PORT ANGELES — Mingling at an exhibition of his art, Steve Belz now and then hears the question: “What is this supposed to be?”
This comes usually from someone who is perplexed, even indignant about Belz’s art. It’s abstract, inspired by nature and studded with details.
So he responds: “What do you see?”
Such conversations are likely to fill the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center this Saturday. Belz’s solo exhibition, “Taking It In,” opens with a pair of parties at the center, 1203 E. Lauridsen Blvd., where the sculptor and Peninsula College art professor will be on hand.
First up Saturday is a preview and artist talk during the members and VIP reception from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. Then the free opening party for the general public will follow from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
The Fine Arts Center gallery is open — also with free admission — from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays.
“People think it will offend me,” when they admit they’re baffled by Belz’s shapes. He assures us that it won’t.
More than anything, Belz hopes to arouse curiosity in us. So he’s displaying about 15 works in clay, metal and wood — much of it cedar from land he recently purchased west of town — in his show, which will stay on display through Nov. 24.
Belz, 48, moved to Port Angeles in 2015 from Massachusetts, where he was an artist in residence at the Worcester Center for Crafts.
His past is patchwork: childhood in Olympia, an environmental studies degree from The Evergreen State College, a career as a potter and carpenter in Crested Butte, Colo., and a later-in-life master of fine arts degree from Kansas State University.
Since coming to Port Angeles to head the ceramics department at Peninsula College, Belz has attended shows at the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center and partaken in cleanup days at the surrounding Webster’s Woods Sculpture Park.
When he first moved here, the park was pretty overgrown. The ensuing efforts to turn it into a more welcoming sculpture park and venue for the summertime Shakespeare in the Woods performances have impressed him.
“It’s great to see the energy coming back,” Belz said.
The 5-acre Webster’s Woods of art, forest, meadow and trails is free and open to the public from dawn till dusk 365 days a year.
As for energy indoors, he hopes “Taking It In” will pull people closer — enough to examine and ponder form and detail.
With “Forbidden Fruit,” one of Belz’s pieces, he shared the thought beneath.
“I want people to be enticed by it; drawn in,” he said.
This sculpture “is the sort of thing you want, but you can’t get,” and as you come closer, you just might see something weird about it.
For Belz, such is art — and life.