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Art center’s mural show opens next week

Kenai artist Diane Dunn is one of the artists in this year's mural show.
Sabine Poux
Kenai artist Diane Dunn is one of the artists in this year's mural show.

Wall to wall, floor to ceiling, there’s no shortage of art to admire at the Kenai Art Center's space in Old Town Kenai.

The center's annual mural show, up through this month and next, invites artists to express themselves on larger canvases, sectioned off into individual spaces and assigned to artists around the room.

The result is a mosaic of subjects and artistic styles. Artists can come by any time between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. to paint, so it’s not a given that neighbors will have time to talk about their visions — which can be part of the fun.

Kenai artist Abbey Ulen helped coordinate the show and divvy up wall space between the show's contributing local artists. She said now that the show has been up and running for a few years, artists know what to expect.

“They already knew what they were going to do,” she said. “And the communication and collaboration has been amazing.”

Jason Ramirez is a painter based in Kasilof and a returning muralist.

In one corner of the space Thursday, he filled in the outline of a nose from a palette of skin-tone paints. On his phone was a photo of himself, for reference.

“I’m just doing my face,” he said. “I’m being goofy.”

Unlike the other spaces, Ramirez’s canvas isn’t flat. He had to work around the contours of the corner.

But he used that to his advantage and incorporated it into the piece. There's an eye outlined on either side of the seam.

“I just imagine kind tearing apart the seam and I’m peeking through, looking at everyone,” Ramirez said.

This is Ramirez's third year doing the show. Still, he said every year is a unique experience.

“I have no idea how it will turn out,” he said. “I haven’t painted giant faces before.”

Murals are by no means limited to two dimensions.

Diane Dunn brought in bags of bark and branches she gathered. She mixed mud from the Kenai River, by her house, into one of her paints.

“I decided to start including some natural elements of things I collected over the summer,” Dunn said.

She'll hang small cloth bags filled with the natural material on her canvas — a red and white checkerboard of squares inspired by the shape of a dreamcatcher or seine fishing net.

“I wanted to include that as if it’s all being caught,” Dunn said.

Each artist has their own approach for filling the same amount of space. But there is room to work together.

Ulen, for her part, planned to do a landscape.

“But then talking to my neighbors who were around me, they’re doing landscapes, Ulen said. “So I decided, if they’re doing landscapes, I’ll put the figure in the landscape."

Like most of the pieces this week, her painting is in its early stages — artists still have a week, until Wednesday, to come in and finish their pieces before the show opens. There is an opening reception for the mural show next Thursday, Nov. 10.

Sabine Poux is the news director at KDLL. Originally from New York, she's lived and reported in Argentina and Vermont, where she fell in love with local news. She covers all things central peninsula but is especially interested in stories related to energy and fishing. She'd love to hear your ideas at
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