United Way of Mat-Su

This concept drawing is an example of the work submitted for the United Way of Mat-Su's Arts and Culture Trail Project. 

WASILLA — United Way of Mat-Su is calling for local artists to submit their work that reflects the Valley’s culture and history for their Arts and Culture Trail Project.

Selected artists will help install their creation to a permanent outdoor location in the core Palmer area. United Way of Mat-Su Outreach Coordinator Michele Harmeling said they haven’t narrowed down any solid locations yet. She said they’re working with partners like the Palmer’s Parks and Recreation Department to find an ideal location that will be visible and accessible to everybody.

“A lot of the projects you’ll see that United Way has engaged in during the past, helping improve the A-Moosement Park or other projects of that nature kind of goes hand in hand with the city of Palmer’s plans for public parks, public trails, recreation pieces that we’re always keeping an eye on with what the city already has as priority,” Harmeling said.

Entries from all types of mediums are encouraged. United Way is seeking any kind of work that demonstrates themes such as the area’s ties to agriculture, Alaska Native heritage and culture, natural history, colonists, wildlife, or whatever innovative approach that explores any or all of these within the context of Palmer or the greater Mat-Su Valley.

“We’re kind of looking for things that show innovation, potentially make use of recycled or found objects that are going to tie in well with the aesthetic and the values are here in Palmer,” Harmeling said.

Harmeling noted that there’s numerous sample submissions posted on their website for those looking for inspiration. She said the samples embody the types of projects they’re looking for, but they’re open to all kinds of submissions.

“We’re certainly open to creative, innovative pieces from all ages. We are definitely excited to see what we get. This is a call for submissions from anybody and everybody,” Harmeling said.

All Alaskans are eligible to submit their works to United Way for review. Harmeling advised all participants to follow the RFP guidelines closely and to call if they have questions.

United Way will narrow down submissions to five total entries, whether it’s from one artist or several. She said that group projects are also encouraged, particularly for those who may need assistance with one or more aspects outside their realm of expertise to bring the vision in their head to life. For example, a 2-D artist could collaborate with a sculpture to make a statue or other installment outside.

“We’re kind of looking for a little bit of everything,” Harmeling said.

Harmeling noted that final art installations are expected to be durable enough to last through the elements for years to come.

Once the final entries have been designated, United Way plans to install the pisces during the spring. Harmeling said the current deadline for submissions is Feb. 5, but they may extend the deadline if the need arises. She said they hope to break ground no later than fall. She said to call their office or check their website for any updates.

So far, United Way hasn’t received any submissions. Harmeling said that she hopes to get the word out and draw in as many creative people as they can.

“We’re just hoping we start getting them because everybody was enjoying their holidays and now it’s back to work time,” Harmeling said with a laugh.

Selected artists will receive a $1,000.00 stipend for each of five finished pieces.

For more information, call 907-745-5824, email admin@unitedwaymatsu.org, or visit unitedwaymatsu.org/arts-cultural-trail-project.

Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at jacob.mann@frontiersman.com

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