By Naomi Klouda
Contemporary artist Gaye Wolfe passed away peacefully and surrounded by love in the early morning of Oct. 14, according to family. A gathering to celebrate her life is planned for Sunday in the Pioneer Hall at the Kenai Peninsula College, beginning at 2 p.m. It will be followed by a procession through town, stopping in locations where Wolfe contributed so much of her time and passion. The procession will conclude at the Pratt Museum at 5:30 p.m. with a fire-art enactment of honoring and releasing, a potluck and sharing of stories.
Wolfe came to Homer in 1992 with her husband, Sam Smith. She was an established artist when she moved here and had founded an arts college.
“She was part of the arts in North Palm Beach, Fla. The college was established and today is a full campus, called Armory Arts Center,” Smith said. Wolfe and others in the community found a building that had been condemned after World War II and asked the city if they could rent it. The lease was $1 a year. Wolfe and her art friends in North Palm Beach had the building renovated and it became a thriving arts college.
During her 20 years in Homer, Wolfe created Alaska inspired contemporary art in paintings, print making and multi-media. She had a hand in most all pubic art projects in Homer the past decade. She was a member of the Kachemak Bay Watercolor Society and served on the board of Bunnell Street Arts Center. From her seat on the Public Arts Commission, she took part in many acquisitions and exhibits, including the Firewise mural at the Homer Fire Department, the new Homer City Hall art commissions and an inventory of all public art in city holdings. She was appointed by the mayor in October of 2006 to that committee.
“She was intrinsically involved in every decision that came out of the Public Art Committee. Gaye was our artist member on the committee,” said PAC Chairperson Angie Newby. “She was a tireless volunteer, working on request for proposals. What really demonstrated this was when she agreed to work on existing art and placement of new art that was part of the one percent program at city hall.”
Wolfe showed great diplomacy as she helped the city administration select the art that they felt would be appropriate for their spaces, Newby said. When considering the space at the new entrance to city hall, staff said they wanted it to reflect Homer. In July, two of her pieces, Kittiwake and Life’s a Beach, were donated to the City for specific areas of the complex.
“Her generosity went beyond her time. It went toward anything that would enhance the arts presence in the city hall complex,” Newby said. Life’s a Beach is on exhibit in the planning office and Kittiwake graces the entrance. With Deputy Clerk Renee Krause’s help, Wolfe hung all the art pieces.
In addition to being involved in many annual local art events, Wolfe devised activities designating August as Artrageous August to encourage more tourism and art activities. This is something she did on her own as a community activist, dedicated to health and well being of the city.
Friends say Wolfe was a very unique person who came to Homer and embraced it whole-heartedly. “She had one of biggest hearts we’ve ever seen in this community,” Newby said.
Route for memorial service
Kachemak Bay Campus: The service/celebration of life will take place at KBC beginning at 2 p.m. on Sunday then continue to:
City Hall: There is a painting of Gaye’s at the main entrance. She was on the Public Art Committee.
Gaye Wolfe Art Studio: Her personal works are all over the studio, across the street from KBBI.
Bunnell Arts Center: Long-time board member, past president, vice president.
Homer Chamber of Commerce: Worked on the Artrageous Homer marketing.
Homer Council on the Arts: 14 paintings by Gaye Wolfe are hanging in the offices.
Pratt Museum: Reception beginning at 5:30 p.m., and potluck dinner with a chance to share memories to follow.
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