Kenai Skiff / Autumn of 14 Collection / Sculpture 8
SN141104 / 20.5 x 8.5 x 4″ / 17.2 lbs / Sold
The decision to carve Kenai Skiff materialized while deeply engrossed in the early, formative stage of my previous sculpture, ‘Polar Trout’, and began to take shape from recollections triggered by memories of a summer spent in Alaska commercial gill-netting on the Cook Inlet’s Kenai Peninsula. The year was 1983, and the place… the Kenai Peninsula deep in the heart of Alaska’s Cook Inlet, and if memory serves it was widely proclaimed as a record catch, so vast was the salmon run that I imagine the locals are still talk about it to this day. My Boss, a veritable mountain of a Man, “Big Joe” Koski, tough and as strong as an ox, was also as smart as a whip and ran what was widely considered to be the best, most efficient operation on the entire beach. My job was to pick salmon from the gill nets with sufficient speed that we could immediately reset them and do it all again… and again, and again. Kenai Skiff was carved directly as a result of memories stirred of our zero draft, tippy, flood-prone, easily swamped aluminum can of a boat. Whilst hardly the most stable vessel however one thing this workhorse of tub will not do, due to the rudimentary nature of its sturdy 100 percent welded metal design, is to fall apart – a not insignificant detail when putting out upon such a treacherous body of water as whipped up by the inshore currents of the Cook Inlet. Although bailing required near constant attention, I took comfort in the knowledge that whatever else this floating bathtub may get up to it most certainly will not fall apart. And so, all in all, given the immense amount of solid metal strength boasted by this strange open-topped floating tank of a boat it seemed a reasonable arrangement to me – for no one, and I mean no one, wished for any reason, to end up in that cold, swift, potentially murderous body of water. Many were the hours spent bobbing around, riding the choppy surface waters of the Cook Inlet, constantly monitoring and shifting to the ever-changing tide. Sleep? HA! Up to our waists in fish slime we’d occasionally pass out briefly, only to shrug ourselves awake within a moment or two in order to resume the robotic mechanics of carefully picking salmon from the icy grip of the endless, endless nets. Days came and went, rarely during the height of the run did we actually make it back to our bunks, and when we did it was to pass out, fully clothed, precisely where we flopped, merely to climb back on our feet a few short hours later to do it all again. But what great times they were. How kind were my boss, the enigmatic, charming giant of a man Joe Koski and his lovely wife, the equally gracious, amazingly energetic and great cook, Jean. In fact practically everyone I met up there seemed the salt-of-the-earth type; really nice, hardworking plainspoken people for the most part… direct and easy to talk to. I really valued my time as an inshore commercial gill netter. Tough and brutal as the work at times proved to be, it is episodes and experiences such as these that I truly covet and savor the most. It is amazing just how much of the imagery conjured by my sculpture stems from these intermittent interludes… brief chapters of my life wherein the world is temporarily turned upside down. And so, when it came to carving ‘Kenai Stiff’ I wanted to ensure two things: one, that it is as tough as nails, two, that it will never fall apart ! To ensure neither of these grim outcomes should befall the skiff several integrated factors combine to suggest that this little battleship of a boat is set to see out a great many centuries to come: The structure of the design lends maximum possible support to the four extended corners; her marble is of a very fine quality; the four surfaces of the underside of her hull are polished gloss – affording the maximum protection and insulation; the interior of the bowl’s surface is composed of my very latest matte luster finish; and the boat’s state-of-my-art white luster interior combines with an invisible Italian-made penetrative sealant to provide a high performance, uniform, none-glare finish that serves to present marble in a new and contemporary light. No shrinking violet, certainly no belle of the ball, Kenai Skiff seeks no fuss, makes no bold artistic statement, but does bring to the table a sleek, sophisticated, extremely low centered gravity, adding a touch of style to any room and belying the humble nature of her Kenai, Alaska, salmon fishing roots.
Inspiration for Kenai Skiff was drawn from the summer I spent gill netting on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska.
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