Artwork in Port Angeles exhibit designed to capture 'spirit'
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“Coming Home” by Darryl Barkley is part of the “Spirit Unleashed” art show to open at the Elwha Klallam Heritage Center this Friday evening.
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Sweetgrass dolls such as this by Danielle Denney appear in “Spirit Unleashed.” Photo by Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News.

By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — As she tore away the wrap on the big package leaning against her office wall, Suzie Bennett was silent.

Then she said softly, “This is really beautiful.”

Bennett had just unveiled “Break Away,” a panoramic oil painting of the Pacific Ocean at Cape Flattery, where a solitary figure is paddling a long black canoe.

This image is part of “Spirit Unleashed,” the art exhibition premiering in the Grand Hall of the Elwha Klallam Heritage Center, 401 E. First St., with an opening reception at 6:30 Friday night.

“This is a chance to see local, one-of-a-kind art you don't get to see often,” said Bennett, manager of the Elwha center.

Admission is free to the opening, where the contributing artists will be on hand and Kokopelli Grill will lay out appetizers.

Tribal artists

Aaron Parker, a member of the Makah tribe who grew up in Neah Bay, is the artist who sent “Break Away,” as well as another painting, “Whalers,” to this show.

He joins a small group of Pacific Northwest tribal artists in this third annual event, which also offers elaborate carvings by Yvette TwoRabbits, a painting by Darryl Barkley of Port Angeles and woven-sweetgrass dolls by Danielle Denney.

Denney's male and female figures, whose weaving takes up to 36 hours, are usually gifts to a newly married couple.

But this year, she decided to be part of “Spirit Unleashed” and display the weaving skill learned from her great-grandmother, Vida Thomas.

Denney, like Parker, is a Makah. She teaches math at Neah Bay High School.

Parker, too, learned about art from a female elder. His mother, Shirley Roberts, gave him all the art supplies he wanted when he was a boy.

He went on to earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Washington in 2007 and the following year traveled to Europe for an artist residency.

First public showing

Parker lives and paints in Sequim now but has yet to find a gallery to display his work. The “Spirit Unleashed” show is the first time “Break Away” and “Whalers” have been shown to the public.

These paintings, Parker said, are his way of evoking the Makah world before contact with the Europeans.

“Spirit Unleashed” will stay open to the public, with free admission, at the Elwha center from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays till March 14.

For information, phone the Elwha center at 360-417-8545.


Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5062, or at

Last modified: December 11. 2013 5:50PM
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