A sculpture of a human wearing a Chilkat robe and cedar bark neckring by Tlingit carver Amos Wallace 1964

A sculpture of a human wearing a Chilkat robe and cedar bark neckring by the late Tlingit carver Amos Wallace in 1964

While talking with the owner of the Haa Shagoon Gallery in downtown Juneau, in the middle of the conversation I suddenly turned around.  I wasn’t even sure what I was looking for; just pure instinct led my eyes to this sculpture that totally caught my fancy.  Why?  I’m not sure, but as soon as I saw this figure I felt so compelled that it had to go home with a local, not a tourist, that I immediately called Amos’ grand-daughter and my friend, Donna Beaver Pizzarelli.  With no answer and worried that a tourist would buy the sculpture, I snatched up this 8″ tall mold of a carving by Amos Wallace made in 1964 and I have it placed in a prestigious location:  next to my weaving loom.  This figure watches over me as I work.  It’s great to have the company!

This small sculpture is a cast made of a plaster-like compound that gives it the appearance of wood or a stone called argillite.  Manufactured by a company called Griffin’s Alaska based in Edmonds, Washington State between the years of 1964-67, they had a complete line of bowls and totems which are frequently mistaken for stone.  Even the weight of this little guy feels like stone.

Amos Wallace was one of less than a handful of local Tlingit carvers here in Juneau, Alaska in the 1940’s until a few years before his passing in 2004.  I grew up in the Russian Orthodox Church where he and his wife, Dorothy Wallace sang in the choir.  It wasn’t until recently I discovered from his son Brian that Amos was of the Raven Moiety, T’akdeintaan Clan of Hoonah, which is also my clan!  A gentle, soft-spoken man, his name was Jeet Yaaw Dustaa.   Born in 1920, his older brother  Lincoln Wallace, was also a carver.

Read the Juneau Empire article about Sealaska Heritage Institute receiving a collection of Amos’ drawings for their archives donated by Amos’ son, Brian Wallace at:  http://juneauempire.com/art/2012-07-12/amos-wallace-collection-donated-walter-soboleff-center