PORT TOWNSEND — We’ve been stuck in a topsy-turvy “Alice in Wonderland” world, mused artist Sallie Nau.
Hoping to capture that feeling, she fashioned an art mask from porcelain clay, scrap wool and lichen, entered the Port Townsend Wearable Art Show Mask Contest and won the $1,000 first prize.
The contest, which drew 231 entries from around the world, concluded last weekend after 10,246 votes were cast on PTWearableArt.com.
Tina Flores-McCleese, head of the Wearable Art Show steering committee, announced the winners and their vote totals: 1,378 for Nau’s creation, 1,298 for the second-place entry by Donna Renea Lind of Picayune, Miss., and 1,047 for the third-place winner, AJ Hawkins of Port Townsend.
Lind’s prize is $500 while Hawkins’ is $250 in the contest, which was open to all ages with no entry fee.
Nau is the owner of a new business in Port Orchard: Sallie’s Custom Clayworks, which has had to cancel all classes and market appearances since Gov. Jay Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I gave [the contest] my absolute best, best shot; my little company needed the boost,” she said after learning she’d won.
The contest’s concept was born in March after cancellation of the 10th anniversary Port Townsend Wearable Art Show, a benefit for the Jefferson Community Foundation’s Fund for Women and Girls.
Flores-McCleese and her team of volunteers wanted to give artists — of all backgrounds — an outlet for their pent-up creativity, so they put the call for entries up on the website April 1.
Following an influx of submissions, voting ran from April 29 through last May 9, with one vote per day per viewer.
Hawkins, a multimedia painter, sculptor and illustrator, also dug deep into her feelings about the crisis. Her mask, titled “Pandemia,” portrays both the villain of illness and the springtime world, with epoxy clay flowers and leaves, metal spikes, faux pearls, gold hardware and silk tassels — handpainted and attached to a used N-95 mask.
She even sculpted a set of epoxy clay horns to match.
Lind, who lives not far from New Orleans, is also known in her artistic community as Renea Le Roux; she built her mask of purple and gold brocade, crystals, pearls, purple lace and hand-ruffled satin ribbon.
Titled “Marie Antoinette Apocalypto,” it also drips with embroidered flowers.
Making the art, she said, “has truly been an honor and great fun in this difficult time. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
The Port Townsend Wearable Art Show is rescheduled for Mother’s Day weekend 2021 at Fort Worden State Park’s McCurdy Pavilion.
In the meantime, more than 80 percent of the people who had bought tickets to the 2020 show have donated the purchase amount to the Fund for Women and Girls.
The fund made a $25,000 contribution this month to the Jefferson Community Foundation’s COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund, which is awarding grants to local nonprofit organizations providing services to people suffering from job loss and other hardship in the wake of the pandemic.
For more information, go to JCFgives.org.
Diane Urbani de la Paz, a former features editor for the Peninsula Daily News, is a freelance writer living in Port Townsend.