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Old Town AIR, April Update

Allison

Inupiaq Alaskan performance artist, Allison Warden activated Old Town in a variety of ways during her residency. For the basis of her residency she composed an audience-led performance piece called “Let Glow.” The performance piece would transform the entire participating audience into a herd of caribou, strengthening
community bonds through games and story telling about relationships within the new-identity contexts. While writing the structure of the new performance, she held participatory workshops teaching traditional native games to the Homer community. She also organized a scavenger hunt game in Old Town with clever riddles
and quirky native puns as clues that led walking groups along Old town pathways and into businesses. It was a wonderful excuse to engage our new Old town walking spaces along with our neighbors, dogs, skateboards and children. When “Let Glow” was performed, about 60 community / audience members participated in the show. We each took our shoes off, adorned newly-crafted antlers of alder, and sat in the gallery according to our sex and marriage status. Allison projected moving images against the gallery wall, as she DJ’d “caribou house” music in between the show segments. (Only in Alaska! You might think.) She recruited a group of about 8 “core caribou” to demonstrate a few of the competitive games that they had played during her residency, and they also helped to perform native stories about marriage and partnership as Warden narrated them aloud. The audience felt rejuvenated by the level of participation the show offered. She will be returning to Homer to perform “Let Glow” again at Pier One Theater on Memorial Day weekend.

Jarod Charzewski was Old Town’s third AIR, and his work sparked conversation by many!
His work deals with abundance and collections. After being in Homer for a few days he had
settled on his medium of choice- and the buoy collection began! Charzewski’s entire installation
was done with help of the community. Approximately 750 buoys were collected, cleaned and tied
to a large wooden armature. This structure began inside the gallery and seemed to push through
the wall and spill out into the busiest intersection in Old town. Drivers slowed down, mouths
agape, watching the artist and community members nimbly tie each colorful buoy to a boisterous,
boundary-pushing form never seen there before! Because Charzewski’s installation pushed into
public space, lively discussion was easy–everyone joined in. This installation broke through
Bunnell’s walls, symbolizing Old town’s placemaking efforts busting at the seams. Each
residency has further pushed our community to think of how we consider, define and share our
public spaces.

Mike Houston arrived in Homer to hand paint our very own “Welcome to Old Town” sign that will be
installed on the Chamber of Commerce’s lot. It is a double-sided, graphic eye-
catching depiction of Homer’s history. Filled with barrels of fox furs and herring, a horse-drawn
wagon rides up the beach to Old Town. Small boats float in the calm waters of Beluga
Slough. It’s a nostalgic homage to Old Town’s history with a hip, contemporary carved wood-
block aesthetic. The sign will be installed this summer.

Wins:
Collaborating with many to plan our First Annual Old Town “Dinner in the Street”
This will be Old Town’s first ever-public event as a neighborhood! Sponsored by Bunnell
and possible because of ArtPlace, we are stopping traffic to have “Dinner in the Street.” Every
restaurant in Old Town is providing a course for this fevent, and many more businesses from
Homer are joining to pledge their support for Old Town AIR and it’s placemaking successes. We
are capitalizing on Old Town’s walkability developments, each of our AIR’s and on the positive
collaborations between neighbor, business, organization and city.
Dinner guests will park and then be led into the center of Old Town by a drumming
parade. We have asked our drumming participants, reined in by Soriba and Shelly Fofana’s
West African drumming and dancing residency, to do the job. When guests arrive, in “frontier”
fashion-style, they will be given a set of caribou antlers to wear for the evening, to reference
Warden’s residency. Guests will have been asked to arrive with a small man-made
offering. These objects will be collected and assembled by a few Cosmic Agents (young local
artists) as a quirky unconventional way of attendance and participation- Inspired by Charzewski’s
residency. Guests will be asked to select a new object from the assembled assortment as a
parting gift to remember exchange as a theme of the evening. And as we sit down with Homer
friends to eat fresh seafood bouillabaisse, we will be sipping out of hand carved spoons, created
from a workshop led by artist Adrien Segal. We are using elements from each residency to
create a one-of a kind event for our community. In addition to the street dinner, we are also
hosting a silent auction of Bunnell’s gallery artist’s artwork and Homer-wide business donations.

The complete dinner will be provided by: Maura’s Delicatessen, Two Sister’s Bakery, Fat Olives,
Aj’s Old Town Steakhouse, The Mermaid feat. Monkey’s Fish Charcuterie and local Homer
farmers.

Improvisation:

Community activated = Community owned. Each of our residencies have had such a
strong community-activated element to them and that has not only rejuvenated Bunnell’s Board
and staff but it has broadened everyone’s creative license in Homer. We talk about taking the
capital “A” out of art in a way to eliminate exclusivity and empower everyone’s ability to think
creatively. Old Town AIR has been offering that empowerment to anyone who gives the time to
participate. Artist-led community engagement in public spaces has given permission to
participants be an artist themselves and when people identify with the creation of something, they
own a piece of it and become it’s biggest advocate.

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