by K.J. Lincoln
A large painting spanning the length of the hallway at the Kuimarvik YK Delta Fitness Center in Bethel now brightens the view for visitors, and it is inspiring, inviting, and is in tune with the local culture.
The mural depicts a happy tundra summer scene of ripened salmonberries, blueberries, and red berries. A berry picker in a colorful qaspeq is filling her bucket while white clouds swirl in the background, the sky is blue. The bright colors and the Alaskan scenery stir up feelings of joy, happiness, contentment, and overall well-being.
The artist who created the mural is the talented Apayuq Moore. She hails from Dillingham and is a professional artist. She has created mural paintings that are featured all over Alaska. Her creations are deeply rooted and influenced by her Bristol Bay subsistence Yup’ik lifestyle.
The YK Delta Fitness Center hosted a Meet and Greet reception last Friday where community members could come and view the new mural and also to get to know a little more about the artist who created the piece.
“It’s culturally-relevant, with peaceful tundra landscapes and complimentary colors – calming colors,” said Apayuq during her artist address to the community. “There’s birds, bugs, and a dog – it encourages a healthy lifestyle.”
Altogether the mural is 80 feet minus 4 inches, said Apayuq. It is 8 feet tall. It is made up of 20 smaller pieces attached together to create the whole. The larger mural at the end with the berry picker is 11 feet high and 15 feet long.
Apayuq used expanded PVC material for her mural. She uses acrylic paints. It took her about 3 weeks to finish.
“What’s your favorite color,” someone asked from the audience.
“Green,” said Apayuq without hesitation.
Special guests attending the installation included City of Bethel Mayor Rick Robb, members of the leadership team from the Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation, YK Fitness Center staff, and up and coming local artists.
Also attending were several members of the Art Selection Committee.
Mayor Robb gave a welcoming speech and provided a rundown of the process it took to make the mural a reality through the selection process.
“We wanted a mural and we received proposals,” he said. “And we liked the colors, the berries.” He also spoke of the future artwork that was in the plans for the rest of the building.
Also in attendance was Bethel elder Elias Venes. He said he liked the painting.
“Assiqapiartuq,” he said. “Very appropriate for here, just right. Very good job.” Later on Apayuq met him personally and shook his hand.
If you would like to view more of Apayuq’s art, you can check out her site at www.apayoart.com. She is also the creator of the mural at the Bethel Youth Facility.