Eian Parks

Ketchikan artist Eian Parks arranges his prints on Thursday at Alaska Crepe Co. Staff photo by Dustin Safranek

While the annual Blueberry Arts Exhibit will remain in the Main Street Gallery until the end of the month, four artists will appear around town with pop-up galleries until the end of September.

The Ketchikan Area Arts and Humanities Council's "447 Pop-Up" exhibits gives four artists seven weeks to display their work — which stretches across a variety of themes and mediums — in four different local businesses.

The exhibits could begin "popping up" around town on Friday, at the discretion of the businesses in which they will be housed. The four exhibits will be up through Sept. 25.

The Daily News spoke to each of the four artists involved about their exhibits and artistic careers.

Polly Possehl

Polly Possehl has been painting since she was a child, having grown up in a creative family.

 "My family are musicians, and so that kind of expression — that artistic expression — was always real present in my growing up," Possehl said. "And I kind of just gravitated to the visual arts and did my thing and really liked it, and I just enjoy the process of it."

Currently based in South Dakota, Possehl is a lover of art galleries, which brought her to the Main Street Gallery in 2018, when she was living in Ketchikan with her daughter and other family.

"I love to paint, so it's something I just keep doing and spend some time doing," Possehl recalled. "And I love to go to galleries. So when I went to the Main St. Gallery and met (KAAHC Program Director Katy Posey), she said, 'Gosh, just bring some of your stuff in.'"

When KAAHC was looking for artists for the 447 Pop-Up galleries, Possehl was living in South Dakota, but had a cache of Ketchikan-centric pieces that she decided to submit.

Most of her work features elements of nature, and is done in what Possehl describes as realism style.

 "So when I moved to Ketchikan, all that new environment, all the new plants and animals, that was really fun for me to change my landscape; my subject matter," Possehl said. "Because normally, I spend time in South Dakota, and it's prairie and it's ranch country, so typically my paintings are horses and cattle and things like that."

Possehl's work is mainly done with acrylic paints.

"I like acrylic because I have a small space and it dries real fast," she explained, adding that the paint had a flexible quality.

In the past, Possehl has been featured in exhibits for her work in leatherwork and drum-making.

Possehl said that since the pandemic begun, she has missed going to gallery openings in her community.

Possehl's pop-up gallery will be at the main branch of the Tongass Federal Credit Union.

Eian Parks

For Eian Parks, his pop-up gallery is one of the first steps he's taken to spreading his artwork throughout the First City.

Parks moved to Ketchikan in 2014 with his girlfriend, Adrianna Oliva, and was inspired to start spreading his art by well-known artist Matt Hamilton.

Oliva connected with Hamilton when both were working as coaches for separate Ketchikan High School activities.

It was Hamilton, Parks remembered, who pushed Parks to start sharing his work.

During the past two years, Parks said he has started to take his artistic career more seriously, even though he has enjoyed creating art since his childhood.

"My dad kind of started me at it," Parks explained. "I learned how to draw — or I got the inspiration to draw — from him. Because he used to sit me and my brother down and kind of just draw us, and I used to sit by him while he was drawing his own things and I kind of took to it."

Parks will have six different pieces in his pop-up gallery at the Alaskan Crepe Co.

"I just wanted to kind of show my versatility and what I can do," Parks said about the collection. "I love color, so I do a lot of bright, vivid color. I do a lot of portrait style artwork through digital media that I've gotten into the last two years."

Parks draws inspiration from many sources.

"I love just getting inspiration from my favorite athletes or from movies or things like that," he said. "So hopefully, this will just show my versatility and different styles and what I can do as an artist."

Aiming to draw focus to representation in art, Parks said that many of his portraits feature people of color.

During the two months he spent hunkered down at home due to COVID-19, Parks honed his skills.

"I was actually doing masked portraits, like $10 portraits, for just anyone who wanted to do it with the face mask on," he said.

Parks completed portraits for people around Alaska and for friends in his hometown of Las Vegas.

"It really did catch on, I think it was like that first month or so (of quarantine)," he said.

Parks and Oliva also operate "D.R.I.P.," which stands for "dreams realized in paint."

The company does logos and other artwork for small local businesses, stated Oliva.

Oliva said that starting the company has been "an opportunity and silver lining through it all" during the past few months.

 Jamie-Lee Mitchell

 Jamie-Lee Mitchell is no stranger to the local art scene, having participated in events such as the annual Blueberry Arts Festival, but never found the time to dedicate to a solo gallery exhibit.

Mitchell said that she saw an advertisement for the "447 Pop-Up Galleries" opportunity on Facebook, and then was prompted to submit her work by a friend.

"I've been meaning to sign up for a full month of my own work, but I just haven't been able to commit the time to do that much," Mitchell said.

Her gallery at Ketchikan Dry Goods features two pieces, both of which are done in "scratch art," a style taught to her by a local teacher.

"The scratch art has been probably my biggest thing right now," Mitchell noted.

"I was introduced to scratch art when I was in high school here in Ketchikan, by Mrs. (Louise) Kern," said the 20-year Ketchikan resident.

Scratch art is a "simple set up," Mitchell said, adding that the simplicity of the supplies makes it easy to work with around her young children.

Scratch art is done on either "scratch board" or "scratch paper," and involves pouring ink over a board and using a sharp tool to scrape away the ink, revealing a background and design.

"I really enjoy doing animals, and so it's a really great medium to be able to get a furry texture, so it's (got) great realism quality to it," said Mitchell.

Scratch art, according to Mitchell, also produces "a really cool contrast" in a finished piece.

While her pop-up gallery features pieces done in scratch art, Mitchell is comfortable with other forms of art.

"But I work in a lot of different mediums," Mitchell explained. "I kind of ebb and flow depending on how I am inspired."

Mitchell has worked with oil, watercolor and acrylic paints, and has also done projects involving pottery and photography.

The COVID-19 pandemic has given Mitchell a chance to spread her work on social media, and learn how to promote her creations online.

 Maria White

 Maria White never wanted to be a full-time artist.

 Instead, she gravitated toward teaching art, which is where she found the inspiration for the work displayed in her pop-up gallery at Gold Pan Pizza.

White got involved with KAAHC after moving to Ketchikan in 2013, when she began teaching weekly kids' art classes.

"I've always kind of looked at my students' artwork as my own artwork, in a way," White said, noting that she would create galleries of their work, but never possessed the "desire" to be a working artist herself.

"As long as I can remember, I've always just made things," White said.

White said she treats artwork like play, which is part of the reason she enjoys teaching children.

 "I love the childlike playfulness that comes along with art making, so that is what has kind of always drawn me to it," she said.

White's affinity for playful artwork came through when she was inspired by a very ordinary object: a colored marker's cap.

White said that she first noticed the item when doing a routine check of her art supplies. Like many teachers, White said she has to check and make sure that all the caps are securely on the marker. If not, the markers will dry.

"At one point, I was doing this, I was testing markers and throwing out the dried out ones, and I just started to notice all the fun caps," White recalled. "These fun little colorful cylinders. And I didn't have any idea at the time, but I was like, 'These are kind of fun.' I think any artist can relate to just being drawn to a material for no reason, initially."

For years, White collected the caps while teaching her classes. She turned the objects into earrings and other small projects.

Eventually, White said she wanted to do a "colorful composition" that featured the caps.

"I did these single color compositions using those, and then other sort of 'found objects' or playful objects," White said. "Like, there are hair ties and beads and different things in the little compositions, too."

 Although White said she has not been affected artistically by COVID-19, she thinks others have turned to art as "necessity" while hunkered down at home.

 "I think people who are not artists or have not ever considered themselves artists maybe started to be drawn to it more as a hobby during this time," she commented.