PORT TOWNSEND — A full house of arts enthusiasts and friends celebrated Angels of the Arts Kathy and Bob Francis, and Patron of the Arts Jeanette Best at the 2017 Arts Awards ceremony held Friday night.
“The Port Townsend Arts Commission was created many years ago to promote the arts,” said Owen Rowe, chair of the Port Townsend Art Commission.
“One of the ways we do that is by recognizing citizens who have contributed to the arts in town over the years. Since 1999, we’ve awarded the Angel of the Arts to someone who exhibits generosity and the spirit of volunteerism to help build the community through their gift of service and time.
“A few years after that, we started giving the Patron of the Arts Award to someone who exhibits leadership in an organization, or multiple organizations, around building the arts community as a part of our economic, cultural and social fabric.”
He said that community members submit nominations and final selections are decided by the commission.
Port Townsend Mayor Deborah Stinson said she was honored to participate in the celebration held at the Cotton Building.
“This is one of the most heartening things I do in this position,” Stinson said.
“It’s a real blessing to speak for our community when we are recognizing those people who contribute so much to who we are and the wonderful arts that bring this community alive.”
Stinson read proclamations from the city of Port Townsend, and the honorees received a framed certificate featuring a piece of art depicting an angel’s wing created by former arts commissioner Linda Okazaki.
Angels of the Arts
Kathy and Bob Francis have shared their love of the arts with Port Townsend since the 1980s.
They post the Poetry Posts outside their home, providing a poem for the community to enjoy each month and Bob records the poem on KPTZ radio.
Kathy, through the Weather or Not plein air painting group, led painters to work outdoors in the natural and civic beauty of Port Townsend.
Bob and the group Jazz Off the Beaten Track use his skills as a pianist to raise funds for organizations.
Kathy was president of the Port Townsend Gallery for four years and continues to mentor and support fellow working artists.
Kathy and Bob both volunteer their time to Copper Canyon Press, Northwind Arts Center and many other community arts organizations.
Stinson said Kathy and Bob Francis have “enriched our community greatly and continue to do so.”
Kathy Francis said this honor came as a surprise and said she couldn’t accept it for a week or two until a friend explained that she shared it with others.
Bob Francis thanked those who “joined me in trying something new. It’s really a community award in a lot of respects. We just happen to be branches.”
He read an excerpt of a poem that was tucked into a Christmas card from a dear friend.
He said it would be the poem for March available in the Poetry Posts. It reflects how they both feel about the award bestowed upon them.
“Community, like a great sycamore, is deeply connected. Individually we soar at the tips of branches, each dancing to our own rhythm, yet harmonically as one,” Bob Francis said.
“At any height we sing without fear, knowing we are held securely by others.
“And while we bend with each storm, we will not break. For together our back is strong and our feet are firmly planted.”
Patron of the Arts
Jeanette Best was recognized posthumously for her dedication to building an arts center and creating several arts programs.
Rowe said, “Best richly deserved this award that commemorates leadership in arts organizations, and Jeanette is a prime example.”
Best was born in Chicago in 1938 and graduated from the University of Wisconsin. She then moved to California and earned a master’s degree in arts from San Francisco State.
She taught English and English as a second language.
Best served on the boards of several nonprofit agencies and was a stockbroker.
She retired to Jefferson County in 1990, and found a home and studio on Mats Mats Bay.
Best dedicated herself to creating, teaching and mentoring artists in varied media.
She taught at Peninsula College and elsewhere, and founded the Art Port Townsend Studio Tour, now in its 20th year.
Best co-founded the Northwind Arts Center and served as board president since its inception through 2016, leading the organization through milestones of growth in space, scope and programs.
She was recognized by the Arts Commission as the 2004 Angel of the Arts.
Michael D’Alessandro, executive director of Northwind Arts Center, accepted Best’s in memoriam award.
“She had stepped down as president in 2016 and had actually left the board a few days before she died last November,” D’Alessandro said.
“Jeanette was one to use few words,” he said.
“They were carefully selected and to the point. She was quiet and diplomatic, dedicated and focused. She got a lot done with little or no drama.”
Stinson said, “Jeanette Best, through her generosity and vision, made a sustained and exemplary contribution to our community which will last after her death.”
A memorial service is planned for Best on March 17 at 3 p.m., at the Quimper Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 2333 San Juan Ave., Port Townsend.
The event concluded with a reception and vocal performance by Arts Commission Vice Chair Lisa Wentworth, who sang “Over The Rainbow.”
Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Jeannie McMacken can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at [email protected].