From left, Martha Collins, Christian Speidel, Roberta Cooper and Liz Harper join 20 other artists displaying a wide variety of creativity at the Artworks² third annual Invitational Art Show, set for Friday and Saturday in Port Townsend. (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

From left, Martha Collins, Christian Speidel, Roberta Cooper and Liz Harper join 20 other artists displaying a wide variety of creativity at the Artworks² third annual Invitational Art Show, set for Friday and Saturday in Port Townsend. (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Annual show to feature variety of artisans at Fort Worden

Juried exhibition free on Friday, Saturday

PORT TOWNSEND — To put it simply, woodturner Martha Collins, said, art does not do well online.

“We need to be in its presence,” she noted, “because it has presence.”

Some art show organizers are realizing that after COVID-19 dealt a blow to in-person exhibitions — many of whom simply did not reemerge years after the worst of the pandemic.

Fortunately for local art aficionados, the Artworks2 collective is very much active and will bring its members’ creativity for all to see at the third annual Invitational Art Show.

After what organizers Liz Harper and Roberta Cooper say was a well-received second show at Fort Worden in 2023, the invite-only, juried show will be back at The Commons at Fort Worden State Park in Port Townsend, set for 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Attendance is free.

“We had a nice crowd [last year],” Cooper said.

The venue itself played a big role in highlighting local artists’ creations, Harper said, with The Commons’ large windows illuminating the exhibit.

“My glass needs natural light,” said Harper, a fused glass artist.

“It’s such a beautiful, elegant space,” said Cooper, a gourd artist.

“Plus, it [Port Townsend] is an art town,” Collins said.

With more than half of last year’s invitational show back in the mix, the 2024 iteration has 24 artisans from a wide variety of backgrounds and metiers, with little to no overlap, organizers say; the group’s three jewelry makers are of completely contrasting styles, Harper said.

“We try not to duplicate anything,” she said. “We think we’ve got a good variety of people. We want people [in the show] as different as they can be.”

Cooper and Harper met on an exhibition committee years ago, and with their connections to artists in the West Sound and Seattle areas, they began developing a coalition of artisans. Three years ago, they featured their works at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Sequim during the Lavender Weekend before shifting east to the Port Townsend venue for 2023.

Cooper said the show is by invite only.

“And we’re picky,” Harper added.

Along with Collins, Cooper and Harper, the show will feature oil painter Brandy Agun; silk artist Evette Allerdings; jeweler Deb Anderson; nuno felt artist Lora Armstrong; acrylic painter Ann Bernard; ceramicists Art Brooks and Kaaren Brooks; fiber arts and basketry artist Lynn Gilles; David Gillingham, who specializes in kelp basketry; woodcut artist Monica Gutierrez-Quarto; jeweler Paulette Hill; Christiane Johnson, who creates cotton cord baskets; ceramicist Chung Hye Kim; collage artist Carol Nielsen; oil painter Ian Ricker; Lorin Seeks, who specializes in fine furniture; Christian Speidel, a wood sculptor and mosaic artist; nature photographer Becky Stinnett; jeweler Passiko True; Jennie Truitt, a pencil and scratchboard artist; and Laurie Urbas, who specializes in urban bags.

Evolution of personal art

Speidel said he considers himself something between a craftsman and an artist. His fascination with the intricate grains of wood was spurred by watching firsthand his father’s handiwork building three of the family’s homes.

He started carving wooden bird decoys, paying special attention to the silhouettes of the birds he was trying to replicate.

“I never get it totally right … but it looks like a bird,” Speidel joked.

One of his newer pieces is a human head highlighted by dozens of bits of cinca tiles — a premium quality, highly resistant unglazed porcelain often used in mosaics.

The piece, “Love Is Strange,” started as a wooden block sculpted to human form but had cracked over time, Speidel said, so he decided he needed to “cover it up or throw it out.”

Speidel added a zipper that traverses the top and back, and then came a number of screws sticking up from the top.

“It just kept getting weirder,” he said.

Harper said her fused glass pieces have grown and matured over time, most significantly because she has much more intent behind her work.

“That’s the trick to being a halfway decent artist: I have a vision of what I want it to look like. It’s much more interesting to me now,” she said.

“I just feel blessed to get out of myself for a day. You do art because you love it so much.”

Cooper, whose art is also featured at the Bremerton cooperative Collective Visions Gallery, adapted one form of art for another: She started out as a jewelry artist but changed to gourds, though she still uses some of the same tools for her gourd pieces and has at times included new works with materials such as hammered copper.

Collins, whose work has earned her a national award, prefers to work in natural colors. One piece in particular to be on display at Fort Worden this weekend features maple, ash, walnut and ebony among the half-dozen varieties of wood, though in just tiny fractions.

“All of this is designed,” she said.

Collins’ work was recently accepted in the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show set for mid-November (in 2019, she won the show’s Louise Binswanger Prize).

“This is big for me,” she said.

The Artworks2 organizers expect an even better turnout than in 2023 after putting lots of work into advertising the show. That includes signs for visitors and locals heading into Port Townsend and getting on plenty of lists in print and social media.

“We’re pretty proud of the artists we have,” Harper said.

For more about the Artworks2 show and its artists, visit artworks2.org.

________

Michael Dashiell is the editor of the Sequim Gazette of the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which also is composed of other Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News and Forks Forum. Reach him at michael.dashiell@sequimgazette.com.

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