Artwork by Lynne O’Connor set for exhibition in the Kenai Art Center’s January show, “Feels Like Home,” awaits hanging at the Kenai Art Center in Kenai, Alaska, on Friday, Dec. 22, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Artwork by Lynne O’Connor set for exhibition in the Kenai Art Center’s January show, “Feels Like Home,” awaits hanging at the Kenai Art Center in Kenai, Alaska, on Friday, Dec. 22, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Art Center looks to 2024, wants to make more people into artists

The lineup includes open call shows, a fundraiser, artist features, an exhibition for tattoo artists and the annual mural show

The Kenai Art Center in 2024 will be putting on monthly exhibitions and focusing on encouraging people in the community to make art. Their schedule describes open call shows, a fundraiser for a local organization, artist features, an exhibition for tattoo artists and the annual mural show. Workshops and other opportunities to make art will also be hosted each month.

Charlotte Coots, executive director at the center, said looking forward to 2024 she wants to see more people visiting the center, more engagement between the center and the local community, and more people making art.

“I want to fracture the idea of ‘I’m not an artist, I’m not good at art,’” she said.

Community opportunity

New programming like an “Art Hive” and an increased focus on workshops are intended to get more people creating, even if they have no experience.

“My goal is to keep adding more fun things and having more people feel like they are artists,” Coots said.

The debut of the “KPenArt Hive” will be on Jan. 13. Each public art hive, held monthly, will be a free, directionless art session in the center’s gallery space. Coots said that Art Hives are a worldwide program, with the local group led by Diane Dunn. In each session, all the supplies will be provided — “people just show up and they make art and they take it home.”

Volunteers will be there to help, Coots said, but no one will tell anyone what they have to make. Ongoing meetings will be set for the second Saturday of each month. Each session will be free and open to the public.

“You do not have to know anything about art,” Coots said. “We’re really excited about it.”

More traditional, structured workshops are also something the center plans to offer monthly, Coots said, but that schedule is still being developed.

An exhibition each month

The center’s first exhibit of 2024 will be January’s “Feels Like Home,” a fundraiser for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s Students in Transition. That program serves students experiencing housing instability.

Coots said she intends for the fundraiser to become an annual tradition, benefiting a different local community organization each year. Students in Transition was selected as the first to support because “they’re a great program and I know they’re always in need.”

The theme, “Feels Like Home,” “can represent anything, anyone, or any place that creates a feeling of safety, stability and a sense of home,” information on the center’s website says. Coots said she was looking to find a theme broad enough that artists wouldn’t feel challenged to meet, but also that draws attention to the cause. She credited her predecessor at the center, Alex Rydlinski, with coming up with that guiding principle that will be seen on gallery walls next week.

All art sold during the show, which runs through Jan. 27, will have the gallery’s proceeds donated to Students in Transition. A donation box will also be present in the gallery for the duration of the show. Artists will still be paid their portion of any sales.

An opening reception for “Feels Like Home” will be held on Friday, Jan. 5, starting at 5 p.m. Sue Biggs will play live music, and Coots said they were hoping to have a staff member from Students in Transition present to speak briefly about the work they do.

In February and March, open call shows will be held. February’s is “People’s Choice,” a spin on a juried or judged show where all the art submitted will be exhibited and attendees will be able to vote for their favorites. Those submissions will start on Jan. 6.

The March show, in collaboration with Treefort Theatre’s production of “Marian, or the True Tale of Robin Hood,” will be “Medieval Forest,” exhibited at the gallery and doubling as the background for the production, which will be put on in the space.

April will feature the annual KPBSD student show, July will feature the annual exhibition by the Kenai Potters’ Guild, and September will feature Water Color Artists including the Thursday Art Group. The watercolor show will also be an open call.

Other months will feature a variety of features by local artists, including husband and wife duo Chelline Larsen and Adam Hoyt in May, Robert Clayton in June and Suzie Scrivner in October. Coots said that Larsen and Hoyt will bring a diverse offering — including metals and fabrics. Clayton, an artist from Homer, does many Alaska landscapes, and Scrivner is putting together “great artwork.”

In August, a show will be put on celebrating the work of tattoo artists — “the fine art that they never get to show,” Coots said. The center is coordinating with an artist in Anchorage, and also seeking local tattoo artists who also want to get involved. While the artwork on display will be fine art by tattoo artists, rather than the tattoos they create, Coots said they’re exploring the possibility of hosting a live demonstration in the back of the gallery that month.

For more information about the Kenai Art Center, including upcoming exhibitions and programming, find “Kenai Art Center” on Facebook or visit kenaiartcenter.org.

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

Artwork by Heather Floyd set for exhibition in the Kenai Art Center’s January show, “Feels Like Home,” awaits hanging at the Kenai Art Center in Kenai, Alaska, on Friday, Dec. 22, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Artwork by Heather Floyd set for exhibition in the Kenai Art Center’s January show, “Feels Like Home,” awaits hanging at the Kenai Art Center in Kenai, Alaska, on Friday, Dec. 22, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

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