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Doug Capra to talk about artist Rockwell Kent

Resurrection Bay Historical Society’s “Fourth Thursdays: Our History” program this month features a presentation by Seward historian and author Doug Capra starting at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 27 in the Library Museum’s Community Room. The event is free and open to the public.

Capra is under contract to publish a book with Wesleyan University Press provisionally entitled “That Infinite and Unfathomable Thing: Rockwell Kent’s Alaska Wilderness.” In 1918 the artist Kent arrived in Seward from New York with his 9-year-old son. They soon settled just off the beach in Northwest Harbor on Fox Island on a fox and goat ranch where Kent planned to spend the winter and paint. Remnants of that facility are north of the Kenai Fjords Tours day lodge near the end of the beach.

Kent and his son left Seward at the end of March 1919 and one year later he published his first book, “Wilderness: A Journal of Quiet Adventure in Alaska.” Its appearance coincided with a successful show of his Alaska paintings in New York City.

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For nearly 40 years Capra has been researching and writing about Rockwell Kent. In 1996, Wesleyan University Press published a special edition of “Wilderness” and another Alaska book of Kent’s, “Northern Christmas.” Each book features a new foreword by Capra, who has promoted sales throughout Alaska, helping both books achieve solid long-term sales (combined, more than 15,000 copies). Additionally, one of Capra’s recent books, “The Spaces Between: Stories from the Kenai Mountains to the Kenai Fjords,” has two chapters about Kent.

The 100th anniversary of Kent’s arrival in Seward is 2018, and the centennial of the publication of “Wilderness” happens in 2020. Wesleyan University Press has contracted his forthcoming book about the Kents’ stay on Fox Island. Plans are to publish the book during the 2020 centennial, and Capra will actively promote the book through lectures, readings and signings.

The 225-page book will be illustrated with historical images, reproductions of Kent’s paintings and drawings, and contemporary photographs of the Fox Island site.

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