An animal hospital may seem like an unlikely place for an art gallery, but believe it or not, the walls and loft of the Soldotna Animal Hospital are exactly that.
The gallery is home to changing exhibits by area artists and watercolor paintings by Marian Bowser, the proprietor of the gallery and an artist for 14 years.
"It really has nothing to do with the veterinary clinic," Bowser said. "When my husband designed the clinic, he also put in an art gallery as a gift for me. We thought it would be a nice opportunity to be part of the community, by having a place for artists in the community to display in their work. Especially artists who haven't been displayed before, it gives them a place to start out."
The Bowsers moved to Soldotna from Florida in 1998. The clinic and art gallery have been open since April of 1999. Since then, Bowser has featured photography, ceramics pieces, oil and watercolor paintings, and at one point displayed artwork from Soldotna High School students.
"It's fun for us because every month we come in and there's different things in there," Bowser said.
Bowser's watercolor paintings are found throughout the building, as well as in the gallery. She utilizes the blendable nature of watercolors to create delicately colored backgrounds in many of her pieces that flow together smoothly. The foreground images in her works are emphasized by these backgrounds and appear so distinct in some cases as to almost look like they are painted in oils.
"Bright Spring" is one such piece. Pink flowers stand out against their fluid background and are so precisely painted they almost look real.
Untitled watercolor by Bowser
Bowser has one finished piece and another work in progress displayed she calls textured watercolors. The works look like painted collages with a variety of different textures and shapes. She creates them with traditional watercolor painting techniques and a process of stamping designs onto the work.
"I'm having fun with different techniques," Bowser said. "It's using traditional materials in a different way."
She collected leaves and plants, used aluminum foil and cut designs out of paper to use as stamps to create the textures. With the leaves, she painted them with watercolors, pressed them onto a piece of paper, covered them with another sheet of paper and used an iron to transfer the colors, plant shapes and textures onto the paper. This makes it seem as though the leaves are actually embedded in the painting.
Featured artists in the gallery this month are Jan and Judy Odhner and Corrie Fairchild. The Odhners create mosaic tables and mirrors. One piece is a table constructed by Tern Lake Valley Woodworkers and festively decorated by the Odhners. The recessed center of the table top is covered in an eclectic array of beads, stones, shells, ceramic pieces -- even a small plastic orange gecko. The mosaic is busy, but not overwhelmingly so, especially since the rest of the table is mostly painted in solid colors.
The table is two-tiered, with the second shelf painted a glittery yellow and the rest of the table top painted blue with a delicate white pattern. Even though though the legs and wood encircling the mosaic are painted with designs, they draw attention to the mosaic, rather than take it away.
Corrie Fairchild is displaying several floral and portrait oil paintings. Two of her florals, one of a rose, the other depicting irises, are painted with white paint on black canvasses. Fairchild used the black canvass as shading for the pictures. So the paintings, in effect, look ethereal, as though they are done in negatives.
According to Fairchild, the technique is exacting. She must use precise strokes and avoid any mistakes, because there is no way to hide them.
The rest of Fairchild's works on display use vivid colors and mostly depict flowers, since much of her stock was sold during the winter, she said.
"Breaching High" by Bowser
Bowser likes to change exhibits every month. The paintings by Fairchild and mosaics by Jan and Judy Odhner will be on display through October.
The gallery is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon.
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