The 2014 Summer Art Show at the Kenai Chamber of Commerce and Visitor’s Center had its well-attended gala opening May 23rd. The solo artist exhibit features an array of original Stone Lithography by North Kenai homesteader James Evenson. The Chicago born artist drove to Alaska with his wife Nedra and son Thor in 1955 and homesteaded on Bishop Lake where their present home and studio is located. His works have been exhibited throughout Alaska, the Midwest, Spain, Canada and Russia and have been purchased and hung in distinguished museums from Sakhalin Island in Russia to the University of Spain plus hundreds of private collections around the world. Regarding his first hometown solo exhibition Evenson told the Dispatch in an interview, “I’m absolutely delighted! I’ve had a lot of shows here with other artists, but when they called me and said they would like me to show solo all summer long I was excited. Never before have I done a show totally of stone lithographs and many people just don’t know what that is, but there will be a lot of tourists who will learn this summer. It’s truly a great medium and I’m very happy to be doing this,” he said.
The stone lithography process according to Evenson was invented in the late eighteenth century by a German who was trying to compete with British fabric printing. The technique exploits the repulsion of grease and water. “It is actually the process that over the years has become our off-set printing still used today to print newspapers, but it all started with stone lithography. Etching was popular among most of the masters of the Middle Ages then most anyone like Goya, Picasso and Broham who worked in the late seventeen and eighteen hundreds all did stone lithography,” said Evenson. It’s said there are two kinds of artists, commercial artists who create art to sell and those who do art as a profession for the love of it and what it says about the life of the artist, “The latter is what I try to be. Almost everything in this show was or is an important part of my life. I commercially fished here in the Inlet for over 20 years so naturally there is a lot of work around fishing and the canneries. I’m proud to be Christian and you’ll see of my personal favorites are of Christ on the cross, praying and ascending, but that’s just one aspect of my life and every picture hung here wasn’t painted to please someone else, it was done to please me and says something about me,” he said.
Walk through the life of homesteader James Lewis Evenson and his solo stone lithography exhibition now through September 5th at the Kenai Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center. For more information call the center at 283-1991.