Art Beat: Bethel soap sisters hope Native art draws crowd-funding donors

Triplets, from left, Amy Sparck Dobmeier, Michelle Sparck, and Cika Sparck, who grew up in the Bethel area, have launched the cosmetics company ArXotica that uses wild harvested tundra botanicals in their break-out product, an anti-aging skin serum, called Quyung-lii. Bill Roth — Bill Roth / Anchorage Daily NewsBuy Photo Read more here:

Triplets, from left, Amy Sparck Dobmeier, Michelle Sparck, and Cika Sparck, who grew up in the Bethel area, have launched the cosmetics company ArXotica that uses wild harvested tundra botanicals in their break-out product, an anti-aging skin serum, called Quyung-lii.
Bill Roth — Bill Roth / Anchorage -Daily NewsBuy Photo

ArXotica, the Bethel-based bath and beauty company that uses materials gathered from the tundra, is trying to boost marketing of its soap outside the region with a crowd-funding quest at a site called Rock the Post.

So far that’s a business story; the Daily News has covered the company in the past. What caught our eye were some of the gifts that go to donors at certain levels — like a doll by Francisca Brown of Eek, a grass basket by Agnes Dock, miniature kayaks by Andrew Abyo, men’s dance fans (which for some reason are harder to find than women’s fans), a woman’s headdress and books from the region.

Premiums also include diverse ArXotica products, some said to have anti-aging properties — which can’t hurt anyone, even the naturally good-looking people who read this column.

Michelle Sparck, one of the Chevak triplet sisters who founded the company, said getting their unique products to the upscale market in Anchorage and beyond has been tricky, but the handmade soap appears to be something people like. It provides “an incredible hook for product awareness,” she said. “Unfortunately, it is costly and time consuming.”

So they hope to use the funds raised for a large-scale soap run to ship out to more stores in Alaska and beyond. With an ample supply of their boutique sudsy product, “we can pursue placement in a lot more places,” Sparck said.

The group needs to raise $14,000 by 8 a.m. Alaska time on Wednesday. Check out their pitch and view the other items offered for different contributions at


Beatles tribute returns

Two years ago, a Beatles look-alike/sound-alike band sold out Atwood Concert Hall when they performed Fab Four hits with roof-shaking backup from the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra.

Now the ASO says the “Classical Mystery Tour” tribute will return for two concerts at 7:30 p.m. March 28 and 29. Symphony subscribers were able to get priority tickets late last month and the general public can buy them starting Monday.

Before then, this Saturday in fact, the symphony will have another romp on the pop side with a concert of show tunes titled “Wicked Divas.” The orchestra will be joined by two singers who have starred in “Wicked” on Broadway, Julia Murney and Emily Rozek. They’ll sing songs from “My Fair Lady,” “Ragtime,” “Chicago,” “Titanic” and other popular musicals.

Tickets for both shows are available at


Follow-up on ‘Ever After’

Last weekend at I posted reviews of “Tosca” and “Bigfoot” — the last particularly important in that it was a premiere.

But the program I enjoyed most was the new full-length dance work “Ever After,” presented by the Pulse Dance Company, with choreography by the group’s director Stephanie Wonchala with a key contribution by Cady Lynn O’Brien Jenkins. A wonderfully athletic corps presented the engrossing wordless story line in one arresting image after another.

Grant Hall is a small theater, but attendance was very good; a full house on Saturday and standing room only on Friday, with a lot of patrons glammed up for the “red carpet” gala theme.

Among other things, there was a background where people could get their photos taken as if they were attending a Hollywood premiere. And there was beer and wine that several in the audience must have enjoyed since an unusually a large percentage left the seats for a bathroom run in the middle of the performance.

No one was unnecessarily disruptive, however, and the piece was enthusiastically received by the crowd.

More contemporary dance is on tap this weekend with “Retrospect,” presented by Momentum at 8 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 8, in Sydney Laurence Theatre.


$90,000 for debris show

The Anchorage Museum has received two major grants to support its upcoming exhibition focusing on the science of marine debris and arts spawned by it.

The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation has donated $50,000, and another $40,000 will come from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation to support “Gyre.” The collaboration with the Alaska SeaLife Center will open at the Anchorage Museum in February 2014.

The exhibit will showcase information gathered in a scientific expedition this year and art created from flotsam gathered on Alaska beaches at that time. More than 20 artists will be represented.


Snow mama speaks

The paperback edition of Eowyn Ivey’s novel “The Snow Child” has remained at or near the top of the Pacific Northwest Independent Bookseller’s bestseller list for the past month. It is the featured book in the 2013 Anchorage Public Library’s “Anchorage Reads” celebration. At 1 p.m. on Saturday, the library and 49 Writers group will host a reading by Ivey followed by a panel discussion in which she’ll be joined by Don Rearden, Sherry Simpson and Daily News contributor Seth Kantner.

Before then, at 10 a.m., UAA writing instructor Douglass Bourne will lead a workshop. Both events take place on the first floor of Loussac Library and are free.

Also on Saturday, 49 Writers will resume its classes for scribblers wanting to hone their craft. Healy author Christine Byl, whose ruminations on trail-building in Alaska, “Dirt Work,” will be released by Beacon Press (associated with Random House) in April, will lead the first class, “Writing Fiction and Non: How Story Chooses Its Form.”

Read more here:




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