The Kenai Art Center is buzzed for the opening of its latest show — which will feature a limited edition jail-themed ale and art by local printmakers.
Alex Rydlinski, the executive director of the center, said the event will not only feature this month’s art exhibition, but also a soft opening of the renovated historic Kenai Fire Hall and Jail, located in the workshop space at the back of the building.
To complement the jail’s opening, Kenai River Brewing Company is donating a “Pale Jail Ale” for the event on Thursday.
“They’re the real heroes of this event — they’re so generous,” Rydlinski said, who emphasized the giving spirit of the community.
“ … Kenai is like that, isn’t it? Everyone is happy to be here, happy to help each other out.”
The Kenai Fire Hall and Jail was built in the mid 1950s, according to the City of Kenai. After the local police and fire department moved facilities in 1973, the Kenai Arts and Humanities Council took over the building. Since 1980, the space has been renovated and turned into what is now the Kenai Art Center main gallery, gift gallery and workshop space.
Marion Nelson, the president of the Peninsula Art Guild, said the event is meant to promote both the new art show and the historical component of the space.
“Being in jail is no joke, but this is long past being used seriously,” she said. “So we enjoy having a little fun with it like most people would.”
And in the main gallery room, the public will be able to view prints of all sizes, themes and colors.
Rydlinski said printmaking is a unique medium.
“It’s a fine art, for sure,” he said. “These images are as interesting as anything that’s ever been in the show, but what’s great is since there are multiples, people can afford it.”
Printmaking can be done in various ways and difficulty levels, but the basics involve marking a design into wood, copper, linoleum, or other substrate, then inking the surface and pressing the illustration onto paper like a stamp, usually multiple times.
This particular medium makes it easier for artists to create duplicates for their work. An oil painter, for example, or a sculptor, would have to create a whole new piece from scratch.
One of Rydlinski’s favorite pieces of the exhibit is a print of a T-Rex called “Terror of Titan 9.”
“Joe Carr’s meticulous technique makes it hard to walk away from his etchings,” he said. “A piece like ‘Terror of Titan 9’ is also a great reminder to use your imagination. It’s strange to say, but artists often forget to do that.”
Nelson said this is the first Kenai Art Center show that has featured just prints.
“It’s a spectacular show,” she said. “There’s all different varieties of how one would execute a print.”
The opening reception of the print show and Kenai Fire Hall and Jail will be from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday. Those 21 and older will be able to purchase three beer Pale Jail Ale tokens for $15 and light refreshments will be served.
Masks are recommended upon entry.