Making wearabale AK art

Wednesday, August 28, 2013 - 19:00

What if you could capture the magic of the northern lights from the sky and hold on to its kaleidoscope of greens, blues and violets in your hands forever? This dream can now come true through Alaska Art Experience, a new visitor attraction in Chugiak.

Professional artist Gina Murrow has welcomed dozens of visitors into her log cabin home this summer, teaching them how to paint the northern lights on a silk scarf.

As guests walk through the front door, they’re greeted with the aroma of various tasty comfort foods to indulge in.

“The minute you walk in you feel like family,” visitor Joan Kennedy said.

Then everyone, with their platter of goodies in-hand, moves into the living room to watch a brief professionally made video. The video features Gina as she explains the tools and methods used to help each guest paint ribbons of color in the likeness of the Northern Lights onto their 60-by-11-inch, 100 percent silk scarves.

Then it’s time for guests to start making their part of Alaska that they’ll take home or give as a souvenir. Each guest receives a basket of paints and brushes they will use to make their own take-home treasures.

Gina walks among the budding artists, offering instruction and encouragement. Within minutes the scarves blossom with colors from bright green to purple.

“I thought it would be stressful because I’m not an artist, but it isn’t at all,” visitor Dianne Zarnetske said.

When the weather is nice, Gina and her guests paint outside on the deck, overlooking the bubbly waters of Little Peters Creek. On chilly or rainy days the painters work indoors, warmed by a flickering fire.

“A lot of our visitors are amazed by the cabin and the creek. It’s what they imagined Alaska would be,” Gina said.

While the scarves dry, Gina serves guests a hearty meal of soup, salad, homemade bread and cookies pulled fresh from the oven.

“This is a ten experience. You can’t mess it up. I would do this again,” said guest Iris Moore.

The experience continues with a tour of Gina’s artist loft that surrounds visitors with the many creative paintings on silk she has completed. Gina finishes the experience by demonstrating the many ways the scarves can be worn or displayed as wall art.

Alaska Art Experience’s biggest market so far is Alaskans who have visiting friends and relatives.They’ve welcomed a number of three-generation families, with grandma, mom and daughters enjoying a family outing together

Alice Salzman of Anchorage has visited three times this summer, bringing new friends along each time.

“It’s a fun way to spend a night out with the girls,” she said. “You go home with a gorgeous product; the scarves are just beautiful.”

Gina gets a lot of inquiries from visitors who are looking for an activity that’s not physically challenging.

“Not everyone who comes to Alaska wants to spend the day hiking or sitting in a fishing boat,” Gina said. “It’s an activity anyone can do. I had a male visitor who just cut loose making a scarf for his wife. She had just gone through breast cancer surgery. When he handed the scarf to her, she started crying.”

Alaska Art Experience’s phone started ringing of the hook after KTUU-TV produced a news feature in June.

Alaska Art Experience is offering an introductory special of $89, including the scarf, meal, instruction, supplies and tour of the artist’s loft. They offer discounts to Alaska residents, active duty military and to groups of six or more.

Non-painting friends and relatives are welcome to come along free. They can sit by the creek and use the wi-fi. If they get hungry they can purchase a meal and refreshments for $15.

Gina also takes the Art Experience to events and corporate gatherings. She’s currently booking showers, parties and team-building retreats through Spring of 2014. Learn more at or call 229-1702.

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