A painting by Susan Watkins hangs at the Kenai Art Center in Kenai, Alaska, on Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2023, as part of “Up Close and Far Away — My View,” the center’s August exhibit. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

A painting by Susan Watkins hangs at the Kenai Art Center in Kenai, Alaska, on Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2023, as part of “Up Close and Far Away — My View,” the center’s August exhibit. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Alaska through the eyes of an artist

Kenai Art Center’s August show features the perspective of artist Susan Watkins

Visitors to the Kenai Art Center will see Alaska through the eyes of an artist this month.

The center’s August show is titled “Up Close and Far Away — My View,” a showcase of work by Susan Watkins that frames her images from her perspective. The paintings featured in her exhibition were all created in the last year. Almost all depict Alaska — “except maybe” a painting showing the view through the mask of a scuba diver that features a large sea turtle.

Watkins said her background is in painting murals, both in urban settings to take people out of their surroundings and in places like Bass Pro Shops or Cabela’s to whet their appetite for adventure.

Watkins said she came to Alaska after she retired, but she still has the same passion for creating art that can “let people feel like they can be a part of it.”

That’s why painting from her own point of view is exciting, she said. Pieces in the show place the viewer in a kayak, onto a trail, or into a pair of Xtratufs.

“I love just being there,” she said. “Seeing up close, all the neat foliage … then where you’re going, that vista.”

The scenes depicted in her art are real, Watkins said, and some are in our own backyard. Most of the inspiration comes from her own experiences camping and hiking. The paintings show Alaska vistas, forests and other scenery. Many are exactly the sort of images that can be found out and about in an Alaska summer.

“You can do this,” she said. “You can get out and see these things.”

She said the show is a call to “appreciate what we have.”

Watkins said she’s lived in Alaska for 20 years, but she spent a lot of that time in Eagle River. Since coming to the Kenai Peninsula she’s found a “wonderful local community” of artists. She serves as a member of the center’s board of directors.

An opening reception for “Up Close and Far Away — My View,” with food and live music by Will Burnett, will be held at the center on Friday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

The exhibition will be available for viewing at the Kenai Art Center during business hours, noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday until Aug. 26.

For more information about the Kenai Art Center, visit kenaiartcenter.org or facebook.com/KenaiArtCenter.

Reach reporter Jake Dye at jacob.dye@peninsulaclarion.com.

A painting by Susan Watkins hangs at the Kenai Art Center in Kenai, Alaska, on Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2023, as part of “Up Close and Far Away — My View,” the center’s August exhibit. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

A painting by Susan Watkins hangs at the Kenai Art Center in Kenai, Alaska, on Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2023, as part of “Up Close and Far Away — My View,” the center’s August exhibit. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

A painting by Susan Watkins hangs at the Kenai Art Center in Kenai, Alaska, on Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2023, as part of “Up Close and Far Away — My View,” the center’s August exhibit. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

A painting by Susan Watkins hangs at the Kenai Art Center in Kenai, Alaska, on Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2023, as part of “Up Close and Far Away — My View,” the center’s August exhibit. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion
A painting by Susan Watkins hangs at the Kenai Art Center on Wednesday, as part of “Up Close and Far Away — My View,” the center’s August exhibit.

Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion A painting by Susan Watkins hangs at the Kenai Art Center on Wednesday, as part of “Up Close and Far Away — My View,” the center’s August exhibit.

A painting by Susan Watkins hangs at the Kenai Art Center on Wednesday, as part of “Up Close and Far Away — My View,” the center’s August exhibit. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

A painting by Susan Watkins hangs at the Kenai Art Center on Wednesday, as part of “Up Close and Far Away — My View,” the center’s August exhibit. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion
A painting of a pier, by Susan Watkins, hangs at the Kenai Art Center on Wednesday.

Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion A painting of a pier, by Susan Watkins, hangs at the Kenai Art Center on Wednesday.

Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion
A forest landscape by Susan Watkins hangs at the Kenai Art Center on Wednesday.

Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion A forest landscape by Susan Watkins hangs at the Kenai Art Center on Wednesday.

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