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A community effort – and impending rainstorm – brings a new art project to life in downtown Kodiak

“Dancing in the Rain” designed and painted by Bonnie Dillard and Marina Thomas.
“Dancing in the Rain” designed and painted by Bonnie Dillard and Marina Thomas.

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A new mural is on display in downtown Kodiak. Two local artists recently completed the project near the Kodiak Ferry Terminal lot.

Bonnie Dillard is one of the artists who designed the painting along with Marina Thomas. She says the piece, titled “Dancing in the Rain,” is a celebration of the island’s native fauna and Kodiak’s water cycle. She finds the humor in her piece’s battle with the rain.

“It was very ironic, but it was also very Kodiak in many ways. I have to tell you, this community is so amazing that quite a number of people came and helped– children, adults, people getting off work for a couple of hours,” Dillard said.

The painting encompasses the intersection of West Marine Way and Center Street in downtown. The project is funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Rasmuson Foundation, which commissions large paintings by local artists to increase safety and decrease traffic speed – as well as generally being a beautiful display.

Lynn Walker is the curator of the Kodiak History Museum, which helped write the grant for the project in tandem with the City of Kodiak and the Kodiak Arts Council.

Walker has been the de-facto coordinator for volunteers, and she says she was planning for four days of work. But she ran into a big hurdle just before the project was set to begin.

“We can’t paint when it’s raining or wet. And so originally, the forecast was looking good. And then over the weekend, it was like okay, Monday is our only day of no-rain for the next week,” Walker said. “And so we just were trying to see how much we could get done on Monday, and we ended up getting all of it done.”

Walker put out the call for volunteers, and over 30 showed up throughout the day, and completed four days of work in one intense 14-hour shift that saw volunteers working until 8 p.m. They finished the project on Monday night. Dillard says it was truly a community undertaking.

“There’s no way it could have happened without the community helping. No way,” Dillard said.

The mural is visible now – rain or shine – in front of Kodiak’s visitor center.