Art show reflects on statehood

Posted: Friday, April 24, 2009

The Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center has a long-standing tradition of putting on large-scale art exhibitions in summer, and this season will be no exception as a statewide, invitational, contemporary art show celebrating the anniversary of statehood opens today.

Image Courtesy Kvcc
Image Courtesy Kvcc
This piece by Sherri Sather is one of many on display as part of the Kenai Visitor and Cultural Center's annual show, "Reflections on Alaska Statehood: The 49th at 50." The show opens today.

"Everything is ready to go. All the art work is here and has been installed. The show is titled 'Reflections on Alaska Statehood: the 49th at 50' and it will run through December 31," said Natasha Ala, executive director of KVCC.

For the show, artists were invited to investigate the idea of Alaska statehood as it applies to them individually, as part of their communities, and as citizens of the Great Land. Ala said the nature of this theme brought with it a wide variety of mediums, each with their own unique composition.

"We got a diversity of responses. There's paintings and photographs, two-dimensional and three dimensions art works. There's very personal pieces, to landscape pieces, to political pieces. There's something for everyone in this show," she said.

Barry McWayne, formerly the Curator of Contemporary Art at the Museum of the North in Fairbanks, served as guest curator for the show. Ala said he was a good pick for the position.

"He's probably one of Alaska's best black and white landscape photographers, and he's very well-known and connected with artists around the state," she said.

Like Ala, McWayne said he was also happy with the responses he got from the invited artists.

"This year's theme gave the invited artists a special opportunity to reflect on Alaska's diversity and range of interests: the communities, lifestyles, landscapes, weather, politics and much more that make up our northern homeland. Clearly, they have embraced this opportunity with vigor," he said.

Simultaneous to the opening, Ala said KVCC will also preview a new exhibit "The Portrait Project: Foundations of Our Future," which they intend to add to throughout the year. The exhibit aims to tell the story of the Kenai area through the portraits and stories of the people who lived here around the time of Alaska's statehood.

"This exhibit was created in partnership with Kenai Peninsula College. Instructors paired students from eight visual arts and communications classes with elders who have been here since statehood. They recorded stories and produced portraits of them. The results are fantastic and the students got a lot out of it. Many said they were moved and inspired by the stories they heard," she said.

The grand opening reception for "Reflections on Alaska Statehood: the 49th at 50" is from 5 to 9 p.m. today and will feature comments from McWayne, as well as hors d'oeuvres and drinks from Kassik's Kenai Brew Stop and Bear Creek Winery. The evening will also include a silent auction and raffle to benefit the Patrons of the Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center, whose mission is to preserve and promote the history, arts and culture of Kenai and Alaska.

After Memorial Day, admission to the show will cost $5 for adults. For more information on this or other KVCC events and exhibits, call 283-1991.

Joseph Robertia can be reached at

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