By Morgan Smith
A must see in Girdwood, this art confluence helps bring us together and inspires us to strive to explore our own creativity. Whether you’re an artist or someone looking for a new piece to complete your home, the Girdwood Center for Visual Arts (GCVA) has what you’re looking for.
Started in 1982 in Old Girdwood to help bring artists together, GCVA has grown and flourished since. The goal is to help artists have a space to create and to share their work with others. After several moves, and growing and changing into a non-profit after 6 years of opening, GCVA seems to finally be settled into its own rhythm that works with 30 Alaskan artists.
People come from as far away as Kasilof and Talkeetna to be a part of GCVA because they see the benefits not only to the artists but to the community. One of many unique aspects at GCVA is that you can walk in and talk to actual artists who volunteer to run it. So not only do you get to see their art, but you get to enjoy the company of the person who created it.
To become an artist in GCVA, you need to be juried in by a majority vote of current artist belonging to GCVA. Once voted in, artists must pay a $100 fee, volunteer at least one day a month, and ninety hours a year. Artists receive a 75 percent commission, which is high and makes the prices of art go down, which in turn makes it more affordable for the patrons.
Very few galleries only take 25 percent. For artists wanting to just participate in a single show, the commission to GCVA is 30 percent. Still a great deal for both parties and helps to encourage buyers from feeling like art has to be expensive.
The diversity between artists is another special aspect of GCVS. Not only do ages, locations and backgrounds of each individual vary, but their art mediums. From traditional style paintings, handmade clothing, jewelry, sculptures, glass and metal works, photography, to functional home decor, every artist has something to contribute that’s all their own.
Every piece is priced to be affordable. Looking is encouraged by all. The GCVA is striving to breakdown the old stigma that art is for the rich and that children shouldn’t participate, Gallery Director Holly Hobson explains. Director since 2013, Hobson just wants people to stop in, look around and feel welcome. “Art is for everyone,” she simply states.
Also, Hobson is worried that sometimes GCVA can get overlooked because of the busy location. Most passers by are headed to the mountain to have fun and GCVA gets passed by. The ultimate goal is to bring awareness to the gallery to support what they are doing – promote visual arts, share in the volunteer effort, and to encourage the development of other artistic opportunities for the public and its members. So stop in and show your support.
Keep in touch with the GCVA for future events, including seasonal ones. In December, the gallery puts on ornament making for kids. They also have new art shows monthly. In March, Jake Graupmann will be showcasing his photography. And in April, Becky Voris is sharing her textiles and jewelry. So stop in or call to get a schedule of the latest events so you don’t miss out. You can also checkout the GCVA website at www.gcvaonline.org.
After chatting for a bit, Hobson showed me around the gallery. Every inch of the gallery is perfectly fitted with something.
I was blown away by the sheer diversity of all that was on display. Glass magnets, a giant wood moose head fitted with blue car headlight eyes that turn on and glow, to heart shaped coffee mugs, mushroom sculptures, and so much more. Endless creative items were laid out in front of me, and I could get lost browsing for hours.
As a local artist, I can’t think of a worthier cause to support. So whether you are wanting a gift, to treat yourself, to get involved, show your art or just show your support, go wander through the gallery. Sometimes just soaking it all in is a relaxing way to spend an afternoon.
Either way, the Girdwood Center for Visual Arts is worth any time you give it and you won’t regret stopping in and showing your support to the wonderful people who run it. It truly is a wonderful gallery, and I’m glad we get to enjoy it as it enhances our community.