It's only early fall here in interior Alaska, but in the studio I've been at work on an image of winter. Even though I always enjoy the season at hand, I often find myself making paintings instead of the season I anticipate. This week's frosts were harbingers of the coming, inexorable winter, but I'd already completed my latest paean to the ethereal light of December. It's hard to believe that I was just celebrating, less than three months ago, signs of spring.
Our fleeting summer was full of both inspirations and meaningful experiences. Days spent in the Museé D'Orsay in Paris in May and the Art Institute of Chicago in August were inspiring, but even more humbling. Dorli and I hiked in the mountains of the Kenai Peninsula in late June, ran in the Chugach Range above Anchorage in early July, and explored both the high country tundra and the kettle ponds of Denali National Park in late August.
One of the greatest pleasures of the summer was my show at Blue.Hollomon Gallery in Anchorage. It was wonderful for me that so many old friends came out for my first solo exhibition in Anchorage in several years, and Georgia Blue, Gina Hollomon, Pat Wolf, and the staff of the gallery not only installed the paintings beautifully, but over the course of the month helped most of them find their way to good new homes. It is a privilege to have my work represented in Anchorage by this extraordinary gallery, and to work with people so committed to Alaskan art and artists.
Birch Biography ©Kesler Woodward 2014 75" x 9" Oil on canvas Six canvases, each 12" x 9"
My work was only a small part of another exhibition this summer--an amazing show at the Civic Center Gallery in Fairbanks that explored the forms, techniques, and materials of contemporary book making as practiced by Alaskan artists. Books as Art: structure/image/text was organized by the Northwoods Book Arts Guild of Fairbanks and was the first exhibition in Alaska dedicated to exploring the art of the book and including a wide spectrum of approaches to book making--from traditional binding techniques to innovative book structure, collaborative book projects, and book objects.
My friend Margo Klass, a remarkable artist, founder of the Northwoods Book Arts Guild, and one of the primary organizers of the show, urged me to enter a work in the exhibition and assured me that the term "book" would be interpreted widely. Birch Biography, six stacked 12" x 9" oil on canvas panels, was my response, a visual "biography" of a single birch trunk outside my studio window, from ground to crown.
Mine was far from the least traditional "book" in the show, and I was honored to be included in this landmark exhibition.
It has been a busy summer in the studio. I've completed and delivered a couple of major private commissions in addition to the works featured here, and I've started work on two new projects--a painting for an intriguing invitational exhibition being organized by Bunnell Street Gallery in Homer, Alaska and a commission for the Services and Operations Center of Mat Su Services for Children and Adults, an agency in Alaska's Matanuska-Susitna Valley. I've loved the summer and am looking forward to the shorter, darker, but just-as-beautiful days of winter.