Herman James’ “The Green Pool” is among the paintings in “Psychedelic Summer,” the show opening Friday at Northwind Art’s Grover Gallery. The downtown Port Townsend gallery will also host Art Walk on Saturday evening.

Herman James’ “The Green Pool” is among the paintings in “Psychedelic Summer,” the show opening Friday at Northwind Art’s Grover Gallery. The downtown Port Townsend gallery will also host Art Walk on Saturday evening.

‘Psychedelic Summer’ comes to Grover Gallery

PORT TOWNSEND – There are a few definitions of “psychedelic” out there. One of them describes the new show at Northwind Art’s Grover Gallery perfectly.

Psychedelic, according to this definition, is “a creative exuberance of the mind, liberated from its ordinary limits.”

Virginia Ashby and Herman James, two Port Townsend artists, are exuberant as they paint — and it shows on their canvases, in images ranging from deep-green pools to hot-pink poodles. Touching brush to canvas, these two don’t so much apply color as dive into it.

James and Ashby’s exhibition, “Psychedelic Summer,” opens this Friday at Grover Gallery, 236 Taylor St., and continues through July 30. Gallery hours are noon to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Mondays; on Saturday and July 1, the venue will stay open till 8 p.m. for downtown’s first Saturday Art Walk. More information about this show and Northwind Art’s other exhibitions and art classes can be found at Northwindart.org.

Ashby and James were invited to have this two-person show by Port Townsend painter Max Grover; he and his late wife Sherry Grover are the namesakes of the gallery.

One could say that each painting in “Psychedelic Summer” is a trip, a flight of fancy. In these vivid scenes, people dip below the surface of the ocean to commune with other creatures. A fox dresses in a jacket, tie and boutonniere. Cats, rabbits, flowers, dogs, octopuses, coral, amphibians and humor coexist.

“My work is surreal, that’s for sure,” James said.

“I love painting all kinds of animals, nature and still lifes — with a story, something to make you think,” said Ashby, adding she, too, explores surrealism.

James, like Grover, is from Portland, Ore.; James became known there as an artist during the 1980s and ’90s, and then moved to Boston, where he continued to develop his art career.

Ashby grew up in Southern California, where she was immersed in Mexican culture. After her move to the Pacific Northwest, she worked at The Gatheringplace, a nonprofit center providing creative enrichment programs for people with disabilities in Port Townsend. She had little time for her own art.

Then, in February 2022, after Ashby retired, she took an art class with Grover. More classes followed, with Jesse Joshua Watson and Julie Read — teaching artists who helped her come into her own.

James and Ashby both moved to this community to start new chapters in their lives. Both have art studios with lush gardens growing outside. Both are prolific, as if they have inside them a well of bright hues that has to be released.

Yet the two artists had never met before Grover invited them to share the gallery. Now that “Psychedelic Summer” is here, their combined exuberance transforms the space into a vibrant daydream.

“I find a really peaceful sort of happiness in doing this,” James said of his art.

Ashby wants to spread that feeling around. Gathering her work for the show, she expressed one desire: that it gives people joy.

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