First Friday is the time of every month dedicated to uniqueness and creativity in Anchorage. Local galleries open their doors and show off their newest shows, but not only galleries get in on the action.
Local cafes and other restaurants involve themselves as well. One regular is Snow City, and this month the cafe is showcasing the collaborative works of Kari Glass and Robin Rosemond in an exhibit called, “Arctic Zodiac.”
“Arctic Zodiac” is based heavily off the traditional Chinese zodiac, but rather than featuring the typical animals, “Arctic Zodiac” takes a regional twist by featuring animals such as the otter, polar bear, doll sheep and raven. 2011, traditionally the Year of the Rabbit, is known as the Year of the Arctic Hare, and 2012 is being ushered in as the Year of the Whale (instead of the Year of the Dragon). The idea came to Glass several years ago when she became fixated with the Chinese zodiac.
“As a child I would remember the funny place mats, and I always wanted to do a place mat of the Chinese zodiac [with Alaskan animals,]” said Glass. “I still haven’t made the place mats.”
Glass and Rosemond both work primarily with found objects (either trash, free or low priced items) they’ve located in a variety of settings, from Home Depot and Goodwill to beaches.
“We take things that people look at, and try to look at them in a different way,” said Rosemond.
Glass, who produced most of the pieces for “Arctic Zodiac,” often works with discarded objects she finds on the coast near her home on Calvert Island in British Columbia, primarily glass. Dozens of jetsom jewel ornaments (made from glass and wire) hang from the ceiling of Snow City cafe, resembling bubbles rising to the surface of the ocean. The designs of the jetsom ornaments came about as an accident the first time Glass made them.
“There is broken glass all over, and so I collected the glass and I tried to drill holes and I just couldn’t do it. So, I got wire out and started bending and wrapping it around the glass,” said Glass.
Other works created by Glass that are featured in “Arctic Zodiac” consist of found object sculptures of a raven, doll sheep, arctic hare and a musk ox, as well as twelve paint swatch collages describing the various zodiac animals and their corresponding personality traits.
Glass first began using found objects as a child, when she brought a detergent bottle to school one day for a doll-making project.
“They’re hideous,” said Glass, “and I loved them. We brought in our detergent bottles and put pipe cleaners on them, and they’re crazy looking. I loved it.”
While the mastermind behind the show was Glass, both she and Rosemond worked together to determine which animals would replace the traditional ones, as well as securing the show space at Snow City Cafe.
“We sort of got together and came up with this pitch for doing the “Arctic Zodiac;” combining our creative forces and working together to put the show together,” said Rosemond.
Both Rosemond and Glass admit that working together sometimes caused problems due to artistic differences, but both also say that they always bounced back and were able to move past their differences.
“Our love for each other and our respect for each other as artists worked right through any of those weird uncomfortable moments, which there were a few,” said Rosemond. “It’s like the clash of the titans, when you’re talking about passion and how you [the artist] believe things are supposed to be.”
Rosemond’s main contribution to the show, a nine foot mosaic whale made from ribbon, water colors and paper, served as the center piece and backdrop of the First Friday open house reception, which featured live music from local performance artists Marian Call, Brian Hutton, Elly Mazes, as well as Rosemond herself.
“Arctic Zodiac” will be on display in Snow City Cafe for the entire month of December, during regular business hours.