ANCHOR POINT - I received a CliffsNotes version of the Mile Post before leaving on tour. There was only one point of interest in the column labeled Anchor Point and that was: Go to Anchor River Road to Artist Norman Lowell's Art Studio seven miles before Homer.
Anchor River Road is a dirt road, straight up - as I'm finding are most roads in Alaska.
The gallery was well worth the hike.
First, because of Jeff who was returning from church with his family, who said Mr. Lowell was at the same service and agreed to tour me around the homestead while we waited.
Jeff had a West Texas accent. He worked for KNLS International Broadcasting Station and in the past had been with radio Madascar. He talked mostly about Mr. Lowell.
"He homesteaded this more than 65 years ago," he said as we toured Lowell's original log cabin and his garden.
Original Homestead Today
Original Log Cabin built in 1958
Norman and Libby Lowell Original Homestead
"He came up the ALCAN Highway (aka The MILEPOST), carried a stove on his back for miles and, because many of the homesteaders lived off the land, he built a greenhouse with apple trees, squash, tomatoes, peach trees and a grape arbor," he said, encouraging me to enter the greenhouse quickly so none of the bees would escape.
Returning to the gallery, we found Norman Lowell, 89, making his rounds - greeting visitors.
A humble man, Lowell was dressed in a white collared shirt with a heavy green sweater, and gray tennis shoes with a Velcro strap.
Lowell was there to work the crowd. He introduced himself and answered repetitive questions; which painting was his favorite, where did he get his training, who were his favorite painters.
The thing that set Lowell apart from other artists were his last 35 years, which had been a challenge primarily because Lowell battled glaucoma and was blind in his right eye.
Norman Lowell, Artist (Anchor Point, AK) from
'I had all but 10 degrees of field of vision in my left eye, not considering the restriction of light and clarity," he said.
"My eye doctor declared me legally blind."
Using homesteader ingenuity and fortitude, Lowell designed a framework of lights around his easel to increase lighting seven times the amount he previously worked under.
"I found with extra lighting and by forming a new thought process I was able to paint," he said, noting a strong resolve was also necessary.
"With God's help and much prayer I was able to complete over 30 paintings, now framed and on exhibit.
Recent painting, January 2014 "Storing Up for the Winter"
Lowell has had some vision return following a recent surgery; however, he's unsure whether he will be able to continue painting.
"I'm thankful for the ability to paint this past year. It was an inspiring time," he said.
Asked how he managed to put into perspective his art and his faith considering he's a painter losing his vision.
"I walk by faith and not by sight," said Lowell.