The Kenai Fine Art Center is preparing to close for the month of April and is winding down their March exhibit, a Biannual Juried Show.
The show features more than 20 pieces from local artists that were hand-selected by an art instructor from the University of Alaska Anchorage.
“Being asked to jury a show is an honor and a difficult activity,” UAA adjunct professor Graham Dane said in his juror’s statement. “I’d like to thank Marion Nelson for inviting me at such short notice- two hours before the flight to Kenai with a potential snowstorm on the way. When I got up on Sunday morning a round trip to jury an open submission was about as far from my thoughts as living on the moon.”
Dane is from Maidenhead, England, and received his art education at Oxford University, St. Martin’s School of Art and Birkbeck College. In addition to being an adjunct professor at UAA, Dane, is the co-founder of the Spenard Art Camp, which he runs with his wife Linda Infante Lyons.
Marion Nelson, vice president of the Peninsula Art Guild, said on Tuesday that out of 63 entries this year, Dane selected about 20 pieces to put into the show.
“He chose them very quickly,” Nelson said. “He could quickly see what he wanted and what he was going for.”
Dane’s role as a juror, Nelson said, was to not only choose work that he felt reached a certain level, but to choose the pieces in a way that created a well-rounded exhibit.
The pieces that Dane selected varied in size, subject and medium. Many of the pieces came from artists who contribute regularly to the Fine Art Center, but some, including the Juror’s Choice, were from artists submitting their work for the first time.
The Juror’s Choice this year went to a large oil painting by Alex Rydinski titled “The Picker,” and depicts a laborer in an open field, hunched over, picking berries. A small tree stands next to the laborer, bent in much the same way that he is. Nelson said that Rydinski recently moved down from Fairbanks. Dane said it didn’t take long for to decide the piece would be the best in show.
“It’s very well done. Classic Rembrandt-era style, and Alex is a very talented young man, no question about it,” Nelson said. “So we look forward to having more of his artwork on display as well as possibly having him lead workshops of varying kinds.”
The exhibit also features acrylic paintings, photography, textiles and mixed media. Nelson even had a few of her encaustic pieces on display, a medium that uses hot wax combined with paint or ceramics. Some had realistic subjects, like the piece “Bishops Creek” by Laura Faeo, while some were more abstract, like Zirrus VanDevere’s mixed media piece “Mater.”
The pieces will be on display for the rest of the month, and Nelson said the artists have been asked to pick up their work by March 28. April’s show, which was scheduled to be the annual student showcase, has been canceled due to worries about the outbreak of the new coronavirus. Alaska schools have been closed since March 16 because of the outbreak.
“There will be no student art show this year, which is very sad,” Nelson said. “The art teachers figured out very quickly that that wasn’t going to happen from their side of it. And that’s fine, we’ll certainly have it again next year.”
Nelson said that May’s exhibit is not likely to happen either, but no official decision has been made yet.