“Brown mustaches begin to appear on the upper lips of the artists, everything from a Hitler brush cut to a snakey Snidely Whiplash.”

The panels sit on sawhorses and there are plenty of chairs. “We did our first mural on the floor of the gym crawling around on our knees,” Seward artist and gallery owner Dot Bardarson says. “We learned a lot with that first one.” Jon is everywhere, daubing paint on with a paper towel stained brown, drawing in the borders with a T-square and a pencil, outlining the moon with a large plastic bowl. Jana, Jon’s wife, says, “There will be a lot more murals in the future if it means spending the day with a harem of women. A whole new vocation for Jon.” Everyone laughs, and someone else says, “Artist’s daycare.” Myself, I think it is also a master class. The artists are watching Jon’s every move with intent eyes, and more than once I hear a long, drawn-out “Ohhhhhh” of discovery. “Every artist here has her own style,” Gwendolyn says. “That they can let it go enough to make it look like one work, that is just amazing to me.” It is very difficult not to leap in and grab up a brush, but the Seward Mural Society has come a long way from the days of inviting the general public to take a hand.

Dana Stabenow. Alaska Traveler (Kindle Locations 2133-2139). Gere Donovan Press.

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