Arts, Featured

A Fabulous First Friday in Seward

“Disembodied” Graphite on paper by Christopher Judd. Photo: Michelle Strubeck
By Michelle Strubeck for Seward City News-

First Friday was another success as local businesses opened their doors to showcase the talents of many area artists. Each venue offered something unique and creative making the rest of us wish we had that special talent. No matter what your taste in art is, there was something for everyone.

The Cookery’s First Friday show featured Anchorage based artist Christopher Judd. Christopher’s graphite and watercolor drawings were displayed throughout the restaurant and at first glance his work is definitely striking and beautiful. After speaking with Christopher he explained that he gets his inspiration from words and nature. The images are surreal and there are puns in the pictures. You have to look deep into his pictures to discover the true meaning. Judd said once he has developed an idea, it is stuck in his head and drawing is a cathartic way to get it out.

Judd was raised in Chugiak and he started drawing at the age of 5 with his grandmother. She was the artist in the family. That talent skipped a generation and it was passed on to Christopher. He has been drawing seriously for 7-8 years now and he is primarily trained in figure work, portraits and life drawings. He received his traditional training from the Art Students League in New York and he recently graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Alaska Anchorage. Eventually Christopher would like to focus on concept art and digital illustration as his skill set has laid the ground work for him to move forward in the digital world. He is going to take the summer to develop his online portfolio and experiment with different media. Christopher’s parents Rick Judd and Lee Ann Gardner said they are awestruck by their son’s work. He has been at it for a long time, but he is finally starting to come into his own.

If you didn’t have a chance to stop by The Cookery and check out his work you can follow Christopher on Facebook, Instagram and Society6.

“Golden-crowned Kinglet” by Sean Ulman. Photo: Michelle Strubeck

“Seward Songbirds,” a collection of watercolors, drawings and poetry by Sean Ulman could be seen at Advanced Physical Therapy. Sean’s love of birding stems from his wife’s love of birding. Sean explained that being an avid bird watcher forces you to slow down and take time to observe the scenery and seasonal migrations. The poetry that accompanies the artwork touches on the songs that the birds sing.


While Sean says writing fiction can be difficult at times, he uses drawing as a break. He considers all forms of art to be enjoyable, but for Sean drawing is easier than writing. When Sean isn’t observing birds and writing poetry he teaches Introduction to College Writing at Kenai Penninsula College and he recently served as editor for Seward Unleashed Volume II: a collection of stories from Seward residents telling how they arrived in Seward and why they stayed. Sean also volunteers his time at the Seward Senior Center for their Writer’s Group. The Writer’s Group takes a break during the summer months and they meet two times per month during the winter months. The writers take turns sharing their stories and giving each other feedback and encouragement.

Eventually Sean would like to produce a coffee table book of Seward area birds that would serve as a comprehensive guide to identifying birds and describing their behaviors. He would like to start small with this idea, and hopes to build momentum for a larger collaborative project with other artists. This was Sean’s first time participating in First Friday and he couldn’t have been happier to do so.

Wooden Bench carved by Austin Gillespie. Photo: Michelle Strubeck

At Seward Properties there was a beautiful display of handcrafted wood furniture at by Austin Gillespie. Austin said he honed his skills from his father who built log homes, giving Austin the resources to branch out and craft pieces such as benches, tables and bed frames. Austin uses mainly spruce wood when carving his creations and a majority of the time he is working on half a dozen projects at once. When Austin has a vision, he goes over the idea in detail and he enjoys the creativity it allows him as well as the reward of building something with his hands, not to mention the joy his work brings to others.

As Austin explained, each project requires a different set of tools. That could be anything from routers and chisels to a blow torch and epoxy. When Austin isn’t working with wood, he is employed as a commercial fisherman and he is currently studying geometrics (the study of mapping and land surveying) during the winter months. For more information about Austin’s work you can visit Resurrection Woodworks on Facebook.

This was just a small sample of what First Friday had to offer. Be sure to check out more local talent next month.


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