By Zirrus VanDevere, for the Redoubt Reporter
The coffee shops around Soldotna have an interesting variety of art offerings, ranging from the very traditional Alaskana paintings of Jenny Johnson and John Winters to fiber and metal work from Jan Wallace, and all the way to delightful masks and collages created during an art residency by Patti Mitchell with clients of Hope Community Resources. Mugz Coffee Lounge was closed when I stopped by, but I understand they have some nice watercolors
I’ve seen work like the Hope clients’ before, at the Out North Gallery in Anchorage, and I believe the concept is brilliant. Not only do the clients have a blast creating from their own designs, but they also work together and produce something really visually exciting, guided by an experienced artist who also has lots of enthusiasm. The bold artwork looks fantastic in the orange conference room at the Kaladi Brothers on the Sterling Highway.
The rest of the coffee shop space is utilized by an artist named Jenny Johnson, a longtime Alaskan and, apparently, an accomplished painter. Many of her works are traditional landscapes, carefully rendered and quite striking. A painting of two Katmai bears and a couple of bold seagulls is especially well painted, and the composition is entirely pleasing.
John Winter’s work is up at Odie’s Deli. He has a painting of two caribou in silhouette that would make a really classic Christmas card.
Jan Wallace has been busy at work, and has a whole slew of fiber pieces up at the Kaladi Brothers on
Kobuk Street. One of particular interest is a political statement of sorts, and is called “Sea Level Rising.” Though the effects of the mentioned phenomena are not necessarily pretty, her died fabric piece certainly is, and it tends to tame the red wall on which it is positioned, with large areas of cool greens and blues separated by even redder boundaries.
The single metal sculpture in this display is called “Fascinated by Fasteners” and is a circular shield of sorts that is fabricated out of a stainless steel strainer and a large number of random fasteners and cool metal objects. It is fun to watch her mind work, and I love looking at artwork that is so process oriented but is also obviously created by someone with a thoughtful mind and curious heart.
Zirrus VanDevere is the exhibits and cultural coordinator at the Kenai Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center. She has bachelor’s degrees in fine arts and education.