The Homer Council on the Arts’ annual “Fun with 5×7” showcase, held in November and December, can be an art collector’s dream. With its focus on affordable art no larger than 5-inches by 7-inches, those looking to acquire established Homer artists like Sharlene Cline, Lynn Marie Naden or Kathy Smith can purchase works for less than $200.
The show also offers an alternative to supply-chain stressed, poorly made consumer goods that might not show up in time for Christmas. For as little as $25, holiday shoppers can buy original art from local creators in media from encaustics to acrylics to found objects. Even someone living in a tiny home or one-room dry cabin can find art small enough to put on a wall, yet still bursting with talent and creativity.
This year’s show includes familiar names like Dianne Spence-Chorman, Kiki Abrahamson, Jozef Pawlikowski, Michael Murray and Karen Roush, as well as artists new to the Homer scene like Barbara Bigelow and Leah Dunn. Dunn, a Homer High School junior, also is part of a group of young artists that include students of HCOA Art a la Carte classes with Kim McNett and Ann-Margret Wimmerstedt.
Bigelow, who splits her time between Homer and Ketchikan, shows small sculptures made out of found objects. One series, the Levon Anoroc — “Novel corona” spelled backward — came out of the COVID-19 pandemic. One work shows the aurora borealis.
“I was trying to express joy and the beauty of Alaska and also the idea of hope beyond this crazy pandemic,” she said.
Another work, “Levon Anoroc Diamonds and Rust #5,” can look like a mask and shows the idea of pareidolia, where faces can be seen in objects. Bigelow said she didn’t intend it to be a mask.
“One of the things I’ve always said is if art provokes a reaction or offends someone, then it probably has done its job as art,” she said.
Four children from the Kincaid family took Wimmerstedt’s encaustic class. In encaustics, artists use a medium made of beeswax and damar, a tree resin, mixed with pigmented wax. The wax can be used like paint, but it also can be put down in thick layers and then melted with a blowtorch or a heat gun. A heated palette like an electric frying pan keeps the wax fluid.
Isaiah Jane Kincaid, age 10, said her teacher at Fireweed Academy, Carly Garay, encouraged her and her siblings to take the class. Isaiah Jane said she liked how encaustics could be forgiving.
“If you put too much wax on it, you can easily scrape it off and it would dry really fast,” she said.
For her work in the show, Isaiah Jane added a paper image of a butterfly — a collage technique that also can be done in encaustics.
Ames Immanuel Kincaid, 12, explored another technique: melting the media.
“If you put your painting vertically and horizontally, it will drip down. That’s what I did with mine.”
Isaiah Jane’s twin, Honor Kincaid, also took Wimmerstedt’s class, as did Haddie Kincaid, age 8.
“I learned that you can put anything on it and it really doesn’t mess it up,” she said. “You can scrape it off and add more layers. I put brown on it and I really didn’t like it. I put pink on it after it dried.”
Haddie said she learned how an encaustic painting can be added to in layers.
“If you mess up, it’s not that bad. I messed up and I did my wax for the texture,” she said. “It dripped in a spot I didn’t like. I made something pretty out of it and made a line where my mistake was.”
Dunn, 16, remembered taking art classes at HCOA when she was younger. Most recently she has been taking art classes with Alayne Teter at Homer High School. She previously showed work in HCOA’s members only exhibit. One painting in the 5×7 show, “Birch Grove in Autumn,” is a traditional Alaska landscape, but another painting, “Solitary,” has a more fantastical theme. It shows a house sitting on a cone-shaped slab of earth drifting among the clouds or possibly an ice-choked sea.
“That one was kind of — I thought it looked kind of cool,” Dunn said.
Dunn also does some sculpture, like carving boats out of cottonwood bark, a technique she learned from her father, wooden boat builder Dick Dunn.
Dunn said she didn’t know if she wanted to pursue a career in the arts.
“It’s a possibility, I probably will keep painting,” she said.
“Fun with 5×7” shows through Dec. 22 and can be seen during regular gallery hours from 1-5 p.m., Monday-Friday. COVID-19 safety restrictions apply, and face masks are required.