Recession and Its Impacts
The impact of recession has hit many throughout the nation, and harder in the villages of rural Alaska. Many will be having to decide between food and warmth this winter again. It has also made a dent to the tourist dollars in Alaska. Cruise ships are even thinking of cutting back on ships going to Alaska. Artists have noticed a dramatic decline in sales, and the visitor centers. Many potential buyers are also having to use their income for more essential needs at home.
This has made it difficult for Oscar's Originals to continue keeping the gallery open, and had to close its doors. Mr. Oscar continues to do work on the side from his place of stay. One can still contact Mr. Oscar through Email for any question.
New Fine Art Gallery Opens in Bethel
January 21, 2009
In partnership with the Orutsararmiut Native Council (ONC), John Oscar has opened a new fine art gallery in Bethel, the gallery is located at 835 Ridgecrest Drive.
The artwork by Oscar features two-dimensional pen and ink drawings to a mixed media of three dimensional motifs, centering on masks, the sea, land and dance. Each theme celebrates a mixed media of sand, seashells, driftwood, animal parts, domestic feathers, beads, baleen, reindeer hair, ivory, traditional and modern paint.
To date, Oscar’s work had been used as awards by the Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) twice for the Presidents Awards, the Calista Corporation’s Golf Classic for their Scholarship Fund, the Ellanak Environmental Excellence Award, and was featured as one of the winners of the Alaska Marketplace Competition in 2006.
Oscar’s Originals started from the village of Mekoryuk of only 200 people, from a cold arctic entry, using only a few tools. Using the Alaska Marketplace funds, Oscar was able to partially renovate an old community building in Mekoryuk, and hired a few hands to help in the production of these fine works.
Oscar is now working with ONC, to hire new hands in Bethel for the assembly of fine art, while hoping to maintain parts made in Mekoryuk then shipped to Bethel for completion. “I hope to continue working with persons who already know the kind of quality I require from each piece”, said Oscar.
The gallery will also feature Alaska Native arts and crafts from the Yukon Kuskokwim region, and is now taking art on consignment. For those interested in placing their work in the gallery may contact 543-5058.
By Kelly Springer
December 13, 2007
Take an Alaska Native artist, trained and skilled in creating ancient ancestral art forms. Add a healthy dose of adept entrepreneur. The result is John Oscar, an innovative mixed-media artist showcasing his talents at his talents at his inaugural First Friday show at Heritage Gifts and Gallery. "Any purchase one makes will feed a child, help grandma and grandpa, give warmth to a house, and create pride in the workers," said Oscar.
Pride in the workers? Yes, just like Santa, Oscar has helpers. A widower since 1999, the Yup'ik artist is a single father with four children. In addition to being a poet and musician, he's a dedicated community activist. Owner of Oscar's Originals, Oscar lives in Mekoryuk, or Mikuryarmiut, as the residents of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta Island - all 215 of them - call it.
From his humble beginnings working bundled up in his frigid arctic entryway to the move to a donated community building that is now a heated studio with a staff of seven, Oscar has been driven to create while helping others. By doing so he has gained local support in Mekoryuk by creating new jobs for subsistence hunters, gatherers and local fishermen. With the unemployment rate of 20 percent in Mekoryuk, that's something that "offers pride and survivability in this harsh environment of desperately needed jobs," Oscar wrote in an email.
Three main themes influence Oscar's work: the environment, the sea and dance. Depending on a theme, he uses sand, seashells, driftwood, domestic feathers, beads, baleen, reindeer hair, ivory, traditional and modern paint to create his art.
Oscar's First Friday exhibit features watercolor and acrylic paintings and mixed media pieces centered on masks. His distinctive work will be shown at Heritage Gifts and Gallery (333 West Fourth Avenue) in the newly designated Alaska Marketplace building through December 2008.
May 7, 2008 Anchorage Daily News