September in the Bear Gallery

Exhibition on view: September 3–24, 2021

Opening Day: Friday September 3, 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.

Home: Disability & Creativity in a Pandemic Lockdown

by Avery Skaggs

12x16_25 by Avery Skaggs

Avery Skaggs was born and raised in Juneau, Alaska and began exploring paint as soon as he could sit upright in his wheelchair. His style is a form of action painting, often called abstract expressionism. Avery is non-verbal and his physical expressions through his paintings are both subtle and bold. Each piece engages Avery’s energy, which is at times close and contained to small hand gestures and at other times broad and reaching, sweeping across the canvas. The final outcome is a representation of Avery’s physical presence as captured over the course of days and months of work. Each piece is its own living entity, constantly in motion long after Avery has released his last stroke. He has exhibited for numerous solo and group shows in the capital city since 2010.

For over a decade, Avery has been able to create his art alongside friends and support staff at REACH’s Canvas studio four to five days a week. That continuity came to an abrupt halt on March 16, 2020 when the COVID-19 outbreak shut everything down. Avery’s shared home, which includes a live-in support family, went on lockdown for six weeks. Additional staff moved into the home to provide healthcare services. No one came in or out during that strict quarantine time.

Home: Disability & Creativity in a Pandemic Lockdown is a body of works Avery created almost entirely in a newly-fashioned art studio in his garage, created by his health care professionals. It was a journey of figuring things out: wasting paint and going over canvases again and again. Much of his staff didn’t have experience with or aptitude for the art process. They learned and grew alongside Avery during this time. The pandemic year of 2020 was a strange year of simultaneous isolation and coming together. Many things have certainly evolved over the past year, but crucially, what shines through all of Avery’s pieces are his resilience and adaptability.

As Juneau resident Lou Auger explains: “When Avery paints he is totally in the present. He is not concerned with what he just did; he is not planning his next step. Avery’s creative process, and his final product, is a reminder to me to live in the moment.”

Avery’s artwork can be found online at and on Instagram at avery_art_ak.

Watch an artist talk recorded in conjunction with his Bear Gallery exhibition featuring Avery and his team below!