In Paris and other French cities, artists often show their works in ateliers, galleries that also include a studio. The word also refers to a school of artists, usually apprentices working with a master teacher.
While the gravel drive of Bear Creek Court in Kachemak City and the steel building of The Shop look nothing like the Left Bank, artists Elissa and David Pettibone seek to create an atelier in both senses of the word. New to Homer, the Pettibones opened The Shop in August and held its first First Friday show on Oct. 5.
Described as a “Kachemak Bay Art Space,” The Shop offers studio and display space to working artists as well classroom space for students ages youth to adult.
“We’ll feel it out,” Elissa said of their vision.
Brightly lit by large windows along the top of the barn walls as well as electric lights, one wall curves along the side for a monthly show space. A stage holds a chair and lamps for portrait sessions. Large wooden tables provide ample work space. A loft up above holds the Pettibones’ office and four, 100-square-foot studios to rent, one already claimed by painter Lorri L. Davis. On the outside walls of the studios artists also can show their works and visit for First Friday showings.
“It would be great for artists starting out to show their work,” Elissa said.
The studios fill a need sometimes lacking in Homer, especially for frugal artists living in small dry cabins or sharing households who need a clean, well-lighted place to work.
The Pettibones met in New York. Elissa Pettibone, 30, grew up in St. Cloud, Minnesota, and got a bachelor of arts in industrial design at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. David Pettibone, 37, grew up outside of Phoenix, Arizona, and got his bachelor of arts at the Rhode Island School of Design and a master of fine arts at the New York Academy of Art. Elissa had studied the art of dyeing materials, and went to New York City to work with Broadway shows like “The Lion King.”
“I was a color matcher,” she said. “I was doing hyenas 30 shades of gray.”
The couple met through mutual friends and also while taking a dyeing class together.
David Pettibone first came to Alaska in 2013 to do a self-designed seven-month residency working with Arctic whaling crews in Utqiagvik. Mostly a representational artist, he works in figurative art and landscapes.
“That was when, OK, I’m ready to move to Alaska,” David said of his Arctic experience.
In 2015, the couple moved to Anchorage, settling in Eagle River. David taught art as an adjunct instructor at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Elissa taught art to children at Blaine’s, an art supply store, and also worked as a conservationist technician at the Anchorage Museum. They moved to Homer last April.
The Pettibones want to continue teaching at The Shop, especially to children. On Wednesdays they hold classes from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. catering to homeschooled children and then from 4-6 p.m. for after school students.
“It’s for these kids,” Elissa said. “We feel art is important. I think art helps with problem solving and with patience.”
She said digital technology doesn’t allow kids to get close to art, to hold pencils and make mistakes.
“We want to provide something that’s always a messy space,” Elissa said.
The instructional calendar also includes classes for adults like David’s “Crash Course in Drawing” and “Crash Course in Oil Painting.” Open portrait painting with a clothed model is every Wednesday from 6:30-9:30 p.m. Elissa teaches classes in natural plant and material dyeing.
The Homer Folk School rents The Shop for classes, offering October workshops in felting. That’s also one of the goals of The Shop, the Pettibones said: to bring in outside instructors. One trend in art instruction has been artists who gain followings through social media like Instagram and then teach workshops. They’d like to see visiting artists rent The Shop and hold workshops — art tourism.
And like other galleries, with its first show this month of painter Karl Koett’s show, “Valley Memoir,” The Shop also has become part of the monthly First Friday art scene. Recognizing that First Friday can be hard to do in the traditional 5-7 p.m openings, The Shop holds a post-First Friday opening from 7-p.m
“Sort of an after First Friday,” Elissa said. “It’s an extra.”
The Shop is located in Kachemak City off Bear Creek Drive at 60388 Bear Creek Court. For more information, email contactTheShopAK@gmail.com or call 802-552-8070. For a full list of classes, prices, times and dates, see www.theshopak.com.