Artists’ Perspectives: James Adcox

What is your medium of choice?

I really enjoy oil painting.

When/How did you discover this medium and make it your own?

When I was about fifteen years old my parents bought my twin brother and I paint sets for Christmas.  He received an acrylic set and I acquired an oil paint set.  I never would have thought that those beautiful presents would shape the direction of my art.  Muscling through teaching myself to paint with oils, I learned that I could achieve the vibrant colors I was looking for.  Of course, I had more technical training in college, and truly recognized that this was the medium for me.  I became an oil painter and my brother an acrylic painter.

Where and how do you work?  

I work at home.  I made a studio space in our den and utilize our garage when I make block prints.  For oil paintings, I work in a variety of ways.  Sometimes I paint from life, sometimes from photo references.  Lately, I have been trying to draw more with a paintbrush, at a rapid pace.  This allows for a looser looking painting.  I feel my techniques in all mediums are still evolving. 

How does your creativity/art making fit into your life?  

It’s a struggle.  I love painting, but I also love spending time with my family, my friends, spending time outdoors, plus a full-time job compounds the problem.

Tell us a little about the connection between art and emotion for you.

My personal emotions on any given day may not be evident in my paintings.  Rather I try to capture a narrative, a moment in time (including the emotions with that moment) in a painting.  If it’s a portrait, I hope the viewers sees emotion in subject’s face.  This may not be my emotion, but rather the person I painted.

Have you found current events to be inspirational or stifling? How have they impacted your art? 

Inspirational!  I have yet to put paint on the canvas with the ideas that come from current events, but I hope too soon.  I look for less direct ways to express the current topics of the day, but they are influential in my subject matter.  Some of my favorite paintings from the masters are direct responses to the happenings of their time.

What role does the artist have in society?

Our role is to create and contribute, acknowledging the time period we live in! My artistic goals may be different from other artists, but we are all called to feed the hunger inside us to create.  Dante, best summed it up in the Divine Comedy that art is God’s grandchildren. 

How do you share your creativity? 

Teaching, I love teaching art.  I have been leading drawing classes at the Kenai Community Library for five years and have helped homeschool groups.  Also, art shows allow me to show my creativity.  

What ideas do you have for how artists can share their work with the community?

Participate in community art shows.  These shows can motivate both the artist and the viewers.  Also, try teaching a class on a medium you feel comfortable with – it’s a lot of fun!

Artists’ Perspectives:Marion Nelson

What is your medium of choice?

Encaustic aka Hot Wax (made with Beeswax granules & Damar resin) and Cold Wax, (a mixture of oil paint and Cold Wax medium).

When/How did you discover this medium and make it your own?

Entirely by accident, through a friend who somehow learned of encaustic workshops in Anchorage and called me saying I should take a workshop. I flew into Anchorage for several years for workshops, eventually buying studio time and then was able to build my own studio.  Prior to Encaustics, I worked with acrylic paint, pottery, fiber and more. 

Where and how do you work?  

My backyard studio is set up just for Encaustic and Cold Wax work with five stations for workshops but primarily it’s for me with my equipment and supplies spread all over.  It’s not a medium to do in the house given the heat guns, small torches, heated palettes, involved. I think about and see patterns, all the time so when I start painting that might be a starting point, but as I often say to workshop participants, “The wax makes as many decisions as I do if not more.”  Wax moves around when heated so surprises start to happen almost immediately.  

How does your creativity/art making fit into your life?  

Having a separate studio building makes it easier to work any time I want.  It’s always on my mind, but I usually paint during the winter and early spring as my big plant beds consume me during the summer. Another creative process.  I’m very involved with the Kenai Fine Art Center’s plans and projects. It’s important to me as is community involvement in general.

I think we all get frustrated at times in our lives.  Whether with our art or with life in general. Can you share a frustrating moment with us and how you dealt with it?  

I have “Essential Tremor” which causes my hands, head etc. to shake. It’s not Parkinson’s Disease, it’s just the shakes. Not painful but a bother to be sure, sometimes causing amazing spills.  It doesn’t affect my painting too much, and I’ve ceased to be self-conscious about it but sometimes requires an explanation to avoid confusion. 

When my kids were little, life was very frustrating, so I painted after they went to bed, often til 2-3am. The art classes offered through the college at that time were life savers and helping start the Art Guild was supportive to all involved.

Our long Alaska winter nights are frustrating. I walk a few miles most evenings with my dog so loss of daylight “forces” me into the studio earlier in the day/evening than my biorhythm likes.  Not a bad frustration to have.

Have you found current events to be inspirational or stifling? How have they impacted your art? 

Current events are profoundly depressing.  Staying busy is the answer to most issues for me.  I research other artists (often European), try to stretch myself, choose colors I don’t normally use, work on larger substrates, or employ different papers/textures.  Talking with other artists about their work & creative challenges is always a positive.  I also continue to worry about art & music in our schools. 

Do you see new roles developing for artists/art?

Artists of all stripes are offering greatly increased access to their methods through on-line classes, often teaming up with others for several days of instruction.  It’s an increased educational/creative opportunity for all and for those trying to stay alive financially. 

I would guess this will continue after the virus threat subsides.  Artists traditionally reflect life’s influences.  That will go on.  Let’s hope our galleries/theaters/cultural centers can survive.  We need them.

How do you share your creativity? 

I’m an advocate for the arts in my community. Personally, I participate in several art shows every year: the Kenai Fine Art Center’s bi-annual Juried show or the Open show, the annual Harvest Auction show, and one or two exhibits in Anchorage with fellow members of the “Alaska Wax” group of encaustic/cold wax artists.

I teach encaustic workshops now and then to groups of 4 or 5 in my studio and usually have a show in the KPC gallery about every 4-5 years.  As a member of the KFAC BOD, getting artists into the gallery for shows/workshops for our community, and coming up with events is creatively satisfying.

What ideas do you have for how artists can share their work with the community?

Take part in the Kenai Fine Art Center shows, workshops and events.  Offer to teach a workshop at KFAC, or assist with one. Take art classes at Kenai Peninsula College and participate in their student shows.  Local restaurants and galleries accommodate art work exhibits on a rotating basis.  It’s important to know how to hang and display a show, also a creative process.  I love doing it and happy to help others.  

Displaying and selling your work online is normal for many.  Ask someone to help you if you don’t know how to get started.

Artists’ Perspectives: Linda Vizenor


What is your medium(media) of choice?

Stained Glass (original, custom, solder sculpture, heirloom, restoration)

When/How did you discover this medium and make it your own?

After exploring many other media I was introduced to glass by a former college professor. This was in the mid-70’s. I began my glass adventures by restoring old church windows. This was a class of its own, hands on learning from old masters by taking their windows apart and giving them a new life. After moving to Alaska I found old windows were not in abundance so I needed to change my direction and create original pieces of art. I still have the occasional restoration request but now I primarily create custom and art pieces. My favorite challenge is in 3-D using flat glass to create dimension and interest. Alaska offers a multitude of subjects and ideas to incorporate into my art. 

Where and how do you work?  

I moved my custom glass studio to Alaska in 1985 and operated it as a side business out of my home in Eagle River while working for MOA as an Administrative Officer for Parks retiring in 2007. My husband and I moved to the Peninsula where we reside now. I have a studio on our property in the Funny River Community. I am free now to put as much time as I wish into my studio and art. I participate in area art show, some craft events and do custom work out of my studio. Teaching classes when time allows.

How does your creativity/art making fit into your life?  

I am always creating and working on ideas for something. I design original pieces and more structured pieces requested by customers. I love the long winters in Alaska, my studio is heated with a wood stove and many windows so I have a perfect way to pass the time. My studio is my happy place!

We all get frustrated at times in our lives.  Whether with our art and we somehow overcome it or with life in general and our art saves us. Can you share a frustrating moment with us and how you dealt with it?

My glass art has seen me through many rough times. As a single parent for many years it was my second job. But a job I could do at home while raising my boys. It also gave me a place to find peace and calm in a very busy house. My family has always been my priority and they have supported my art completely. My husband has certainly been my rock, he built my studio for retirement and is always ready to help when there is a window to be installed or a show to set up.

The pandemic has probably been the most challenging for everyone. I find myself fortunate as we live on 20 acres tucked into the woods. I enjoy creating and having time to myself…of course it’s more difficult to make contact with customers but I’ve managed to make it all work. And distancing isn’t much different for me except for community involvement.

Do you see new roles developing for artists/art?

I really don’t see a lot of new opportunities in this area right now. I hope new avenues will open when things get back to a more normal environment. I try to stay alert to up-coming event that may be suitable to my art but find very few. 

How do you share your creativity? 

I have a website, offer a Christmas Shop for local artists and myself to sell in my Studio, belong to Homer Council on the Arts, Kenai Fine Arts Center, and the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce.

What ideas do you have for how artists can share their work with the community?

I believe it would be a good addition to Kenai Fine Arts Center to add a page to their website that would give members a place to sell their works or contact their website. When customers are looking for an artist in a particular medium this is a wonderful service.

Linda is a certified “Made in Alaska” artist/craftsman. 

To see more of Linda’s work or to contact her, go to https://www.stainedglasswindowak.com/

Artists’ Perspectives: Abbey Ulen

What is your medium(s) of choice?  

Acrylic is always my first choice, but most recently I have been rediscovering my love for oil paint and working with oil pastels. But there is something to say about a simple pencil, so versatile and always within reach.  I love mixing mediums so it is so hard to pick just one.

When/How did you discover this medium and make it your own?

I guess I was introduced to acrylic paint when I was in High school art class. Loving the quick dry time, this helps me work with many layers, adding and subtracting to entice the viewers to look a little closer.

Where and how do you work? 

I most recently moved into a new home studio, and I make time to paint every day.  Music is a must if I am creating. I love having a home with a separate creative space, being surrounded by my family is such an inspiration to me.

How does your creativity/art making fit into your life?

Art seems to be in all aspects of my life, from cooking, traveling, teaching my children, no matter what I am doing in my life art and creativity always seem to be a part of it.

I think we all get frustrated at times in our lives, whether with our art or with life in general and we somehow overcome it and our art saves us. Can you share a frustrating moment with us and how you dealt with it? 

For me artist block is something that can be frustrating. Having the urge to create but not knowing where to begin, or where to look for inspiration. But I find if I change the way I look at it, or start from a different view point then an idea always seems to find its way.  Sometimes we need to get out of our comfort zone to grow.

Have you found current events to be inspirational or stifling? How have they impacted your art?

Today’s current events did seem to affect my drive to create. So many uncertainties in the world now, it was hard to find a balance for it all. But making it a habit to make a mark in my sketchbook and express how I was feeling seemed to help me handle everything and breathe through it.

Do you see new roles developing for artists/art?

Artists have always had the role of documenting what is happening in our world and how humans are responding to that. I believe now more than ever art/artists are making a creative impact.

How do you share your creativity?

I love talking to anyone about their love of the arts and how they like to express their creative side. I also enjoy teaching workshops here and there sharing my process and what works for me as an artist. 

What ideas do you have for how artists can share their work with the community?

Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, get involved take a workshop enter an art show. And don’t get discouraged. Keep showing up. You never know when a new door will open. 

If you would like to keep updated on projects Abbey is working on, visit her at @abbeyulen on Instagram or https://m.facebook.com/AbbeyRoadDesigns/ on Facebook

Art Center Update

The decision was made by the Kenai Fine Art Center Board of Directors this spring to close the KFAC for the year due to Covid 19 virus, out of respect for our volunteers who staff the reception desk, concerns regarding summer visitors and that tourism would be down.  While this was a difficult decision, the hope was to reschedule 2020 art exhibits sometime after reopening, prioritize needed building repairs and maybe start the long planned for back-of-building renovation.  

Now some months later and thanks to the Board of Directors, business donations and volunteers, a damaged storage area has been rebuilt, other areas cleaned out, new windows all around the building, and most exciting of all, the Kenai City Council approved renovation funds.  KFAC appreciates the willingness of the City Administration and Council to make this historic building in Old Town Kenai a more viable and versatile facility.  Renovation features include a handicapped accessible bathroom, removal of certain walls, improved lighting, a three compartment sink, and to generally better accommodate workshops and smaller art exhibits.  The historic jail, bars and all, will remain the same. It still prompts the occasional “I (or my dad) spent a night there once.” from local visitors.  Thanks to a partial wall removal, the jail will be easier to view for those who want to see this unique feature, and take pictures standing in front of the bars.  

The Kenai Fine Art Center is owned by the City of Kenai, managed by and leased to the Peninsula Art Guild. (It is also the home of the Kenai Potters Guild.) This “Old Town Kenai” building has a rich history having been built by Volunteer Fire and Police Department locals in the 50’s. During the August 5th, 2020 City Council meeting, Kenai Mayor Brian Gabriel stated “The Kenai Fine Arts Center is a City Building and an anchor to Old Town that draws people, a goal of ours. It fits the theme well that things can grow around it…I want to see Old Town become more of an entertainment district. Glad to see we are moving forward.”

Current KFAC board members: Marion Nelson, President, Leslie Morton, Vice President, Abbey Ulen, Secretary, Karen Fogarty, Treasurer, Heather Floyd, IT manager, Rachel Grossl, Publicity, Mick Wykis, Organizational Consultant. 

Special recognition to K+A Design Studios, Blazy Construction, Nelson Engineering, Zan Inc., Northwind Properties LLC, volunteers: Phil Senior, LuAnn Reynolds, Jane Marshall, Chris Faucheux, Barb Nielsen and more.  For more information including memberships, www.kenaifineart.com and follow us on Facebook.

Covid-19 Update

The Kenai Fine Art Center Board of Directors made the difficult decision to close for the remainder of 2020, due to the Covid 19 virus. They considered the safety of the many volunteers, artists and gallery visitors and that summer tourism would be much slower.  On the bright side, they are using this time to write grants, work on the website, paint walls, and make Art Show plans for 2021. Stay tuned for ARTIST IN FOCUS spotlighting area artist creative efforts. 

Peninsula Art Guild Raffle


The Peninsula Art Guild is selling raffle tickets for a chance to win one of the following piecs of art. Tickets cost $10 and can be purchased at the Kenai Fine Art Center. The drawing will be held on November 30, 3:00pm at Penisula Art Guild’s Annual Arts & Craft Fair located in Kenai Central High School. Artwork now on display.

Where’s Warhol?

Marilyn Johnson, Karen Fogarty, Lily Huebsch, Connie Tarbox & Jane Marshall



Lithic Collusions

Jonathan Green

Redoubt

Heather Floyd