Max Grover’s “Hand in the Air” is among the works of art in the Port Townsend School of the Arts show.

Max Grover’s “Hand in the Air” is among the works of art in the Port Townsend School of the Arts show.

Grover Gallery exhibits school founder, faculty artists’ work

PORT TOWNSEND — The Port Townsend School of the Arts Grover Gallery is presenting paintings from five founder and faculty artists during the months of June and July.

The exhibit, which opened June 2, includes work by Max Grover, Meg Kaczyk, Kim Kopp, Julie Read and Chris Witkowski.

While the gallery at 236 Taylor St., will remain closed to drop-in visitors until early July, those who are interested can contact Toby Warren, gallery manager, at 206-468-9179 to arrange an individual viewing appointment.

In addition, a virtual tour narrated by the artists will be on PtArts.org, providing insights about the work and artists’ process.

The show’s art works are now available on the website to view and purchase.

The teaching artists are all contemporary painters whose work varies from realistic to abstract to playful, said Teresa Verraes, founding director of the Port Townsend School of the Arts (PtSA), in a press release.

Grover has been called “the maestro of serious play,” and his new work demonstrates both his painterly skill and his sense of fun, Verraes said.

Returning to collage and acrylic, Grover’s recent work also conveys a nostalgic mid-century essence with old catalog, clippings and objects from another era, she added.

“The thirty small artworks in Max’s selection for the show feature items such as camera, dogs, shoes and chairs – elevating the commonplace to heartfelt whimsy,” Verraes said.

Kaczyk said her new paintings “hint at a path forward, starting from home, and leading to home. The path toward home is a reminder of our global shared experience. Home is place, is landscape, paths, sunlight and sea.”

Kaczyk paints in layers, loosely, but over time – building up texture and form.

Trained as a commercial illustrator and graphic designer, Kaczyk has found her expression in interpretation leading increasingly into abstraction.

At PtSA, Kaczyk teaches creative process classes including abstraction, inspiration and mindfulness themes, which she has been offering via Zoom video workshops during the stay at home mandate.

Kopp described her art practice as “grounded in common, simple activities — walking, listening, observing nature. Sometimes my ideas inform this doing, more often the doing transforms the idea.”

Her compositions are based on the intricacies of tangled kelp and seaweed, and her series,“string variations —2010-2012,” reflect tangles of baling twine discovered in her studio.

In 1993, after completing her MFA at the University of Chicago and BFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, she moved to the North Olympic Peninsula, landing at the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding, where she learned to work with wood.

“Path Through Old Cedars” by Meg Kaczyk is on display now.

“Path Through Old Cedars” by Meg Kaczyk is on display now.

Represented by SAM Gallery in Seattle, Kopp has exhibited widely in the Pacific Northwest and nationwide from Hawaii to the Midwest. Kopp teaches color theory and abstraction classes at PtSA.

Read became inspired to pick up a paintbrush after encountering the Vermont folk artist Richard Chalmers, who lives in her father’s old family home. However, it was under the tutelage of Max Grover that she launched her first solo show and painting career.

”She’s never looked back,” Verraes said.

Read said her love of kitsch is evident in her work.

”Memorabilia, plants, animals, and distant family relatives are suspended in surreal, intricately detailed environments. In other pieces I approach the macabre with bright, cheerful colors. My hope for all of my paintings is that they be put on a wall that has garish wallpaper. Dare I say it, but I aim for a beautiful, well done tacky.”

Read’s acrylic technique classes and workshops at PtSA will be offered again when in person classes start back up.

Familiar image

Witkowski is well known for her iconic painting of a produce-hat-bedecked young woman for Port Townsend Farmers Market.

She is inspired by the natural beauty of the Peninsula and her paintings reflect that, Verraes said.

Witkowski has put her classic art education from the University of Detroit to use as a fine artist, illustrator and teacher.

”She brings a love of color and the ability to render the mysteries of light to all of her work, and to the long-running painting classes she teaches at PtSA,” Verraes said.

”She stays in touch with her devoted studio students during the pandemic shutdown through video check-ins – keeping inspiration going until they can be painting together again.”

The nonprofit PtSA has growing online programming including free Art Prompts for Kids “to continue to foster a community of artists connected by a mutual passion for art – especially important during this time of distancing,” Verraes said.

On display at the Gorver Gallery is “Prevailing Winds” by Chris Witkowski, who is well-known for her iconic image used by the Port Townsend Farmers Market.

On display at the Gorver Gallery is “Prevailing Winds” by Chris Witkowski, who is well-known for her iconic image used by the Port Townsend Farmers Market.

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