One thing Ronnie and I are constantly amazed by, in our full-time traveling experiences, are those unexpected surprises you find in some of the most out-of-the way places. One complete surprise we got was our wonderful experience at the Norman Lowell Art Gallery in Anchor Point. Again, thanks to Leigh Ann, our camp host of Kyllonen's RV Park for her suggestion to visit this fantastic place.
Driving up to the rustic gallery building, you are expecting a simple collection of nature paintings..maybe some sculpture.
The surrounding grounds are also uncomplicated, this old native totem pole caught my attention.
When we entered into the Norman Lowell Art Gallery, we were completely enveloped with some of the most delicate and naturalistic paintings, all of the beauty of Alaska before us. These paintings are huge and impressive..just like Alaska.
Ronnie and I spent 3 hours here and then came back for a second visit. We just found this place special. Was it Mr. Lowell's style of painting or the way he seems to capture the many moods of the Alaskan landscape?
Or was it the immense size of these paintings..making us feel as if we are standing there with the artist looking at that same scene too?
An up close view of Mr. Lowell's work allowed us to see his fluid paint strokes and the rich blending of earthy landscape colors. We noticed the raised paint textures applied with brush, palette knife or (we were told) even a cement trowel, in many of his paintings. You just wanted to reach out and feel that paint.
Surrounding these distinct scenes from Alaska are the artist's collection of other works from Native Alaskans. It's clear Mr. Lowell appreciates the art of others and showcases it in complement to his work.
It seems Mr. Lowell is a writer too. His "Artist Statement" accompanying many of his paintings, I think added to the feeling, emotion and love he has for Alaska.
Reading information about Norman Lowell, we learn he came to Alaska in 1958 with his wife and raised two children here. He built a log cabin and then in later years, built a newer styled home with a larger art studio to accomplish these larger-than-life paintings. Mr. Lowell hiked and camped out at many of these out of the way places to sketch and pre-plan these spectacular landscapes. Staying for as many as 5 to 7 days roughing it just to capture the right light or the perfect composition, he must have been dedicated. No doubt, we had the sense we could feel the chill of the winter or smell the scent of evergreen spruce in his paintings, just as he probably did when he was sketching for them.
The last gallery room holds Mr. Lowell's paintings that one may purchase or even order prints from the display rack. We met a woman there who had purchased several prints for her home as well as her vacation home in Alaska, a true fan of Mr. Lowell's work. No, we didn't buy a Norman Lowell painting or print but we did carry back with us the memory of an artist and his work (and his son Kenton, we learn, who built this entire gallery space) that will stay with us when the thrill of the travel days are slower or are no longer. Ronnie and I also had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Lowell and his son Kenton, who runs the Gallery during the summer tourist months. Mr. Lowell now has failing eyesight and he commented to us he may have painted some of his last works. It was such a special moment for us to meet one of the most gifted artists we have ever had the pleasure..a complete surprise never expected or will forget.
A visit to the Homer Seafarer's Memorial, reminds us that commercial fishing is one of the most dangerous occupations in the world. It's another cloudy day on the Homer Spit.
Wanting one last scenic drive through the Anchor Point area, we took the North Fork Road again but at the last minute decided to take a left onto Nikolaevsk Drive.
Nikolaevsk, founded in 1968, is home to a community of Russian Orthodox Old Rite Church "Old Believers". We found their church and it's interesting exterior. Standing there, looking at the paintings on the building's facade, a nice couple drives up and asks if we would like to see the inside, they said it was beautiful. This nice lady, opening the church doors, gives us permission to look inside. Ronnie and I could see a vast array of religious paintings and artifacts on each and every wall. Nina, our host and a member of this Russian community, gave me permission to take this photograph, which with my telephoto lens doesn't allow for a panoramic view of wall to wall artwork everywhere.
Immediately Nina invites us to her cafe where she offers us her specialty, hot Russian tea and dessert. We also decide to get her special lunch selection of Borscht soup and Pel'meni but we have her pack that in a to-go box. It seems we have stumbled upon Nina's Samovar Cafe.
Nina was quite the character and we both struggled to understand each other's thick accents! There was a lot of "Can you say that again?" We all just laughed!
Her collection of Russian hand painted wooden bowls, photographs and nesting dolls was so vast we could hardly take in the array of items and colors.
And that hot Russian tea was delicious!
Again, another pleasant and unexpected surprise because we were easing on down the road.
Time is flying by fast, I've got one more blog post about Homer, Anchor Point and our worthwhile time spent there.