The installation at the Kenai Fine Arts Center in Old Town to close out 2019 is a unique, never-before-seen group effort. Organized by Marion Nelson, “Gathering: A Creative Challenge,” brings together a dozen local visual artists who have transformed the walls of the main gallery into a diorama of different styles and colors.
James Adcox, a city of Kenai librarian, is one of the painters in the show, and worked with Nelson to bring it together.
“We termed it to the artists, and we'd kind of like the public to be aware too, that this is an artistic challenge. Kind of an artist jam session to work together,” he said. “But a challenge in the sense that we're working large scale in a in a medium that not artists are acquainted with and in a very short amount of time. So to work large scale, and we're not talking months we're talking days, so a four day period to paint this whole room is ambitious.”
Adcox said the limited amount of time for the project is one of the aspects that appealed to him most.
“It could take years — a year at least — of preparation to have a show in a gallery space this large,” he said. “But to commit to a four-day kind of project is something I felt very doable and I thought it would be a lot of fun.”
Artist Tasha Skolnick said she found the prospect of working amongst a group appealing.
“I like it. I got into it mainly because I knew I would be interacting with other local artists that, some I have seen their familiar faces, others I've never worked with before,” she said. “So it's a nice project to jump into for sure.”
The roughly hundred-foot mural was made possible by covering the walls from floor to ceiling in Tyvek, an impermeable material you usually see on houses before the siding is installed.
Skolnick said there were a couple small challenges to painting on such an unusual surface, but that they weren’t insurmountable.
“Once you start painting, the great thing about paint is you can always go over it. So if you spill it or if you mess up, you let it dry and you go back over it and redo it,” she said. “The only drawback, I think is that long term is that I think at some point it could peel off of the Tyvek because there's a slick surface.”
The Tyvek was donated by the Spenard Builders Supply on K-Beach Road, and the several dozen cans of paint for the project were donated by the Soldotna Sherwin Williams.
“Gathering” opens Wednesday, with an opening reception Thursday evening at the Kenai Fine Arts Center.