The Homer Council on the Arts’ annual “Fun with 5×7” show challenges artists to think small and create within the confined space of 5-inches by 7-inches. The fun comes not only with the ways artists interpret the theme, but with the diversity of ages and talents of the artists shown.
The show went up on Nov. 6 and continues through Dec. 17 to provide art lovers looking for an affordable holiday gift a chance to find original art — sometimes for less than $100. The show also can be viewed online at https://www.homerart.org/calendar/2020/11/6/annual-5×7-show.
“It was this opportunity to push myself a little bit,” artist Amanda Kelly said of why she entered the show. “Sometimes creativity flourishes with constraints. To be given the dimensions and a deadline can be motivating. That was part of it — hey I’m going to step out of my comfort zone.”
Kelly is also the arts council’s communications and marketing director.
Not all the works adhere strictly to the two-dimension format. Michael Murray’s “Love: A Tribute to U.S. Postal Workers” is a sculpture that includes two small mailboxes. Scott Bartlett, the arts council’s executive director, created a small sculpture of two sets of gears, titled “Not a Hippopotamus (Necessarily).” The title comes from a mnemonic used to divide a beat into seven or five units. The turning gears demonstrate a five against seven polyrhythm.
With 27 artists in this year’s show, “Fun with 5×7” includes familiar names like Murray, Janice Peyton, Lynn Marie Naden, Sharlene Cline, Barbara Wyatt, Kathy Smith, Jean Steele, Diane Spence-Chorman, David Pettibone and Karen Roush. It’s also a showcase for emerging artists or artists new to the Homer arts scene — some as young as seventh grader Natalie Farren.
Farren, 13, won acclaim earlier this year in the arts council’s COVID-19 prevention poster contest winner for her age group. Her poster of a flower made of face masks can be seen at businesses around town that have displayed the work of the contest winners. She used her prize of watercolor pencils to do three drawings of birds for “Fun with 5×7.”
“I just really like their wings,” Farren said of why she paints birds. She also likes to paint mythical winged beings like dragons.
Farren’s father, George Farren, also draws, as does one of her great-grandmothers. She has taken some Art a la Carte classes at the arts council. A home-schooled student, she’s also taking an art class called Out School, a worldwide online class that brings together teachers and students from around the world. She’s also exploring digital art using an iPad, the Apple pencil stylus and ProCreate.
“I really like to draw different animals,” Natalie Farren said.
Two of her “Fun with 5×7” works have already sold. Natalie Farren said she was pretty excited to hear that
“I’d never done anything like that before,” she said.
Another artist new to Homer brings his South American sensibility to his work. From Iquitos, Peru, J. Piotreck Pawlikowski was born and raised in the Peruvian Amazon rainforest. He used to work for his uncle’s tourism company doing river tours and met his wife there. They moved to Anchorage in 2006 and after his wife got a job in Homer he moved here to be with her in 2016. He works in multiple media like ball point pen, color pencils, graphite, oils and acrylics, and paints in different styles like realism, surrealism and abstracts. His “Fun with 5×7” works include two slightly-surrealist paintings and an abstract.
“All I need is to find a moment,” Pawlikowski said of how he paints. “I usually listen to instrumental music and also Gregorian chants. I feel the mood and then I start painting.”
He has been creating art since he was a boy. In high school a local artist and teacher saw his work and encouraged him. When he lived in Anchorage he took art classes and well as psychology classes, with the goal of working in art therapy.
“This is what I want to do,” he said of his art. “I want to keep painting and keep painting. There’s always ways to improve every time you do something and play with more materials.”
Kelly moved to Homer in 2016, and in her brief time here has done three 5×7 shows, the Bunnell Street Arts Center 10×10 show, The Shop’s “Homer(r) Art” show, the arts council’s member showcase and also its shorebird exhibit. From Georgia, she said she regretted not taking art classes in college.
“I’ve always been interested,” she said. “In the fall of 2018 I took some time, made it a priority, took some time to focus on it more.”
Kelly took a beginning painting class with David Pettibone. She paints a mix of still lives and landscapes.
“I’d say it’s been mostly landscapes so far,” she said. “I can’t help but be inspired by what I’m seeing outside. I do really enjoy the still lives. One of my favorite paintings is a portrait of my dog.”
One landscape in the “Fun with 5×7” has a common scene, a sunrise over the Kenai Mountains across Kachemak Bay, but with a telephone pole and lines in the scene.
“Actually, because that’s the view from my house,” Kelly said of why she chose that scene. “… I am attracted to industrial imagery. Power lines, down at the harbor, the cranes. Sometimes I think that the industrial aspects are beautiful, too. Maybe it makes it a little more interesting than a standard landscape.”
She had displayed that painting at Siren’s Folly, a boutique on the Spit where she also worked one summer. One woman said she was intrigued by the power lines because her son worked as a lineman.
“She had this interesting reaction to it that most people wouldn’t have — almost an emotional reaction,” Kelly said.
Kelly said she likes painting small, and sees it as practice in building her skills. A 2018 “Fun with 5×7” show also was where she sold her first painting. She recently set up a website to sell her paintings online at www.manyanemones.com.
While small paintings can be attractive to artists looking to focus their work, Kelly said the small size also makes art affordable. Usually that means the work will be priced lower. For example, works by well-known artists in the show might cost $500 or more in a large format but in the “Fun with 5×7” show are $125 or less.
“I think it’s important for art to be affordable,” Kelly said.
She said as an artist she wants to charge a fair price, but as a consumer she recognizes that for some that makes art too expensive.
“The small format works for both,” Kelly said. “You can sell your work at an affordable price so art gets in the hands of more people — and there’s more space on your walls for more art.”