Old Town AIR Update:
Like the tide, Old Town AIR is rising!
“It has been a gift to inhabit the slough. To take the time to nurture the conditions that invite poems to come along. Stepping into estuary time.” Poet Wendy Erd
Wendy Erd led representatives from Bunnell Street Arts Center, the City of Homer, Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, and the Kachemak Bay Research Reserve along the Islands and Ocean’s Beluga Slough trail, as she recited her site-specific poems. These poems, written for and inspired by the slough itself captivated all of us. Challenged to enliven the typical scientific educational-interpretive sign with lyric text, Erd inspires a more thoughtful and creative interaction with the slough. Pivoting from this process, Erd hosted a workshop for the community called “Writing on the Edge of Place.” She led the group of participants to find their own inspiration from the Slough just as she had. The group nestled their careful words within the landscape for others to discover around Bishop’s Beach. Art has such a power to encapsulate the universal language of feeling. It connects us. Wendy’s poems for the Islands and Ocean’s Trail are complete and will be installed by May of 2014.
Landscape Painter Dan Coe completed and installed his fireweed mural for the Driftwood Inn! This 17′ x 5’ mural fronts Bunnell and its cleverly designed to be removable to protect it from weather during the harshest Alaskan months. The mural depicts the full lifecycle of our iconic fireweed fields in Alaska. While sitting on the porch of Bunnell, you can watch the lusty colors of the fireweed literally slow traffic. You can see visiting families posing for photos against the mural. Watch a little longer and you begin sensing that the cars are actually the ones out of place. The mural is our first step in challenging and redefining our public space.
There has been great local news coverage on both of these projects. Community excitement is contagious and extremely fulfilling!
The City of Homer aims to pave and post new traffic-calming and pedestrian signs by the end of October. This estimated $98,500 city investment in pedestrian A highlight of this projects’ coalition-building charisma was a recent meeting with the city manager, the director of public works and the chief of police at Bunnell Street Arts Center. Our discussion of Old Town pedestrian safety and improvements truly highlights this projects ability to inspire change. Homer is an exceptional place, both for it’s physical beauty and it’s people. This project has been eagerly supported and is still gaining momentum.
Just last week, Homer’s Chamber of Commerce partnered with Old Town AIR Program in supporting a new “Welcome to Old town” sign, to be painted by NYC artist in residence, Mike Houston. The public sign will be installed on the Chamber’s property next spring. In Mike’s proposal he described the main imagery: “An old horse-drawn wagon carrying coal, fox furs, and barrels of herring. [In the background] A dock, with salmon or herring fleet docked in distance, glacier and mountains behind.”
Old Town AIR Program is rallying incredible support to propose our own Bishop’s Beach Park as a potential public art sculpture site! It is a park often visited by locals, tourists (bird kind too!), but in dire need of a splash! Some pizazz! We have been working hard to join forces with Homer’s Public Art Committee, the Parks and Recreation Commission, the Planning Commission and Public Works to ensure positive and secure partnerships. But what the super sweet part is, is they are picking up what we are throwing down! And they are running with it! As one bike rack turned into 11, one artful park sign may turn into four! Stay tuned folks, but I think the creative currency in Homer is beginning to grow.
Partners are your bread and butter. And more, it’s important that projects with this many partners remain malleable and accessible. The more varied our partners are, the more dynamic our Old Town AIR Program will be. Partners create their own sense of stewardship through collaboration. While that can be a challenging process, it ultimately supports a project’s success and buy-in. Remain malleable and inspire even more active participation. We make the road by walking!