Alex Rydlinski — Peninsula Art Guild’s new executive director — moved to the central peninsula so he could escape to the woods, away from other people, and paint all the time.
“I was looking for a place that’s sort of off the grid,” Rydlinski said. “But I was glad, also, that there was an art gallery.”
Originally from Fairbanks, Rydlinski ventured out to Texas in the early 2000s with his band and then landed a job as a graphic designer.
Before returning to Alaska, Rydlinski, who specializes in oil painting and etch-style printmaking, took a three-month renaissance workshop in Norway with figurative painter Odd Nerdrum in 2017.
“It’s bizarre, it’s like stepping out of time,” Rydlinski said about the workshop. “You’re just living with this guy as he goes about his work.”
Rydlinski said Nerdrum tended to focus on the abstract components of his compositions.
“His whole practice is all about ideas,” Rydlinski said. “So we didn’t talk that much about painting; it’s more about philosophy and storytelling.”
Beyond his workshop with Nerdrum, Rydlinski said most everything about art he has taught himself by studying masterworks in books and museums.
As part of the local art scene, Rydlinski said he is interested in teaching more people about etching and printmaking.
“I haven’t done any classes formally, but I definitely love getting together with people and sharing knowledge,” he said.
Since becoming executive director this spring, Rydlinski has taken on a number of the Art Guild’s projects, including updating both the interior of the building and the guild’s website.
The gift gallery is currently undergoing remodeling, which Rydlinski said he hopes will be finished by the time of the first summer pottery show in July. Also being renovated is the historic Kenai jail in the back of the center, which will allow for a larger workshop space.
“It’s important to have a place like this for people to show work, so I’m happy to be involved,” Rydlinski said.