Anchorage Daily News               E N T E R T A I N M E N T  /  A R T S        Thursday, February 15, 2001 D-5       

‘Dog Heaven’ gets high-profile art space

By MIKKI SMITH                         Daily News art reviewer

     One block away from its Alaska Center for the Performing Arts location, Decker/Morris
Gallery has opened the Decker/ Morris Annex. The large glass enclosure is representative of a department store display window yet serves a cultural purpose.

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‘DOG HEAVEN’, Decker/Morris Annex

 Mikki Smith has a bachelor's degree in art from the University of Alaska Anchorage

containing human figures. Rounded forms and body stature are nurturing and protective; a
mother cuddles an infant within her arms. Direction of the animals'

 DOG HEAVEN by Donald Ricker will be on display at the Decker/Morris Annex, Seventh Avenue and G Street, through March 2.

It is a showcase of installation art work to be viewed from the sidewalks and is
readily visible to those passing by.  In a sense the Annex's contents become ‘public art.’


movements suggests fleeing from human comforts. Restoration of natural instinct is apparent in the facial features. Rickers's dogs appear a different species from man's domesticated best friend. Is this the struggle of nature to regain control from human influences? The need to survive by one's own means?  


Although this type of open viewing is not new to the Outside art world, it is a big step in expanding the arts in Anchorage. In conjunction with Decker/Morris Gallery, the Annex features monthly installations by local contemporary artists. Currently on display is ‘Dog Heaven’ by Donald Ricker.

‘Heaven’ is occupied by two symmetrical images of wolf-hybrid canine figures lunging from their cloth panels. Back haunches are flexed in anticipation. Yellow eyes are focused on an unseen victim, their piercing stares intensify the idea of inflicting harm.
    On each side of the snarling creatures are smaller panels

     The artist states, "I tried to capture the spirit of wanting to go from the heart."
    Many interpretations are possible, but the clues are too vague for the viewer to be certain of Ricker's true intent.
    This installation is better viewed after dark from a distance. Backlighting on the light panels becomes a dramatic stage for the prowling subjects. While the informal images enhance the idea of momentum, they also cause the piece to have an unfinished look.
    Ricker's composition and lighting techniques make this installation highly visible from the streets. It captures the attention of the passing public, even if it may only be for a moment.

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Whew! Thanks to Ms Smith and the Anchorage Daily News