Animation and watercolor artist Carolyn Guske demonstrates her work at a recent Olympic Peninsula Arts Association monthly meeting. (Erin Hawkins/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Animation and watercolor artist Carolyn Guske demonstrates her work at a recent Olympic Peninsula Arts Association monthly meeting. (Erin Hawkins/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

A half century of art: OPAA artists inspire each other

SEQUIM — Olympic Peninsula Art Association celebrates five decades as an organization this year.

The nonprofit organization includes about 90 members and artists of all kinds who hope to inspire and encourage each other in his or her artistic goals.

“The variety of artists is amazing,” said Anne Grasteit, Olympic Peninsula Arts Association president.

“I think that’s a lot of the draw to the meetings.”

Olympic Peninsula Art Association (OPAA) was organized as Sequim Arts in 1969 by Mary Bartlett, Aina Hubbard, Joy McCarter, Ardeen Robinson and Leah Wright. In the past few years, the name changed to OPAA to be a more inclusive arts association.

OPAA is home to a variety of artists, including painters, sculptors and fiber artists. As part of membership, these artists’ works are shown in two annual member exhibits. It allows members to advertise workshops and artistic accomplishments and have representation on the organization’s website. Members also receive a monthly newsletter.

Members of OPAA conduct a monthly meeting, which is open to the public, from 9:30 a.m. to noon the fourth Thursday of most months at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 525 N. Fifth Ave.

The meeting includes a demonstration by a local or visiting artist. The most recent demonstrator, at OPAA’s Feb. 28 meeting, was Carolyn Guske, an animation and watercolor artist whose work has brought her to Disney, DreamWorks Animation, Warner Bros. and Sony Pictures.

“We try to mix it up,” said Randy Radock, a longtime OPAA member who is in charge of finding different demonstrators each month with Linda Stadtmiller.

Michelle Sparrow, a new OPAA member, said she was invited to the Feb. 28 meeting by artist/OPAA member Lorraine Ford.

“I was invited here to build up my confidence and share the beauty of art,” Sparrow said.

“That’s what’s fun is to be inspired by each other,” Ford said.

Grasteit has been with the organization since the late 1990s and said it’s her passion for art that has kept her involved throughout the years.

“For me, it’s getting together with other artists and keeping art in the community,” she said.

Work by OPAA artists can be found in many local coffee shops, banks, the Sequim Library and other locations.

Grasteit said while the organization has evolved throughout the years, she hopes it continues to be an avenue for supporting and connecting artists in the community.

“We’re hoping this year to network [with] artists so they can get together,” Grasteit said. “We’ve had a lot of new members that have just moved to Sequim.”

OPAA also has two annual member shows every year: one during the Sequim Irrigation Festival in May and the other in November.

All of OPAA’s shows are at the Sequim Civic Center, 152 W. Cedar St. The next show will be May 3-5.

Grasteit said all of OPAA’s members are volunteers and she wants to encourage members to be a part of the organization’s activities.

OPAA raises money to fund scholarships for Clallam County high school seniors interested in pursuing careers in visual arts, arts education or commercial art.

Last year, OPAA awarded $1,700 in scholarships and merit awards. These awards are meant to inspire students planning on continuing his or her creative studies in college or beyond.

This year’s deadline for student scholarships are 4 p.m. April 6. Applicants may submit up to six works of art or photos of the artworks in his or her portfolios. The artworks may come from one medium or a combination; two- or three-dimensional.

High school seniors interested in submitting a portfolio can learn more at OPAA’s website at sequimarts.org.

Students who receive scholarships also will have original artwork displayed at the annual membership show at the Civic Center from May 3-5.

For more information about OPAA, visit its website at sequimarts.org.

Lorraine Ford, back left, is an Olympic Peninsula Arts Association member and watercolor artist who invited Michelle Sparrow, front right, to attend OPAA’s monthly member meeting. The two women practice sketching animals in an art demonstration by Carolyn Guske. (Erin Hawkins/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Lorraine Ford, back left, is an Olympic Peninsula Arts Association member and watercolor artist who invited Michelle Sparrow, front right, to attend OPAA’s monthly member meeting. The two women practice sketching animals in an art demonstration by Carolyn Guske. (Erin Hawkins/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

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