Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Art Seen: Drinking in changing landscapes

Alaskans love to take pictures. We are surrounded by such awe-striking visuals we just about can’t help ourselves. And if responses to photo albums on Facebook are any indication, folks who don’t live here are especially wowed by the images, even if they are not National Geographic material or art pieces in their own right.

It’s wonderful that a place like Kaladi Brothers is available for the many who’d like to share their collections with the community, and it’s a boon for their business, as well, bringing in additional customers and ensuring art on the walls. Photography exhibits grace the walls of both the old and the new stores this month, and although it is mostly traditional fare, there are a few pieces that strike my fancy as being on the more unusual side.

Genevieve Klebba has been shooting photography for many years now and is thrilled to be in the digital age. She was dubious, at first, but now thoroughly enjoys the quick results and ability to edit and print the images herself. The exhibit in the Kobuk shop is titled, “This Season That We Call Winter,” and her most interesting piece is one of the wintriest.

It takes a moment to realize what one is looking at while viewing “Sunset on Ice,” which is one of the appealing facets for me. The darkened craggy ice and snow in the foreground contrasts sharply with the warm sunset behind Mount Redoubt in the background, and it feels like an image that might be captured on another planet somehow. There are apparently others who agree that it is a special image. It won the landscape category in the statewide “Alaska Wild” photography exhibition in 2007.

It is also nice to see the hanging system in effect in the separate room. Works display well in the space.

Jeremy Reeve was born and raised here and has his work in the Sterling Highway shop. He’s placed inspirational quotes below each of his pieces and has numbered, rather than titled, them. Sometimes I feel the quote has a connection with the image, and other times it’s a stretch. Reading the quotes caused me to linger longer at each image, but I fear it may have prevented me from spending more time actually engaged with the photography.

The couple that go beyond standard fare are No. 7, “Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does change the future;” and No. 16, “Love and Time: The only two things in all of life and the entire world that cannot be bought, but spent.”

“Forgiveness” presents a butterfly, contrasting with crumbling blacktop and fading paint. The areas of color/texture become almost abstract design elements, and I am able to imagine the art as being about forgiveness, both in its painfulness and its beauty.

“Love and Time” is possibly of the bottom of a glass or bottle, and the liquid might be frozen or it might not. And I might or might not agree with the quotation, actually. I can think of many things to insert into a sentence like that. But it could be argued that any I might choose could, in an archetypal way, come under the umbrella of one or the other supernouns. Love and time might actually be considered as being bought, depending on the context of a situation, as well.

It’s probably a moot point, and I’m not sure Jeremy is asking us to ponder very heavily much of this, but rather sigh pleasantly, as we enjoy the beauty of this great state. He would someday like to be a freelance photographer and fund his travels through the sale of his work. A noble cause, and I wish him well.

Zirrus VanDevere is a local mixed-media artist and owns Art Works gallery in Soldotna. She has bachelor’s degrees in fine arts and education.

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