A few years ago it was just a dead fish rotting on Monashka Beach. Now it’s the inspiration for a new Kodiak art gallery.
The fish was a pink salmon that Kodiak photographer Alf Pryor saw during a hot summer with a particularly strong salmon run six or seven years ago. The fish was twisted over and had been eaten clean to the skin and bones by insects.
Pryor has seen a lot of dead fish as a commercial fisherman and lifelong Kodiak resident. But this one caught his eye. He picked it up and mounted it on a board.
“It had some real cool designs,” he said. “I just grabbed it and that’s what started everything.”
Pryor acted on instinct again this summer when he decided to rent space on Shelikof Street with fellow artist Lexa Meyer.
Originally the couple planned to use the property as a workshop because their apartment was crowded. She needed space for her kiln. Pryor has a large professional printer for making color prints of his photographs.
The idea to display art came when they picked the property.
“When we saw the space we saw the possibility,” Meyer said. “It has a great view and the cruise ship passengers walk right by it.”
The Dead Humpy Studio and Gallery is on the second floor of the Kodiak Company. The front is between the door for the Kodiak Company and Carver’s House of Cigars.
The gallery and studio is about 1,000 square feet. The gallery takes up the front half of the property, facing Shelikof Street and the harbor.
The property used to be the Studio Elite salon and has staggered walls that work as well for hanging photographs as for separating haircutting stations.
Both Pryor and Meyer enjoy beachcombing, and the gallery is decorated with scavenged treasures including old gears, fishing line and tin piping.
As of Monday Pryor and Meyer were still deciding what to exhibit when the studio opens Friday. Both have sold work in Kodiak on consignment before.
Meyer has worked as a woodcarver for three years and began making sculptures and jewelry from kiln-fired glass in January.
Originally from Washington state, Meyer works as a lab technician at the Kodiak Fisheries Research Center and frequently sculpts Kodiak’s marine wildlife.
Pryor has been taking photographs “more or less seriously” for five years. Some of his most recognizable photographs feature Kodiak’s remote abandoned canneries.
One piece of art that will be in the gallery’s permanent collection is the dead humpy, which remains well preserved. The humpy also makes the basis of the studio’s street sign.
Eventually Pryor and Meyer plan to hold events and guest exhibitions in the studio, although they are starting with their own work.
The gallery opens Friday and will be open 4 to 8 p.m. It will then be open in the afternoons four days a week and by appointment. For more information about studio openings, call Meyer at 942-4366 or Pryor at 942-1417.
Mirror writer Sam Friedman can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.