The Artist At Work

Vector graphic by raspete

Alaska artists Jimmy Riordan and Keren Lowell join host Kathleen McCoy Wednesday on Hometown Alaska for a conversation about their work. Where do the ideas come from? How do they cultivate them? What role does confidence play? Persistence? Obsession? Self-doubt? The weather?

Listen now:

Lowell has a solo show at the Anchorage Museum through Nov. 9, called simply “Groundwork.” A scavenger at heart, she’s spirited away snippets of lace, outdated to-do lists, manila envelopes, carpet, rivets and twine. In her grasp, they transform into expressions that fill walls. Often dark on the surface but glowing from behind, they are serious, scarred, real. Undefeated.

She writes:

There is no focal point in this work, no stand-in for the Self, no singular portal for the viewer’s Eye/I. I simply wanted to make work about the ground. About places that ground me and anchor me. About the strange and dark terrain all around me.”

“Even if the outcome of all of this seems bleak, there is hopefully a soul to it, some kind of intention and awareness.”

Riordan will call into the radio show from the road. Roaming is a part of his art. He drove a section of the Alcan more than once, just to photograph and record locations of abandoned gas stations.

He worked five years to translate a turn-of-the-century novel, Le Roman du Lievre, from French into English, knowing no French. He handset the type for 250 copies and bound them in handmade paper. He visited the birthplace and the grave of the man who wrote the novel.

On his complex website, he posts this quote from artist Colleen Asper:

I don’t know what it means to be an artist, but I know it makes it easy to use meaning like a cheap perfume, liberally doused over everything…That meaning, too, is an authority. That it can’t be avoided; at best, maybe, it can be perverted. So really, to say I don’t know what it means to be an artist is disingenuous—I don’t think it means anything. Rather, its value—container-like—is in its capacity to be filled and emptied.

Listen in. Learn how these two consider their work, survive and sometimes even thrive—as practitioners in the arts economy.


  • Keren Lowell
  • Jimmy Riordan



  • Call 550-8433 (Anchorage) or 1-888-353-5752  (statewide) during the live broadcast (2:00 – 3:00pm)
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LIVE BROADCAST: Wednesday, October 22, 2014. 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. (Alaska time)

REPEAT BROADCAST: Wednesday, October 22, 2014. 9:00 – 10:00 p.m. (Alaska time)

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