Elements of surprise: Artists interpret long-running art show theme in unexpected ways

Annual showing of small pieces featured 40 interpretations of “Elements”

Juneau artists were in their elements at the Juneau-Douglas City Museum.

The museum’s 15th annual 12×12 Community Art Exhibition theme was “Elements,” and about 40 different pieces that interpreted that single word in many different ways debuted at the city museum Friday.

Included were water colors, acrylics, found media, printed photos and even a straightforward drawing of an elephant titled, “I Thought You Said Elephants.”

“I was worried it wouldn’t even be in the show,” said Kayla Wyatt, the artist behind the elephant piece. “The name Elements didn’t do anything for me.”

[Poetry with a purpose read in Juneau]

The elephant drew goodnatured laughs from other artists in attendance at Friday’s opening.

“This is the fun part,” Wyatt said. “You can watch the comments and see how people react.”

Wyatt, who has submitted work for the exhibition in the past, also made an earring for the elephant with a design incorporating earth, fire, water and air to justify the work’s inclusion in the display.

“I had to put something Element in there,” Wyatt said.

Patti Hutchens-Jouppi, who was participating in the showcase of small pieces for the fifth time, said the small pieces and simple theme tends to let artists experiment and have fun.

“I like this show because it’s something I’d never, ever do,” Hutchens-Jouppi said. “You can have fun with it.”

Her piece “Primordial” depicted abstract, kinetic splashes of red and blue meeting close to a dark black splotch.

Hutchens-Jouppi said the piece was more abstract than something she would normally make and was inspired by the years spent in Hawaii and teaching college courses about volcanoes.

She said “Primordial” was inspired by the sight of lava meeting water and the event’s theme.

“That’s what I thought of immediately,” Hutchens-Jouppi said.

[Singer talks performing Motown hits in front of Berry Gordy]

Other artists took a more straightforward approach.

Dwight Payton’s piece in the exhibition was a simple photo of a bright yellow flower printed on metal.

“I’m in a photography group, and I thought it was a really bright idea,” Payton said.

Elissa Borgess, curator of public programs for the city museum, said this year’s collection of 12-by-12-inch pieces is particularly robust.

Borgess, who also had a piece in the exhibition, said in the past there have been as few as eight submissions, while the collection that will be up through April 18, consists of about 40 submissions.

“To really fill up the walls is great,” Borgess said. “It’s really a low-stress thing. It opens the doors to anyone to be part of an exhibition.”

• Contact arts and culture reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.


• Contact arts and culture reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.


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