It’s been a long time since a new building has been built in downtown Juneau; most likely since the Sealaska Corporation building was built (1971?) on the waterfront. Just a little ways behind Sealaska towards the mountainside, the Walter Soboleff Cultural Center is being built. As the construction crew works daily, so does master Tlingit carver Wayne Price. He’s chipping away at every exposed cedar plank, beam and column. Wayne has created many, many patterns in the wood; one of them is the “herring bone pattern” which is one of my favorite. He’s got his work cut out for him for several months. And I quote him: “….it all adze up!”
Wayne is from the Wooshkeetaan (Shark) Clan from Kake, Alaska; he lives in Haines with his wife, Cherri. They house the Silver Cloud Art Center in one of the big, white Ft. Seward (formerly captain quarters) homes on the hill overlooking Lynn Canal. They have held many classes and retreats in their home including: traditional dances and drumming, traditional food gathering and prep, carving, silver-smithing, and weaving. Wayne is one of the few Tlingit carvers who knows how to build the traditional dug-out cedar canoes…I quote him: “…and may I add that my canoes float, they are sturdy, ocean-going vessels…!”
Visit Wayne’s website at: www.silvercloudart.com
I first met Wayne on the eve of Halloween 1981. He had come up to Sealaska Corporation offices to “sell some of his wares…” I bought a hand-carved and painted “Moon” mask and a silver bracelet. I remarked to Wayne that he had a resemblance to my younger brother, Tim to which he replied: “Really?…I look like a family member of YOURS….!?”— My Lily had just met Wayne then, she was not quite 2 years old. When I asked Lily if she knew Wayne, to our surprise, she replied: “Yes,….that’s Uncle Tim…!”
I would have posted close-up images of Wayne’s variety of adzed patterns, but I leave it up to my reader’s imagination. I would rather you see his patterns first hand, like I said, in every exposed piece of wood in the building; it’s quite spectacular. Sealaska Heritage Institute did right to include the talented hands of Wayne Price’s swing—for many generations, his example will spur future generations to expand on his work!