PORT ANGELES — Tangled Fibers, a group of Port Townsend artists, have transformed the Esther Webster Gallery at the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center into a dramatic ocean-inspired installation that opens Saturday, said Jessical Elliott, executive director of the arts center.
“Undersea Garden: A Voyage of Wonder and Imagination” is the most ambitious project to date by the artists — Pat Herkal, Barbara Ramsey, Jean-Marie Tarascio and Cathie Wier, Elliott said.
The exhibit will be on display in the gallery and online at pafac.org through Nov. 15.
On Saturday will be a special members preview from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., followed by public viewing hours through 5 p.m. at the gallery at 1203 E. Lauridsen Blvd. The center will continue with regular hours from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays through Nov. 15.
The center will continue its adherence to strict safety procedures, including requiring masks for all visitors and limiting the number of people in the gallery at a time. Those planning a visit are encouraged to check the center’s website for the most up-to-date information about safety requirements.
The Tangled Fibers artists have been meeting regularly and working together for about four years, and have exhibited two previous collaborative projects, Flora Fauna Fiber (2017) and Kelp Forest (2019), both in Port Townsend, Elliott said in a press release.
In Undersea Garden, the main room of the gallery houses a traditional exhibition format, with individual art objects displayed on pedestals or hung on the wall, while the center’s side gallery will house an immersive seascape with kelp forests, coral formations, and all manner of sea life.
“Some of the creatures are painstakingly true-to-life,” writes Ramsey in an introduction to the exhibit, “while others are simply products of our ocean-fevered imaginations.”
Said Elliott: “This combination of extensive research and unfettered creativity makes for an exhibit layered with delightful surprises.”
The four artists work in related but distinct techniques.
Ramsey’s hand-dyed fabrics and quilted works render her subjects in abstract shapes and colors, while Tarascio’s airy, gravity-defying sculptures incorporate gauzy fabric and hand-made papers to suggest the weightlessness and transparency of an underwater environment, Elliott said.
Herkal’s intricate beadwork and embroidery depict the tiny, jewel-like worlds of tidepools and the intricate bodies of sea creatures, while Wier’s handwoven pieces and gathered fabrics are reminiscent of flowing water and ocean currents, Elliott continued.
In addition to the exhibit, the artists have created a book documenting the project with images and quotations. Copies will be available for purchase in the center’s gift shop, along with a selection of gift items created by each of the Tangled Fibers artists.
Most of the art in the exhibit will be available for purchase as well.
In keeping with the spirit of the exhibit, the artists have committed to donate a portion of the show’s proceeds to the Marine Science Center in Port Townsend, Elliott said.
Collaboration is an especially potent recipe for creative work, said Sarah Jane, who serves as the arts center’s gallery and program director, in the release.
“Many of the great historical art movements grew from artists working closely together: exchanging ideas and inspiration, introducing one another to new materials or techniques, and working together to solve creative problems,” Jane said.
Creative collaboration will be the topic at the center’s upcoming virtual ArtBites event, featuring three of the Tangled Fibers artists, on Sept. 25. Tickets to this casual event, which will be hosted on Zoom, are $10 and are available for purchase on the center’s website.
The full exhibition will be available online for viewing or purchase, ensuring access for people who are isolating at home or unable to travel. Online visitors will find photos of each artwork, written statements from the participating artists, and a video tour through the gallery.