The Center for Alaska Coastal Studies in Homer is turning ocean-borne debris into public art displays -- and the public is being invited to pitch in. This spring the nonprofit group contracted with Angela Haseltine-Pozzi, executive director of the Artula Institute for Arts and Environmental Education of Bandon, Ore., to bring what a press release described as "a large scale interactive marine debris art project" to Homer this summer.
The center's self-described mission is to "promote awareness of the local and global issues associated with marine debris."
Part of that includes marine debris cleanup projects around the south coast of Alaska. To keep the flotsam out of landfills, they attempt to turn at least some of it into art.
The full project is expected to extent for at least three years, during which volunteers collect the debris, sort out pieces that might have an artistic application and then assemble sculptures that will be placed in various locations around Homer.
The group has already completed a bright green and red sea anemone and is currently working on an enormous jellyfish. A total of eight to 10 large pieces are expected to be produced by the end of 2014.
The coastal studies center's director, Melanie Dufour said, the effort is a pilot project and that Haseltine-Pozzi hopes to construct more of these "Washed Ashore" installations around the United States.
So how to get involved? Sorting the junk into potentially usable art supplies will take place 5:30-8 p.m. Mondays and 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Thursdays through October. Volunteers of all ages and talents are sought. You may get asked to help with construction of one of the sculptures. The center is located at East End Road and Kachemak Drive in Homer. More information is available by calling 907-235-6667.
Local bead artists in national book
Alaska bead artists Rebecca Starry, Penny Zobel, Jeannie Bench and Beth Blankenship are among 11 Anchorage beaders featured in the upcoming book "Showcase 500 Beaded Jewelry." The title refers to the 500 pieces included in the volume, which will be released on Aug. 7.
Speaking of recycling, Starry's piece, "High Caliber Collar," is the same necklace made from bullet casings that won a prize in the statewide "Earth, Fire and Fibre" show in 2009.
The selected works in "Showcase" were drawn from international submissions. Publishers Weekly calls it a "gorgeous hunk of a book" and says it's "like walking into a high-end jewelry gallery." The book is available at www.larkcrafts.com.
Authors sought for national prize
So you think you can write?
Poets & Writers -- the national nonprofit group serving creative writing and publishers of Poets & Writers magazine -- picks one state each year and invites authors living there to submit material for the Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award. This year they've picked Alaska.
The award was first given in 1984. Since then, writers from 33 states have had their shot. The 2013 winners will be Alaskans.
Bonnie Rose Marcus, who directs the contest for Poets & Writers, told the Daily News that organizers strive to select states from different parts of the country and then "research each state to make sure there is a thriving literary community there."
The prize includes an all-expenses-paid trip to New York to meet with top literary professionals and give a public reading. There's also a $500 honorarium and the opportunity to spend a month at the Jentel Artist Residency Program in Banner, Wyo., within view of the Big Horn mountains. One poet and one fiction writer are selected in each round. The criteria states that applicants must never have published a book -- or only one book in the genre for which they are applying -- and have resided in Alaska for at least two years.
The deadline for entries is Dec. 1, 2012. You can download guidelines and application form at at.pw.org/wexaward.
Previous winners have included: Sue Monk Kidd ("The Secret Life of Bees"), Elaine Beale ("Another Life Altogether"), Sandra Beasley ("Don't Kill the Birthday Girl"), David Mura ("Turning Japanese: Memoirs of a Sansei"), Fae Myenne Ng ("Bone") and Mona Simpson ("My Hollywood").
Vann nails it
One guy who really can write, Alaska-born author David Vann, published "Last Day on Earth: A Portrait of the NIU School Shooter" last year, a report on the young man who killed five people plus himself in a lecture hall at Northern Illinois University in 2008.
We reviewed the book here last year, noting it was an exceptionally difficult book to read, not just because of the creepy nature of the subject but also because of the expert way in which Vann presents that creepiness.
Difficult or not, it may be worth a second look in the wake of the "Batman" shootings at a movie theater in Colorado on July 20. It has been said that very little is known of James Holmes, the accused Batman shooter, but what has been reported thus far has an eerie consonance with the detailed profile of the NIU shooter, Steve Kazmierczak, presented by Vann. My guess is that, when more is known, more parallels will be noted.
More may not be known for a while -- or maybe ever. It was only by dint of expert sleuthing and luck that Vann uncovered information unknown to or withheld by the authorities. The review of "Last Day on Earth" is posted now at adn.com/artsnob. Vann's most recent novel, "Dirt," set in California, came out in April.
Humanities Forum joins First Friday
The Alaska Humanities Forum, which has had public art displays in the past, is aiming to become a regular part of the First Friday round of Anchorage art openings. Starting at 5:30 p.m. this Friday, they'll open their doors to a viewing of work by Anchorage abstract painter Katherine Coons.
A conversation with the artist will take place at 6:30 p.m. We're told that the Forum expects to continue monthly showings of work by various artists for the foreseeable future. Their offices are at 161 E. First Ave. -- the old Alaska Railroad Depot. Look for Door 15.
Chorus to award young singers
The Anchorage Concert Chorus is offering Mentorship Awards for young singers who want to join the group. The award will pay for membership dues and music for the 2012-2013 concert season.
To be eligible, singers must be a student age 16-25, attending high school or college in Alaska, and available to sing the regular concert season Sept. 3 through April 20, 2013. For full details and an application, contact Carolyn Morris, mentorship coordinator at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 240-1730 or email email@example.com. More details can be found at anchorageconcertchorus.org. The deadline to apply is Sept. 1.
No accompaniment needed
The Midnight Sons Chorus, a big Anchorage group specializing in a cappella, four-part, "barbershop style" harmonies, is open to men who want to stretch their vocal chords with others. The group indulges in repertoire that ranges from Broadway to rock. Show up at 7 p.m. on any given Tuesday -- this Tuesday, for example -- at the First Christian Church, 3031 Latouche St.
Theater review online