A fish surfaces through a milky bath of wax and freezes broadside, the details of its scales and shape frozen in view.
The fish hangs in a wooden frame on the wall of the Kenai Fine Arts Center in Old Town Kenai. A lucky bidder in the center’s annual Harvest Art Auction Saturdady will be able to take the work of art home.
The piece, one of a set of works displayed in August as part of Brandi Kerley’s “Artefact” display, is one of about 50 items up for sale in the annual auction fundraiser. Attendees will be able to participate in both a silent and an outcry auction while enjoying live music, local catering and wine contributed from local farm Alaska Berries.
The center has been hosting the auction for about 16 years as a fundraiser for the center, contributing to the utilities and upkeep of the facility, said Connie Tarbox, one of the organizers. The show features mostly central Kenai Peninsula artists with some from elsewhere on the peninsula, others from around the state and a few from out of state.
Local art is the focus of the Kenai Fine Arts Center’s work, Tarbox said. Throughout the year, the gallery will represent the work of 200 artists of all ages, including children, she said. Though the arts center seeks to provide a place for artists to display their work, other places in the area have begun to display local art as well, partially spurred by the First Thursday reception events around town, she said.
“Local art has really gotten more support in recent years with restaurants, coffee shops,” she said.
Pottery, sculpture, pencil drawings, paintings, encaustic art and photography are represented in the collection up for auction Friday. Attendees have been able to bid on the silent auction items since Sept. 1, and when the bids reach the asking price, the bids close. Some of the items are already spoken for, though some are still available.
“Some artists have been donating since the beginning,” said Benjamin Jackinsky, the immediate past president of the Peninsula Art Guild and one of the event’s organizers.
The event is a white-tablecloth, sit-down evening, with limited admission — the small size of the building allows a limited crowd — for $30 per person. Those wishing to attend can purchase tickets at the Kenai Fine Arts Center, which is open from 12–5 Wednesday through Saturday, before the event, he said.
The Kenai Fine Arts Center opened in 1980, occupying the building that used to house the City of Kenai’s fire and police departments. The office in the back still has the door to the jail cell.
The arts center’s mission statement is “to provide support and venue for Central Peninsula visual artists through workshop, sales, and gallery space as well as scholarships for continuing education in the arts.” Part of that is to provide occasional workshops for artists and space for those workshops to occur. Tarbox said the center was open to suggestions for workshops in the future.
Local artists come from a variety of backgrounds and are a variety of ages. Sometimes they do not begin showing work until later in life, but many find creative outlets wherever they can, she said.
“If they’re not painting or throwing pots, they’re finding a creative outlet somewhere,” she said.
Tickets are still available for the Harvest Art Auction, which takes place Saturday at 6 p.m. Outcry bidding opens at 7 p.m.