The smell of success

Kenai man’s project gives artists opportunity to breathe

Posted: Thursday, September 28, 2006


  Benjamin Jackinsky poses with Natasha Ala¿s contribution to "The Nose Project" art show at Already Read in Kenai last week. Photo by Jenny Neyman

Benjamin Jackinsky poses with Natasha Alas contribution to "The Nose Project" art show at Already Read in Kenai last week.

Photo by Jenny Neyman

Benjamin Jackinsky didn’t have to look far for inspiration of an art show to display this month at Already Read in Kenai. The answer was as plain as the nose on his face.

That’s because it was the nose on his face.

Jackinsky decided to turn his recent nose job into a task for his artistic friends by inviting them to create pieces based on a nasal theme.

“It was what was going on in my life,” said Jackinsky, owner of the used book store in Kenai. “I had to have something for the First Thursday, so, ‘The Nose Project’.”

When he was a teenager, Jackinsky had cartilage removed from his nose to repair a deviated septum. Medical technology not being then what it is today, the amount of cartilage removed was substantial.

“It was 30 years ago,” the 48-year-old said. “I’m not vain about age.”

In the intervening years, gravity has complicated matters.

“Your cheeks start to sag when you get older,” Jackinsky said.

The result was a blocked nostril. Impending dental work had him wondering how he would breathe through the two-hour procedure. His dentist suggested he get his nose fixed first, so it was off to an ear, nose and throat specialist in Anchorage.

In the four-hour surgery the doctor took cartilage about “the size of the tip of my thumb” out of Jackinsky’s right ear and used it to rebuild his left nasal passage.

“I was envisioning an ear off my nose,” he said.

No such look was achieved. The doctor offered to do some cosmetic work while he was at it, but Jackinsky declined.

“I figured it was most important if I could breathe,” he said.

Back in Kenai, the first Thursday of September was nearing, and Jackinsky had no art show arranged for the monthly event where galleries and other establishments host art show openings and music for touring community members.

Once he sniffed out his idea, he called several local artists and asked them to put their noses to the grindstone to generate pieces he could display in the book store.

Sarah Glaves and Natasha Ala generated original works for the show.

“They’re both friends, so how could they say no?” Jackinsky said.

Timothy Oliver and Pam Mersch contributed pieces they’d already done that fit the nasal theme. Oliver’s is a watercolor of a bird with a substantial beak, and Mersch depicts a hodgepodge of various parts of anatomy. For her contribution, Glaves sketched a vivid green moose.

Ala used herself as the subject of her abstract painting.

“I took my digital camera and took photos of my nose from several angles and I liked the up-the-nostrils one best,” she said. “So I blew it up really big then tried to just go for form. It turned into a really kind of a form piece.”

“It’s not often you get a chance to participate in something as fun and spontaneous,” as “The Nose Project,” Ala said.

Even so, she isn’t planning to make a career out of nasal renderings.

“But I do like the blow-it-up-and-abstract-it idea,” she said. “So it kind of retains the look. Once you say it’s nostrils it’s like ‘oh,’ but looking at it they wouldn’t catch that.”

Jackinsky said the most common response he’s gotten to the show is curiosity, and perhaps a little confusion.

“I had people try to figure out what it was all about,” he said.

At the First Thursday opening he tried to expand on the nose theme as much as he could. Someone said they’d bring a nose harp, but that didn’t happen. He also asked his doctor for “before” and “after” photos from his surgery that he could include in the show. No dice there, either. But he did have pigs in a blanket as the refreshment.

“I conceptualized them as being nose-looking,” he said.

Though some book store patrons may raise eyebrows at the odes to noses on the gallery wall, Ala said she wasn’t particularly surprised by Jackinsky’s choice of theme.

“I thought it was pretty typical Benjamin,” she said. “He’s just kind of a fun, you know, kind of guy. You never know what he’s going to come up with, what kind of ideas. And he’s an artist at heart.”

“The Nose Project” will be on display through this week at Already Read.

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