Artwork displayed inside the Egan Center celebrates the creativity of Alaska’s artists and some of the beauty of the state itself. The majority of the work is showcased in the main lobby at street level, in front of Explorers Hall.
Beaded Sky Curtain
The suspended sculpture of glass beads hangs from the ceiling at the West end of the lobby. Hung in 1985, it includes 35,000 feet of beads on approximately 200 feet of rods that weigh about 320 pounds.
The artist Jeanne Leffingwell and several assistants strung by hand about five million beads in a 10-month period. Using polyester multi-filament thread, the bead workers strung more than 6.5 miles of beads, backstitching every three inches around anchoring beads to keep the weight evenly distributed on the threads. More than 120 different types of beads were used in the artwork, most of them imported from the former Czechoslovakia.
Eskimo Spirit Carvings
In 1984, Iñupiat artist Melvin Olanna was commissioned to produce the five wood and whalebone sculptures that are displayed in the main lobby’s West seating area.
The work consists of a man, a whale, an animal spirit mask, a seal spirit mask and a walnut mask. Olanna died in 1991.
John Hoover’s carved red cedar sculpture was commissioned in 1984, and is displayed in the main lobby’s East seating area. Born in Cordova, Alaska, Hoover said a spirit inspired the artwork and he described it on a plaque near the display.
“Shamanism, spirit helpers, soul catchers, transformation from animal to human, human to animal, the spiritualism of Native American art, all of these things have influenced my work and I have tried to incorporate these many facets into my art as a sculptor and carver,” Hoover said. “Being able to choose an Aleut subject for the first time ever putting this word picture from the past into an actual visual concept has been most rewarding and meaningful to me.”
This spiraling, stainless steel and granite arch—the work of sculptor Roger Barr—is displayed behind the Egan Center on the plaza in front of 415 F Street. It was commissioned in 1985.
Barr spoke about the piece in an Aug. 4, 1985 Anchorage Times article. “The work was conceived as a memorial to a man I never met, but about whom I gathered all I could,” Barr said. “The theme of a bridge was part of the competition. I learned he was an aviator, something I share. I sought to create a sculpture that would sour, reflecting and seeming to dissolve in the changing light, large but not massive. In short, to create a bridge of the spirit that people could pass through.”