If you need an example of how the Homer Council on the Arts’ Emerging Artists show helps new artists, consider Jesse Smith. Smith, who also uses the name Moonkloud, came to the First Friday opening and saw on one of his paintings, “The Fire Within,” the little red dot that brings joy to artists’ hearts — the sign someone bought his art.
“His piece was the first one that was sold,” said HCOA director Gail Edgerly. “There was competition for it. It was so cool.”
Smith, a 1996 Homer High School graduate, karate instructor and hip-hop musician, had several paintings done with aerosol paint. He’s also a good example of the kind of artist in the show in that, well, you can’t pigeon-hole the artists. From young students like Falcom Greear to retired schoolteachers like Rita Pfenniger, they bring a wide variety of life and artistic experience along with some solid talent.
“I was quite impressed with the quality of their artwork,” said Jewels, also known as Karen East, the former Ptarmigan Arts owner who was the guest curator of the show. “None of them seemed that new to their art. They seemed to be at the stage of getting out from doing it as a hobby and out into the world.”
That’s the intent of the Emerging Artists show. First started by HCOA in 2005 and held annually or every other year, it’s open to artists who have never had a solo exhibit and are new to displaying art in a gallery. That also fits in with HCOA’s mission to “provide opportunities for people to participate and experience the arts,” Edgerly said.
“So, it’s at the heart of it,” she said.
The process to enter Emerging Artists was fairly simple, Jewels said: sign up by a deadline, let her know how many pieces would be entered and the size, get the art gallery-ready with title, descriptions and prices, and prepare a biography. Jewels provided information about making art ready for display, such as matting and framing, but said she didn’t have to provide much direction.
“I really thought there were going to be a lot more questions,” she said.
Fourteen artists exhibit work in the show, mostly in two-dimensions. Other works include wood carvings, Greear’s whimsical clay sculptures, scrimshaw carvings and jewelry. Paintings range from abstracts to landscapes. The styles and media include Smith’s spray art, Pfenniger’s oil paintings, Risa Jackinsky’s mixed media collages and paintings, Genevieve Tymrak’s charcoal drawings, Desiree Hagen’s paper-cut collages and Heidi Jandel Weiland’s wild pen-and-ink portraits. Other two-dimension works were Karen Cauble’s embroidery and Laural Sabin’s natural-light photographs.
Sculpture and jewelry includes carvings by Brian Burns and Allen Davis, metal jewelry by Shasta Swanson Koeninger and beadwork jewelry by Galyna Smith. Simon Langham also showed text art — short fiction.
Pfenniger is the kind of artist HCOA wants to encourage. A retired teacher at McNeil Canyon Elementary School, she said she’s been drawing and painting since age 4. She took art classes in high school, minored in fine arts at the University of North Carolina, and took classes at the University of Alaska Anchorage and the Wrangell Mountains Center in McCarthy, where her family also has a cabin.
Some of the paintings in Emerging Artists she did from a small travel trailer while camping in the Wrangell Mountains, which is why some paintings are small and were done with nontoxic oils, she said.
“I love oil. It’s so luscious,” Pfenniger said. “It’s perfect for me.”
Most of the artists had three or four pieces, which works well with the show’s format, Edgerly said.
“The great thing is you don’t have to have a ton of work to show,” she said. “You have to have one or two pieces you feel good about.”
Jewels, who volunteered to curate the Emerging Artists show to help out the arts council while it was busy with the Quixotic performances last month, said what HCOA needs is a gallery coordinator. Edgerly agreed. It would be great to have a resource person who could do workshops for new artists on how to display work, she said. Many of HCOA’s solo shows also are by artists who have never done a big exhibit.
“I would love to have art show mentors that could volunteer one show at a time as the contact person for an artist and to help them hang the show,” Edgerly said. “It would be great to have somebody who would be willing to mentor an artist for their first show.”
A mentor could help with things like picking art for a show, hanging it, pricing it and photographing it, Edgerly said.
The First Friday reception had a great turnout, with most of the artists and their friends and families attending, Edgerly said.
“It was fabulous. It was so inspiring to hear the artists’ gratitude they had for this opportunity,” she said. “It’s such a rewarding show to do.”
Michael Armstrong can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Emerging Artists show
Homer Council on the Arts
Shasta Swanson Koeninger
water-soluble oil paint
graphite pencil drawings
Heidi Jandel Weiland
pen on paper