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By ALAINA BARTEL
Daily News Staff Writer
Ketchikan photographer Mike Gates said anyone who visits the Main Street Gallery from now until July 27 will be getting the “pupu platter” showing off the many different kinds of artists in Ketchikan.
“It’s an opportunity to see a variety of local artists work in a variety of media,” Gates said. “It gives a nice showcase for our summer visitors.”
“Artists of Ketchikan” opened at the gallery on Friday and will be on display for two months. It features an array of artwork — from weaving to graphic design and oil paintings — from 15 local artists who were invited to display their work.
The third annual exhibit is twofold, said Ketchikan Area Arts and Humanities Council program director Cameo McRoberts. It’s meant to showcase the local artists, as well as support galleries in Ketchikan that support those artists.
Artists featured in the exhibit are Delores Churchill, Mimi Kotlarov, Dave Rubin, Mike Gates, Barbara Bigelow, Beth Antonsen, Eliasica Timmerman, Bianca Jurczak, Sharon Filyaw, Phyllis Besaw, Andrea Murphy, Aimee Shull, Matt Hamilton, Nicole Castillo and Leif Sivertsen.
Many of those artists are featured in galleries around town; others have worked on large scale artwork around the community and some of the artists might just have a website.
McRoberts said the exhibit is a good time for established artists to play around with their work, and a good opportunity and a jumping off point for artists who might only show their work at the Blueberry Arts Festival or the Winter Arts Faire.
“(They) also get to have (their) work shown in a gallery with other established artists,” she said. “Each year, we try to keep a pretty good balance of artists in the community that are at different levels of their professionalism.”
McRoberts said to go along with the exhibit, the Arts Council makes a brochure that describes the artists and has a map of downtown shops where summer visitors can find the artists’ work around Ketchikan.
The gallery gets a bit of cruise ship visitors in the summer, especially for this exhibit, McRoberts said. She said the Arts Council has information available at the Ketchikan Visitors Bureau, and some tourists get off their cruise ships in the First City in search of local art.
McRoberts explained that those people find their way to the Arts Council, and once they’ve visited the exhibit, the KAAHC will direct them downtown with the brochure to help them find where the artists are featured around town.
The artists whose work those visitors get to see were invited to show their work in the exhibit. The program committee at the Arts Council goes through a specific process to choose artists for the invitational exhibit.
“We have like a list of artists that was created like three years ago when we started, with the intention of kind of, each year, cycling through those artists; but also adding artists to it as we see new artists evolve, or emerging artists that are ready to show gallery work,” McRoberts noted.
The committee will take a look at that list and will crowdsource for different artists who people have seen around town. McRoberts said the artists get an invitation in the fall so they have quite a while to create work specifically for “Artists of Ketchikan.”
Murphy was one of those artists who got an invitation. She is a local musician, artist, bartender and radio host who has a few pieces featured around town.
Some people might have passed by Murphy’s work and probably didn’t know it was hers — such as the large acrylic window paintings at Safeway; as well as many signs around town.
In “Artists of Ketchikan,” Murphy has two oil paintings on glass in refurbished window frames. But they’re not what someone might imagine. She played around with a style of painting called Verre Églomisé: a French term referring to the process of painting backwards.
“Usually you build up a painting, but with this process, you kinda start first with what the last layer would normally be, I put that and kind of go backwards in a way,” Murphy explained.
The Ketchikan community can expect to see art from Murphy in the future — similar to one of the pieces she has in the new exhibit. She said she wants to play around with comical elements, such as embellishments in the news and other places.
Working as a bartender, she hears all kinds of stories. Murphy said she tries to visually incorporate a lot of stories in her work, which is why the oil paintings have a lot going on in them.
“In college, I remember having a professor who said, you know, ‘People spend an average of two to five seconds looking at a painting,” said Murphy, who studied sculpture and printmaking. “Well he also said, ‘Painting is dead,’ so that’s kind of what encourages me to, like, find different surfaces to paint on.”
Speaking of surfaces, Gates has some photography in the exhibit that is not just a photo framed or pinned to a wall. He has two metal prints; one is a 18-by-36 print of a sunset over Thomas Basin, and the other is a 12-by-18 print of skunk cabbage. Gates said having the photos on metal makes them pop.
The photographer said was “tickled” when he was invited to display his work at the Main Street Gallery. He had a solo exhibit in the past and has been featured in a few other spaces around town.
“I’ve been passed around a bit,” Gates said, laughing. “I’m a little rumpled at the edges.”
Kotlarov, a basket weaver, is another Ketchikan artist featured in the two-month exhibit. She has a basket with a handle made out of all red cedar bark. A lot of her cedar baskets are red and yellow cedar, where this one is completely red.
The weaver also has three “rattles” in the exhibit, which are cockle shells covered in weaving that have a special surprise inside of them.
“They have beads inside, so when you shake them, they rattle,” Kotlarov said.
A few steps away from her weaving, someone might find exhibit visitors straining their eyes trying to take in one of Hamilton’s pieces. Hamilton has a “psychedelic” piece of art in “Artists of Ketchikan” that is different from what he normally does.
“One is almost like the old school 3-D, where you’d need to have the blue and red glasses to see it,” he said. “I just like that kind of imagery, and so I’m kind of experimenting with that.”
Hamilton usually creates a lot of black and white designs, but in this exhibit, he has two colorful pieces. The 3-D creation is of a fish, and his other one is based on the multi-talented artist that Hamilton is a fan of: Donald Glover — also known as Childish Gambino. He is a singer, rapper, filmmaker, actor and comedian.
The second piece Hamilton created for the exhibit is an interpretation of an image of Glover from his song and music video, “This is America.”
The song, “This is America,” was released earlier this month, and it has already gone certified platinum — one of the highest honors of the music industry, according to Forbes Magazine. That means it has already moved 1 million units in the United States alone.
“It makes for a difficult to watch several minutes, but it also requires several replays in order to catch the subtleties and take it all in, and that has helped the artist collect an impressive stream count,” the Forbes website states.
In the video, Glover jumps onto cars as he is dancing through a chaotic warehouse, all the while addressing issues such as racism, police brutality and incarceration, according to Bustle online magazine, which interviewed Glover after the video earlier this month.
The video obviously struck a chord with Hamilton and at least 1 million other people in the U.S. The Ketchikan artist was able to take that inspiration and turn it into something for exhibit visitors to enjoy.
“It’s an opportunity to do something different,” Hamilton explained. “Your safe zones that you kind of hangout in, you’re able to kind of go outside that a little bit and take some risks. That’s what it kinda encourages.”