The Fairbanks artist is at the center of a new locally produced program that began airing on KUAC TV on Sept. 22. “Into the Woods,” featuring Woodward, is an eight-week journey into the meaning of art, with Woodward sharing the path of the artist with three total art novices.
This master class focused less on talent, natural abilities and building skill, and more on the inner journey of the artist. The idea came about as a result of Woodward loaning artwork for the KUAC poster in 2017. Part of being a poster artist is working with the KUAC TV production team in a five-minute video. While filming, TV producer Mak Landry said she became inspired by Woodward.
“His choice to be an artist was kind of a love story,” Landry said. “We couldn’t use everything we filmed last year, so I asked him to do a show about art.”
They agreed on the concept of Woodward teaching beginners. He invited a longtime friend, Marian Lundquist. Then Woodward and Landry ran into the other two, Guy Gaswint and Cy Greig, in downtown Fairbanks while doing “person on the street” interviews about people’s conceptions of art and what it takes to be an artist.
“All three have been fantastic, in very diverse ways,” Woodward said.
Filming took place throughout July. Landry said it was crucial to find three students who could make the time commitment. Lundquist and Gastwint are retired, and Greig works an early-morning shift.
As for Woodward, he was fascinated by a show that explored what it means to be an artist.
“I don’t much believe in the whole concept of talent, or at the very least, I think it’s relatively unimportant,” he said. “I think the skills involved in making images come more easily to some than to others, but I feel strongly that art isn’t something that requires a kind of magic talent, but is something that simply requires drive, ambition, hard work and above all, commitment to do well.”
Woodward said he was also impressed by Landry’s commitment to the project.
“She had a developing vision of a show based on some of the things I told her then, and she had her own vision quest to go on, to make such a show,” he said. “We talked about various ideas for a year before finally hitting on this format.”
The volunteer students were just as enthusiastic about “Into the Woods.”
Gaswint, a 48-year-old U.S. Army retiree, said he learned a lot about color and creating 3D space on paper.
“I had to put my best foot forward,” he said. “Art was never my thing, and I never paid attention to it my whole life. I didn’t have time for that.” Now he believes that “everything we do is really art. Art is a tangible expression of thoughts and emotions,” he said.
Greig, 25, was willing to be in the program because art was something he hadn’t ventured into since he was a child. “It was an opportunity that came up and I jumped for it,” he said. “Art is really expressive in terms of how you are feeling. It’s good for stress relief and it’s relaxing and fun.”
It was the prospect of working with Woodward that made Lundquist, 64, interested in participating.
“He is such a marvelous artist and remarkable person,” she said. “I learned so much. It was a splendid opportunity to learn about art and I gained a greater appreciation for other people’s art, knowing how difficult it is to achieve.”
“Into the Woods” is not an art instruction program but rather a view into artists’ minds and hearts.
“This is completely different from most people’s conception of art, and I hope it’s a corrective, or at least an alternative, to the Bob Ross notion or the Paint Night notion of learning a couple of tricks to make cute pictures easily,” Woodward said. “Making art is a hero’s journey, like all great undertakings, that is hard and ultimately impossible to do perfectly, but worth the commitment to undertake.”
Landry, the KUAC TV producer, discovered that Woodward’s lessons about art applied to the film project. “Kes’ words of wisdom are guiding me on this journey,” she said.
She has loved producing the show. “It’s our responsibility as a public station to produce local content,” she said. “And we can give this knowledge Kes has to others. We’ve been lucky to help with that.”
The schedule for “Into the Woods” is Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 6 p.m. and Thursdays at 7 p.m. on KUAC TV 9.1.