Yolande Fejes and Ron Veliz

Yolande Fejes is retiring from her role as owner of The Alaska House Art Gallery. She and her husband, Ron Veliz, will host their last First Friday this week at the gallery at 1003 Cushman St. 

After years of being an established venue in the Fairbanks art scene, the Alaska House Art Gallery is holding its last First Friday — but never fear, the gallery will still be open.

The goal of saying goodbye to First Friday is for gallery owner Yolande Fejes and her husband, Ron Veliz, to ease into retirement, Fejes said. While the events are lovely, she said, seeing so many people in one night can be a lot to handle.

It’s the end of a long era for the gallery. Fejes has been active in the Fairbanks arts community for years, and she helped start the tradition of visiting Fairbanks art galleries on the first Friday of every month back in the early 2000s.

“It’s bittersweet, and we decided we’re having a big party. We have a live band. We have Inupiaq dancers that are going to perform,” Fejes said.

Fejes’ mother, Claire Fejes, founded the Alaska House Art Gallery in 1964. The Claire Fejes Museum was mounted in the main gallery this summer in honor of the artist and founder.

The building that houses the gallery at 1003 Cushman St. has been for sale for a year, however, Fejes said the art gallery is not part of the deal.

“When it does sell, the gallery will not be part of that sale,” Fejes said. “I’m not trying to sell my business: we’re just selling the property and the land.”

The property being up for sale is part of the reason there’s no featured artist for the gallery’s final time hosting the event. 

Fejes said she didn’t want to book an artist if the space ended up selling.

Instead, the art on display will be from a large selection of Fairbanks artists, all of the artists who Fejes says helped the gallery get to where it is.

From 5-8 p.m. Friday, the gallery will celebrate with performances from Ron Veliz Quartet and Ahnaughhuq Topkok Inupiaq Dancers.

Fejes said she feels the First Friday events have been positive.

“First Fridays have been a wonderful community promotional: good for business, good for artists,” she said.

She said she wanted to thank the Fairbanks arts community for coming out to the monthly occasion all these years.

“We have religious people who come every single First Friday and I mean it, they rarely miss it ... So I just want to thank our Fairbanks community for supporting the arts and to continue to do so,” Fejes said.

Contact staff writer Kyrie Long at 459-7510.  Follow her on Twitter at: twitter.com/FDNMlocal.