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WAVE (Working Against Violence for Everyone) found their niche with an event that fuses Petersburg’s community of talented (and generous) visual artists with community support.
Art by the Inch — Petersburg supports its anti-violence organization 022217 AE 1 By Chelsea Tremblay For the Capital City Weekly WAVE (Working Against Violence for Everyone) found their niche with an event that fuses Petersburg’s community of talented (and generous) visual artists with community support.

Artist Grace Wolf's piece is seen with the sticky notes indicating who bought each section at the Art by the Inch fundraiser in Petersburg. (Photo by Chelsea Tremblay)


Kathy Bracken helps Erika Kludt-Painter decide on her selection from Doris Olsen's work at the Art by the Inch fundraiser in Petersburg. (Photo by Chelsea Tremblay)


Every centimeter of Pia Reilly Rodgers’ work found a home in the first two batches of numbers called at the Art by the Inch fundraiser in Petersburg. (Photo by Chelsea Tremblay)


"The poppies" by Nancy Day hang for viewing before the piece was divided up at Petersburg's Art by the Inch fundraiser. (Photo by Chelsea Tremblay)


Grace Wolf's piece before being divided up at Petersburg's Art by the Inch fundraiser. (Photo by Chelsea Tremblay)


Organizer of Art by the Inch Carey Case looks on as Rick Brock, WAVE person of distinction, speaks at Petersburg's Art by the Inch fundraiser. (Photo by Chelsea Tremblay)

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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Story last updated at 2/21/2017 - 7:31 pm

Art by the Inch — Petersburg supports its anti-violence organization

 After the flurry of Christmas celebrations, many Petersburg residents go into full-blown hibernation. A few find warmer places to be. But for those who stay, each weekend there’s another burst of energy as community nonprofits host events to fundraise and bring their supporters together. The challenge is to make an event unique enough to build anticipation and bring together as many folks as possible.

WAVE (Working Against Violence for Everyone) found their niche with an event that fuses Petersburg’s community of talented (and generous) visual artists with community support. The biannual mid-winter celebration recognized the hard work of Petersburg’s anti-violence organization, including employees, volunteers, and board members.

The event is named “Art by the Inch,” where each artist completes a full canvas of art with the knowledge it will be cut into varying sizes. There were frames available in standard picture-frame sizes, or folks could custom-cut their preferred image, knowing that each square inch of artwork cost $1. Former board chairwoman Carey Carmichael Case heard about the concept from a friend with a museum in San Francisco, and thought it would be a good fit for a supportive community with a large number of visual artists.

That doesn’t mean it was an entirely smooth introduction. The first year the artists weren’t so sure about the idea. It’s a lot to imagine, and Case said many were emotional the first time their work was divided up. “I thought one was going to have a heart attack,” she said, remembering the reaction of the artists.

But the artists also saw excitement of the public, who were able to get close enough to notice the details that would typically be hidden behind a pane of glass.

“It’s a great way to get a small piece from a local artist that you might not otherwise be able to afford. Or splurge and get a bigger piece of art. It’s also lots of fun to pick out your ‘inches’ and see how the art changes as it’s cut into sections,” Christina Sargent said.

Many have begun to adjust their approach to creating pieces to reflect the challenge posed by the event.

One of the artists who donated a canvas for the cause, Doris Olsen, painted an almost geometric pattern so any variety of size offered similar style of artistry. Pia Reilly Rodgers brought her colorful and intricate style to a masterpiece.

Chris Weiss created “ECO Prints,” on watercolor paper with Alum mordant. Her unique design was achieved using live/rehydrated leaves and grass dipped in tannin, which were then bundled, steamed and dried. The other artists who donated to the “Inch” part of the evening were Nancy Day, Teri Michael, Don Cornelius and Karen Cornelius, and each canvas was filled with sticky-notes indicating claimed sections by the end of the evening.

First-time participant Grace Wolf (Peterson) has some practice with creating artwork that will later be subdivided.

“If I hadn’t been making original artwork necklaces,” she said. “I don’t think I could go through with it getting cut up. Thank goodness I’ve been practicing!”

A silent auction offered an alternative method of participation for artists of different mediums. Those tables were filled with a variety of donated items, such as locally made rabbit fur headbands, intricately drawn artwork from Kellii Wood of Kaimia Designs to stained glass, yellow cedar deer call or strawberry wine. Fabric art included Sally Dwyer’s quilted table set and Christina Sargent’s hand-sewn scarf with fabric painted design.

While perusing the silent auction attendees kept an ear open, as bid numbers were randomly drawn in groups of 10 to descend upon the “Art by the Inch” canvases. They had five minutes to find a piece of art they wanted and settle on the size. Event emcee Nicole Clowery McMurren kept participants moving with a gentle gong and a microphone. The first group had full pick, with availability becoming more difficult towards the end of the evening. Every centimeter of Pia Reilly Rodgers’ work found a home in the first two batches of numbers called. One was purchased whole.

The money supports Petersburg’s anti-violence organization. WAVE strives to “create a place where anyone, regardless of sex, age, race, or sexual orientation can go to be safe and explore their options.” Working under the principle that violence is an unacceptable way to deal with problems, they advocate on behalf of domestic violence victims. This includes helping clients find safe housing and navigate the legal system if they need it.

WAVE received a federal grant in 2016. The funding came from the Office on Violence Against Women through the U.S. Department of Justice. Now WAVE has the capacity for prevention work, teaching lessons about consent and doing bystander training in the high school. The goal is that by teaching children about consent and promoting respect for other people, hopefully there will be a day an organization like WAVE won’t have to exist.

“We’d love to not be needed,” Case said.

One Petersburg resident was recognized at the event for his advocacy and work with the community’s young people. Rick Brock, a public teacher and boys’ basketball coach for 27 years, was the WAVE person of distinction for 2016. Case described the positive influence Brock has on his students of all ages. He enrolled his team in the FUTURES’ Coaching Boys into Men Program, a nationally recognized program that promotes respect for others and works to prevent relationship abuse, harassment, and sexual assault. Brock was surprised with a plaque made in the high school shop, a gift certificate, and a standing ovation.

Other volunteers and programs happen almost quietly around town. “A lot of our work is not visible,” Case explained. This is in part due to the confidentiality that comes with working in delicate situations. Keeping a low profile in town helps WAVE work towards the safety of their clients.

WAVE has been around for about 30 years since the anti-violence organization got its start “in (then-public health nurse) Marlene Cushing’s briefcase.” Over the decades, Case said, WAVE has finally gotten to the point where they host these public events as a way to say, in her words, “This is who we are, and thank you.”

The more public profile comes as communities have begun to have open discussion on the sensitive issue. Alaska’s domestic violence rates are among the highest in the nation, and Petersburg is not exempt. It’s a side of town, and ourselves really, that no one enjoys talking about. But on a February evening on Mitkof Island over one hundred community members gathered in a brightly lit Sons of Norway Hall, around tables filled with flower bouquets donated from the Flower Farm, to celebrate the beautiful artistry of the community and raise money for a future where groups like WAVE have made themselves irrelevant.