All summer long visitors from around the world have been visiting the Kenai Visitors & Cultural Center’s (KVCC) summer art show to view the submissions of local artists and authors in the Paint & Pen the Kenai competition. However, only residents of the Kenai Peninsula were able to vote on their favorite mural, prose depicting life on the Kenai and location for the mural. The closing reception and auction was held Friday, September 6th at the KVCC and was a fund raiser for production costs of the 12foot X 24foot mural which will be constructed at the Kenai Airport. All of the original entries were auctioned off at the event with all the artists generously donating the proceeds to the building of the finished mural. The live and silent auction brought in over $6,000 with highest bringing a price of $750.00. The winning entry submitted by Fanny Ryland a new artist who moved to Alaska nine years ago from France was purchased by Kenai Mayor Pat Porter prior to the announcement of the winning entry. “The idea of having the whole community participate I thought was really neat and spoke to me even though I had never painted anything before I wanted to be part of it, so I drew what I saw and what the Kenai was to me personally. But to have had the people select my entry is totally unreal to me, it’s huge I can’t even wrap my mind around what this means to me or what will happen next, but I’m excited to be a part of the whole process,” Ryland told the Dispatch in an interview following the announcement.

“I’m so excited to have purchased the original,” said Mayor Porter, “It’s a magical piece that speaks to everything about the Kenai that we know and love and we’re honored that the Kenai Airport was selected as the sight for visitors from all over the world to see as we welcome them to our community. It’s my intent to donate the piece to City Hall which I think is the fitting place for the original to be displayed,” she said.

The project and show was a partnership between the KVCC and the Soldotna Rotary Club and was the idea of past club president Marcus Mueller who expressed his personal appreciation for the broad based support Paint & Pen the Kenai had received from the community. Total votes cast in the selection process were 311. The final cost for producing the mural at the Kenai Airport is estimated to be $18,000 including materials, installation and artist stipend. Mueller says additional project sponsors are being sought. The winning essay submitted by Clark Fair, journalist born to a homestead family on the Peninsula will be put on permanent display along side the mural. According to the project timeline the mural will be created this winter for a final unveiling in the spring of 2014. “It’ll also be an opportunity for peninsula artists and residents to participate in creating the mural and to learn from each other, with a goal of providing artist training on how to create large scale murals. We hope many other murals will be created in our community as a spin off of this project,” said Mueller.