By Heidi Zemach for SCN-
The businesses and streets throughout town filled with local residents Friday evening, May 2nd for the first monthly First Friday Art Walk, sponsored by Seward Arts Council.. With many people turning out in the unseasonably sunny weather and 11 businesses participating, it appeared to be the busiest art walk ever. Folks were socializing, partaking of appetizers and refreshments, and enjoying the local music and amazing art produced by artists and crafts people.
What made the art walk special was Zudy’s Café in the historic Alaska Railroad terminal had opened for business for the first time that day, with paintings and ceramics created by Seward High School Senior Veronica Wilde; and places such as the Seward Senior Center and Kenai Fjords National Park were also participating with special art shows of their own. Eight Arms Printing Company, Chinooks, and the Alaska SeaLife Center also took part. ASLC has its newly built ticket counters up and running.
Kenai Fjords National Park’s Harbor Information Center held its annual display of student artwork to mark National Parks Week, created for the occasion by Seward students in Kindergarten through high school. Special art projects on the theme of “Searching the Seaweed: the marine invertebrates of Kenai Fjords National Park, each class assisted by national park rangers, local artists or talented high-school students looking to share their favorite genre.
The high school instructors were a new twist this year, and they were a great help as their talents and passion for the work rubbed off on the younger students, said KFNP’s education coordinator C.J. Rae. Nobody viewing the exhibit could fail to be impressed by the artwork, including the detailed black and white etchings of octopus and jellyfish that SHS student Gabbie Katsma showed the students how to produce, or the smack of delicate jellyfish done that Joanie Meritt helped Mrs. Flower’s class create, that were hanging in the visitor’s center window.
Most communities with national parks in their midst take the public out into the parks during National Parks Week, but with Exit Glacier Road generally closed during this time of year the KFNP staff decided that instead of bringing students to the national park, they would bring the national park to the students through their artwork. They got the idea by wanting to thank the art community for creating Dot Bardarson’s Exit Glacier Mural.
“We wanted to thank the artistic community for putting up these great murals, one of which highlighted the KFNP, but we really wanted to get kids to get an understanding of the community they come from and what great artists we have in this community and that they are the future of the community,” Rae said.
Many of the students who created art work for this year’s exhibit were already studying marine invertebrates in their classes in April, when the art project took place, so it was perfect timing, she said. As they worked, the visiting artists and park rangers also subtly peppered the students with information about the invertebrates they were creating.
The Seward Senior Center also showcased many of Seward’s talented more senior artists, creating their art on the spot for all to see. Iris Johnston was embracing spring with a yellow daffodil, with her yellow and green pastels. Carol Souza was trying her hand at some Lynx, and Jean Schwafel was recreating a recent photograph taken at an active sea lion haul outside Resurrection Bay in the Kenai Fjords National Park.