Three community shows around Homer this week highlight one thing town residents have to be thankful for: a plethora of talented artists.
KBC class develops work
by diverse artists
Head into the lobby of Kachemak Bay Campus at any point this month, and you’ll find yourself surrounded by warm, brightly colored works of art. Students in Asia Freeman’s fall painting class at the college gathered on Nov. 12 to celebrate the display of their work from the semester.
Many of the paintings on display are landscapes — the class began with a unit on outdoor painting. Breanna Brizendine, in her first semester at the college, said that project was fun but challenging, with the light changing so quickly. Her favorite project was a painting of a jellyfish inspired by a photo she’d seen.
“Alaska is gorgeous. The world is beautiful. Sometimes you can capture that beauty with a camera, sometimes you can do it with a painting,” said Carol Beverly. She and her husband Chris, both photographers, are returning veterans of the class, which meets once a week and requires students to work on their painting for five hours at home each week.
The nine students displaying their work represent the full gamut of age and artistic experience, from young first-time painters like Brizendine to seasoned vets like the Beverlys. But all the work on the walls is impressive. Gloria Mumm, another student, said she thinks Freeman does a great job nurturing the painting skills of each student. She said the diversity of experience is what makes the class special.
“It adds to the depth of the class. After 40 years of nursing, I’m retired, and this is just fun for me because it causes you to look at things differently,” she said.
The student work will be on display at KPC until January.
HCOA and Hospice of Homer
explore meaning of “loss”
A community show at the Homer Council on the Arts also includes a wide range of artistic experience.
“Loss,” a collaborative meditation on that theme sponsored by HCOA and Hospice of Homer, includes pieces by artists like Celia Anderson who’ve been showing work in Homer for decades. Her three detailed paintings, “Time Is Not A Thing You Can Touch,” “Afterimage,” and “There’s a River,” all depict people who look deep in contemplation.
But for some artists this show is a gallery debut. That made the show’s First Friday opening an emotional night.
“There are no words to describe how good it feels to help an artist get to a place where their work is hanging in a gallery and see how much it means to them,” said Peggy Paver, HCOA’s executive director.
“Loss” is the first show that Paver and HCOA operations and programs assistant Kari Odden have curated together.
“I was afraid that it would look disjointed with so many different artists but it’s got a really cohesive feel,” said Paver. “And I feel like it really reflects that notion of loss — that we all experience it differently, and it’s not just sad and blue and tragic, it’s reflective and interesting.”
The 27 pieces on the gallery walls each interpret loss differently. While many are paintings, some artists took to different media to express themselves. Carol Dee and Nancy Levinson both contributed poems. An interactive piece by Trish Herman invites visitors to leave slips of paper detailing things they wanted to forget or let go in a medicine bag. Herman plans to burn the papers to symbolically free the people who created them from regrets or grief that tie them down.
While all the pieces reflect some kind of loss and most express pain, many are colorful — some even humorous. Odden, who selected the pieces from the around 35 submitted by local artists, said that was her favorite thing about the show. On the flyer requesting submissions, she’d included a comic illustration of a man losing his hair to show that “loss” didn’t have to mean serious or sad.
Jim Ellison took that advice to heart.
When Odden couldn’t find his piece and called to ask when he would bring it in, Ellison responded, “You already have it.” His piece, “Nothing,” is literally that — plain old air with a tag next to it. Odden said that created entertaining interactions with gallery visitors, who anxiously alerted her that someone had stolen one of the works of art.
“Loss” will be on display at HCOA through December.
10×10 Show shows that
creativity trumps size
The pieces on display at Bunnell Street Art Center’s annual 10×10 show, which opened for Bunnell members on Friday, Nov. 20, also exemplify creative interpretations born from a single direction.
All pieces in the show were created with one requirement: they had to be 10 inches by 10 inches, or 10 inches cubed if the work was a sculpture. Fifty-four community artists responded with 91 works in wood, clay, paint, photography, fabric and drawing.
Many drew inspiration from wildlife. A painting entitled “Family” by Homer artist Ed Hutchinson made use of chemical reactions in the paint to show white polar bears on a white background. The piece is part of a series Hutchinson is creating that depicts arctic animals. He’s done about 300 of the paintings.
Three pieces by Beka Thoning are versions of the same photo of salmon heads, Photoshopped into a circle in different colors. From far away, the images look like flowers: “Dahlia,” “Forget Me Not” and “Peony.” Thoning called the pieces propaganda for Alaska wildlife conservation and natural foods — a response to FDA approval of foods using genetically modified organisms.
Other pieces were inspired by humans of Homer and their experiences.
Abigail Kokai came to Homer for an artist residency last year and decided to stick around. Her two fabric pieces in the show are experiments in embroidery and applique, depicting people she’s met here. Brian Payne’s tryptich is a comic with three panels in which a woman recites a haiku written by Payne’s wife, Skywalker. Sadie Miller’s pieces, abstract paintings on wood, are dedicated to her father. And in her three-part piece, Sharlene Cline used humor to draw on a painful experience.
The project began as a joke: she thought it would be fun to paint her body and make prints of different body parts on paper.
“But like a lot of jokes, it’s kind of a veil for truth and things that are not talked about easily,” she said. The piece became a way for her to reflect on her experience with breast cancer, and explore the idea of comfort with one’s own body.
Bunnell director Asia Freeman said she couldn’t be more pleased with how the show turned out.
“I think in a lot of ways with art, limitations are the mother of innovation. So the most exciting thing to me is the tremendous span of responses within the constraints of 10 by 10 and that these works have so much diversity and energy,” she said. “They just pop out of their small space and create this really lively, stimulating, colorful kind of brilliant lining to the community this time of year. To me, it’s like the silver lining of Homer at this time of year to see this incredible showcase of community talent and diversity.”
Bunnell will host a second opening for the 10×10 show on Friday, Dec. 4, for the general public.