Jefferson County exhibit mixing art, maritime history
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Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News
Jefferson County Museum of Art & History Director Bill Tennant with a painting hat will be in the new exhibit opening Saturday.

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — Art and history often converge at the Jefferson County Museum of Art & History — and that is especially true of its upcoming show.

“We have a large art collection, but all of [the works] are so full of history,” said Bill Tennent, executive director of the Jefferson County Historical Society, as he prepared the Maritime Art: 1880-2013 exhibit for its Saturday opening.

“Every one of these pieces can provide us with a history lesson,” Tennent said.

The show will open at the museum at 540 Water St., in Port Townsend with an
11:30 a.m. ribbon-cutting by Brannan Ward, 90, a Nordland artist whose paintings are part of the exhibit.

The show contains about 40 pieces of art that range from the traditional to the abstract, from unattributed seascapes to works by Port Townsend artists Max Grover, Steven Yates and Frank Samuelson.

“A lot of people think of maritime art as a traditional seascape but our collection has a lot of diversity,” Tennant said.

“So aside from showing the classic ships, we have some contemporary works, including one from Karen Hackenberg that shows a lot of the things that get washed up ashore.”

The historical aspect of the exhibit is augmented with display cases that contain items such as ship hardware.

The exhibit will be on display for three or four months, Tennant said.

According to the exhibit's program, water and activities near the water have determined history and inspired local artists from the earliest Native American residents crafting elegant canoes to those attending Port Townsend's art schools in the 1860s.

Following this, today's maritime artists “offer unique contemporary interpretations of the maritime world around us,” the program says.

While most of the items are from the historical society's collection, others are on loan from local artists and collectors.

“When we think of maritime art, we picture beautiful ships, but there is a lot more to it,” Tennant said.

The museum is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily through the summer. Admission is $4 for adults and $1 for children 3 to 12.

Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or

Last modified: July 21. 2013 6:36PM
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