Kayla Oakes

Kayla Oakes

Community art project planned at Port Angeles Saturday market

PORT ANGELES — Local-strawberry shortcake, bright watercolors, open air: They’re meeting up this weekend.

The Juan de Fuca Foundation for the Arts and the Port Angeles Farmers Market are co-hosts of “Birds of a Feather Flock Together,” a participatory art project for youngsters — and if grownups feel like jumping in, “we’re not going to turn them away,” said JFFA executive director Kayla Oakes.

From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, JFFA will set up at the market under The Gateway pavilion at Front and Lincoln streets, with plenty of space between its table and the other vendors, Oakes said.

She and administrative manager Kari Chance plus a couple of volunteers will hand out free art kits: watercolor-paper “feathers,” instructions and a palette of paints for making vivid artwork.

“Kids can paint one feather to keep and one to stay with JFFA, for a community art project we’ll put on display,” said Oakes.

Participants can either paint at the tables set up at the farmers market, or take art kits home; they’ll be given out while supplies last.

Then artists can drop off their finished work at the JFFA office slot just inside the lobby of Chase Bank, 101 W. Front St.

So households around town will be adorned with the hand-painted feathers. And, by early August, a big set of wings — made of the rest of the feathers — will take shape in the former Maurice’s store window beside the Conrad Dyar Memorial Fountain at Laurel and First streets.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for kids to have some activities in a safe environment, where we’re taking every precaution,” said Peter Metz, a board member with both JFFA and the Port Angeles Farmers Market.

Social distancing, hand sanitizer and masks are standard at the market, which has about 10 vendors, he said.

“Kids haven’t had the opportunity to do too many things lately where they’re interacting with other kids, with art and with the community,” Metz added.

Oakes developed the “Flock Together” idea after researching art education projects online; when she broached it at a JFFA meeting, Metz didn’t hesitate before suggesting the farmers market collaboration. Do it during the strawberry shortcake festival, he added, and this could be doubly convivial. This is the second and final shortcake Saturday.

Also at the market, JFFA will unveil and offer die-cut vinyl stickers with its brand-new logo.

The multi-purpose stickers will sell for $3 each with proceeds benefiting the foundation’s community projects.

“This is the beginning of our new look,” Oakes said, adding that JFFA, in its 28th year, is in the process of refreshing its brand — and engaging with the community in new ways.

The Memorial Day weekend Juan de Fuca Festival was canceled this year along with JFFA’s summer Discovery Arts Camp for children. The farmers market art activity, she said, invites local residents of various ages to connect by painting feathers, coming downtown to see the wings display — and commemorating it by taking photos of one another with those wings as the backdrop.

July’s “Birds of a Feather” project is the first in a monthly series. Next JFFA will offer free mask-painting kits at the Aug. 25 farmers market, “so kids can go back to school with a custom cloth mask,” Oakes said.

In September, the activity will switch to origami in the “Together We Soar” project; participants can pick up kits to make folded-paper cranes. A flock of them will turn into a large mobile floating in the Port Angeles Library.

All of this aligns with JFFA’s mission of enhancing quality of life through art-making, Oakes said, adding that while many think of the organization as a performing-arts presenter, the visual arts are just as important.

She worked with artists Jennifer Bright, Jeff Tocher and Cathy Haight along with JFFA board members Metz and Melody Charno to develop the three-month project. D.A. Davidson has renewed its sponsorship of JFFA, Oakes noted, which is a tremendous boost to the nonprofit organization at this point in history.

“Public art adds so much to the community,” she said, adding, “we’re seeking to look at everything with fresh eyes.”

Metz, for his part, said there’s no time like the height of summer to check out the market. There’s room for more produce and artisan vendors, he said, with information at farmersmarketportangeles.com.

The strawberry shortcake sold out last week, he said, “and we were happy as can be,” while looking forward to this Saturday’s selection of leafy greens, red berries — and feathers of all shades.

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