Over 20 years ago I was born into the tradition of strong Alaskan women. My life size body is fashioned from a solid core dormitory room door from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. My legs are pipe and my hair wire rod. My adjustable hands and arms allow me to assume multiple poses for my extensive wardrobe. I love to hold gold pans, as they bring me closest to my ancestral roots a la bird feeder. Fairbanks is, after all, my home and the city with a Golden Heart. During the sittings for my original painting, I listened to Samuel Beckett read aloud in the workshop, so I’m quite literate. I can turn a phrase if given a chance but you need to listen carefully because I’m a little on the quiet side! My eyes are made from bottle-caps. Of course, in order to get the appropriate caps one needs to open a few local brews, so every time I need my eyes done, a trek is made to Silver Gulch Brewery in Fox for reinforcements. Two serve as a toast to my new eyes and the rest are shared with friends. Here’s to you!

 

I’ve always been a head-turner given my good looks and love of color. In my younger years, the storeowners scouted summer yard sales seeking Hawaiian hula outfits—you know the kind—grass skirt bottom and coconuts for the top. Given that Alaskans love their Hawaiian holidays, Fairbanks yard sales yielded an endless supply of these tourist trinkets, most often appearing in their original cellophane bags with price tags affixed. The coconuts gave me a rather perky look but they didn’t weather well in our extreme winter temperatures. They cracked! Every summer I needed a new set. Seeking a more permanent solution to my dilemma, we commissioned work in Alaskan Birch. Friends at the Great Alaskan Bowl Company graciously assisted in the production of finely turned birch that has never cracked under the more severe Fairbanks’ temperatures. I am indebted to birch turner extraordinaire John Debbaut for helping me be the woman I am today. For that, I am forever grateful.

 

As with any strong Alaskan woman, there is a story behind what stands before you today. Over the years, I’ve had numerous procedures, transplants, surgeries and touch-ups. In 2016 I was completely refurbished by craftsman Gene Tolle of Fairbanks. He transformed me to Martha 2.0. I was off the street for a month while Gene reconstructed and replaced the necessary components to make me into the Martha I am today. The icing on the cake was a hand painted couture provided by Georjean. Come rain, sleet, snow, or ice fog, I’m on the street when the store is open—the beacon of 215 Cushman welcoming you to If Only…a fine store.