Gallery 9 celebrates the beauty of boats and their construction during the month of September with work by featured artists Mitch Poling, baidarka (kayak) building and Michael Hale, paintings.
Mitch Poling, baidarka builder, lived in Prince William Sound, Alaska, in the Chugach Aleut village of Chenega in the 1940’s. He learned to paddle in the traditional three-man baidarkas, and spent many hours alongside his father in the boathouse where they were built.
Poling handcrafts and carves the baidarka frames from red and yellow cedar. They range in size from seventeen to twenty-one feet, and weigh thirty to fifty-five pounds. They are built traditionally with sinew lashings, and a nylon covering, which looks like the original style of translucent sealskin.
The baidarka is an amazingly strong and functional work of art. The special bow with its double prow slices through waves with no effort. The multi-chine frame offers stability at all angles of leaning, and the wide hull resists rolling. The baidarka holds course at all angles to the wind, and needs no rudder. Paddling is effortless; the baidarka flexes and uses the energy of the waves to drive it.
Poling comments: “The baidarkas have evolved over thousands of years, and seem almost alive. Paddling one is like becoming a sea mammal, a very special experience. They offer a connection to the sea and its environment that is truly unique.”
Every summer, Poling builds baidarkas and angyaks at the Nuchek Spirit Camp near Cordova, Alaska, working with the Chugach Alutiiq people who are reviving their ancient boat building tradition.
Join Mitch Poling and Michael Hale in discussing their art during Gallery Walk, Saturday, September 2, from 5:30 to 8 p.m., at Gallery 9, 1012 Water Street, in Port Townsend. See gallery-9.com or call 360-379-8881 for more information.