Submissions wanted for public art display in Palmer

A shot of a bike path sign in Palmer near the town square.
A shot of a bike path sign in Palmer near the town square.(Taylor Clark)
Published: Feb. 22, 2021 at 8:21 AM AKST
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PALMER, Alaska (KTUU) - The United Way of Mat-Su is trying to beautify the city of Palmer through public art, and they’re looking for artists to submit ideas. The endeavor is called the Arts and Cultural Trail Project and submissions can be sent in until May 1.

According to Michele Harmeling with the United Way, the goal is to create an art trail that will capture the essence of the city of Palmer as the “hub to artists in the Mat-Su.” They can capture the history, culture, flora, fauna, and anything that is special to the area.

She said the project is possible because of a $5,000 grant from AARP. All of the money will be used to pay stipends for five artists who are chosen as finalists on May 15.

“One of the things that City of Palmer has been wanting to for many many years is establish some kind of permanent arts in Palmer. Just to enhance the town and give people something to look at, something to talk about, create those social and creative connections, and so that’s what we are here to do,” Harmeling said.

What the submissions could be is fairly open-ended. Harmeling said they could be murals, sculptures or really anything that could be seen publicly. She also said the finalists’ pieces will ideally be durable enough to withstand time and weather.

It can even be an idea. Harmeling said while the submissions are due by May 1, they don’t have to be completed works.

“It doesn’t really have to be a finished piece. So if you happen to have a finished piece hanging out in your garage, that would be awesome. We would love to see that. But by no means does it have to be. So it can just be a conceptual submission that details what you would put in Palmer that kind of reflects the culture and history of where we are.”

The Palmer Museum of History & Art is helping get the word out about the project as harbingers of art and culture in Palmer. Executive Director Sam Dinges said it’s about far more than winning a contest and the chance of making a little bit of money from the stipend.

“Any time that there’s an organization that’s investing money in artists that are creating public art, that’s a great sign for the community,” Dinges said, “but it’s also beyond just the financial investment. You know, you’re going to get to showcase your work for many many years to many many people. It’s not just a two-week or one-month show.”

Dinges said the museum is supporting the project as a way to spotlight art in Palmer, but it would also have the potential to help the area financially through tourism.

“When we’ve got an art project like this, that beautifies the town that kind of showcases the talent that we’ve got here in the community, it sends a real strong message to people coming from outside that says, ‘hey, Palmer is a cool spot.’ We’ve got cool stuff going on, you should come spend your time and money here,” he said.

Currently, Harmeling said the United Way is working with the city of Palmer and local businesses to finalize locations on where the art will be installed. She said the due date for installation is in September.

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