A confessional covered in golden saffron fabric will sit poised on the edge of the bluff over Bishop’s Beach on First Friday.
Bunnell Street Art Center’s participatory art events allow for direct experience, courtesy of a group called “Cosmic Agents.”
The agents are talented creative people ages 35 and under who are shaping town art culture: painters, film makers, photographers, musicians, actors, yoga teachers, burlesque dancers, writers, poets, activists, farmers and anything in between.
The confessional is just one extraordinary event in store as an “art happening.” The phrase comes from the 1960s where a piece of work, whether it be performance or sculpture or music, found its completion only through viewer participation, local yoga teacher Anna Raup explains, “It’s called ‘Viva el Arte; May third Art Happening.’”
All of this dovetails around the art opening of Bunnell’s Artist in Residence, Adam Ottavi. His exhibit unveils the work of a six-week residency making portraits of people in the local art scene.
As for the Ocean Confessional, the structure is dedicated to allowing people to utter aloud whatever it is that keeps them from being free, said Raup who conceived of the confessional.
“This is taking the experience of art in a new direction. It’s a five-sided structure built for this purpose. It’s covered in a warm saphron color. It will give each person an opportunity to go inside and sit. There’s a little window where they can look out at the bay as they confess, and let the bay hear the confession,” she said.
No priest, just the ocean and a host to help steward the experience. It will be open all day Friday. On Friday evening, below the confessional at Bishop’s Beach is a bonfire planned by Bunnell’s Brianna Allen. She’s collecting artwork to burn.
“Sacrifice your past art as a token for future art making,” she invites of artists. “Poems, paintings, sculptures, written wishes. Symbolizing creative renewal, it’s designed for all to participate and grow. There are no guidelines for the sacrifice.”
May starts out with a loud drum roll in the lineup:
• The evening starts with an artist talk at 6 p.m. by Adam Ottavi. Then food will be served on the front porch by about 7 p.m. or so. Handmade pinatas will be suspended from the front porch for everyone to see.
• Kayla Ray is hosting the pinata making events.
• Dan Cope will do the “roach coach” taco cart.
• Brianna Allen is doing the art bonfire.
• Michael Walsh will be screening a film on a U-Haul trailer.
• Jimmy Riordan, an artist who has been the caretaker of the Old Town Bed and Breakfast all winter, was the guy who suggested the May 3 “art happening” at the first meeting of cosmic agents. He also came up with an idea for an egg race.
Riordan will also design the poster, which will be a map depicting all that is going to happen that day.
• Jason Cameron is bringing his brass band to play Mariachi tunes. “The idea is to fill (patrons) with spring renewal – the whole event has been cornerstoned around renewal,” Allen explained.
The collective Cosmic Agents rose from the diverse group working in Homer. Director Asia Freeman, Adele Groning and Maura Brennan wanted to bring a younger generation together that are sort of shaping the creative future of Homer.
“We wanted to ask people what they need to facilitate their creative expression and growth. We’re also hoping that by drawing out this group, a synopsis would start growing and connections would be made,” Allen said.
Raup, part of that vibrant age group, calls attention to yoga as one of the diverse backgrounds.
“For me, the confessional as my project is influenced by my practice of yoga. The contemplative. And I’m interested in public art that is accessible to people.”
Residency Artist Adam Ottavi is from the same age group of Cosmic Agents. He created portraiture of Homer people and natural objects using the ‘wet plate collodion’ method of photography that harkens back to the Civil War. The opening will happen at 5 p.m.
Ottavi works with a 16-by-20 inch view camera in a method called a wet plate collodion. He uses a long 20-second exposure and develops directly on glass to create a negative. The glass is mounted inside a frame.
“This requires certain kinds of subjects – not kids because they can’t sit still 20 seconds. It is someone who can be theirselves for 20 seconds. Most don’t feel comfortable with that kind of scrutiny,” Ottavi said.
The process is a collaboration between Ottavi and the person he photographs. They must sit very still and focus their eyes without blinking. Then Ottavi takes them into the dark room and lets them see his process for development.
The chemicals are what were used during the Civil War and earlier. He’s using ether – the chemical used to put people out for surgery – and Everclear alcohol along with the colordian. In Alaska Everclear is sold at 75 proof, not quite strong enough for Ottavi’s process.
“I like it at 95 proof but that’s not legal in Alaska. A Homer moonshiner brought me some of his moonshine that he wasn’t happy with and it works really well. Smells like molasses,” Ottavi said.
His consciousness of this younger energy in Homer influenced the portraits. This draws contrast all the more to the ancient technology he uses to capture images.
The resulting photography changes the depth preception, turns blue eyes into haunting silver and emphasizes the eyes.
During the past five weeks, Ottavi, working downstairs in the Bunnell studio, has taken about 30 photographs, some of them still lifes from beach ramblings. He needs to cull his exhibit to 15 photographs. One of the exhibits is a self portrait. Ottavi literally looks like a Matthew Brady, fresh off the battle field where he took his famous 19th century shots..
Ottavi finds it natural to be a part of this watershed moment for the Homer arts community when the younger generation takes its first step up. It’s his generation, a chance to showcase their diverse personalities in his art.
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