August in the Bear Gallery

Exhibition on view: August 6–28, 2021

Opening Day: Friday August 6, 2021, 12–7 pm

Gallery hours: Monday–Saturday, 12–6 pm

Bear Gallery visitors please note:

Bear Gallery visitors please note:

COVID-19 mitigation measures: Fairbanks Arts’ board of directors has approved COVID-19 mitigation measures that include (but are not limited to):

  • Visitors to the Bear Gallery are highly encouraged to wear a mask. We ask that visitors bring their own masks, but should a visitor be without one, we have a limited supply we can give out. 
  • Social distancing of no less than 6 ft apart must be observed within the Bear Gallery.  
  • The current limit of visitors in the gallery at one time is 15 individuals.
  • Our COVID-19 mitigation plan involves the frequent cleaning of high-touch surfaces to ensure the safety of our guests, volunteers, and staff.

We appreciate your understanding and cooperation in this effort to stay open while supporting artists and arts supporters safely and responsibly.

Reindeer Man

by Alex Rydlinski

Night Feeding” by Alex Rydlinski

Alex Rydlinski is a painter and printmaker from Fairbanks, currently living in Kenai. He spent his twenties living in Texas and traveling the country while writing and performing music, as well as making illustrations. As his interest in visual art grew he began learning to paint in oils by studying masterworks in books and museums. In 2017, he studied in Norway with the master painter Odd Nerdrum. Now on the Kenai Peninsula, Rydlinski continues to be possessed by the aim of joining sincere ideas with sincere craft, primarily through intaglio printmaking and oil painting.

For over a year, Rydlinski has been collaborating with Fairbanks reindeer farmer George Aguiar on the exhibition Reindeer Man. The exhibition offers a look into the life of an independent reindeer farmer, specifically on Aguiar’s Archipelago Farms. Through a series of paintings and etchings, the exhibition moves through the reindeer life cycle from birth to slaughter, with a clear focus on the human trials throughout. Aguiar generously granted the artist full access to the farm, resulting in images of gritty sincerity, and an honest insight into this uniquely northern lifestyle.

You can find Alex online at or on Instagram at alex.rydlinski

Click here to view a 3D scan of Reindeer Man on view in the gallery!

Artist Talk: Monday, August 9 at 7:00 pm in the Bear Gallery

Alex Rydlinski will discuss the concept of the show, some of its challenges and solutions, and go over the artwork in the exhibition in detail. There will also be a technical demonstration on how his etchings are produced and printed. Fairbanks reindeer farmer George Aguiar will be present to discuss his side of the collaboration and answer questions. Pre-registration is required and the talk is open to the first 20 registrants. Attendees must wear a mask. This event is free and open to the public.

Registration for the talk is now closed as it is at capacity

With liberty and justice for

by Inari Kylänen

image by Inari Kylänen

What does it mean to be an American?

Inari Kylänen first moved to the United States as an exchange student on August 31, 2001. She was headed to Fairbanks to study art, expecting a year that would be significant to her personally, but unremarkable to everyone else. Instead, Inari witnessed a national catastrophe and a historical turning point that ended up defining every aspect of her immigration journey. On the morning of September 11th, the normally loud and boisterous student cafeteria was dead silent as people sat huddled around a television set in the corner. She seated herself as far as she could from the TV (as she did every morning) and ate in silence. She had slept in, and hardly knew anyone on campus, so no one filled her in until later in the morning. At that moment all the vacant stares suddenly made sense.

By October, she was living in a country engaged in warfare. As the United States turned inwards to mourn, it simultaneously wrapped itself in paranoia. The campus police wanted to talk to her about a package sent by her parents that had leaked “suspicious spores.” The university’s exchange student office sent out emails reminding them that as foreigners they were required to carry I-94 forms “at all times.” American flags were plastered on every available surface and a sense of patriotic togetherness was palpable. Her pale complexion and Finnish heritage protected her from outward hostility, but the news media was filled with stories of xenophobia and panicked lawmakers.

But while the nation turned inward to mourn, Inari felt alienated. She didn’t yet have a connection to the country, the people, or the nation. She was a foreigner—an outsider looking in—unable to take part in the collective sorrow since it happened too soon after her arrival.


She didn’t set out to become an immigrant, but in the past 20 years, has made Alaska her home and turned her life American—she married an American husband, bought an American house, birthed an American child, and launched an American (non)career. Once she got her paperwork in order, she has had a sense of belonging, and has felt, if not American, at least Alaskan.

Yet, at the same time, Inari can vividly remember the feeling of being excluded, of being an outsider and not belonging. Furthermore, her immigration journey has been dominated by contradiction: while having felt welcomed to Alaska, the Federal government has made it harder to immigrate and national discourse has turned against immigrants. This exhibition is her attempt to make sense of her own conflicting feelings about being an American, questions about home and familiarity, the American ideals and the many ways the nation falls short of them.

You can find Inari on Instagram at wrestling_fox.

Artist Talk: Thursday, August 5 at 7:00 pm in the Bear Gallery

Inari Kylänen will discuss the inspiration behind her artwork and her own fraught relationship with immigration and being an American. Pre-registration is required and the talk is open to the first 20 registrants. Attendees must wear a mask. This event is free and open to the public.