By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News
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PORT ANGELES — Jon Williams, the brother of Diane Williams of Port Angeles, has sent an unusual art show her way.
And because Diane is the volunteer art coordinator at the Port Angeles Library, the public also gets to see the touring show, “Change Agents.”
An opening party is set for 6:30 tonight at the library, 2210 S. Peabody St., where a display opened Thursday of some 20 paintings of Seattle men and women who are homeless or living in low-income housing.
Painted by regional artists, they're vendors of Real Change, the Seattle street newspaper, and their personalities fairly leap off the canvas.
“This show puts a human face to homelessness,” said Emily Sly, the library's volunteer program manager.
“The portraits and accompanying bios are incredibly moving.”
Project developing since 2012
Diane Williams has watched her brother's project develop since late 2012.
A graphic artist at Real Change, Jon started making monotypes of some of the vendors, then invited other artists to join the effort.
“After awhile, we had several portraits, all created in different media. It became clear that something interesting was happening,” he recalled this week.
The first batch went on display at a Bremerton cafe, where other artists saw it and, collaborating with Jon, added more Real Change vendor portraits to the show.
Next, the exhibit went to the Coffee Oasis in Poulsbo.
Then, Diane and Jon got it booked into the Port Angeles Library.
The public is invited to come see “Change Agents” and enjoy refreshments tonight.
And like other Art in the Library exhibits, this one includes additional work by North Olympic Peninsula artists.
Alongside “Change Agents” are carvings by Lloyd Taylor of Sequim and images by three photographers: Harry von Stark of Quilcene, Nora Lawson of Forks and Port Angeles High School senior Aaron Wright.
Free contra dance
After tonight's reception, the library will host a free contra dance with the band RiffRaff and dance caller Nan Evans of Port Townsend.
Evans will teach the dance steps, and people of all ages and abilities are welcome.
More on the contra dance can be found in Peninsula Spotlight, the arts and entertainment section in today's Peninsula Daily News.
As for “Change Agents,” Jon noted that there are no price tags on the art.
“It's there to raise awareness, not funds. But if someone wants to buy a piece, they can contact the artist and make an offer,” he said.
An art collector recently bought Derek Gundy's portrait of Addis Michael Jr., so there's a print of it in the show; the rest are originals.
Each portrait has a biography of the vendor and contact information for the artist.
Real Change, sold on the street in Seattle, employs 300 homeless and low-income vendors in the Puget Sound region.
These vendors pay 60 cents for each copy and resell the paper on the street for the $2 cover price plus tips.
“I started the show as a way to raise awareness about homelessness. It's been a great way for the arts community to get involved,” Jon said.
“The response has been overwhelming. At each show, I put out a request for more artists to join . . . If an artist is interested, I'll send some reference photos and biographical material of a vendor. If they want to work from life, I will introduce them to the vendor.”
“Agents of Change,” as the library's winter art exhibit, will stay on display through April 8.
After that, it will probably move to a Seattle display space, and then “I'm hoping for 'analog viral,'” said Jon.
“There are street papers in Chicago, Portland, Nashville, Boston and other cities throughout the U.S. and Europe. I have big dreams for this project. We'll see what happens.”
Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5062, or at email@example.com.