By Zirrus VanDevere, for the Redoubt Reporter
Kenai Peninsula College art students have joined together to offer another solid exhibit at the Kenai Fine Arts Center, and looking at the roster of names, I would expect as much.
Topping the wow tree is Chris Banas, with a series of landscape pastels that are honestly exquisite. He has captured the essence of the local scenery in a studied and confident manner, allowing the medium to really have its way while at the same time orchestrating the marks and colors masterfully. It is this kind of ability to make drawing look so amazingly simple yet entirely mystifying that regenerates my love for it again and again. “Red and Black Landscape” by Banas will not soon leave my memory, and has my nod as the greatest piece in the lot.
Some pretty fine rendering also is going on in Melinda Nelson’s “Dreaming of Poppies” and Victoria Worral’s “The More the Merrier.” Both come off as being about more than simply drawing from life, although I suppose if you referred to them as Drawing From Life, it would feel more suiting, as they seem to suggest a more emotional dynamic.
Also seeming to say more than the sum of its parts are “Fractured Cloud” by Abby Kirsch, a digital photograph in which the image
has been apparently severed and reconstructed in a sort of Dadaist manner, and a mixed media piece by Nicole Lopez titled “Wilma.” Wilma seems like she’s got a lot going on and it looks unlikely to get much simpler any time soon.
Pam Mersch’s pastels are also quite enjoyable, especially “In the Thick of It,” which details the chunky bark of some really cool-looking old trees, and her colors are always vibrant and clean.
All of the fiber pieces have something to offer, the most compositionally pleasing being “Denied” by Tracie Stang and “Black to Green” by Brandi Kerley. In fact, as I ponder it, they are neat complements to each other — Kerley’s cold and linear overlaps feeling quite similar but also opposite to Stang’s warm, circular designs, and both with a strong base of black to anchor them.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Natasha Ala for doing such a wonderful job on last week’s article. You will have a chance to enjoy a lot more of her writing, as she is taking over the Art Seen
column at this point. I have family back East I’m needing to go spend some serious time with. Though it is difficult for me to leave such an incredible community, all things have their proper space and time, and mine, now, is to go back to my roots in New York for a stretch.
This summer would have been 25 years for me, living in Kasilof, working and schooling in Kenai and Soldotna, and raising children into some pretty awesome adults. I have met so many people I adore, and have enjoyed the art and the talents and the knowledge and the humor of so many here. It’s sort of astounding to drink all of the memories in.
If anything I have ever written or said or created has inspired or influenced you in any way, I count myself as a fortunate being. Do what you can to add to the well of creativity in our area — paint a panel or write an essay for the Paint the Kenai and Pen the Kenai projects, take a class that gets your artistic juices flowing, write a letter to the editor that holds great meaning for you, or simply find the time to go out and look at art, theater or live music performances, because all of these things enrich our lives and can add to them a sense of context and a deeper resonance in the world.
My great aunt Nancy (who still lives in Germantown, N.Y.) never liked saying goodbye. Instead she would always quip, “So long,” and I’m thinking this might be a perfect great Aunt Nancy moment.
So long, folks, and take care.
Zirrus VanDevere has been the exhibits and cultural coordinator at the Kenai Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center. She has bachelor’s degrees in fine arts and education.
Editor’s note: You will be as missed as you are appreciated, Zirrus. May your future experiences be as colorful, thoughtful, enriching and valued as your contributions to this paper have been.