An edible garden was planted by gardener Rita Jo Shultz, who used matching Old Town Initiatve funds with Bunnell’s People’s Garden Grant. The new green way borders a freshly installed pedestrian board walk along Bunnell Street Arts Center, purchased by the building’s owners. Bunnell’s Assistant Director, Adele Person, admires the view of Kachamak Bay on Old Town’s newest bench, welded by artist Breezy Callens.
Old Town is an ArtPlace! Momentum for the Old Town Initiative has grown by involving local artists in neighborhood improvement efforts, from the Fireweed Mural to Poetry on the Trail and Old Town Peoples Garden. Through this, we’ve raised visibility and excitement for our national programs. We have opened a national call for Old Town Artist in Residence Program through CAFÉ and the Alliance of Artists Communities! We have also opened a national call for Old Town Public Art on CAFÉ:
“Bunnell Street Arts Center presents Old Town AIR, an 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 AIR presents opportunities through art to explore creative placemaking, shared values and communal stewardship. Old Town AIR seeks artist-led projects featuring community engagement and neighborhood change through art such as murals, poetry, new media, landscape design, music, ephemeral art, dance, painting, theater, installation, creative writing, or sculpture at the arts center and neighborhood sites such as Bishop’s Beach, Bishop’s Beach Park, neighborhood trails and roads. One month residencies will be awarded by January 1, 2014 and scheduled for February-June, 2014.
Old Town Public Art! Bunnell Street Arts Center will award up to $15,000 for a work of public art, either permanent or ephemeral. Homer Alaska’s Old Town is one block south of the Sterling Highway overlooking Kachemak Bay and the Kenai Mountains. Located in Old Town, Bishops Beach was an historic mooring for boats back in Homer’s homesteading days. Today, people still comb the beach for coal to heat their homes. It is also a recreational nexus with a picnic shelter, grills, restroom facilities and miles of beach. Bishops Beach is one of Alaska’s most accessible beaches. It is adjacent to the Islands and Ocean Visitor Center and the Beluga Slough trailhead. Bishops Beach is within easy walking distance to shops, restaurants, and art galleries in historic Old Town Homer.”
Local (Homer) artists interested in creating outdoor installations of art in any media still have more opportunities. We welcome proposals for public art and artistic amenities like benches and gardens till March 1, 2014.
Three home runs, Homer city partnership alive and well
Bureaucratic processes can seem arduous, especially to creative visionaries. “Bureaucrats” might see artists as flighty, and ungrounded in practicalities, while artists might see “bureaucrats” as static and completely out of touch. But because of this opportunity, things are changing in Homer. I commend the City of Homer for being an exceptionally supportive partner in this program’s vision to galvanize our Old Town community through creative placemaking and communal stewardship. Recently, Homer’s Public Art Committee passed a unanimous resolution to offer city land as a potential public art site for Old Town’s AIR Program. Two days later, Homer’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission supported new artful park signage for Bishop’s Beach Park enthusiastically. Further, the Commission agreed to display this artful signage in all of Homer’s parks; before the weekend hit, Homer’s Planning Commission passed a resolution to install a hand-painted “Welcome to Old Town” public sign proposed by artist Mike Houston. The Homer Public Works Department will install and service the chosen Old Town Public Art (if its a permanent sculpture) and the two hand- painted gateway signs. We’ve bridged the divide between due civic process and expansive creative vision, just as successful creative placemaking should.
Microcosmic resonance of macrocosmic possibility
Old Town is an example of what we imagine for city-wide change. Neighbors in Old Town wanted traffic culture to change, and the walking and biking culture to develop. One of our first partners was the Homer Cycling Club (HCC), donating two brand new bike racks to Old Town. We shared the wonderful news with neighbors, partners and in the local paper. Weeks later we received an email from HCC saying the City of Homer ordered 9 more bike racks to be installed in town along our walking trails! Our Bishop’s Beach Park sign project is another example of this ripple effect. The Parks and Recreation Commission and the Public Arts Committee have merged efforts to provide uniform signage for all of the parks in Homer. Through our local call, we received a wonderful signage proposal for Old Town’s destination park, Bishop’s Beach Park (one of Homer’s keystone parks). I presented the proposal to both the Public Arts Committee and the Parks and Recreation Commission and they were relieved that such a high quality, affordable yet artful, and LOCAL option was available. Now, the uniform signage project is considering using the Bishop’s Beach sign as a model for the rest of the keystone parks in Homer! Another ripple effect! Bunnell’s Assistant Director, Adele Person has been an integral part of Old Town’s pedestrian priority and has relayed that priority to her own neighborhood by organizing a Halloween One Way: A safer trick-or-treating walking plan. Homer is eagerly drawing from Old Town’s example of creative values and visions, and that’s our greatest success!