By Wolfgang Kurtz
LOG Editor 

Art blooms early in Seward


Wolfgang Kurtz | The Seward Phoenix LOG

Zudy's is likely the most anticipated restaurant opening in Seward since Woody's Thai and Boombai Thai opened up a double serving of special sauciness last year. Manager Catherine Schneider says it all came to her in a dream that she would be working with Moose Pass culinary expert Judy Odhner in some new venture. Now the dream will be open to the public on Friday in downtown Seward.

New businesses have popped up like little flowers all over Seward and are joining veteran merchants to showcase art and artists as Memorial Day weekend, and the visitor season, nears. While the first cruise ship docking isn't until May 15 and the Combat Fishing Tournament on May 22 is short of the charter season by about two days, the rapidly disappearing snow and sunny skies are building anticipation for the full bloom of summer.

Friday beginning at 6 p.m., businesses will host the initial First Friday Art Walk of the season.

Zudy's Cafe manager Catherine Schneider and owners Judy and Jan Odhner are racing to open their doors by tomorrow for the season's First Friday art walk and reception. The new restaurant at the historic Seward railroad depot has a lot of buzz on the street and has transformed the inside of the building. Scheider said that they had to put plastic over the windows and bolt the doors because there were so many well-wishers stopping by to kibitz.

With the dining area a jumble of new furniture and the kitchen stacking up with shiny new steel appliances, Schneider is juggling building inspections and employment applications. Judy is making trips to stock the kitchen, and Jan is banging and painting away with only some trim and a door remaining. After nailing down all the last minute details, the cafe will open at 6 p.m. for their guest artist, Veronica Wilder.

Hugh and Iris Darling didn't take that much of a vacation over the winter after permanently closing Brown & Hawkins clothing and sundries operation last fall. Now they've had the doors of their adjacent Sweet Darlings candy store open for several weeks and are looking forward to another beautiful summer in Seward without the complications of the large scale retail operation they operated over the past few decades.

Next door former Brown & Hawkins employee Jamie Mullins and Penny Kennedy, lately of Ace Hardware, are slowly but steadily stocking the floor space of Brown & Hawkins for the new tenants, John and Julie Staser of Mountain View Sports. They had a soft opening about three weeks ago and the store now has racks of Arcteryx, Patagonia and Carhartts apparel and displays of a variety of fishing and sporting gear are expanding daily into the other half of the two-building space.

Nicole Lawrence of Seward Properties has settled into her new office at 216 Fourth and while she didn't make the first printing of the program, the walls are already festooned with prints by Allen and Tina King of One Shot Photo in anticipation of the art walk. Across the street at Cover to Cover bookstore, Pinky Bleth will be showing off jewelry and cook books.

Susan Swiderski will bring a little "Seward Magic" to the refurbished Ranting Raven, already know to be a home to arts and crafts. She'll be joined by Charity Hogue with some "Eye Fiction" and some comfiguration of the Elite 9 ensemble of jazzbos will provide live music. Serendipity Alaska, settling into its second year along the avenue will feature jewelry, baby booties, purses and masks.

The Alaska SeaLife Center will play host to its own workers and families with photography, oil paintings, ink on canvas and glasswork on exhibition. Starbird Studio is featuring Alaska Native arts and crafts including beading, carving and fur sewing. The Seward Senior Center will feature the art and countenances of six visiting artists.

For those ready for a little longer stroll, First Friday has established a firm foothold in the small boat harbor, with two steadfast participants for the season. Chinooks Waterfront Restaurant will host local photographer Suzi Towsley and Blackwater Railroad Company will provide live music. On the way to the harbor, new business Eight Arms Printing Company at 426 Fourth will feature works by proprietor Lars Olson.

Just a block or two away, the Kenai Fjords National Park information center will have a special opening featuring art by Seward school children from all grades. The exhibition is entitled "Searching the Seaweed, the Marine Invertebrates of Kenai Fjords National Park" and will remain at the information center for a two-day showing at the official weekend opening on May 10.

The KFNP Art for Parks program is going into its seventh year and features features artwork created by local students on park themes. Local artists teach students how to work in many different media and they get a well rounded introduction to the creative community in Seward.

Local businesses and artists that want to get on the map for the June 6 First Friday should contact Raylene O'Connor at Resurrect Art Coffee House and Art Gallery. She'll be there this Friday along with featured painter Eleanor McMahon, potter Amy Hankings and Flamenco guitarist Rich Jacoby. First Friday runs from 6 to 8 p.m. Programs with a map can be picked up at any of the described locations.

Major sponsor of the First Friday art walk and reception, Seward Arts Council, is also featuring a performance of "Jesus Christ Superstar, A One Man Show" at Resurrect Art Coffee House at 7 p.m. this Sunday, May 4.


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