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First Friday Art Walks return to Kodiak with Bruce W. Nelson

A close-up photo of a small bear featured at the exhibit.
Brian Venua/KMXT

First Friday Art Walks are back in Kodiak for the first time since the pandemic. This month, local gallery The Frame Shop featured Bruce W. Nelson, a Kodiak painter who specializes in Alaskan scenery.

“From the top of the mountain to underwater, y’know, in the ocean,” Nelson said. “Kodiak has non-stop themes that I enjoy painting.”

Nelson says he started painting in elementary school and that’s when he fell in love with the form.

“I went to a private art school for oil painting at eight and I just really enjoyed it,” he said.

He continued to pursue art classes in high school before majoring in art in college. Painting is now his full time career, and his works range from breathtaking scenes, to portraits of wildlife, to general outdoor adventures.

Like most folks, Nelson had a hard time during the pandemic. He wasn’t able to do art shows for some time and also has to readjust back to doing shows again.

“It’s weird – I’m not used to it anymore,” said the artist. “I was doing other shows this year and people asked me these things, ‘Oh hey, where have you been?’ and I said, ‘Well there’s been a pandemic, we haven’t had any shows.’”

But Nelson is glad he’s able to meet his friends and fans again.

“I did see a couple people I hadn’t seen in three or four years already so that’s kind of fun,” he said. “Hopefully I get to see a lot more people.”

His work ranges from small works just a few inches to large murals, including the map at Kodiak Benny Benson State Airport.

“I used to fish and I’ve hunted and had a lot of adventures on the island,” Nelson said. “So as I was painting it, I would remember those adventures and the things I did for each little bay and cove.”

The artist says he loves seeing how people use that mural in particular to share their adventures with loved ones as well.

“It’s kind of fun for me because sometimes you can see finger smudges on it and you know everybody’s going ‘Yeah, we were here and then we went down here, and then we did this there,’ and it’s kind of fun to see your painting being enjoyed,” Nelson said.

Nelson has several paintings and prints available at The Frame Shop’s in-person galleries or their website.