed of recycled metal from Mooring Bouy. (KRBD photo by Elizabeth Gabriel)

The Arts Council doesn’t just host artists, they work with them to help display their work. Landis said she’s grateful for the gallery creating a friendly environment to display artistic work.

“When I first put together my show, I did not know what I was doing,” said Landis. “I mean, I did go to college for fine arts, but they didn’t focus very much on how to put together a show, or what to do in a gallery so they were really helpful. I just think it’s a really amazing opportunity.”

Kathleen Light has been director of the Arts Council since 2007. She said the organization’s events aren’t just for artists, they’re for everyone.

Marva-Lee Otos’ On the Farm is made of wool and is hand quilted. (KRBD photo by Elizabeth Gabriel)

“The Arts Council isn’t just about visual art. It’s about community and music and performance and the spoken word, the written word—and building connections,” said Light. “And that really appeals to me, that all of those art forms can connect people and reflect back to people what they need and what their community’s about, and why they’re proud of their community and their friends and their neighbors.”

The exhibit will be open through July 26.

Other exhibiting artists include Hall Anderson, Jackie Jones-Bailey, Lisa Doyon, Sharon Filyaw, Grace Freeman, Rhonda Green, Julie Berg-Linville, Judy Magnuson, Debbie McLavey, Kelsey McNeil, Terri Metcalf, Marva-Lee Otos, Nancy Tietje, and Felix Wong. Mike Gates is a KRBD board member.