By Zirrus VanDevere, for the Redoubt Reporter
A number of students at Kenai Peninsula College’s Kenai River Campus pulled together an exhibit at the Kenai Fine Arts Center this month. Light on sculpture and heavy on photography, it offers a bit of the drawing/painting I’m generally pleased to come across.
Juanita Hillhouse entered some older pieces as well as new ones, and even though I am hard to please with flower images, she has a soft, playful and sultry way with her textures and lines that earns my admiration.
Rebekah Stigall has a forceful and colorful painting called “That’s What I Got to Keep Telling
Myself.” It holds up better close than it does at a distance, but has some intriguing elements. A poem of sorts is written right into the paint, with words that are somehow uplifting as well as nihilistic. They follow right in line with the disturbing imagery created with happy colors. Stigall has added putty to her acrylic paint to further the impasto quality. To me, the details of the piece work better than the whole, and I suspect there are a few excellent paintings contained within.
Wendy McCollum’s “Mynd Space” is a serene and simple design that could have easily been acquired from the 1970s era. The gentle way she’s manipulated the watercolor paints is inviting, though I find myself wishing she’d said a little more with it. Like “Catch the Storm” by Jessica Gonzales, it is pretty. Gonzalez does it in more of a flashy, colorful, laser-light way. It is photography printed onto metal, and is intense because of it.
Charles R. Cupp appears to be saying something more substantial with his monotone digital
photography collage, “Puppets of the Past.” He has replaced a living boy’s head for a fake plastic one, and has set his character at play in differing scenarios. It could depict bad memories or bad dreams, but in either case it definitely feels ominous. If that’s the sense Cupp intended the piece to convey, he succeeded brilliantly. I found I couldn’t tear myself away from it, and my mind kept making up stories about what it meant.
Cupp was one of the photographers
chosen for the “Rarified Light” exhibit I wrote about last week. I had failed to mention that his “Photoshoppian Man” was actually purchased by the Anchorage Museum, a nice honor and large compliment for any artist.
Another peninsula artist who was selected for the “Rarified Light” exhibit, and who did not get appropriate recognition in my last article, is Tracie Howard. She’s a relative newcomer to the art scene around here, but she’s made a pretty big splash, putting out a lot of work that is technically solid and aesthetically interesting. “Slipstream,” in the current exhibit at the Kenai Fine Art Center, could be a studio setup shot, but has a natural and even monumental feel to it.
Sandra Sterling’s silver gelatin print “Just Around the Bend” is one of my favorites in the show. Understated and voluptuous, she has nailed the whole tonal range and given us a close-up of something simple and enduring. The spiral is an element I have always been drawn to, in painting, photography, as well as in metaphysics, and it is treated here with grace.
Katie Hunter approaches this feeling with her black-and-white photo “Follow Me Home.” In it, the wild grass practically worships the sparkling sun that in turn kisses it back in a loving, organic exchange.
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.