Tonight’s opening reception for the “Fact and Fiction” art showcase is expected to have something for everybody.
The reception, hosted tonight from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Kenai Fine Arts Center, is set to showcase the aesthetic contrasts between local artists Chris Jenness and James Adcox. The duo are presenting an array of more than 30 individual pieces that illustrate two separate ideas.
Chris Jenness, a 1996 computer graphics major at Stephen F. Austin State University (Texas), has been a graphic designer for 20 years, and after moving to the peninsula in 1999 earned a teaching degree. The Nikiski artist currently works as a freelance graphic designer and is an art teacher at Soldotna High School. Jenness said his love of science fiction culture helped spur his creativity.
“I’ve always loved science fiction art, old book covers, movie poster art and the like,” he said. “I was looking to emulate that sort of style.”
James Adcox was also raised in Texas, and said his love of art was cultivated with his identical twin brother at a young age, but it was not until his time spent at Collin College (formerly Collin County Community) in Plano that he began dabbling in oil paints.
“I consider it a hunger or thirst,” Adcox said. “If we’re not creating, we want to do it. We need that.”
Adcox has spent a combined 18 years in Fairbanks, Nome and Kenai, and currently works as a children’s librarian at the Kenai Community Library.
Jenness said he sees his and Adcox’s conflicting art pieces as a clash between naturalism and science fiction.
“James’ style is very meticulous and very calm in a lot of ways,” Jenness said. “It’s very detailed and rich, so I wanted to do something big, and not necessarily loud, but vast. His work is very close up and personal, and mine is pulled way back.”
Adcox said he hopes people will be able to relate to his side, the “fact,” on a personal level.
“Whether it be between mother and child, a 6-year-old boy in a costume, I think some things people will see and reflect on and add memories of their own to the pieces,” Adcox said. “I hope they relate to them on a human level. I think the pieces offer some kind of narrative, and I hope they enjoy them.”
Adcox said the exhibit is not divided clearly between the two clashing displays, but is meant to be a constant swing from naturalism to surrealism. One minute, the viewer might be enjoying a moody offering of a slice of life, the next they could be faced with an explosion of color that paints a far-off galaxy. While Adcox’s work savors the simple moments of reality, Jenness’ work fashions a world of fantasy.
Jenness said he usually works with pastels and computer graphics, but decided to exit his own comfort zone and try his hand at oil painting with Adcox.
“I also do watercolor and linoleum block prints, but oil painting I personally feel is the most liberating medium,” Jenness said. “I feel like I have the most control with that medium.”
Jenness said his partner’s style is reflected in his naturalistic oil paintings that depict real world occurrences, while his own paintings construct wild narratives and depict scenes of cosmic imagery that sends the viewer to another world.
“I knew the direction he’d probably be going, so thought (it would be) fun for me to go opposite,” Jenness said. “What I’m doing is based in science fiction.”
Jenness said his display consists of 15 pieces of work, most paintings but a collection that also includes an “altered book that the audience is encouraged to look through,” along with a larger 8-foot-long canvas piece that is made up of 44 smaller canvases.
Adcox will have 18 pieces on display, the majority of them depicting people, although he added there are about four landscape pieces as well.
Adcox and Jenness said they have worked on the collection for nearly two years, a journey that began when Adcox was approached by Kenai Fine Arts Vice President Marion Nelson, who suggested his work would be a great addition to Jenness’ for a show.
Once the pair got to talking, the creative juices began flowing and the name organically sprung from the two styles that each man possessed.
“It was a labor of love for two years,” Adcox said. “And as a husband and father with a full time job, it was wonderful and a challenge, and I wanted my children to know their dad does paint and produce artwork. It was a show or deadline that helped motivate me.”
“Fact and Fiction” runs through the holiday season. The show will be on display during normal hours at the Kenai Fine Arts Center, noon to 5 p.m. on Wednesdays through Saturdays. The show will also see a second reception date Dec. 6.