The Kenai Fine Art Center is celebrating a lot — a new director, a new space and a new exhibit.
“The More We Get Together” opened this week. It’s the first exhibit at the center since the pandemic.
It’s a nice return to normal for artists like Laura Faeo, one of the potters with art on display. She said she leaned into pottery during the pandemic.
“It kept me sane," she said. "I mean, I didn’t have a whole lot of other things to do. And I was extremely high-risk for COVID. So I really couldn’t go much of anywhere. So I just stayed home and made pottery. And it kept me from going crazy.”
Faeo’s part of the Kenai Peninsula Potters Guild, a few dozen local potters that meet monthly and hold an annual exhibit at the Fine Art Center.
Last year’s exhibit was canceled due to COVID-19, as were most center activities for the last year and a half. But Thursday marked the start of a new season at the center, and a month of showcasing Potters Guild pieces.
Shannon Olds said the show is a good opportunity for guild members to get their art on display and gain confidence.
“It allows for so many different levels of pottery," she said. "There's a lot of different potters that are just beginners; maybe some have been making pottery for a year. And maybe some have been making pottery for 10, 20 or 30 years. They’re all in the show.”
Shannon and her husband, Bryan Olds, usually bring their work to craft shows around Southcentral. Bryan said he’ll sometimes make 100 to 200 mugs for a show.
But in the absence of those shows, he decided to start throwing bowls — large, textured pieces ranging in color and depth.
He’s showing some of those bowls at the exhibit. While he said it’s nice to have people looking at his work again it’s also a bit nerve wracking.
“It’s kind of hard," he said. "Because when you do something different … you kind of feel vulnerable in a way that you’re feeling out a sort of new idea in pottery.”
Bryan said the guild is trying to bring new potters into the fold. Instructors like Faeo teach classes out of the pottery studio attached to the center’s main room.
“I would love to see another wave of young people come through here that want to learn pottery, that want to take over for those of us that are a little long in the tooth and want to be the next generation of potters here," Bryan said. "Because obviously this has been going on for 40 years, and we want to see it going on for 40 more years.”
“The More We Get Together” is up through the end of July.