For December, local galleries often end the year with big exhibits for their First Friday shows. With rising COVID-19 cases on the southern Kenai Peninsula, many venues have scaled back, offering new shows but with no First Friday receptions.
Others, as Bunnell Street Arts Center has been doing since this spring, hold First Friday events virtually. Events like the popular Homer Council on the Arts Nutcracker Faire have been canceled, though the arts council will hold a virtual fair.
This month features two shows by artists involved in fishing as scientists and harvesters. At Ptarmigan Arts, Kim Schuster’s “Science Observed Through Art: Unsung Species” offers different perspectives on the natural world. A woodworker and scientist, Schuster creates sculptors of fish and other animals by assembling finely crafted pieces of wood into the final work. In doing field work, Schuster also found artistic expression through the more portable media of watercolors. There is no reception for her show, but the gallery is open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily for visits following COVID-19 safety practices.
At Bunnell, setnetter and commercial fisherman Catie Bursch looks at her life in fishing as well as the changes and tragedies of fishing over the years in “Water Haul.” She’s joined by multimedia artist Charles Aguilar. In his “Lost in the Myth of America,” Aguilar uses collage and other media to look “at his struggle to make sense of our country and its history,” as he writes. The artists will hold a talk at 6 p.m. Friday through Zoom and Facebook live.
Rounding out this month’s new shows is longtime Homer artist Cindy Nelson at Grace Ridge Brewery. One of Homer’s hardest working and most prolific artists, Nelson will show her original oil paintings and jewelry. She will greet art lovers in a reception, but with COVID-19 safety precautions including face mask wearing.
Bunnell Street Arts Center
106 W. Bunnell Ave.
“Water Haul,” by Catie Bursch
“Lost in the Myth of America,” by Charles Aguilar
6 p.m. First Friday artists talk via Zoom.
December’s show features work by two Homer artists, Catie Bursch and Charles Aguilar. The artists do a talk through Zoom and Facebook live at 6 p.m. Friday. For more information and to register, visit www.bunnellarts.org.
A commercial fisherman as well as artist, Bursch explains the title of her show, “Water Haul,” as meaning “you went through your net or string of pots and you didn’t get anything but water.”
That title means more, she writes in her artist statement.
“During the time I’ve been fishing commercially, several fishermen have drowned near my fishing site. I have searched for fishermen’s bodies in calm water with sunshine, wind and heavy seas, swift current and brown water. I have never found a body, and many fishermen remain out there somewhere,” she writes. “’Water Haul’ also speaks to the weight of knowing mine is a dying trade. When you fish for a species that used to be all around the world, but is now only in a few remaining places, it’s hard to ignore the inevitable, that eventually we will have mostly water hauls.”
Her art comes from “feelings, images and stories that have accumulated in me over the 35 years I have fished commercially,” she writes.
“Some I have never spoken out loud. Some are told every year,” she wrote. “Specific incidents have been reduced in my mind to one or two scenes that stick with me. When I see these scenes in my mind’s eye, the emotions of that moment/day/tide come flooding back. They range from the hilarious to the most frightening times of my life. I love the lingo, phrases and common items known to Alaskan fishermen and am compelled to document them somehow.”
Bursch writes that as a natural scientist she has collecting bones and specimens in boxes and jars — an idea reflected in her sculptures and assemblages.
”Something in me wants to label and box these unforgettable experiences and way of life, then put them in their proper place on the shelf,” she wrote. “Mexican Day of the Dead art has definitely made an impression on me and I very much appreciate the artists and culture behind that work. Skeletons can be scary and super funny.”
Aguilar is a multimedia artist whose work encompasses music, theater, puppeteering, sculpture and mixed-media visual arts. From the silly to the sublime, he writes that his work reflects his belief and practice “that art is magik, and comes from a place deep within our dreams and subconscious.”
His current work focuses on his struggle to make sense of our country and its history. Aguilar writes that he is inspired by the collage artwork of Winston Smith and Gee Vaucher and that it is his intent to “pull back the curtain on our American subconscious, and get a glimpse into the soft underbelly of the American dream.”
Grace Ridge Brewery
3388 B. Street off Ocean Drive
Original paintings and jewelry by Cindy Nelson
5-7 p.m., First Friday Opening Reception
Homer artist Cindy Nelson shows her original paintings and jewelry.
“Being an artist in Alaska, especially Homer, has become more than my wildest dreams,” she wrote. “My past creativity was never toned or defined as it has now. Living in Homer with its local scenery continues to compel and inspire me in creating art. Whether it’s glass or paint, I enjoy making art. Learning composition, value and color hues challenges me every day. Beauty surrounds me. … What I love about oil painting is the richness of the medium and what it can express. Painting outside, or as the French say, ‘plein air,’ gives me more enjoyable challenges. Some become finished pieces that I sell here and others will be a studio study or tossed away.”
Homer Council on the Arts
355 W. Pioneer Ave.
Fun with 5×7, by various artists
The Homer Council on the Arts continues through Dec. 17 its “Fun with 5×7” show of works done in the dimensions of 5-inches by 7-inches. There are no extended hours for First Friday. The gallery is open for its regular hours from 1-5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The arts council usually holds the first weekend in December its Nutcracker Faire of Alaska handcrafted vendors, but the event has been canceled because of COVID-19 safety concerns. A virtual fair is held, however. Shop local vendors through links at the arts council’s website, https://www.homerart.org/shoplocal
Ptarmigan Arts Back Room Gallery
471 E. Pioneer Ave.
“Science Observed Through Art: Unsung Species,” by Kim Schuster
No First Friday reception. Regular hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily through Dec. 31
Kim Schuster’s exhibit, “Science Observed Through Art: Unsung Species,” is a combination of artwork and information about Alaska organisms and highlights the beauty of species in our area and her love of the lesser known animals found in the world’s oceans. Schuster grew up on the East Coast, and she earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of California Santa Cruz and a master’s degree from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She moved to Homer after graduation. She works for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and as a guide in the Antarctic in the off season.
Schuster began woodworking in middle school. She uses a scroll saw to cut a single piece of wood into smaller sections which are then finely sanded and painted before being glued back together to make the final piece. She began doing watercolors as a way to do art in the field. In her watercolors she blows on the paint to create interesting patterns. Her show includes both wood sculptures and watercolors, with explanations of the creatures show and some facts about their anatomy and life histories.