By Carey Restino
Organizers of the upcoming ART-rageous Gaye-la say their inspiration for the event comes directly from the source — the energetic, creative, gregarious and dazzling artist and event organizer Gaye Wolfe, who died a year ago after a short illness.
“I can see Gaye winking at me from every corner of this project,” said Asia Freeman, executive and artistic director of the Bunnell Street Arts Center.
The ART-rageous Gaye-la, to be held from 7-10 p.m. Saturday at the Bunnell Street Arts Center, will feature all of Wolfe’s favorite things — art, music, fine food, entertainment and an opportunity to dress up.
“It’s a party,” Freeman said. “It’s a benefit for the Bunnell but it’s really going to be a good time. The Art-rageous Gay-la incorporates all the aspects of how Gaye bedazzled us with her vision and her artistry and her generosity into a kind of one-night show.”
The idea for the event started with the generous donation of a large collection of Wolfe’s artwork by the executer of her estate, her stepson Charlie Wolfe. Freeman said both Charlie Wolfe and her life partner Sam Smith felt strongly that the substantial body of work she had left should benefit the arts organization she contributed to in so many ways for so many years.
Wolfe was a longtime board member at the Bunnell, organizing countless events, including the Artrageous Homer promotion, which started as a week-long promotion of art opportunities in Homer with a marketing campaign and expanded to a summer-long listing of all the arts and culture organizations and opportunities in the community.
Her own artwork, which is for sale through a silent auction the night of the event as well as online prior to the show, varies from small watercolors to larger acrylic landscapes to monoprints, assemblages and even some hand-made books. Wolfe was largely self-taught, and experimented with a wide variety of mediums over the years, sometimes simultaneously, Freeman said.
“I think she was looking for and by example modeling also the idea of personal expression and personal growth and spiritual evolution even through the arts,” Freeman said. “She wanted to get closer to the reason for living, the purpose of life, the creative pulse – she was always reaching for it, it didn’t have to be in one genre for her, she just spun outward and made a bright splash through these different ways.”
Freeman said Wolfe’s journey to Alaska from Florida some 20 years ago was partly inspired by the fact that Homer encouraged and applauded the creative woman’s efforts. In Homer, Wolfe’s exuberance and focus on making connections and sharing experiences found a home. At the Bunnell, Wolfe’s influence was unmistakable, Freeman said, as her vision helped shape the expanding arts center.
“She was saying you could be an artist and a collector, a creator and a member, a participant and the viewer — all those things at once,” Freeman said. “I think that really helped to grow the communitthat helped sustain Bunnell today.”
Wolfe’s own artistic identity — which resisted categorization — is visible in the Bunnell Street Arts Center now, as it expands beyond its walls to focus on the Old Town community and how to incorporate art into the entire area.
“She was really invested in Bunnell’s out-of-the-box resistance to categorization and commitment to innovation and invention,” Freeman said. “Those were parts of herself that are defining features and legacies and they really contributed strongly to shaping this arts center’s personality and programs.”
The Bunnell Streets Arts Center isn’t the only organization to benefit from her donations. One of her last shows included a series of 14 striking portraits of art leaders from the Homer area. Those works were donated to the Homer Council on the Arts, while others were donated to the Pratt Museum.
“There’s definitely the spirit of sharing the wealth by her estate amongst the Homer arts agencies,” Freeman said.
However, Freeman said, the donation of Gaye’s artwork comes at a good time for the center, which is in an “expansive chapter” while working on the Old Town Art Place initiative, which aims to improve the area with both art and more practical touches like sidewalks. Freeman said that effort is both exciting and distracting and fundraising efforts like the ART-rageous Gaye-la will help greatly to support the effort. In an effort very much à la Gaye’s way of organizing events, the entire board has gotten involved in the fundraiser, with an effort to make sure it is, above all else, fun.
“This is a duty as well as a delight,” she said. “We are trying to make it a duty as delightful as possible.”
Board member Erin Hollowell said as she was posting the photos of Gaye’s artwork online, she was struck by how powerful Gaye was, as an artist and as a person.
“She had a vision of what she wanted and she manifested it,” Hollowell said. “We were all lucky to have her be part of our community. I hope that folks will come out next Saturday in her spirit, wearing their glitter and feathers, and ready to listen to good music and eat good food, and smile a lot.”
Wolfe’s artwork will be for sale online through a link on www.bunnellarts.com and works can be purchased by phone at the “buy it now” price online and at the First Friday opening, starting at 5 p.m. on Friday. The collection will remain on display, available by silent auction and “buy it now” bidding through the Gaye-La on Saturday. Call Bunnell Street Arts Center at 235-2662 between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday for more information.
Music will continue throughout the event by local musicians through 9:30 p.m. Food will be provided by Maura’s Cafè and there will be a no-host beer and wine bar.
Funds raised through this event will go to the Bunnell Street Arts Center’s arts education, arts presentation and arts advocacy efforts.
Tickets are $45, available now at the Homer Bookstore and The Bunnell Street Arts Center.
Comments are closed