Preparing exhibit materials

Sherry Henrickson and Ann Carlson prepare materials for the exhibit Act III: Tides of Transition at Main Street Gallery on Friday. Staff photo by Dustin Safranek

Four local artists have come together for their third artistic endeavor in Ketchikan.

“Act III: Tides of Transition” is a collaborative exhibit at the Main Street Gallery that opens on May 7, featuring the combined works of longtime residents Ann Carlson, Jackie Keizer, Deb Turnbull and Sherry Henrickson.

The exhibit marks the third time that the women have collaborated to produce art, and aspects of their lives that have changed since their first gallery exhibit in 2011 and the debut of their second public art piece — the Children’s Literacy Tree in the Ketchikan Public Library — the following year.

Those changes — along with an appreciation for Ketchikan’s connection to the ocean that coincides with the upcoming “Blessing of the Fleet” and “Celebration of the Sea Art Walk” — inspired their third collaborative project.

The exhibit features collaborative creations alongside a selection of smaller works by each artist. The materials in the exhibit include fabric, tulle, tea bags, fish vertebrae and kelp pods.

When asked during a Wednesday interview with the Daily News how the women first met, Carlson laughed and said: “it’s Ketchikan.”

Carlson noted that she has lived in Ketchikan since the 1970s. Henrickson moved to Ketchikan in the 60s, and both Keizer and Turnbull came to town in the 90s.

“I think our arts community is so strong here that we all know each other through the arts community,” Keizer said, speaking from the Main Street Gallery this week as the group worked to prepare their exhibit.

The women got the idea for their newest exhibit two summers ago, but the events of 2020 slowed down their creative process.

“We all kind of — I think  — had different ideas on the direction (of the exhibit), but when we came up with ‘Tides of Transition,’ we’re finally ... retired, we’re all going through changes, we didn’t know COVID was going to happen but that certainly worked its way (in),” Keizer explained. “‘Tides’ gives you a good Ketchikan working area. It can be forest, it can be ocean, but it can all be related to the water.”

Carlson added, “We’re celebrating the sea and the bounty it provides, and the joy of working together. It’s so much fun to be together.”

The coronavirus pandemic hadn’t started when the group decided to start aiming for an exhibit at the gallery in late summer 2019, but by early 2020, it became difficult to shape the exhibit.

“There was so much uncertainty,” Keizer noted. “Summer was horrible here. We couldn’t all get together, so that slowed things down somewhat.”

But much like other events during the pandemic, adjustments were made and preparations for the exhibit continued — slowly but surely.

“We used modern technology to do what space would not allow us to do,” Turnbull said, explaining that the group went through many late night Zoom meetings, tons of text messages and lots of picture-sharing to get the work done.

“And sometimes it was tough to switch over,” Henrickson added. “But it also kept me sane. It gave me something to do.”

Carlson agreed with Henrickson — “the last year, it’s been so isolating,” she said.

Preparations for “Tides of Transition” went into full-swing in January.

“We got more hectic then,” Carlson said.

After collaborating two previous times, the group knows how to work together well on a deadline.

“I thought it worked pretty easy,” said Turnbull. “We kind of know one another well enough at this point that we can hear the timbre in somebody’s voice, (and know) when we should just step back, and allow them to do what they’re doing.”

Keizer joked that she’s learned she has a habit of being a “control freak” when it comes to group projects.

“And then I realize, I’m trying to control Sherry’s vision,” Keizer laughed.

Related to the theme of their exhibit, the women shared that they all have changed – even it when it comes to their artistic styles.

Turnbull said that she’s expanded her artistic mediums since she started collaborating with Carlson, Henrickson and Keizer.

“I was strictly working with thread and cotton, so my transition has been … to work with different materials and think about fiber differently,” Turnbull explained. “That’s what’s happened to me. I have a whole broader respect for what is fiber and what you could work with.”

Keizer said that the group has given her a chance to hone her personal style.

“I think I was always super eclectic,” she remembered. “Because a lot of what I have done has been ‘Wearable Art’ or the different openings that the gallery has had. I would just do everything. I had no style, per se. But working through these things … I think I’ve kind of discovered one here.”

Keizer finished, “so for me, it’s been focusing.”

Each woman described the exhibit differently — Henrickson said it is an eclectic body of work, while Keizer called it funky.

“It’s absolutely going to be very colorful,” Keizer noted.

Carlson simply hopes it brings “a sense of happiness” with it when it graces the gallery walls on May 7.

“Hopefully it makes people happy, just a little bit,” Carlson said.