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Artists prep for 32nd annual Wearable Art show
Kartikasari Klaresta and Lauren Gates perform Feb. 2, 2017, during the 31st annual Wearable Art Show at the Ted Ferry Civic Center. Photo by Hall Anderson

Daily News Staff Writer

One by one, people made their way into The Plaza mall on Wednesday night carrying a wealth of eccentric items — jetpacks, bubble umbrellas, hats in the shape of sea animals and deer antlers. But for these people, the weirder the object, the better.

Metal music, old school jams, dance tunes and lyric-less melodies rang throughout The Plaza as they used an upstairs section of The Plaza as a runway during one of many Wearable Art show workshops slated throughout January.

The artists and models received coaching from the First City Players Executive Artistic Director Elizabeth Nelson on how to time their movements to their music and how to perfect their stage presence.

The 32nd annual Wearable Art show is scheduled for 8 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, and at 2 p.m. on Feb. 3 for the Saturday matinee show. The last performance will be at 8 p.m. on Feb. 3.

The theme this year is “Wild and Free,” and about 41 artists and around 70 models are set to show off their creations.

“As with every year, it’s a moving target,” said Cameo McRoberts, program director for the Ketchikan Area Arts and Humanities Council. “Many artists chose to use the theme as their jumping off point and others find inspiration in materials or the music, and incorporate the theme into their piece in some way.”

Speaking of music, the arts council has a special treat for this year’s show. They’re bringing an MC from Los Angeles that used to live in Ketchikan to open all three nights of the Wearable Art show.

Waldemar Kintana, also known by his stage name Art of Verse, was born in the Philippines and migrated to Ketchikan “of all places” when he was just a baby. He grew up in the First City and left when he was 18 years old to live in Seattle, and then moved to L.A and has been there for the past four years.

Although he never attended a Wearable Art show, he said he’s excited to contribute to the arts community and is thrilled that they invited him to share his craft with his hometown.

“I’d say my music is just a reflection of my experiences living life as a person of color,” Kintana explained, “as an immigrant and what that struggle is like; and how I can communicate that struggle in hopes that I can relate with other people’s struggles, so that way we can just be in solidarity with each other.”

After dabbling with breakdancing and graffiti at a younger age, Kintana wanted to see if he could command the English language on the mic and through hip hop. His music focuses on positivity and his Filipino culture, which he said is wild and free.

In L.A., he performs about once a month at a “fairly decent” venue, but Kintana frequents open mic events whenever he can to keep his craft sharp, his ideas flowing and to gain inspiration from the other artists.

“Shoot, if I had it my way, I would perform like every day, if not every other day,” Kintana said.

Although Kintana is a new addition to the Wearable Art show this year, there have been some constants — for the most part — at the Arts Council’s largest fundraiser.

Halli Kenoyer has been a part of the event since the beginning, and has only missed a show here and there.  For her, the show is a family affair. Kenoyer and her mother collaborate, with her mother handling the clothes fittings.

“We combine our forces and send them down the runway,” Kenoyer said.

While her mother handles the clothes, Kenoyer can be found creating things made of chicken wire, textiles and color — a lot of color.

“I’m a big color junkie,” Kenoyer said.

Kenoyer uses mostly found items and her goal has always been to spend no more than $20 on a piece. But sometimes, you can’t get chicken wire on sale. Kenoyer has been stocked on the wire for about three years, after buying a huge roll of it for $35.

“I have people bring stuff and hang it on my doorknob all year long,” Kenoyer said.

“To me, Wearable Art is kind of a celebration of the Ketchikan community,” she added. “We’re always finding things that we need to make something else work. We pull from all walks of our life on a daily basis to make something fly.”

While this year’s show is still a celebration of the Ketchikan community, there’s at least one community member’s contributions that Kenoyer is missing this year. Her father, Don Kenoyer, a “longtime Ketchikan counselor, fisherman and smoked salmon genius” passed away last year.

Don Kenoyer helped Halli Kenoyer with her Wearable Art projects for the past 10 years. There were some things that were difficult for him through his struggle with dementia, “but he could always use his hands.”

“I learned to use my hands from my family, they’re all workers,” Kenoyer said. “My mom and dad were raised on farms, so there’s really nothing a farmer can’t figure out. He started helping me on this and has always been my quality control person, making sure that people don’t get cut up with wire and scratched — because like I said, I used a lot of wire and the edges are sharp.”

Kenoyer said the song that goes with her piece this year is a very fitting one. It’s called “Don’t mess with my mojo,” a song that her friend released with her band earlier this year.

“I’m trying to get my mojo back,” she said. “I was really trying to talk myself into doing (the Wearable Art show) this year. … After losing my father, I just didn’t — I just still don’t feel like doing anything. I guess we’re all still recovering from it. Working on this without him is hard.”

Kenoyer’s friend, Paul Kortemeier, talked her into doing the show this year, so she did. She’s been working on her piece for two weeks now — and said it’s a fun piece, not a serious one — to entertain the Ketchikan community.

“I’ve had a couple of friends give me vintage, damaged, lace tablecloths. So I’ve stretched those over chicken wire and started painting them with their patterns and they’re wearing them kind of like an Elizabethan gown a little bit,” Kenoyer explained. “You can see through it and there’s a light through it, so that’s kind of the fun part.”

Modeling her creations this year will be Clare Bennett and Elizabeth Avila, and possibly Kortemeier. She said he was called out of town during the event, but he still might show up.

“If Paul is able to come back for the Friday and Saturday performance, I will make an extra piece for him in a couple days, because I can do that. Then I’ll get all three of them on the runway, but they don’t know that yet,” she laughed. “They’ll read about it in the paper.”

The students in her art class at Ketchikan Charter School will also be showing off their creations at the matinee show on Saturday that they’ve been working on for three weeks. Her students have been crating a lot of bird wings and butterflies, and all have a variety of colors.

Although there are several longtime artists for the Wearable Art show, this year has some new talents, as well. McRoberts said there are seven new artists this year, and two youths that started last year and have graduated to evening performances.

It’s Kirsten Baltz’s first year participating in the show as an artist, and this year, she will be modeling the piece that she created; whereas in the past, she has modeled for a friend.

Baltz’s piece includes a lot of deer antlers, dead, dark purple roses and other items holding it together.

“I’m calling this Kali,” she said, pointing to her creation. “Kali is the Indian goddess of life and destruction. Like wild and free — you can’t have life without death. There’s a lot of people with antlers hanging around their houses that they’re not using.”

Also on the piece is a fox skull, which “is Kali’s animal.” The rest of the creation contains sustainably harvested local animals.

“I’m really excited for the show, I’m really excited for people to see this. I’ve been talking it up and I don’t want to disappoint them,” Baltz said. “We have an amazing artist community here and just amazing art.”

For anyone that hasn’t bought their tickets yet, it’s worth checking with the Arts Council to see if there are any seats still available. There will be a free shuttle to the event, courtesy of a partnership between the borough and The Plaza.

The shuttle will run from the city museum to and from the Ted Ferry Civic Center from 6:30 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. and from 9:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. The Borough Transit’s Silver Line North and South will also be running late on Friday and Saturday evening, according to Ketchikan Gateway Borough information.  

“You never know what you’re going to get,” Kenoyer said. “It’s absolutely a Ketchikan flavored event. Everybody brings a little something to the pot — it’s like a great potluck.”