Bunnell Street Arts Center presents Old Town ArtPlace Initiative, opportunities through art to explore creative placemaking, shared values and communal stewardship in the historic neighborhood of Old Town, Homer. Old Town ArtPlace Initiative seeks solutions to entrenched problems like speeding traffic and pedestrian accessibility with artist-led amenities, participatory events and both permanent and ephemeral public art installations and Old Town Artist In Residence program for visiting artists from Alaska and the United States to galvanize the community around Homer’s Old Town neighborhood through the creation and presentation of artwork that activates the Arts Center’s space and surrounding outdoor neighborhood sites.
Old Town People's Garden
Old Town People’s Garden, a green corridor featuring an edible and pollinator garden of berries, rhubarb and flowers along the boardwalk adjacent to Bunnell Street Arts Center, is a USDA-sponsored People’s Garden project in a highly visible area. Throughout the year residents of and visitors to Homer utilize this area, the gateway to Bishop’s Beach Park. The project promotes stewardship, food security and offers an attractive and healthy alternative to walking in the road. There is currently no pedestrian path on Bunnell Ave. Since the development of Islands and Ocean, foot traffic in the area has increased considerably.
Especially in spring and fall, school groups frequent the area for educational trips to Bishop’s Beach and Islands and Ocean Visitor’s Center. We estimate that about 1000 kids, from Homer and beyond, walk Old Town to visit Bishop’s Beach on school tours every year. Shaping our physical environment encourages neighborhood exchange, shared values, and communal stewardship. This project serves as an example of how the Homer community can redefine our physical space to encourage walking, creative expression, awareness of food security and community resilience, and ultimately, a safer neighborhood. Directly and indirectly benefiting all members of the community, this project supports community MAPP Project goals fostering ‘Healthy Behaviors Across All Life Stages’.
Old Town People’s Garden aims to inspire more connecting trails and boardwalks to businesses and residents along Bunnell Street with an attractive green belt featuring fruit trees, berry bushes, street art and benches from Two Sisters past Bunnell Street Arts Center and to the Driftwood Inn. This neighborhood corridor is a highly visible and utilized zone. Old Town People’s Garden goals are healthy edible, educational and aesthetic enhancements to the greater Homer community. From the 1940’s through the 70’s, a giant potato patch in front of the Inlet Trading Post (now home to Bunnell Street Arts Center and Maura’s Café) established the sensible homestead ethic of cultivating available land for food. A neighborhood garden promotes dialog, stewardship, teamwork and healthy outdoor activities like designing, planting, weeding, watering, harvesting and sharing food that we are growing ourselves.
Ephemeral Events, Dinner in the Street
Dinner in the Street is one of Bunnell Street Art Center’s keystone events. What started out as a massive collaborative community experiment in 2014 has turned into a favorite Homer annual event. The Dinner in the Street model has changed from year to year, transforming a public space in Old Town into a temporary place for community. A combination of live music, performance art and a fresh locally-sourced seafood bouillabaisse served in specialty bowls among 100 guests make the event special each year. It’s sponsored by many local artists and businesses.
Public Art Additions
Partnered with the City of Homer, private businesses, public organizations and artists there have been a number of public art installations in the form of murals and sculptures to brighten shared community spaces. There were many that started within the Old Town Creative Placemaking Inititative with ArtPlace America and more continue to sprout in present day.
- Bouy Sculpture by Jarod Charzewski
- Fireweed Mural by Dan Coe
- Bishop’s Beach Loon Sculpture by Rachelle Dowdy
- Poetry along the Trail by Wendy Erd
- Hand painted signage, Welcome to Old Town by Michael Houston and Welcome to Bishop’s Beach by Tracy Hansen
- Sitting Bench by Breezy Callen
- Artful bike racks
- Kite mural by Fat Olives by Marjorie Scholl (2017)
- Peony mural by Desiree Hagen (2018)
- Community mural by Bishops Beach by Marjorie Scholl (2018)