As Alaska moves toward reopening businesses and nonprofit organizations, Homer’s local art venues have cautiously begun to open their own spaces.
Although only Grace Ridge Brewery will hold a First Friday reception — with face masks strongly encouraged — other galleries will hold new shows. Some, like Bunnell Street Arts Center, do artist talks on First Friday virtually. Others won’t have receptions, but do have new art on display, while still others are simply re-opening to the public with the same art as before. The joyful, crowded summer First Friday scene will be subdued, but there are plenty of opportunities to see new art and maybe meet some of the artists.
Don’t forget the Homer Council on the Arts Mary Epperson Day Celebration, held virtually or outdoors in a variety of ways on June 6. Enjoy video musical performances at www.homerart.org. See art on Pioneer Avenue in an art walk and enjoy outdoor Pier One Theatre mini-shows on the Pratt Museum forest trail.
Many galleries have special restrictions, such as limited numbers of visitors at a time or required face mask wearing. Respect their requests and enjoy art safely.
Reach Michael Armstrong at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Art Shop Gallery
202 W. Pioneer Ave.
Dynamic Alaska, new work by Theresa Gonzalez
The Art Shop Gallery has reopened with hours noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Masks are recommended but not required. While the gallery will not have a First Friday show, for June it features original acrylic paintings by Theresa Gonzalez of Ninilchik. A wife, mother and artist, Gonzalez lives in a log cabin on a homestead on the Kenai Peninsula
“I draw my inspiration for my art from all that I see and experience in the great outdoors, from epic scenery and abundant wildlife, from the tallest peak to the rocky coastlines, to the people and places that make Alaska so special,” she writes.
Bunnell Street Arts Center
106 W. Bunnell Ave.
Traditions, Transitions, by Peter Williams
6 p.m., First Friday artist talk on Zoom
Bunnell Street Arts Center has opened with limited hours and entrance from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Saturday, with only five visitors at a time and masks required. June’s artist, Peter Williams, does an artist’s talk via Zoom at 6 p.m. Friday. Register in advance at https://www.bunnellarts.org/peter-williams-june-exhibit-2020/. In preparation for the talk, view his movie“Harvest (Quyurciq)” on Vimeo at https://vimeo.com/142203976 with the password “Respect.”
Williams (Yup’ik) is an artist, filmmaker, hunter and designer based in Sitka. His work bridges the worlds of fashion and art, tradition and innovation. Peter hunts in the ways taught by his elders, honoring the animal and asking for its life, emphasizing the human spiritual relationship with nature. He uses animal products in the design of garments, art objects, and food, all the while generating dialog about the tensions between Native practices and Western culture. He has taught skin sewing at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and Stanford University and presented at New York Fashion Week and was profiled in The Guardian and in the New York Times.
According to the show’s description, Williams creates his work in the context of colonization, from a time when the arrival of foreigners to the New World disrupted the natural balance enjoyed by Indigenous peoples. Since colonization, Yup’ik people have not been able to freely practice their customs, traditions, and lifestyles. Countless practices have been banned or shamed and forcibly removed. Williams’s work aims to decolonize the conversations, economics, and regulations surrounding his art and cultural practice, continuing these traditions of survival in a contemporary context.
“Survival involves smartphones and motorboats as much as it requires living close to nature,” he writes in his artist’s statement. “Indigenous wisdom teaches us to how to connect. My work is an act, a practice and a product of survival. It suggests a new way forward.”
Grace Ridge Brewery
3388 B. Street off Ocean Drive
Dynamic Lighting in Alaska, paintings by Lydia Johnston
5-7 p.m., First Friday Opening Reception. Please wear a mask for the protection of all.
Lydia Johnston moved to Homer in 2018 and said that she “has been awestruck ever since.” She paints in acrylic on canvas, using photos she’s taken from around the Kenai Peninsula and using a heavy-body medium to allow literal texture to enhance the visual texture. A prominent piece in her show is a triptych based on a photograph of a summer sunset whose colors she said she has been chasing ever since.
Of her work, she writes, “This show is my first in a series of love letters to Alaska, a place that has become more than just a distance spot on the far corner of a map in my life. It’s a living, breathing, and ever-changing being. Solstice to solstice transforms Alaska from frigid and still to luscious and full of bustling life. The sun could sit low and heavy, peering across snow-covered spruce branches for just a few short hours per day, or it could paint rich warmth across the clouds and sky past midnight.
“… These particular paintings focus on dynamic lighting, especially at dawn or dusk near either solstice. I am especially interested in putting the primary focus on color and light to make up a composition. I want to break down the colors, exploring how they interact with each other, emphasizing the warmth found in fantastic sunlight.”
Homer Council on the Arts
344 W. Pioneer Ave.
Abundant Wildlife, art by Jay Wright
First Friday Opening; no reception
Saturday: Mary Epperson Day celebration with outdoors social distancing events and virtual events.
The Homer Council on the Arts reopens Friday with safety protocols of no more than five visitors at a time, 6-foot social distancing between household groups, cloth face masks strongly encouraged and the use of hand sanitizer. Artist Jay Wright will be visiting the gallery from 1-5 p.m. Friday.
In his biography, Wright says that he was born in Miami, Florida. As a young child Wright was drawn to the outdoors, its abundant wildlife, and most of all, the adventure of life tself. Learning about the local animals, ocean creatures and eventually, the realization that he had a knack for drawing, Jay continued to grow into a man with the utmost appreciation for his outdoor surroundings, and a yearning to immortalize his visions through pad and pencil. As he continued to experience different locations around the world, he decided that Alaska was where his heart lies, from the moment he stepped onto its soil. Alaska, with its grand natural beauty, ruggedness, and stunning wildlife, was just the place for him to call his permanent home. As with all of his life’s adventures, he goes in with the reckless abandon of a fearless child, and captures what his eye sees, the beauty and simplicity of nature at its finest. This is carried into his artwork for the benefit and enjoyment of all who wish to join in his wondrous world of art.
Mary Epperson Day celebrates the life of Mary Epperson (1922-2016), called “the patron saint of arts in Homer” by former HCOA director Joy Steward. Best remembered as a music teacher and booster of the arts and education in Homer. Mary taught piano at Etude Studio, formerly adjacent to HCOA, encouraging generations of students. She volunteered and directed performers to get involved with the Kenai Peninsula Orchestra and Pier One Theatre, served on the board of HCOA, and was a major supporter of the building of Kachemak Bay Campus.
Recognized by many as the “creative heart of Homer,” the community has gathered annually on Mary’s birthday, June 6, to recognize her work in fostering the arts and to celebrate the arts in Homer. Mary Epperson Day was initiated by a mayoral proclamation in 2011. This regular public event is taking place in a more distant format this year under concerns around COVID-19. Events include:
• The Pioneer Avenue Art Walk, featuring classic artworks on display in windows of participating business, June 6-18.
• 6”x6” art pieces combined into a quilt-like Community Mural on the HCOA building
• Submitted Musical Performances will premiere at www.homerart.org.
• Pier One Theatre presents Mini Performances along the Pratt Museum trails from 2-4 p.m. Enjoy live theatre in the wild! (masks required)
• Visit the HCOA Gallery 1-5 p.m. to see Jay Wright’s Abundant Wildlife and purchase your Mary Epperson tote bag (limited gallery occupancy, masks encouraged).
• KBBI will be airing the entire playlist of music submitted to HCOA for Mary Epperson Day, at 11 a.m. on Saturda, June 6.
Ptarmigan Arts Back Room Gallery
471 E. Pioneer Ave.
Ptarmigan Arts will not have a new show or First Friday, but it is now open from noon to 4 p.m. Friday through Monday. Masks are required and hand sanitizer is at the doors and cashier’s desk, with sneeze guards at the register. The restroom is closed to the public. Credit or debit card purchases only; no cash.