By Zirrus VanDevere, for the Redoubt Reporter
There are plenty of adorable and compact pieces to enjoy at the seventh annual “Small Shots” exhibit at the Kenai Fine Arts Center this month. Designed to give both the diminutive works and new artists a chance to shine, it falls in line with the expected ratio of three-quarters photos that this show generally attracts. Entirely open to the community for entries, originator Bill Heath often needs to stack the pieces in order to fit them into the pretty ample space at the center. This year, the art just fits without any stacking. The other offerings are drawings and watercolors, with only a couple being mixed media.
Some of the names seem to only pop up at this particular show, and to be attached to some nifty little works. Nabholz, both Jacob and Susan, have some inviting contributions again this year. Susan’s “Flooded Forest” is an exposition in purple within a wide tonal range, giving it an otherworldly character, while also depicting something very familiar in our natural world — trees and water. And Jacob presents a far-too-often-done snapshot of the artist taking a picture into a side-view mirror, but the image is far from trite, and I spent a good deal of time with it. For one thing, I think it may be the back of the mirror, and behind it is simply snow. The reflected image has a playfulness and oddity that is alluring, bringing it into a higher level than is typically depicted.
Sue Biggs, a relative newbie, has three solid entries and an eye like an established artist. “The Red Sea” could simply be reflected light, but has a soft and archetypal feel that speaks to a great deal more. In “Danza,” she is unafraid to allow for a great deal of blurring as she captures dancers of various ages, busy with creative articulation. The one clear face in the background holds an expression of quiet reverence. “Glazed Window” is a highly successful photograph of amazing textures and colors seemingly painted on either the multipaned window that is the subject, or possibly even directly onto the surface of the photo itself, it is so palpable.
Annette Beck offers one of my favorites, a close-up of a mesh of wire with vivid yet soft fields of orange and yellow, like a Rothko drifting in the distance but also somehow snugged up tight to the viewer’s eye. Heather Perry has captured chain on a muted textural surface that attracts attention, and Genevieve Klebba has textured her flower photo in a way that helps it move into an artsy range.
Joe Kashi nails a muddy sidewalk with a sensual capture, and Wade Wahrenbrock comes in close on an antique gas pump with some skill. Carolyn Wright looks to have hand-colored parts of a lovely black-and-white shot of an adorable toddl
er with bunny ears, and Tracie Howard chronicles a day in the life of a bright orange jacket blowing in the wind with acrobatic finesse.
Easily the mascot for the exhibit, Georg-Ann Phillip’s sweet little watercolor of a tree could easily hold up just about anywhere it decided to be on display. “Moon Over Tree” by Victoria Ann Worral is an intimate drawing/painting that is part landscape, part emotion living through the carefully rendered saturated and blended colors.
Intimacy is by nature an element in these types of exhibits, and the smallness of the works continually ask the viewers to slow down and really get to know each of the creations that speak to them. It is not a show to whisk by quickly, so plan to spend a little time with them when you go. The exhibit runs through the end of May.
Zirrus VanDevere is a local mixed-media artist and owns Art Works gallery in Soldotna. She has bachelor’s degrees in fine arts and education.