Old Town Artists Residency

Bunnell Street Arts Center

Funding Received: 2013
Homer, AK
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
April 7, 2014

It’s happening. Can we announce a national Creative Placemaking holiday yet? Bunnell Street Arts Center and the community of Homer is certainly feeling the cheer. We have welcomed two of our AIR artists in February and a third this month. We are also welcoming New York artist Michael Houston at the end of this month to paint our long-awaited Welcome to Old Town sign! Partnering with many city departments for this project, and our upcoming Block Party, Old Town AIR continues to steam roll ahead with more and more partners along the way!

Recent Wins

-- Our first Old Town Artists in Residence Ibrahima “Soriba” and Shelley Fofana:
Culture is rooted in place, however it is an artist who has the kinetic, super-hero-like powers to engage people beyond a culture’s origin. Like an extension cord linked from Guinea, West Africa to Homer, Alaska, artists “Soriba” and Shelly Fofana engaged our winter community with movement, song, and rhythm.

Their outreach beyond Bunnell Street Arts Center was an important element to why we chose them to kick off our Old Town AIR program. Their visit reverberated to other entities in the city by plugging into the Homer Middle School during their P.E. class. They also participated in Marimba Madness, a fundraiser by the Homer Council on the Arts held at the Homer Elks Lodge.

More than 50 community members came out to celebrate the residency during closing ceremonies on March 8th. Packed shoulder-to-shoulder around the perimeter of the gallery, the “Homerites” were transfixed by the beat of the drum. The creative community of Homer is growing. It’s times like these—when Homer shows it can perfectly embody sounds and movements of a land so far away—that we feel artist’s potential to inspire a larger social, economic movement.

-- Great Recap from HomerNews

-- Our Second Old Town Artist in Residence, Alison Warden:
Alison Warden, a familiar Inupiaq Alaskan performance artist in Homer, has finally returned to create a new piece of theater called “Let Glow.” Already having a strong following from her incredible performance “Calling All Polar Bears” (her last performance was co-hosted by Bunnell Street Arts Center, Homer’s Islands and Oceans Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies and with support from the National Endowment for the Arts), community members were thrilled that she has returned to invite them to participate in interactive elements of “Let Glow.”

Warden says, “ ‘Let Glow,’ focuses on finding love: self-love; community acceptance and place; family-healing love, and romantic love. (The audience is engaged in and throughout the piece, invited to participate physically and through written and spoken word.) My intention is that each audience member leaves the experience feeling hopeful—more connected to community.”

Alison has mapped out an artist talk on March 16th, a week of interactive community workshops March 17th-21st, a treasure hunt and dance party on March 22nd, and finally her performance, “Let Glow” on March 28th. Wow. I think she’s as excited to be here as we are to have her!

Recent Press
Alison Comes to FilmJam!


"Come on Caribou" Theater Workshop

"Love and Lichen" Treasure Hunt and Dance Party!

"Let Glow" Performance

The relationships that we as artists and art advocates have continued to cultivate with city officials (following codes and regulations) have made our efforts in creative placemaking so incredibly fulfilling. It is this gap that needs to be bridged in order for real social change to take place around the nation. A wonderful example of this working relationship was a recent hiccup in our planning and approval for our “Welcome to Old Town” sign. We had miscommunication with our artist that somewhat changed the original proposal that was approved by the city in October. Since receiving our ArtPlace grant, Bunnell has been effectively connecting our community’s vision to our city’s regulation and code. As creative placemakers, we must speak both art and policy because it’s clear: Artists do not like to speak to city planners, and city planners certainly do not like to speak to artists. Our developing role as art-speak translators totally saved the day for us! With no time to attend another Planning Commission meeting before our sign artist arrived, our Planning Commission approved the amendments to our Old Town sign application within days of explaining the somewhat sticky situation. Working partnerships with our city officials is crucial to the development and sustainability of creative placemaking—and they are alive and well in Homer!