PORT TOWNSEND — Step through the door into the high-ceilinged gallery, and you walk into a man’s art-filled life.
Lowell “Jay” Haskins of Port Townsend has given his collage paintings — large and small — and his prints, art books and poems to Northwind Art, the Jefferson County-based nonprofit organization.
Inside Northwind’s Jeanette Best Gallery, at 701 Water St., they’re bathed in light.
Haskins, who was just short of his 88th birthday when he died last summer, was a man of multiple enthusiasms. His trade was marine woodworking; then he became a painter, marimba player, poet, printmaker and one who designed and installed exhibitions of other artists’ work.
At last, Haskins’ own creations are brought together in “One from the Art: Celebrating Jay Haskins,” at the Jeanette Best Gallery through Feb. 26.
The space is open from noon to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Mondays.
Toni and George Wilhelm came in to see the show when it opened Jan. 13. George, an ardent admirer of Haskins’ work, said some of these paintings — abstract, with deep, lustrous colors — give him the feeling of “looking down at a city from way up high, looking through clouds.”
Some of Haskins’ personal ephemera — brushes, tubes of paint, seashells — are tucked into a corner of the gallery. Seeing this, said Toni, is “very sweet.”Haskins bequeathed his artwork to Northwind after a long life with the organization. He was there at the beginning in 2001, when the Jefferson Arts Alliance was becoming the Northwind Arts Center.
Throughout the center’s merger in 2021 with the Port Townsend School of the Arts, “Jay was one of the steady [people], one of the foundations,” said Teresa Verraes, Northwind Art’s executive director.
She added that Haskins stayed close until shortly before he went into hospice care last year.
This was a guy who delighted in the challenges that come with installing hundreds of exhibitions. Along with his work at Northwind, he helped found Corvidae Press, the nonprofit print guild at Fort Worden.
In a narrative posted at the Jeanette Best Gallery, Haskins is remembered as one who was not only busy and prolific, but also gracious.
“Jay touched many lives with his kindness,” the narrative says.
Written by Northwind Exhibitions Director Michael Vince Snyder DuBose and former executive director Michael D’Alessandro, the story recounts how Haskins moved from California to Port Townsend in 1979. His boundless curiosity took him everywhere.
This exhibition of Haskins’ art, they add, celebrates “the creativity he gave this community for so many years.”
Near the gallery’s front window, bits of Haskins’ poetry are on display. His fellow writer, Margaret D. McGee, a member of the Port Townsend Haiku Group, is quoted there: “His gentle presence, insightful comments and beautifully simple poetry blessed every group gathering,” she writes.
Haskins died after a short illness, leaving behind his son, musician and tradesman Declan Westcott of Port Townsend. Westcott and other family members helped Northwind bring the “One from the Art” show together.
Yes, this is a great loss, Verraes said, looking around the gallery full of Haskins’ work.
“But what a gift.”