Kudos All Around

Philanthropic Business of the Year


Jackie and Jim Triplette

Triplette Construction was chosen as the Philanthropic Business of the Year by the Juneau Community Foundation. The award reads as follows:

In recognition of your dedication to the community of Juneau, and generous support of the Caouette Cabin, Empty Chair Project and other Juneau Community Foundation special projects.

Thank you, Jim, for all you have done to provide a beautiful and enduring site for the Empty Chair Memorial. We are very proud and grateful for all you have quietly accomplished for the Empty Chair Project and the community of Juneau.

Congratulations on your award!

Empty Chair Memorial Receives National Honors


Here is the introduction to an article written for the Juneau Empire on June 12th by Melissa Griffiths in which she shares this honor with the Juneau community.

The Empty Chair has been honored as an outstanding public art project for 2014 by Americans for the Arts, a national nonprofit focused on advancing the arts and arts education.

Along with 30 others, The Empty Chair was selected from among 300 entries across the country and recognized at the organization’s annual convention in Chicago.

“The best of public art can challenge, delight, educate and illuminate. Most of all, public art creates a sense of civic vitality in the cites, towns, and communities we inhabit and visit,” Americans for the Arts President and CEO Robert Lynch said. “As these Public Art Network Year in Review selections illustrate, public art has the power to enhance our lives on a scale that little else can. I congratulate the artists and commissioning groups for these community treasures, and I look forward to honoring more great works in the years to come.” 

Americans for the Arts Certificate 001

The Americans for the Arts website is at the following link where The Empty Chair is featured along with 30 other pieces of American public art that were selected to be recognized in their 2015 review :


Peter Reiquam, the memorial’s creator, responded as follows:

I’ve just learned of the award myself and it is an honor to have my work recognized among all of the public art projects created nationwide in the past year. In fact it’s been an honor to be a part of the Empty Chair Project since I was asked to create the memorial sculpture over two years ago and I’ve been so impressed with all of the hard work and dedication the Empty Chair Committee has put into bringing the project to fruition. Not to mention all of the people who contributed time and money and in-kind donations. I’ve met and become friends with several of the key players and I’m especially pleased to see how the memorial has taken on a life beyond its initial conception and creation. The story continues to be told, adding a new chapter every few weeks or months. It truly is what I would call a living memorial and I’m honored to be a part of it.

The Juneau community raised significant funds for the memorial enabling a contract with Peter to be drafted before the National Park Service grant came through. As Karleen Grummett was quoted as saying, “This is an award all of Juneau can share and be proud of.”

Thank you Peter for creating this powerful “living memorial” with such insight and sensitivity. We know your sculpture will continue to inspire people for years to come. Also, congratulations on your recognition at a national level.

Here is a link to the article in the Juneau Empire:


In addition, Casey Kelly at KTOO covered this honor in a post of his own at the following link:


The Alaska Legislature Honoring the Empty Chair Project


The Twenty-ninth Alaska Legislature honored the Empty Chair Project with a legislative citation on March 27, 2015. The citation was created in the office of Representative Sam Kito. Dennis Egan was the prime sponsor in the Senate. A list of cosponsors follows the text of the citation below.

     The Twenty-ninth Alaska Legislature honors the work of the Empty Chair Project Committee for their efforts in memorializing members of Juneauy’s Japanese community who were interned by the federal government during World War II. The project consisted of several components, including a bronze sculpture, an exhibit at the Juneau-Douglas City Museum, a documentary film, and several public talks. The project received the Esther Billman Certificate of Excellence from the Alaska Historical Society.

     World War II saw over 200 Alaskans interned, including Juneau’s John Tanaka. Though the designated valedictorian for Juneau High School’s class of 1942, John was unable to appear at his graduation as a result of internment. The Juneau High School, and the residents of Juneau, showed support for John by placing an empty chair on stage during the graduation ceremony to bring attention to his absence and, by extension, all those Alaskans interned.

     Several decades later, Margie Shackelford and Karleen Alstead Grummett, with the support and encouragement of Tanaka’s sisters Mary Tanaka Abo and Alice Tanaka Hikido, co-founded the Empty Chair Project Committee. The Committee worked tirelessly to raise funds, with Roger Grummett’s guidance, and to coordinate efforts for each aspect of the project, from the sculpture to the exhibit, from the documentary interviews to the public talks and on-going blog.

     The memorial, the first of its kind in Alaska, is located in the park beside the Terry Miller Legislative Office Building, previously the Juneau High School. The bronze sculpture depicts a slightly oversized replica of the chair that was placed on the stage during the 1942 graduation ceremony. The museum exhibit at the Juneau-Douglas City Museum featured photographs and artifacts from Juneau families affected by the internment and told the stories of those who were interned.

     Juneau filmmaker Greg Chaney, in collaboration with Mary and Alice, led work on a documentary of the events. This piece,  “The Empty Chair”, received the Made in Alaska Honorable Mention at the Anchorage International Film Festival. A special highlight of the project included several public talks and viewings of the documentary. This provided an opportunity to engage the community in a discussion of the events that impacted our families and friends in Juneau, Southeast Alaska, and beyond.

     Members of the Empty Chair Project Committee include: Mary Tanaka Abo, Dixie Johnson Belcher, Marsha Erwin Bennett, Marie Darlin, David Gray, Karleen Alstead Grummett, Roger Grummett, Alice Tanaka Hikido, Janie Hollenbach Homan, Betty Echigo Marriott, Andrew Pekovich, Janet Borgen Pekovich, Marjorie Alstead Shackelford, and Jackie Honeywell Triplette. Project Advisors included: Ron Inouye, Greg Chaney, Jim Triplette, Brent Fischer, and Steve Mcphetres.

     The Twenty-ninth Alaska Legislature is proud to highlight the Empty Chair Project and are grateful for the many contributions of all those involved in creating a lasting memorial. The Juneau community as well as the many visitors who come each year now have the opportunity to experience a thought-provoking sculpture that may lead to further investigation and understanding of a time in our nation that bears remembering so that it never happens again.

Signed by: Mike Chenault, Speaker of the House; Kevein Meyer, President of the Senate; Representative Sam Kito, Prime Sponsor; Senator Dennis Egan, Prime Sponsor.

Cosponsors: Representatives Munoz, Chenault, Claman, Colver, Drummond, Edgmon, Foster, Gara, Gattis, Gruenberg, Guttenberg, Hawker, Herron, Hughes, Johnson, Josephson, Kawasaki, Keller, Kreiss-Tomkins, LeDoux, Lynn, Millett, Nageak, Neuman, Olson, Ortiz, Pruitt, Saddler, Seaton, Coghill, Costello, Dunleavy, Ellis, Gardner, Giessel, Hoffman, Huggins, Kelly, MacKinnon, McGuire, Micciche, Olson, Stedman, Stevens, Stoltze, Wielechowski

The Empty Chair Committee is very surprised, yet grateful, for this honor. A heartfelt thank you to all the legislators who signed the citation! You’ve validated our conviction that establishing the memorial will, in some small measure, acknowledge a past injustice and help to insure that it will not happen again.


Representative Sam Kito flanked by Alice Hikido, Mary Abo and Margie Shackelford at a brief ceremony at the Empty Chair Memorial. Sam read the citation and copies were passed out to all those who helped the Empty Chair Memorial become a reality or helped its message spread throughout the community of Juneau.

Empty Chair Interpretive Sign Arrives at the Site


Empty Chair Memorial Interpretive Sign

Karleen Grummett is instrumental in seeing to it that an interpretive sign has now been added to the memorial site. It tells the story of the Empty Chair, embellished with photos of the era and the names of the community members who helped develop the site and the committee members who brought the memorial to fruition.

Sarah Olsen is credited with the layout and design of the interpretive sign. Thank you Sarah for your talent and creativity as you have made the story come alive so that all who pass by will be drawn to read the sign and understand the significance of the chair.

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Greg Chaney Scores Awards at Two More Film Festivals

After winning an Honorable Mention at the Anchorage Film Festival for his film The Empty Chair, Greg Chaney was accepted into two more festivals.


DisOrient Asian American Film Festival of Oregon.

The first was the DisOrient Film Festival in Eugene, Oregon, and on April 19th Greg received an Honorable Mention.  Below Greg is being interviewed by a local TV station right after stepping off the plane to attend the festival. This was the film’s first showing outside of Alaska.

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Greg then received Best Documentary Feature at the F3 Film Festival in Fairbanks for his film after showing  at the Alaska Centennial Center for the Arts on April 23rd!.

F3 Fairbanks Film Festival

F3 Fairbanks Film Festival

Pretty exciting stuff! Congratulations Greg on work well done. We love your film and are very happy for you