We’ve been traveling through the inside passage now for 2 weeks – Ketchikan, Wrangell and Petersburg have all been beautiful and the local residents welcoming.
Don Cornelius, a local Petersburg artist, even met us at our 7:00am ferry arrival! Don gave me a topographical map of the island with notes of his favorite painting spots – which has been very useful. He not only connected me to other artist in Petersburg, but also artist that live in other communities on the Inside Passage.
After meeting us at the ferry, Don took me two blocks over to Alice Young’s house (Remember we arrived at 7:00am!) who offered tea and coffee as we chatted about all their favorite places to paint. Since our meeting, Alice and I have been out painting every day – rain or shine – while Don wasn’t available to paint with us until Friday.
Alice, “almost 72 years old”, shared many stories with me about her life in Petersburg, Sitka and Texas as she moved with her husband’s jobs in Fish and Game departments. Now retired, Alice said, “There’s no other place in the world that I would rather live than here in Petersburg. It is still what the rest of the world was like back in the 50’s.”
As we’ve been out and about painting, I’ve met some of Alice’s friends and relatives in this 3,000 person community – friends at the 2x a month farmers market and one of her grandsons who suggested we paint City Creek. Alice has shared not only family stories but what Petersburg was like years ago.
I’ve learned about the cemetery boat used to float bodies to the other side of the slough to bury them, how her son won a parcel of land in a lottery 30 years ago and what it took to make it habitable, about trees and flowers found on the island and how important boats are here. “With a car we can drive up and down the 40 miles of the Mitkof Highway, but with a boat we can go anywhere,” claimed a friend who lived on the island across the strait.
Alice uses a full french easel – something that she wanted for many years because it’s ” not only beautiful but she feels like a real painter when she uses it!” Near her front door is a sign, made by a neighbor, that says, “Young at Art” which accurately defines Alice zest for painting plein air. Today, while both Don and I gravitated to a protective shelter during a steady downpour, Alice stood out in the rain to pick her painting spot. After about 10 minutes, she grabbed her easel, her new $10 rain jacket and a small umbrella and proceeded to paint for 3 hours – smiling all the while.
Once again, my painting companions have really enriched this part of my plein air journey.