“Who Needs a Haircut,” a fiber assemblage by Diane Williams, is among the artworks in the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center’s Well+Being exhibit.

“Who Needs a Haircut,” a fiber assemblage by Diane Williams, is among the artworks in the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center’s Well+Being exhibit.

Fine Arts Center reopens gallery with new show

PORT ANGELES — The Port Angeles Fine Arts Center will reopen its Esther Webster Gallery on Saturday with a new juried exhibit, Well+Being.

The show features work by 35 artists. All artwork will be visible and for sale in the gallery and on the center’s website through Aug. 30.

The gallery at 1203 E. Lauridsen Blvd. will open its doors on Saturday for a special members preview from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., followed by public viewing hours through 5 p.m.

“When we started planning this back in November, nobody had an inkling about the coronavirus or its eventual impact,” said Sarah Jane, Gallery and Program director.

“We’d been in conversation with Peninsula Behavioral Health about how our two organizations could work together to highlight the various facets of arts and healing.

“None of us imagined just how relevant the exhibit would wind up being at this particular moment in time.”

Jane said that healing art comes in many forms.

“Art helps us express things that words can’t communicate. I hope viewers will find pieces in this exhibit that they can connect with on a personal level, artwork that validates their experiences and emotions,” she said.

Two boys play ping pong in “A Table in the Old City,” an image of Panama City, Panama, by Diane Urbani de la Paz, which is among the artwork in the Well+Being exhibit.

Two boys play ping pong in “A Table in the Old City,” an image of Panama City, Panama, by Diane Urbani de la Paz, which is among the artwork in the Well+Being exhibit.

Since the 1940s, art has also been used in a therapeutic setting, according to Mark Gaskill, supervisor for Children and Family Services at Peninsula Behavioral Health.

“Art therapy uses creativity to help people express themselves in ways that are distinct from traditional talk therapy,” he said.

The Well+Being exhibit began with a national call for entries, from which a panel of three jurors chose approximately 60 pieces to include in the exhibit. Selected art is from all over the country — including the North Olympic Peninsula — and is in a variety of media: painting, photography, artist books, sculpture, fiber arts and digital media.

The exhibit is unified by the scale of the work (a maximum of 10 inches in any dimension) as well as the topic of healing and wellness.

Several artists submitted new work created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Others shared deeply personal works exploring mental health and challenging stigmas about mental illness, while still other artists focused upon experiences with chronic health conditions.

In addition to influencing the work in this exhibit, the coronavirus has dictated new protocols in the gallery to ensure the safety of visitors and staff.

“We won’t be holding a reception or serving food,” Jane said.

Masks will be required and the number of visitors in the gallery at one time limited. Those planning a visit are encouraged to check the center’s website for the most up-to-date information about safety measures.

The center will continue with regular hours, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, through Aug. 30.

The full exhibition will also 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 participating artists, and a video tour through the gallery.

The arts center will team up with Peninsula Behavioral Health to host a virtual ArtBites conversation about art and healing, scheduled for Aug. 21.

Participants will hear the perspective of professional artists and therapists, and will have a chance to ask their own questions.

Tickets to this casual event, which will be hosted on Zoom, are $10 and are available for purchase on the center’s website.

For more information, see pafac.org.

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