Attendees of the opening reception of the Kenai Art Center Biennial Juried Show look at a wall of art that includes Best of Show winner “Cross My Heart,” an untitled photograph which won honorable mention, the third place winner “Civil Disobedience,” and Juror’s Choice “The Dead Skate,” on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022, at the Kenai Art Center in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Attendees of the opening reception of the Kenai Art Center Biennial Juried Show look at a wall of art that includes Best of Show winner “Cross My Heart,” an untitled photograph which won honorable mention, the third place winner “Civil Disobedience,” and Juror’s Choice “The Dead Skate,” on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022, at the Kenai Art Center in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

A community reflected in art

Kenai Art Center unveils winners in biennial juried show

The Biennial Juried Art Show will be exhibited at the Kenai Art Center throughout the month, closing Oct. 29.

Submissions were collected from Sept. 28-Oct. 1, and guest jurors Asia Freeman and Michael Walsh assessed the pieces and laid out the exhibit Oct. 2, ahead of an opening reception last Thursday.

In a juror’s statement published on the Kenai Art Center website, Freeman and Walsh say the juried show is “reflective of this community.” The show spotlights a wide variety of mediums from a wider variety of artists.

Normally, in a juried show, not every piece submitted would be shown. The jurors use the submissions to create an exhibit and assign awards. Freeman and Walsh say in their statement that they “perceived a very open door, and therefore we didn’t reject anything.”

Across the main and back gallery, on walls, hanging from the ceiling and resting on stands around the rooms, dozens of pieces by local artists are on display.

The jurors closed their statement by saying, “Everyone deserves to be acknowledged for showing up.”

Artist Celia Carl Anderson was awarded Best of Show for “Cross My Heart,” a pastel and acrylic painting depicting a woman’s body, arms crossed over her chest.

Anderson has been a professional artist since 1975, both producing her own work and teaching art at Kenai Peninsula College.

Winning Best of Show was “really lovely,” she said.

Anderson said the painting was a combination of her interests and skills.

“I have always been intrigued by the human form,” she said. “It has such an ability to express emotion and make people think and ask questions and expose stories about people and maybe their situations and circumstances.”

Anderson said she has long painted people for this reason. People in general, groups, individuals, parts, “whatever interests me at the time.”

She also said she hasn’t ever stuck with one medium of art. “Cross My Heart” combines multiple mediums into a single piece, she said.

“It’s very emblematic of the kinds of things I do,” Anderson said. “I was pretty sure there wouldn’t be anything like it in the show.”

She said she can be hesitant to submit art depicting nudity to community shows, but ultimately decided the piece was “demure” enough to include.

Second place was awarded to “Evening Jam with Chuck,” a pigment inkjet print of a photograph by Susan Biggs.

Biggs said she was in Waimea, Hawaii, in February, where she and her husband started talking with a man named Mike, who worked at their hotel. The three discovered they had music in common, and Mike brought guitars to the hotel for a jam session during his lunch break.

“He invited us to come to his home, and there he had a billion guitars and all kinds of different instruments,” she said.

The photo is of the table in his living room, with sheet music, a book of Chuck Berry music, and an assortment of tools for working on instruments strewn out.

“I just saw that still life,” Biggs said. She said most still life photography is flowers and vases and things, but she was intrigued by the “collage of color and oddities.”

Submitting it to the show was a chance for her to share the piece with the community, and Biggs said she was “totally surprised, but very honored” that it received the award.

“It’s huge,” Biggs said. “Especially when you’re in a show with someone like Celia who is one of my mentors and one of the people that I admire in the art world.”

“To have people care about the piece and be interested in it means a lot to me,” she said. “It’s not about the prize, it just helps me know that what I’m doing is interesting and that other people appreciate what I’m bringing through my own eyes.”

Like Anderson, Biggs is a practicing artist, who said she had work being shown at two other juried shows in the state right now — the All-Alaska Biennial and Rarefied Light.

“Civil Disobedience,” an acrylic painting on canvas by Charlotte Coots, was awarded third place. It depicts two women by a river in the desert, their image visible through a painted tear in the foreground, the paper peeling back and revealing script.

Coots explained that the piece is a precursor to a show she is doing with another artist next year. The two are creating art about strong women. Coots said she is focused on “spiritual stories and legends and the daily decisions they would have to make in the ancient environment.”

The piece she submitted to the Juried Show is based on an Old Testament story about Shiphrah and Puah, two Hebrew midwives, who Coots said were credited in something she read with “the first recorded written account of civil disobedience.”

Coots said the third place award is “a real boost to my spirit.”

She described how, for many years, she has been a frustrated artist. Coots graduated with an art degree in 2004, then began working in fitness as a single mother. She continued making art, but, through marriage and two more children, creative endeavors were left on the backburner.

Suddenly, she said, the art show she’s doing next year is on her mind. She saw her art sold at the Kenai Art Center’s Harvest Auction last month, she sold a commission two months ago, and her piece was chosen for an award in this show. She said it was validating.

“I’m very happy painting. I mean, I love it,” Coots said.

Anderson said the show is special for its accessible nature, and especially the decision to showcase every submitted piece.

“It makes a delightful contribution to the arts community.”

She said it was really important especially for newer artists, because rejection is painful.

“I have been rejected many times in the past. I know how that feels, and, unless you’re super driven, you want to quit.”

Biggs and Coots echoed the sentiment.

“Getting that opportunity to have your work on the walls is just a glorious moment,” Biggs said. “Being able to share that with the rest of the community.”

“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a show where that happened, where nobody is turned away,” Coots said. “I thought that was really interesting and unique.”

The Juried Show is, Anderson said, an educational experience. So many different artists, mediums and approaches are being shown off.

“I think it’s an exhibit that you can keep going back to.”

In addition to the top three honors, jurors awarded Juror’s Choice to Alex Rydlinski’s “The Dead Skate,” an oil on panel piece. Honorable Mentions were awarded to “Dancing Tree” by Chelline Larsen, a silk painting/quilt and an untitled photograph by Sarah E.C. Goodwin.

The gallery can be visited for free during Kenai Art Center hours, noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday until Oct. 29.

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

“Cross My Heart,” by Celia Carl Anderson, hangs with its Best of Show ribbon during the opening reception of the Kenai Art Center Biennial Juried Show on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022, at the Kenai Art Center in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

“Cross My Heart,” by Celia Carl Anderson, hangs with its Best of Show ribbon during the opening reception of the Kenai Art Center Biennial Juried Show on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022, at the Kenai Art Center in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

“Civil Disobedience,” by Charlotte Coots, hangs with its third place ribbon during the opening reception of the Kenai Art Center Biennial Juried Show on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022, at the Kenai Art Center in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

“Civil Disobedience,” by Charlotte Coots, hangs with its third place ribbon during the opening reception of the Kenai Art Center Biennial Juried Show on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022, at the Kenai Art Center in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

”Evening Jam with Chuck” by Susan Biggs, hangs with its second place ribbon during the opening reception of the Kenai Art Center Biennial Juried Show on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022, at the Kenai Art Center in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

”Evening Jam with Chuck” by Susan Biggs, hangs with its second place ribbon during the opening reception of the Kenai Art Center Biennial Juried Show on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022, at the Kenai Art Center in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

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