Thanks to Grant Funding, Bunnell Expands Artist Program

Ariel Van Cleave

     Bunnell Street Arts Center will have four artists and residence and two public art displays in Old Town over the next several months. The projects are part of revitalization efforts for the historic Homer neighborhood and are paid for with the ArtPlace grant the center received last year.

     The six artists were among more than 140 national artists who submitted ideas to Bunnell. Executive Director Asia Freeman said the first artist in residence is Ibrahima Fofana. He’s a master drummer and dancer of the West African tradition. He and his wife will be in Homer through March 9 and offering workshops Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 5 to 7 p.m.

     Fofana also will be working in schools in the Homer area. This follows Eddie Wood’s work with Artists in Schools where he taught the kids different styles of dance. Freeman said Allison Warden will be in town for the entire month of March.

     “This is an Inupiat performance artist who is also known as ‘Aku-Matu.’ She’s become an internationally touring rapper.”

     Freeman said Warden’s plan is to write and present a reading of a staged play called “Let Glow.” 

     “It’s a play on the words ‘let go,’ but with the embedded idea of letting your light or your love shine. It’s a work that’s really about deepening your intimacy with self and with community through your art,” she said.

     Jarod Charzewski will be at Bunnell beginning March 25. Freeman said he is an installation artist who works with salvaged materials. She said Homer’s marine environment is a perfect match for him.

     “He’s really interested and has read about some of the very interesting work on marine debris collection as a result of the tsunami from Japan. He’s really interested also with what might be found in the form of driftwood and other… unused items.”

     His installation will require community members to get involved as well. Freeman said there could be collaboration with the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies, and this will be a chance for people to focus on stewardship. Adrien Segal is another sculpture. Freeman said Segal’s installations deal a lot with tidal and weather patterns. 

     “She’s generated some beautiful images in previous work in gorgeous sinuous lines in wood and metal (that) show the torque of waves,” she said.

     Segal will be at Bunnell the month of May. Freeman said she will have an open studio for people to interact with her as she’s putting her pieces together. All of these artists will work well with the ArtPlace grant mission. 

     Freeman said having a successful “creative placemaking” venture is by collaborating with artists, the community and the city to improve and enrich a space. New signage, paved parking lots and room for pedestrians has also played a part in this project.

     “It’s that cross pollination.”

     Two Alaskan artists also will create public art for Old Town. Freeman said Anchorage-based Rachelle Dowdy has designed a loon for Bishop’s Beach Park.

     “Which may be kind of an ironic commentary on the interesting and creative personalities of the Homerites,” she said.

     Jimmy Reardon will also make a return trip to Homer. Freeman said his temporary project will involve storytelling, harvesting of local clay and firing the clay on Bishop’s Beach. 

     “It’ll be a kind of fire circle that’s semi-perpetual over a one-month period in June. And basically exploring the ideas about what attracts people to Alaska,” she said.

     There is another opportunity for local artists to submit proposals for Old Town as well. The deadline is March 1. Freeman said projects could range from benches to planters. 

     Some pieces are already up like the fireweed mural by Dan Coe. Poetry will soon line the Beluga Slough trails as part of Trails Day in April. Wendy Erd led a workshop late last year to write site-specific poems. More information about the visiting artists and a chance to submit local proposals is available on the Bunnell Street Arts Center website.