Local artist David Rosenthal assists Copper River Watershed Project executive director Lisa Docken in unboxing and organizing original artwork from Artists for Nature. Photo by Kinsey Brown for The Cordova Times

A special delivery of artworks with ties to Cordova’s natural history have arrived in town ahead of the Copper River Watershed Project’s (CRWP) 25-year anniversary.  

The artwork is a collection of original watercolors, pastels and wood block prints that were created to highlight the beauty of the Copper River Delta.  

In the early years of the CRWP, founding members of the organization were interested in utilizing art as a medium to communicate the importance of advocating for the health of the delta ecosystem on a global scale.  

In the late 1990s, CRWP was able to collaborate with the Netherlands-based non-profit Artists for Nature to bring 22 artists from around the world to Cordova to capture the unique beauty of the watershed.  

During the short artist residencies, a plethora of work was created with subject matters ranging from wildlife and wetland landscapes, to fish canneries and portraits of local residents. The final result of these artworks was a published book titled “Alaska’s Copper River Delta.”  

In the years since, these works have become iconic images of the delta and have become beloved by many Cordova residents and visitors alike.  


In celebration of 25 years of watershed restoration work, the CRWP will host an Artists for Nature Gala on Sept. 2 at the Cordova Center. During the gala select pieces of these original artworks will be auctioned live to raise funds for CRWP programming.  

Founding members of the CRWP who were instrumental in the original Artists for Nature collaboration, Riki Ott and Kristen Carpenter, will be in attendance.  

“Black bear Hartney Bay” and nature notes by Bruce Pearson
“Sockeye Salmon in Power Creek” by David Bennet 

The idea for a fundraiser using the art came from CRWP staff members Ashley Taylor and Shea Bowman, who had admired the art within the “Alaska’s Copper River Delta” book in the office gift shop.  

CRWP executive director Lisa Docken reached out to Artists for Nature to be able to access the body of work which had been archived at the nonprofit’s location in the Netherlands. Artists for Nature and its executive director Ysbrand Brouwers agreed to donate 65 pieces of art to return to Cordova and contribute to CRWP’s cause. The art was shipped with special handling instructions, and arrived on time and in excellent condition.  

“We are so excited to have this art return home where it can be enjoyed and we are so thankful to the Artists for Nature for donating the art to CRWP to help us raise funds so we can continue salmon habitat restoration work and working for a barrier-free watershed,” Docken said of the donation.  

Local artist David Rosenthal assisted CRWP staff in unboxing and curating the art pieces at his gallery last week. Rosenthal, along with owner of the Net Loft Dotty Widman, gave input on which of the original works stood out as options to be available for auction at the upcoming gala event. A final 20 pieces were chosen for the auction.  

Rosenthal helped the CRWP store the art and prepare it on hard-backing to help keep it safe until the anniversary gala.  

Each of the original pieces of artwork will be shown matted and packed in a protective cellophane cover during the gala for guests to view up close. The auction will go live online one week prior to the event and end in-person on Sept. 2. A select number of original works will be available only in-person for ticketed guests. Tickets to the anniversary gala celebration and art auction are available on the CRWP website.  

For those unable to attend the gala, there are still opportunities to see the art inspired by the Copper River Delta. The remainder of the 65 pieces not up for auction will be stored in a fire safe storage for future events. Several pieces will also be framed and hung in the CRWP office on main street where copies of the book “Alaska’s Copper River Delta” may also be purchased.