Rachael Montoya works on a section of the mural at the Kenai Art Center in Kenai, Alaska, on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Rachael Montoya works on a section of the mural at the Kenai Art Center in Kenai, Alaska, on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Art Center’s 2023 mural underway

The mural is a continuous piece of artwork that stretches all the way around the center’s main gallery space

The Kenai Art Center’s floors are covered in paper and paint supplies are strewn over tables this week as 22 artists prepare their work for this year’s mural show. An opening reception will be held next week, on Nov. 10 and then the mural will be available for viewing until Dec. 16.

The mural is a continuous piece of artwork that stretches all the way around the center’s main gallery space. This week and next artists will be visiting and painting individual sections of the mural onto canvas already filling the walls.

Diane Dunn said Wednesday that the mural challenges artists each year to come up with something new — to fill their own space and to work as part of a greater whole. She’s participated in three of the four murals the center has put on.

New this year, Dunn said, is a theme — “Down to Earth.” As part of that theme, the sections are divided by wavy, “more organic” lines rather than straight borders.

Dunn said she connected the theme to a sense of “feeling grounded,” which manifests as a repetitive pattern. Different interpretations of that theme by nearly two dozen artists will ultimately be seen when the mural is complete.

The mural also affords artists an opportunity to work alongside others in the local community, sometimes elbow-to-elbow.

“It’s exciting to see who your neighbors are going to be,” Dunn said. “Kind of play off of each other.”

Tuesday night, three artists were working on three sections all side-by-side. Rachael Montoya was drawing thick, dark lines. Morgan Chamberlain was using lighter lines to begin to translate the design of a structure onto her space. Theresa Ritter was filling her space with a bright color.

“A lot of us, as artists, tend to be hermit-like when we’re doing our work,” Chamberlain said.

Working on the mural is a “fun” opportunity to work more directly with others, even as each artist is tasked with their own individual part of the whole.

“Trying not to bump elbows and figuring out how to make our pieces more conducive to a blended line,” Chamberlain said.

Ritter said that the mural, especially as it draws artists together to share one space to create, can help to overcome insecurities and build community. She said everyone working at the center this week and next shares “the same passion.”

Dunn said she was eagerly anticipating seeing the way the theme and the work of other artists comes together as fellow artists complete their work. The mural won’t be entirely completed until late next week, only a couple of days before the opening.

The opening reception with refreshments and live music will be held on Friday, Nov. 10, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The mural will be exhibited until Dec. 16 and available for viewing during gallery hours, noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.

For more information about the Kenai Art Center, visit kenaiartcenter.org or find “Kenai Art Center” on Facebook.

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

Theresa Ritter works on a section of the mural at the Kenai Art Center in Kenai, Alaska, on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Theresa Ritter works on a section of the mural at the Kenai Art Center in Kenai, Alaska, on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Morgan Chamberlain works on a section of the mural at the Kenai Art Center in Kenai, Alaska, on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Morgan Chamberlain works on a section of the mural at the Kenai Art Center in Kenai, Alaska, on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

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