Todd Horton has installed his new exhibition, "Mystic West," at Port Townsend's Grover Gallery. The show includes six afternoons of live painting by the artist, this weekend and in February and March. Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News

Mystic West artist to paint live

Exhibit ‘journey beneath glimmering moons’

PORT TOWNSEND — Step inside this story, the artist says: Your companions are a big cat, a mother bear and two moons gazing down.

This is “The Mystic West,” Todd Horton’s new exhibition at the Northwind Art Grover Gallery. It’s an unusual show in that Horton, who works in a floating studio on the Samish River, will do six live-painting events starting this weekend.

People can watch through the gallery’s wide window at 236 Taylor St. or don masks and go inside, Horton said.

From 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. this Saturday and Sunday, the artist will create, on the spot, smaller paintings that will be for sale. He’ll return for more live artmaking during those same hours Feb. 12-13 and March 12-13.

The exhibition, meanwhile, will stay on display through March 14 at the gallery, which is open from noon to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Mondays.

The 11 “Mystic West” paintings were all made this past year, Horton said — inspired by his life in the Skagit Valley and by two other works. They are “Amerika,” Franz Kafka’s unfinished novel which also is known as “Lost in America,” and “Dead Man,” Jim Jarmusch’s 1995 film starring Johnny Depp as an accountant named William Blake. In the so-called “psychedelic Western,” he travels to a Makah village.

Which brings us to the show’s full name: “Todd Horton Act 3, The Mystic West: A journey beneath the glimmering moons.”

In one image, Depp’s character can be seen in the canoe that carried him to the sea. In several paintings, the double moons hang in the sky. This, Horton said, “shows you’re in a different place: the mystic west.”

It’s a cosmic environment set apart, where the poet William Blake’s tiger, from his verse “Tyger Tyger, burning bright / In the forests of the night” appears.

Also looming large: a she-bear, an important figure in indigenous lore.

Admiring these works, Northwind Art’s Kathleen Garrett calls Horton an artist in the tradition of the early Northwest School, inspired by and immersed in the natural world.

“He has been known to spend days in the wilderness, painting and seeking his muse,” she said.

Garrett, director of exhibits for Northwind’s galleries, added that Horton captures the feeling of this region with his misty tones and wide vistas.

For more about Northwind’s venues — the Grover Gallery on Taylor and the Jeanette Best Gallery at 701 Water St. — and its catalog of art classes, visit


Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]

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