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Private Art in Public Places

- A project to attract artists with the incentive of exposure for their work and potential sales

- A project to attract businesses and other property owners with the incentive of landmarking their locations.

- A project to benefit the rest of us with Art on the streets of Fairbanks.

Private Art in Public Places is a work in progress. WAG is seeking people with ideas; artists with work or ideas for work, business owners or other property owners with ideas for their sites. If you would like to participate in this project, please send an E-mail to @wagart.org.

Current Private Art in Public Places projects on view:

"Alaskan Ironweed" by Mark Fejes, 2003.
6 ft. wide by 4 ft. tall; welded mill balls and stainless steel bar.

Location: Outside the Alaska House Art Gallery on the corner of 10th Ave. and Cushman St. in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Description: Gold bearing ore from the hard rock mines of the interior of Alaska must be crushed in order to remove the gold. Mill balls and ore are rotated in a large drum (ball mill) where the balls fall into the rock reducing it nearly to powder. Over time, although made from very hard steel, the balls wear down simply by abrasion. They are also very brittle and sometimes shatter into chips and halves (ironweed flowers).

These worn out mill balls have earned their character from a lifetime of brutal work in the mines. They were hand picked from a stack on its way to being recycled.


“A Miners Memorial”
recycled, welded and riveted steel water pipe, 10 feet tall by 10.5 feet in diameter, weighing 3500 pounds, bolted to a concrete pedestal, 1.5 foot tall by 6 feet in diameter, weighing 6000 pounds

“A Miners Memorial” is resolute, fundamental and intensely industrial. These are qualities that also describe the early miners of the interior of Alaska.

“A Miners Memorial” provides a suitable and even enviable retirement for this reclaimed mining water pipe, especially with the weather supplying the water.

I was born and have lived most of my life in Fairbanks and have many strong connections to mining. That influence has given me a healthy respect for doing what you can with what you have, and great satisfaction in giving new life and form to discarded materials.

Mark Fejes Fairbanks
September 2003

Under Construction August 2003
“A Miners Memorial” was formed from 160 feet of salvaged 20 inch diameter riveted water pipe. It was fabricated in 30 days but took years of planning.

This pipe was used to move water for gold mining in the Fairbanks District beginning in the late 1920’s. It was manufactured by rolling 4 foot long pieces of sheet steel into pipe and sealing the overlapping joint with rivets. Five of the 4 foot lengths were riveted end to end to form 20 foot long pieces which were then shipped to Alaska. These 20 foot lengths of pipe were joined in the field to form water pipelines.

This pipe is 50 to 75 years old but shows few signs of age. Just under its patina, the steel is still sound and serviceable, certainly as Art. There are many miles of this rusty riveted pipe in diameters from 4” to 30” still piled up all over the Fairbanks Mining District.

Moving Day September 5, 2003
Imagine this sculpture as “found” mysterious mining equipment. It would have been used for some now forgotten but no doubt very noisy mining operation. It worked so well that it was very nearly worn out before being discarded. This used up carcass would have been discovered on a tailing pile with trees growing through it.

It was appropriate and even poetic for my gold miner neighbor to pick and set “A Miners Memorial” with his gold mining loader. The Cat 988 blocked out the sun and shook the ground. It was ridiculous over-kill but somehow the right tool for the job and (thank you John) available.