Kenai art center to remain closed until 2021

Jul 21, 2020

Credit Kenai Fine Arts Center

The Kenai Fine Art Center closed its door earlier this spring along with most other businesses and public facilities, but unlike others, it won’t reopen this year.

The board of the Peninsula Art Guild, which runs the center, announced Tuesday that it won’t reopen the center in Old Town Kenai until 2021.

Board president Marion Nelson says part of the board’s decision is due to space in the center and the risk to volunteers who run the center’s front desk.

"The logic was of course the virus and that tourism was going to be down significantly, and of course that’s been a fact," she said. "And we have volunteers at our front desk, and we would be faced with exposing them to who knows what walking in the door and also being responsible each and every day to clean up the bathroom wipe up things, which for the most part they would do, but we don’t have an employee that would be there supervising overall picture."

For now, she said the board will try to move some of the exhibits scheduled for the rest of this year to next year, but they haven’t talked about whether they’ll be open in January yet. In the meantime, they’re staying busy.

"We are in the process of hosue cleaning—if you can call cleaning the center as house cleaning," she said. "We have things that have been left behind by people who have moved away and artwork that people don’t care about at the end of the shows, and we hang onto it for a couple of years, and that’s long enough. We are making decisions on a number of those pieces. There might be some bargain frames available. The decision was made to not have a garage sale, for instance, but we’ll be selling them in other ways, perhaps online."

The ball is still up in the air for the annual arts and crafts fair that the Peninsula Art Guild organizes at Kenai Central High School, as the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s mitigation plan depends on how many cases are happening locally and is reevaluated every two weeks. Nelson says they don’t know what will happen with the fair yet.

It’s been a tough year for artists, with few venues open and fewer big events allowed. Nelson said one project the art guild is working on is to highlight the work of local artists through a series of online videos.

"We have a neat project coming up that will be brief interviews with local artists and craftspeople about their work, about their activities with their media, and w’ell be posting that online," she said. "It’s just getting underway, the plans, I should say, are getting underway so you can look for that in the future. It should be very interesting. It’ll just be kind of a snapshot of them and their work."

For more information, check out the Kenai Fine Art Center on Facebook.

Reach Elizabeth Earl at eearl@kdll.org.