PORT ANGELES — Beginning today, downtown is different.
The store windows, the fronts of banks, the interiors of shops — they’re suddenly bedecked with “Young at Art,” the city’s display of paintings, masks and more by local residents younger than 18.
This event, a result of the Juan de Fuca Festival of the Arts’ collaboration with the Port Angeles Arts Council, has gathered some 800 creations for display in and around downtown, said Dan Maguire, the festival’s executive director.
The theme is simple: “Most anything goes,” according to the promotional flier — and “we’re sending a message,” Maguire added. “Anybody can do art.”
For weeks, he’s been watching as the works flowed in from Port Angeles public and private schools and as volunteers organized it all.
“People are stepping up” in what’s turned into a giant community effort.
Young at Art, Maguire said, “is not about how great an artist you are at this point.”
Instead, it’s about showing your work to the world and making this town a place that celebrates its young people.
“It’s amazing how powerful it is, having all of this art on display,” he said.
Sandy Long, one of the volunteers who has been recruiting venues for Young at Art, said she figured the call for entries would yield maybe 100 or so pieces.
But then they came in like a deluge.
One day late last week, 50 pictures arrived at Studio Bob, the staging area for the show.
Young at Art has become an exhibition of work from about 30 classrooms at Port Angeles elementary, middle and high schools plus private schools such as Queen of Angels, Long said.
“We are trying to use every window that’s offered to us,” she said, adding that about 15 businesses, including the Itty Bitty Buzz, US Bank and Port Book and News, are providing space for art.
In The Landing mall, she added, 250 ceramic masks created by local high school students will be on display.
Long is moved by the outpouring — of art and of the effort by volunteers. Dani LeBlond and Cathy Haight are just a couple of those who have devoted many hours to making Young at Art happen, she said.
And the works of art “are precious, each and every one of them,” Long added.
Young at Art will continue through May 30.
Another display, a juried show featuring works by students from Neah Bay to Sequim, will be open from May 27 through May 30 as part of Memorial Day weekend’s Juan de Fuca Festival.
As with the rest of Young at Art, it’s entirely free to see the display, which will fill the atrium behind the Vern Burton Community Center at 308 W. Fourth St.
To find out more about Juan de Fuca activities, visit www.JFFA.org.
Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3550 or at [email protected]