Muralists collaborate at Kenai Art Center
If you’ve happened to drop by the Kenai Art Center within the last week, you may have caught a group of local and visiting muralists sketching and brushing paint on the wall. Artists in the invitation-only 4th Annual Mural Show have painted large and small murals, as well as pedestals. This year’s theme is “down to earth.”
“Even though each mural is separate, the whole project is one piece of artwork,” said Charlotte Coots, Kenai Art Center Executive Director. “It’s one continuous mural.”
Those invited to participate have one week to complete their murals. While some muralists have sketches and concrete ideas in mind, others follow a more fluid approach.
“Normally, getting done faster is not something we would be concerned with, but because we only have seven days to complete such a big piece of work, it is constantly on their minds,” Coots said. “It is interesting to see how each artist deals with that emotionally as they are running into obstacles with their piece or changing ideas mid-stream.”
On a particular night, Kenai’s Sandra Lewis is adding the final touches to her mural show contribution. Her piece is inspired by scenes of the Kenai Peninsula and Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula.
“I started thinking about what makes me grounded, and it made me realize that I have to live, and I have always lived, where there are mountains and water,” Lewis said. “Those are the things that if I’m stressed or overwhelmed, if I can go look at those or be around those, it calms me down.”
Images of the beach and Mt. Redoubt are present in Lewis’ mural. The focal point is a washed-up kelp plant.
Hard at work across the gallery is returning mural artist Anna Widman. She is a former student of Lewis’, who is a retired school teacher.
Widman’s contribution, titled “Puffins on Final,” personifies one of Alaska’s most iconic birds in an airport setting.
“I loved puffins when I was a kid. I used to have a hat that had a puffin bill on the front of it, because I think they’re just beautiful and unique,” Widman said. “They’re just the cutest thing when you see them.”
For Widman and other artists, the Mural Show allows them the chance to work alongside other local artists. Some say this is the only time of the year they get to do so.
“I hope that when people come and see all the work they understand what a creative area this is, and how many artists we have that are kind of hidden because they do other jobs to support themselves,” Coots said. “A project like this really lets our community know that we have a really strong group of artists that live here and that are actively trying to create art and collaborate with each other.”
The mural show will have its opening reception this Friday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The art center will also have a Mural-Gallery Art Walk, where attendees can meet the artists. That will be held on Nov. 18 from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Both events are free and open to the public.