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Flock of sculpted geese earn honors for artist Rachelle Dowdy

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Posted: Saturday, January 30, 2010 2:41 am | Updated: 1:08 pm, Wed Dec 26, 2012.

FAIRBANKS — The oversized geese taking flight inside the Anchorage airport terminal are a creation of Fairbanks artist Rachelle Dowdy, who will receive an award from the Alaska Chapter of the American Public Works Association this evening in Anchorage for her latest artwork.

Her sculpture, “From Here to There and There to Here,” features 15 large-scale Canada Geese made largely of recycled spruce cabin logs cut in 1971, the year Dowdy was born. The geese have wingspans from 6 to 8 feet, and they weigh 140-240 pounds.

A dozen geese are suspended from the ceiling, “flying” the length of Concourse B. She said they appear to “dodge over and under airport signage.”

“The remaining three geese are nested or standing on the floor, where they can engage with the public,” said Dowdy, a 1996 University of Alaska Fairbanks art graduate who has her work on display in many public collections.

The feet of the standing goose at the airport are plow discs, representing her family’s farm roots in Missouri.

Dowdy made the geese at her studio in The Annex in Fairbanks, where various birds and animal-human hybrids have taken shape.

The idea for the airport geese came from an earlier proposal she made for the Fairbanks airport to show sandhill cranes on the move.

“The distinct gestures of each goose suggest personality,” she wrote in the program distributed at the dedication of the airport last fall. “Line and form are inspired by the aerodynamics of flight design.”

Dowdy’s geese are not far from the 750,000-piece birch mosaic by Fairbanks painter Kes Woodward and Anchorage sculptor Sheila Wyne. After I wrote about Woodward’s birch trees last fall, he said I should mention Dowdy’s geese, which are “wonderfully goofy, individual and utterly delightful.”

So when you pass through Anchorage on your way to wherever, remember that the birch trees and the geese have a great Fairbanks connection.

•••

WINNING WAYS: The UAF Nanooks hockey team left a lasting impression on a recent road trip to Ann Arbor.

Here is a letter from Michigan to the UAF administration, which Chancellor Brian Rogers passed along to me. After reading it, I told the chancellor it was a great letter. This is more important than the final score of some forgotten game.

There might be a lesson here about creating an important legacy with acts of kindness, performed at the right moments, when you think no one notices.

To whom it may concern: 

I just wanted to let you know how impressed I am with the conduct of your hockey players.

 I took my wife and two sons, ages 8 and 4, to Ann Arbor this weekend to watch our favorite college, Michigan, play hockey and basketball. 

As we pulled into our hotel to check in I noticed some young men wearing suits with Alaska hats. I asked a young man if he played for Alaska. He did, and he took time out to go with me to my car and exchange some friendly banter with my son, who was wearing a Michigan hockey jersey.

Saturday we had breakfast in the hotel, and there were a few tables with your players surrounding us.

Michigan had won 6-0 on Friday evening, but your kids were nothing but positive towards my kids and answered several questions they had for them.

I just want you to know that I hope one day my kids will be as nice to strangers as your hockey players were to my family.

Although Michigan will always be our school, the Alaska Nanooks have gained four new fans. You should be proud of your hockey team and the way they conduct themselves on and off the ice.

Dermot Cole can be reached at cole@newsminer.com or 459-7530.

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