[Recent] art in public places: Who made it? How did they create it? What were they thinking?

James Temte and Michael Conti collaborated on this mural in Spenard. (Photo from James Temte Facebook)

Back in September, I visited the UAA Engineering and Industry Building for an art reception. The College of Engineering hosted the event to welcome and introduce two artworks created by Alaska artist Sheila Wyne for its new academic building. One piece, Networks, graced the entrance to the building, and the other, Ingenerare, anchored the airy second-floor cafe atrium, a place used by students and faculty for studying and gathering. Wyne made some explanatory remarks at the event, and visitors lingered and pondered the two complex pieces. Blending the worlds of art and engineering in these two pieces was the hook for me. More on that during the show.

About that same time, I’d heard of Alaska artist John Coyne’s percent-for-art contribution to the upgraded Spenard Road project, called Spen. He showed me a snapshot on his phone, and I loved the piece at first sight. You’ll know why when you view it in the image gallery below.

Two other artists come into play here. James Temte has private public art on Spenard Road. That is, the mural he created with Michael Conti graces an exposed wall along the road after a new owner tore down a building there. You’ve seen this work—Eyes on Spenard—it’s gotten local news coverage. But you don’t know enough about it yet.

And finally, Jimmy Riordan has alerted Alaska to his latest participatory public art project, a mobile book van that he has acquired and is retooling for use in Alaska. You can help him decide whether it should be a book mobile, an art gallery, a gadget recharging station…or more.

We’ll hear from all four artists during today’s program. What did they create? How did they create it? What reactions did they get to their work? Is public art more stressful than other kinds of art?

Take a look at their work in the photo gallery below. Please join us. Ask questions. Offer your review. Or just listen.

HOST: Kathleen McCoy


  • James Temte, painter, creator of Eyes on Spenard
  • Jimmy Riordan, artist, catalyst behind a new Bookmobile for Alaska
  • Sheila Wyne, artist, creator of Networks and Ingenerare at the UAA Engineering and Industry Building
  • John Coyne, artist, creator of Spen, the raven/”spam can” sculpture along Spenard Road


  • Jimmy Riordan website
  • From PA to AK: Alaska Bookmobile driving IOBY community improvement project, Anchorage Press, Nov. 27, 2019
  • Alaska Bookmobile fund raising site (Riordan project)
  • Interview with Painter + Muralist James Temte, Artistic Allies Q and A
  • Temte Abstract website
  • James Temte Art, Facebook
  • Sheila Wyne website
  • Sheila Wyne, McColl Center for Art + Innovation, short video on then-current work, June 21, 2017
  • Sheila Wyne’s ‘Big Game’ Project (three 20-foot figures installed at Dimond High, July 2010), Mike James Media
  • John Coyne website
  • Meet ‘The Pod’: Orca sculptures destined for Douglas Fish & Game building. Juneau Empire, November 16, 2018


  • Call 550-8433 (Anchorage) or 1-888-353-5752 (statewide) during the live broadcast (2:00 – 3:00pm)
  • Send e-mail to hometown@alaskapublic.org before, during or after the live broadcast (e-mails may be read on air)
  • Post your comment or question below (comments may be read on air
  • LIVE: Monday, December 2, 2019 at 2:00 p.m
  • RE-AIR: Monday, December 2, 2019 at 8:00 p.m.


Spen, John Coyne’s Percent-for-Art contribution along Spenard Road, part of the road upgrade. (Photo courtesy John Coyne)

Networks, Sheila Wyne
Sheila Wyne’s Networks hangs on the ground floor of the Engineering and Industry Building at UAA. In it she sees the organic growth of the World Wide Web, “a system we typically think of as inorganic. Observers during installation saw visual links to electrical engineering; some sensed a city grid as seen from 30,000 feet.” She also saw something organic, the growth of a mycorrhizal network, the underground world of mushrooms, or as Sheila saw it, “the Wood Wide Web.” (Photo by Michael Conti, courtesy of Sheila Wyne)
Networks, Sheila Wyne
Close view of Networks by Sheila Wyne. (Photo by Michael Conti, courtesy Sheila Wyne)
Ingenerare, Sheila Wyne
Ingenerare, by Sheila Wyne, in the Engineering and Industry Building at UAA. Refabricated street signage forms a woven base layer. “It is a visual reference that whenever we see a street sign, it is a marker, that at some point an engineer was involved in the process.” (Photo by Michael Conti, courtesy Sheila Wyne)
Placement of Ingenerare in the airy atrium of the engineering building at UAA. (Photo by Michael Conti, courtesy of Sheila Wyne)
Eyes on Spenard: James Temte and Michael Conti collaborated on this mural in Spenard. (Photo from James Temte Facebook)
Mobile library van, Jimmy Riordan
Jimmy Riordan is currently working on refitting a former Pittsburgh, Penn. bookmobile for use in Alaska. He asks, what should it be? A bookmobile? An art gallery? A charging station for mobile devices? (Photo courtesy Jimmy Riordan)
K'eldzeets, Tammy Holland
K’eldzeets by Tammy Holland, located between Bosco’s parking lot and the sidewalk in Spenard. A % for art project linked to the road upgrade. Tammy is not on the show today, but because her public art is a part of the Spenard Road improvement project, we wanted to include it here. (Facebook)
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