Sitka Park to Get Artist's Formline Design

By ARIADNE WILL

Sentinel Staff Writer

For Tlingit and Athabascan artist Crystal Worl, painting a mural on a public basketball court has been two years in the making.

Now, with help from the California-based nonprofit Project Backboard, Worl is realizing her goal: the formline mural she designed will soon be painted on the playing surface of the Crescent Harbor Park basketball court.

Juneau artist Crystal Worl stands on the Crescent Park basketball court recently. Worl has made a Tlingit formline design that will be painted on the court floor. (Sentinel Photo)

“I’m really proud to have work in Sitka,” Worl, of Juneau, told the Sentinel. “I’m really proud to be a Tlingit woman who’s gotten to this point and who is able to do this.”

Project Backboard renovates public basketball courts around the country by pairing local artists with sponsors. The organization upgrades the playing surface before the public art is installed.

Sitka’s city administration approved the project. The court resurfacing is overseen under the city’s mainenance and operations, and was the topic of a report at the Parks and Recreation Committee.

The renovation was originally scheduled for completion by July 16, but it was postponed by weather. 

Project Backboard Founder Dan Peterson says that when a stretch of nice weather is in the forecast, a team will be flown to Sitka to even out and resurface the outdoor basketball court.

“We can’t do the work if the surface is wet,” Peterson said in a Sentinel interview. “We need the weather to cooperate with us to get the project completed.”

He said resurfacing usually takes about two weeks.

In an update, City Project Manager Kelli Cropper told the Sentinel that the materials for the resurfacing arrived today. She said that if the weather forecast cooperates, the renovation team will be in Sitka July 26 through Aug. 3.

Worl said the project now underway comes two years since her first interaction with Project Backboard. 

“I was like, ‘Man, wouldn’t it be so cool if I could do a formline court,’ since basketball is so important in Native communities, especially in Southeast,” Worl said.

Following her first contact with the nonprofit, Project Backboard said they would keep Worl in mind, but that they needed to first line up a funder.

Stars aligned when someone connected to Five-Star — a New York City-based company that hosts basketball camps and has sponsored several court resurfacings — saw an alumni magazine feature about Worl’s brother, Rico.

Worl and Rico co-own the Juneau-based Trickster Company, which sells products decorated with their formline designs. The products range from wearing apparel to basketballs.

In the magazine feature, Rico is pictured holding a basketball with one of the Worls’ formline designs. 

The reader contacted Project Backboard and volunteered to fund a basketball court renovation on the West Coast with art designed by Crystal Worl.

Next, Worl was tasked with choosing a court to renovate. She said she narrowed her choices to the Crescent Harbor court, a court in Kake, and one in Angoon.

“I ended up choosing Sitka after I talked to a couple of my friends who are here in Sitka,” she said. “I’ve spent more time in Sitka than in Kake and Angoon, and I have more of a connection with it.”

The Crystal Worl Design for the Crescent Harbor Basketball Court is seen on a computer monitor. (Photo provided)

The art will be a minimal formline design, she said.

Worl says that this is more difficult to design than a more intricate formline pattern would be.

“Sometimes, doing more simple formline is more difficult, because then I become obsessed with how everything has to look perfect,” Worl said.

Worl has been working with public art for six years now, most recently designing and installing the Elizabeth Peratrovich mural on Juneau’s downtown library building.

She says public art presents a lot of challenges, ranging from the weather to finding mentors.

“Public art is really, really tricky – especially because there aren’t a lot of female, indigenous artists or women of color who are local to Southeast and doing public art,” Worl said. “Because it’s hard – you have to have a lot of grit and stamina.”

Worl studied at the Institute of American Indian Arts and apprenticed with Haida artist Robert Davidson.

Despite the challenges of public art, Worl says it’s an honor knowing her art will soon have a public home in Sitka.

“I hope people like it,” she said. “I hope people feel inspired by the work the way ... I’ve been so moved and inspired by Sitka artists. Just the amount of talent that’s here – I’m super honored.”

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AK COVID-19

At a Glance

(updated 9-28-22)

By Sentinel Staff

The state Department of Health and Social Services has posted the following update on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alaska as of 12:15 pm Wednesday, September 28.

New cases as of Wednesday: 546

Total cases (cumulative) statewide – 282,928

Total (cumulative) deaths – 1,329

Total (cumulative) hospitalizations – 3,955

Case Rate per 100,000 – 74.91

To visit the Alaska DHSS Corona Response dashboard website click here.

COVID in Sitka

The Sitka community level is now "High.'' Case statistics are as of Wednesday.

Case Rate per 100,000 – 117.30

Cases in last 7 days – 10

Cumulative Sitka cases – 3,358

Hospitalizations (to date) – 29

Deceased (cumulative) – 7

The local case data are from Alaska DHSS.

 

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20 YEARS AGO

September 2002

Photo caption: Bus drivers Derrell John and Sabrina Smith stand next to the new Community Ride buses at Crescent Harbor bus stop, which serves as a transfer point. The two public transportation buses will run two routes, one along Halibut Point Road, the other along Sawmill Creek Road. 

50 YEARS AGO

September 1972

 Photo caption: Bill Willis, the new owner-manager of the Dip’n’ Sip in the Triune Building serves up another ice cream cone for a pleased customer. Bill and his wife Dorothy purchased the business from JoAnne Harris. Along with the ice cream treats, sandwiches and soups will be added to the menu.

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