The great, big heart

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Arts and culture

This article was originally written for The Spenardian.


Local artists, musicians and poets will be gathering for the fifth annual Great Big Heart Show on Feb. 9 at Middle Way Cafe.

Artists are asked every year to create works based on the theme, “the great, big heart.” So far, more than 30 artists have confirmed their involvement, making it the biggest year yet.

Enzina Marrari has been working at the cafe since before it moved locations, which was around a decade ago. At the time, she was a baker and barista, but nevertheless an artist. When Middle Way moved into the new and larger space, she proposed rotating art exhibits for the cafe to the owner. She understood there was a limited amount of art venues for emerging artists to showcase their work in Anchorage. She’s been the art coordinator ever since.

“It really encourages artists of all experience levels to make work. We sometimes have youth artists, we have folks who are putting in artwork for the first time, and it really becomes a celebration of community and the support that we show for each other,” Marrari said.

For the first couple of years, Middle Way Cafe was doing callouts to artists for their show. Now, shows are booked until July of 2020.

“Every year, it gets bigger and we get more people coming and more people excited about it. We’ve had people say ‘this is one of my favorite events of the year,’ which is so heartwarming, Marrari said.

Delphine Dyer, local artist, participated in the Great Big Heart show several years ago with a portrait of musician Lana Del Rey, titled, “Lana.”

“I was working on a piece that happened to fit the theme, so I submitted it. A photo of it ended up being printed on the flyers advertising the show,” Dyer said. “[I enjoyed] seeing all of the artists’ interpretations of the prompt. It’s as if you get a glimpse into the minds and lives of the artists through their pieces.”

On top of artwork up for display, there will be a revolving stage of local musicians and poets, coordinated by Jamie Whiteman, musician from the Tanana Rafters. Whiteman has been booking the music and poetry portion of the event for three years.

“Anchorage’s own, Grammy nominated Steven Bacon is one of our musicians for the evening, along with Luck and Duane Black, a father-daughter duo who will play as well…Nick Carpenter, front man for the seriously buzzing band Medium Build will round out the music portion of the evening with songs that have made me cry more than once,” Whiteman said.

The opening reception for the show will be held on Feb. 9 from 6 – 9 Middle Way Cafe. pieces will be on display for two months following the reception. The event is free and appetizers will be provided. Beer and wine will be for sale, courtesy of Middle Way Cafe’s next door neighbor, Hearth. There will be a Valentine making station and a community wall of hope and love.

All commissions from the artwork sold will be donated to two local non-profits, Abused Women’s Aid in Crisis and Kids’ Kitchen.

The Author

Samantha is majoring in journalism and political science at the University of Alaska Anchorage. She is the executive editor of The Northern Light, UAA's student-run newspaper and has previously interned at Alaska Dispatch News and Alaska Public Media. Samantha loves pad thai, london fogs and a good baseball tee.

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