Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and the Kenai Fine Arts Center is getting in the mood at the right time.
The art gallery debuted “Show Us Your Heart” Thursday with an opening night reception displaying the work of more than 30 local artists. The Fine Arts Center asked artists to incorporate any variation of the human heart that they see fit, and the final result included a wide range of interpretations.
“This’ll warm everyone up for February,” explained KFAC Vice President Marion Nelson, who played a role in organizing the show.
Nelson said the idea of the heart-themed show was hatched with inspiration from the Middle Way Cafe in Anchorage, which puts on a show each year decorating the interior of the cafe from floor to ceiling in heart art.
Nelson said she wanted to follow in the footsteps of that exhibit, but with the unique twist of featuring local names.
“We’re going to see how well this exhibit is received and we may do it next year,” Nelson said.
Nelson had two pieces of her own in the show, including an encaustic design called “Garden Heart” that blends beeswax granules, a collection of oil pastels and crayon.
Lined with everything heart-shaped one could imagine, the gallery walls feature everything from pastel paintings to quilted designs, photo collages to stained glass windows.
Among the quilted designs are two by Kenai quilter Ann-Lillian Schell, who sewed together one piece that she started years ago, and another piece that combined hearts and heartwarming messages. Schell said she began quilting the latter of the two entries for her daughter, but now, after properly finishing it for the exhibit, plans to donate it to the Kenai Senior Center.
“Fashion warms my heart,” Schell said.
Among the more offbeat pieces is a three-dimensional lace model that features three heart-shaped linen molds. Creator Jan Wallace decided to go the other way from the traditional heart shape and constructed anatomically correct shapes of the human heart after making a trip to the hospital to borrow a heart model, which she used as the basis for the heart shapes.
“I tried to come up with something not literal,” Wallace explained. “But I found a box of my mom’s old linens, and I used some heart strings to tie it together … I wanted to do something that has meaning and depth with connections to family.”