Works from the permanent collection of legendary artist, coach and homesteader Jim Evenson will be on display through this month at the Gary Freeburg Gallery at Kenai Peninsula College Kenai River Campus.
Evenson’s son Thor, also an acclaimed artist, was present at the opening reception of the show.
“It’s a lot of fun to be here and see folks enjoying Dad’s works. He and Mom spoke with us earlier via the phone and that was really nice and rather emotional. The show is such a positive thing and see them talking to people who remember them was moving. They would have loved to have been here but their health prevented it. He is a legend in my mind and was the best strategic basketball coach I ever had. The thing I think is the most intriguing about him is the way he approaches things. He comes at it and thinks about it, sees it in a clear way and then closes it. That is one of the reasons he was such a great coach because he saw further and thought of more clever ways than the other coaches did,” said Thor.
Mike Tauriainen, now a civil engineer in Soldotna, once held the scoring record under Coach Evenson at KCHS.
“He taught us to play position which is everything in basketball. Mike was a scoring machine and had the long big step,” said Thor.
“To me he was just a great basketball coach. I knew he taught art but I never took an art class, but he was an excellent coach and I really enjoyed playing under him and he produced some excellent teams mostly because of Coach Evenson. Then after finishing college and moving back to the area I became acquainted with his art and really enjoy seeing what he sees through his eyes and his paintings what life on the Kenai Peninsula was all about. I’m really impressed with the volume of this work and his focus on Cook Inlet and this area. This is a great show and I really enjoy seeing it through his eyes and the medium he uses to convey his thoughts and feelings,” said Tauriainen.
Thor Evenson’s work is very different from his father’s.
“Not at all like Dad’s. I think anyone who is expressing themselves through art has to find their own way, but there are influences and what he taught me is the pure pleasure he got from his art. He would work on a piece painting or printing and he just loved it. My mom would say he just sits there and works all day, he just seemed to love it and he did and that’s something that is important and that I’m glad he passed on to me. He was a bold and courageous person. When he started commercial fishing he had never done it before and there were times we got in some real trouble in the rips and all, but he didn’t follow other people he wanted to go and figure it out himself and it was an adventure for him very much like his art work he’s not figuring it all our beforehand he lets it happen on the page or stone or in the boat. When I had my biggest day fishing with like 3,100 fish, Dad had 3,400 fish. Now we usually beat him because we were younger, but the big day he beat us and I watched him walk around the dock afterward and he was like floating with happiness,” recalled Thor.
Those experiences and emotions of life on the Kenai are on display through September at KPC.