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2014 Dinner in the Street

Online Art Auction can be viewed here

Update:

• Artist Adrien Segal inhabited the front exhibition gallery space from April 14th of working and creating.  She conducted an in-depth study of the retreat of the Douglas Glacier, one of the three local glaciers that anchor our awesome view of the Kachemak Bay State Park.  It was wonderful to share new conversations with visitors regarding their reaction to an open-studio process installation in our exhibition gallery. Beautiful glacial drawings, clay models and poster-sized computer renderings pinned on the gallery walls.  Each ridge and formation correlated to glacial retreat data collected since 1958.  Adrien is formulating a proposal to the city for permanent installation of a completed piece, which could be installed in the New Harbor Master’s Building on the Homer Spit next summer.

• We welcomed a trio of artists, James Riordan, Jesus Landin Torrez III and Michael Gerace, recipients of our Ephemeral Public Art commission for Old Town AIR. Their project, “Searching for the Sublime” enlivened the month of May.  During their residency, the dynamic trio led the creation of a 9’ tall brick dome on Bishop’s Beach. Constructed of local Kachemak clay, the project focused on the conceptual merit of ephemeral art. The artists focused on social practice, relying on Homer’s potter-rich artist community to partner with them for the technical how-to’s.  From fireside chats to brick laying, some 50 people participated in creating the fugitive structure named, “Cenotaph.” On May 30th The lasting imprint of the project is its question: What is the “sublime” and how can we find it in nature and within ourselves.

• On June 1st Bunnell hosted Dinner in the Street.  The event was the perfect culmination of a year’s worth of creative placemaking efforts. Over 200 guests and volunteers took part of Old Town’s biggest placemaking experiment yet.  Inspired by our Old Town AIR Fofana residency, Homer’s newest drumming group lead dinner guests to the event’s entrance. Guests chatted in the sun, surrounded by ArtPlace funded-public art (gardens, murals and an outdoor buoy sculpture by Old Town AIR Jarod Charzewski).  Inside Bunnell’s gallery displayed a Silent Art Auction, featuring work by 36 Alaskan artists.  Guests tasted a five-course dinner provided by five Old Town neighborhood restaurants. We ate out of handcrafted bowls sourced from artist’s cupboards.  As happy horde ofpedestrians, we reclaimed the street as commons and together we made a space a special “place”.

Challenges:

– It’s been a challenge to constantly condition our new partnerships amidst the mayhem of event planning!  The life cycle of this creative placemaking action in Old Town might be best described as experiencing a tectonic shift within our own social landscape.  A full year of geysers and tremors in the form of public testimony, placemaking presentations, art sculpture installations, signage partnerships, new and expanded walking spaces, presaged the culture we’ve been envisioning. Suddenly, with the collaborative efforts from Dinner in the Street, our closest partners converged to form a grand new mountain range in our shared social landscape!  The dynamic nature of Dinner in the Street changed our social landscape for the day and even left a few partners bewildered at what actually just happened.  When the vision becomes a reality, everyone experiences the shift! And everyone still needs conditioning.  When it rained the morning of the outdoor event, and we chose to have a portion of the dinner indoors, I wasn’t expecting one of our major partners to be surprised when we explained we were still going to close the street.  *Re-adjust.*  *Back to the big picture.*  Although our strongest partners in our collaborative creative placemaking visioning are happy to help in event planning it doesn’t mean the are ready to champion real social change. yet.  We all need room (and time) for conditioning as we adjust during this time of growth, new and old partners alike. The challenge was not seeing it coming- the solution is to keep conditioning your cause every step of the way, especially with your closest partners because they become your chief advocates.

Recent Wins:

• Old Town Neighborhoods call their own meeting, and acts!

This may seem like a small win, but for us it demonstrates Old Town’s ability to take the seedling of stewardship that Bunnell had planted and tend it’s needs independently from Bunnell.  This is a major win for the neighborhood.  We have begun the process of forming the first official neighborhood Association on the Kenai Peninsula.

• Neighbors add public artwork
Old Town neighbor, Andy Sonneborn has taken Bunnell’s lead in providing the neighborhood with more art amenities and painted a large landscape mural of her own!  The 6 x 12′ colorful depiction of a tall ship heading up Cook overlooks one of the busiest intersections of Old Town.

• No more vacant buildings in Old Town!

• Additional publicity:
Homer News article, written by Michael Armstrong.
All project documentation here on their Facebook page: “Searching for the Sublime”.
A short article from Homer News, written by Randi Somers
And Dinner in the Street Facebook event

 

Insight:

As radical social-sculptors creating change, we humbly acknowledge that an important creative-destruction process is underway with all effective placemaking. In reshaping the ways in which we consider public spaces and the process of fostering a vibrant community, we acknowledge a certain amount of disruption in what’s normal and routine. Its part of the process of reconfiguring the socio-cultural landscape. Change is hard.  It takes patience and finesse to keep the focus on creation and not the destruction.  Each opportunity to collaborate with others will either weaken or strengthen relationships.

Question:

Acceptable living conditions in Alaska are quite different and a bit less “civilized” than that anywhere else in the US.  Alaskans take pride in choosing a lifestyle of dry cabins and outhouses! For example, there are nearly a dozen residential lots here in Old Town, without running water.  However, as we sally-forth with beautifying our Cosmic Hamlet by the Sea, some residents in Old Town are starting to raise an interesting question, “If the city can invest $100,000 in pedestrian culture investment in my neighborhood, why can’t we get running water?”  At what point do rising property values inspire a shift in responsibility toward basic services?

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