Story last updated at 10:28 PM on Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Meet the artists

Two galleries offer upclose opportunities to learn this weekend


The gala affair of an art opening can be festive, fun and frenetic maybe a bit too frenetic. Still bleary eyed from a last-minute creative push, artists might be tired or nervous. Although some art galleries offer artist talks during openings, for art lovers who want to explore an artist's work in more depth, an opening isn't always the best time and place to chat.

  Photo provided
Carol Lambert's "Shadow Box" is a painting that came out of her visit to Fireweed Gallery last year.  
Fortunately, two local galleries offer more relaxed opportunities to meet artists, talk about their work and see demonstrations of their techniques. The Art Shop Gallery on West Pioneer Avenue runs its annual Alaskan Artists Series from June through August. Down the street on East Pioneer Avenue, Fireweed Gallery presents its Meet-the-Artist series. Both galleries offer events this weekend.

Two artists visit the Art Shop Gallery this weekend. From 2 to 7 p.m. Friday, the gallery holds a pajama party for official Iditarod artist Jon Van Zyle. Gallery staff wear Van Zyle's new pajama pants and T-shirts. Visitors can enter a chance to win his new print, "Homer By the Bay," and a pair of his original design pants and T-shirt.

"We don't typically have pajama parties for artists, but Jon's coming on an odd Friday," said Art Shop Gallery owner Karin Marks "It's just a lot of fun, sometimes people forget that art can be fun."

From 1-7 p.m. Saturday at the Art Shop Gallery, Girdwood potter Leola Rutherford, a fifth-generation Alaskan, sets up shop at the gallery and demonstrates clay hand building techniques. Rutherford and Van Zyle also show their works.

Fireweed Gallery offers an artist demonstration 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday when Anchorage artist Carol Lambert shows how to do a painting a day. Lambert will paint and offer for sale two works done this weekend, and discuss painting-a-day techniques. She also hands out information on painting-a-day blogs and Web sites. Other paintings, most in small sizes, also are displayed.

The Art Shop Gallery started its series about six years ago after it moved into its new space on Pioneer Avenue. Artists don't always demonstrate their techniques, Marks said.

"Sometimes it's a demonstration, sometimes it's not," she said. "Anytime an artist is in the gallery of any kind with their art, there's always a discussion."

This is the second year Fireweed Gallery has offered its Meet-the-Artist series. The casual atmosphere is part of the draw, said gallery owner Irene Randolph.

"A lot of people driving by just pop in because they want to see the artist," she said. "It's a little more of a fluid type of thing."

Fireweed's series sometimes encourages participation, like its Beach Art Poetry workshop, led by Christina Whiting on Aug. 16. In that event, artists and poets meet and write a group poem, and then go to Bishop's Beach where they write their poems on rocks and other natural materials. Just before high tide, the poem will be placed near the surf, and participants can watch as the sea changes the art.

Both series continue into August. Upcoming events include:

July 26, 1-7 p.m., Art Shop Gallery: Libby Berezen, pottery demonstration;

July 29, 30, Fireweed Gallery: Elise Strauss, lampwork glass bead demonstration;

Aug. 1, 5-7:30 p.m., Art Shop Gallery, Gail Niebrugge, pencil sketches;

Aug. 16, Fireweed Gallery: Jan Peyton, watercolor painting demonstration;

Aug. 16, Homer Chamber of Commerce and Bishop's Beach (sponsored by Fireweed Gallery): Christina Whiting's Beach Rock Poetry workshop.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at