Nanooks swim team, Sherman collaborate on new art project

Paul McCarthy photo
Alaska Nanooks swimming coach Scott Lemley, left, and UAF College of Liberal Arts Dean Todd Sherman pose in a hallway filled with Sherman’s art in the Patty Center.

Alaska Nanooks swimming head coach Scott Lemley and artist Todd Sherman, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, unveiled the new Nanook Gallery on Aug. 23 at the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Patty Center.

The gallery includes five large prints of Sherman’s work, each featuring a polar bear, or nanook — the official mascot of UAF athletic teams. The images were printed on vinyl and will be permanently affixed to the wall across the hallway from the women’s swimming office on the Patty Center’s second floor. The largest and most prominent image of the gallery is a 6-foot painting of a polar bear wearing a swimsuit and a pair of goggles.

Lemley, who came up with the idea for a gallery, said he wanted to highlight the Alaska Nanook mascot in a playful and artistic manner. Lemley also said the gallery reflects how he thinks of his team — fast and formidable.

Lemley and Sherman admire each other’s work, and their friendship goes back quite some time. Lemley coached Sherman’s two daughters through club swimming in the Fairbanks area.

Several representatives of the UAF Athletics Department, including the women’s swimming team, attended the unveiling. UA President Jim Johnsen, UAF Chancellor Dan White and representatives of the College of Liberal Arts also attended.

The project was funded by Lemley. No state, athletic or booster funds were used.

The newly unveiled “Nanook Gallery” is free and open for public viewing during normal Patty Center hours, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

The Alaska Nanooks swim team unofficially kicks off the 2017-2018 season at 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 22, with the program’s annual Blue vs. Gold Pentathlon at the Patty Center pool.

For more information on the Alaska Nanooks swim team, follow @NanooksSwim on Twitter or like the Alaska Nanooks swimming team page on Facebook.