By Natasha Ala, for the Redoubt Reporter
A new exhibit opening Thursday at the Kenai Fine Art Arts Center reflects the talented work of one family spanning multiple generations. The exhibit, “Mother-Daughter II CHOICES,” primarily focuses on the artwork of the mother-daughter duo of Marlene Pearson and Erin Micciche, and also includes artwork work by Pearson’s son, Mark Keene, as well as Micciche’s daughters, Madeline, Sophie and Lucy.
Pearson has included a mixed diversity of two-dimensional pieces ranging from classic landscape watercolors to mixed-media, found-object assemblages. This range reflects a multiplicity of
perspectives. Her watercolors are straightforward, well-composed classic renderings of nostalgic Alaska scenes, while her abstract paintings evoke introspective reflections on intellectual concepts.
Pearson has included literary elements to several of her pieces, such as her self-portrait painting entitled “Kairos,” where she has embedded the word “kairos” throughout the painting in the artistic technique of an underpainting. This image, to me, suggests layers of life choices rooted beneath the surface of her reflective expression. Kairos is a Greek word for a life-changing moment, and it is a brilliant concept for an artist with which to explore his or her own identity.
In her abstract, mixed-medium painting “East Kentucky Bridge,” Pearson has included a poem with the artwork. There are varying opinions in the art world regarding the inclusion of verbal enlightenments hung alongside the artwork in an exhibit. Some purists see it as a distraction from the art, while others, including myself, enjoy the additional commentary by the artist.
Going in a completely different artistic direction is the artwork of Erin Micciche. Micciche’s work is about garments and the intellectual journey she takes through the creation processes of building garments. Micciche has included several concept boards, constructed in beautiful shadow boxes, which detail her thought process in the designing of her apparel.
Micciche has also included several finished garments in the exhibit. The inclusion of both concept boards and finished apparel has the effect of re-creating a fashion studio in the middle of the exhibit.
The exhibit should perhaps be entitled “Mother-Daughter-Son,” given Keene’s several paintings included in the exhibit. Keenes’ paintings are beautiful, solid, black-and-white abstracts that express power and sophistication.
His “Seafaring-Study” strikingly suggests fluidity and volatility, as an abstracted image of a vessel appears to be being pummeled in ocean turmoil.
The technique and direction Pearson, Micciche and Keene have taken with their artwork is quite different from one another. Collectively, the exhibit feels like three separate and distinctly different exhibits shown in one space. The uniting theme is all being a talented and expressive family uniting and sharing their creations.
In her artist’s statement, Pearson credits her artistic children for inspiring her to pursue her own work. I’m certain Pearson’s lifelong commitment to the arts has also greatly inspired her children and grandchildren. I have seen the Micciche children, Pearson’s grandchildren, attending virtually every art event in Kenai with their parents, Erin and Peter, since before they could walk. This is a family that values the creative process and has a long history of appreciating and supporting the arts and culture of the Kenai Peninsula.
The public is invited to attend the grand opening reception for “Mother-Daughter II CHOICES” and meet the artists from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the Kenai Fine Arts Center in Old Town Kenai, on Cook Street across from the Oilers Bingo Hall.
This exhibit will be on display through Aug. 30. For more information, call the gallery at 283-7040.
Natasha Ala is a contributing writer and local art champion who lives in Soldotna.