By Christina Whiting
Ptarmigan Arts gallery members are in the midst of their third-annual Back Room Gallery Exhibit and Scholarship Auction. The silent auction features artwork and other items donated by local and statewide artists, individuals and businesses. This year’s auction began in early November, and continues through Dec. 4. Proceeds go to support Ptarmigan Art’s scholarship fund.
“Ptarmigan Arts is the only organization in Homer that gives a visual arts scholarship to a high school student,” said gallery chair Ellen Halseth.
The goal of the scholarship has always been to encourage these young artists to further their art education; a scholarship has been offered every year since the gallery’s inception.
“The scholarship was initiated more than 20 years ago as an outreach of Ptarmigan Arts,” said gallery member Gary Lyon. “Each member donated about $15, and we awarded around $600 to a local high school student.”
Lyon said some of the successful applicants used the money for further art education in summer programs or private classes.
The art auction was created in 2011 with the goals of raising awareness about the scholarship, and increasing its amount. Gallery members have achieved their goal of earning enough money to provide visual arts scholarships in the name of Ptarmigan Arts in perpetuity.
“The auction has been a fun way to bring foot traffic into the gallery,” Halseth explained. “But our greatest success has been raising enough money to enable the Homer Foundation to manage the scholarship fund.”
The 2011 and 2012 scholarships were funded entirely by members’ contributions.
“The year 2013 was the first time the Foundation was able to contribute a dividend in addition to member donations,” Lyon said. “Today, members continue to donate, and the 2014 scholarship will also be a combination of Foundation money and members’ contributions.
“We, at Ptarmigan Arts, are dumbfounded by and extremely grateful for the extraordinary generosity of donors to the auction this year and in previous years,” Lyon said. “Thank you, thank you and thank you.”
This year’s auction offers 115 items, including paintings, prints, photography, mixed media, metalwork, fiber arts, cast bronze, woodwork, encaustics and more.
Artwork for the auction includes that of artists Toby Tyler, Cheri Govertson Greer, Richard Schanche, Alice Thaggard, Ed Tussey, Gary Lyon, Dan Fischer, Robert Lyn Nelson, Nancy Yaki, Byron Birdsall, Jacques and Mary Regat, and many others.
“Barbara Lavallee has donated to our auction every year,” Halseth said. “This year, she donated an original painting, ‘She Loved the Wind,’ as well as the book illustrated in the painting.”
Featured packages include lunch for two at Two Sisters Bakery, a scenic wildlife cruise for two with Bay Excursions, two full-day charters from Fish Homer, Trolley Tours on the Homer Trolley, a Half-Day Halibut charter with Homer Ocean Charters and a three-month single membership to the Bay Club. Books, clothing, jewelry, pottery, masks and more will be available.
Scholarship applications are solicited every April and May, with scholarship awarded in May.
“A representative of the scholarship committee makes the rounds of eligible schools, including Homer High, Connections and Flex,” Halseth said. “Students who are interested complete the application, provide letters of recommendation and organize and submit a portfolio of their work.”
Last year, Ashley Freeman was awarded a $900 scholarship. Freeman is currently studying digital arts in the three-year Associate Bachelor of Science program at the Kachemak Bay Campus.
“Receiving this scholarship meant so much, because I’m trying to go through college without having to get a student loan,” Freeman said. “If a student wants to go into the arts, this scholarship is definitely worth applying for.”
It took Freeman about four days to complete the application. She’s currently taking face-to-face, as well as online classes, and plans to stay in Homer once she graduates.
“The kind of work I want to do can be done over the Internet,” she said. “This means I can work from anywhere. My family is very supportive of my interest in the arts, and that is a big part of the reason I do so well as an artist.”
The original scholarship committee included Deb Lowney, Halseth, Lyon, and Marali Sargent-Smith. Today, the committee includes Ptarmigan members Halseth, Joanne Thordarson, Bev Macy, Lyon, Aleda Yourdon and Kathie Baldwin.
Ptarmigan Arts gallery members “encourage people in the community to come out and bid on auction items. Participation offers fun, as well as the opportunity to take home art and other items to keep or give as gifts. And, you are supporting and encouraging local youth to pursue a career in the arts.”
This year’s auction will end on Wednesday, Dec. 4 with a Bid Countdown Extravaganza between 4-6 p.m. For more information on the auction and the scholarship, call 235-5345 or visit ptarmiganarts.com.
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