PORT TOWNSEND — Havana; Moscow; Tyler, Texas: A bedroom-turned-studio overflows with images of these places.
Joyce Hester, a painter relatively new to town, rounded them up, from her mind and her travels, to join Art Port Townsend, this weekend’s studio tour.
Hester, whose home studio is in uptown Port Townsend, is among more than 50 artists from Chimacum, Port Hadlock and Port Townsend, Sequim and Port Angeles who’ll give demonstrations, unveil new work and discuss it all with their visitors.
Tour admission is free, details await at northwind arts.org/programs/art-port-townsend and the studios will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Catalogs, in color and complete with a map, are available at various places around Port Townsend, including the Northwind Arts Center, which also has an Art Port Townsend gallery show at 701 Water St.
“I thought this would be a great way to get some feedback,” said Hester, who added that she’s tough enough to take it.
Recently retired from a career as chief financial officer for a health care system of Texas hospitals, she’s learning about her new hometown. She and her husband have remodeled a 145-year-old house at 938 Jefferson St. to make space for her art studio.
Hester herself has things to teach: During the tour she’ll demonstrate the technique called underpainting and show examples from her work in Cuba earlier this year.
Hester has explored art-making across cultures: She studied art in high school in Milwaukee, went to college in Brownsville, Texas, and lived in Russia during her husband’s posting at the U.S. Embassy there. Her body of work is as varied: an angel statue in a Cuban cemetery that she painted in just an hour; her own kind of “Mona Lisa,” a portrait of her dog Mona; several pictures of Texas longhorn cattle despite their desire to grab the brush out of her hand.
She loved those bovines — used to raise them — but couldn’t take them with her to the Pacific Northwest.
“Now I’m playing with bears,” Hester quipped, showing her visitor a paintings of those beasts lolling around.
To the north, south, east and west of Hester’s place, the art-curious can visit printmakers, watercolorists and potters. Sculptors and artists who mix media also have their doors open, from Mark Fissler’s Terra Forma Studio at 262 Beckett Point Road in Port Townsend to Chuck Iffland’s Mad Monkey Studio at 3820 West Valley Road in Chimacum.
At 403 Sunset Blvd., in Port Townsend’s Cape George colony, painters Linda Tilley and Jinx Bryant share space with Port Angeles printmaker Monica Gutierrez Quarto. Sequim watercolorist and art teacher Shirley Mercer will show her work at the Port Townsend School of the Arts gallery at 236 Taylor St. in downtown Port Townsend. And at Egg & I Pottery, 1461 Egg & I Road in Chimacum, Diana Cronin, Gail Hustedde, Erica Iseminger and Marla Varner are set up.
Corvidae Press, a nonprofit artists’ guild in Building 205 at Fort Worden State Park, is another hot spot. There, visitors can see work by about 20 local printmakers, said board member Margaret Woodcock.
“The fact that we are a working group of guild members makes Corvidae an alluring place,” she said, adding that artists there share their approaches to intaglio, collagraph, relief and mixed-media printmaking.
Organizer Mara Mauch and her crew at Northwind are compiling a list of ways to improve Art Port Townsend in 2019. For that Aug. 17-18 event, the call to artists will go out in late February; submissions close by mid-May. Mauch invites artists with questions about next year’s tour to email her at [email protected]
Meeting a working artist, talking about the creative process: This connection is what the tour’s about, said Mauch. As Art Port Townsend marks its 20th anniversary this year, the event is dedicated to Jeanette Best, who died in November. Passionate advocate for the arts community here, cofounder of the Northwind center and an early orchestrator of Art Port Townsend, she was 79.
“We are eternally grateful to Jeanette,” Northwind executive director Michael D’Alessandro writes in the tour catalog, “for giving us this festival of the arts.”
Diane Urbani de la Paz, a former features editor for the Peninsula Daily News, is a freelance writer living in Port Townsend.