A selection of Esther Webster’s historically significant paintings includes scenes of local industry, business and recreation. (Photo courtesy of Nora Pitaro)

A selection of Esther Webster’s historically significant paintings includes scenes of local industry, business and recreation. (Photo courtesy of Nora Pitaro)

Virtual discussions set on life of Esther Webster

PORT ANGELES — A virtual discussion on the life of Esther Barrows Webster is planned at 10 a.m. Saturday.

The discussion is in connection with the show that opened last month at the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center, a building that once was Webster’s home. Jointly curated by Sarah Jane, the arts center’s gallery and program director, and Amy McIntyre, the North Olympic History Center’s executive director, Creating a Scene: The Legacy and Vision of Esther Webster includes work from both organizations’ permanent collections.

On Saturday, Jane and McIntyre will team up to discuss “Curating Esther” at the latest installment of the Arts Center’s virtual ArtBites discussion series.

Tickets to the virtual ArtBites event cost $12 each, and may be purchased online at pafac.org.

The duo will share how their understanding of Esther and her creative practice developed over the course of researching the exhibit.

“This project felt surprisingly intimate at times,” said Jane, adding “although neither of [the curators] had the chance to meet her in life, I think we both felt that we came to know Esther as a person and as an artist.”

In addition to outlining the curatorial work behind the finished exhibit, the curators will highlight a few artworks and discoveries that didn’t make it into the final show.

A week later, at 2 p.m. March 14, McIntyre and Jane will reunite at the History Center’s virtual North Olympic Voices event.

“The History Center is thrilled to collaborate with Port Angeles Fine Arts Center on the ‘Esther’ exhibit,” McIntyre said.

“As Sarah Jane points out, our collection is curated by Esther herself. And the pièce de résistance may be Esther’s plaid three-piece suit.

“For our research we leaned heavily on the book, ‘Olympic Leaders’ by Helen Neal Radke and Joan Ducceschi, and mined the memories of local residents and our own organizations.

“We hope this is the first in a series of joint exhibitions.”

North Olympic Voices is a free, public, monthly arts and lecture series of the North Olympic History Center. Presentations are live-streamed every second Sunday of the month at 2 p.m.

Visit clallamhistorical society.com for more information.

Creating a Scene is the first substantial exhibit of the artist’s work to be mounted since 2004, and two upcoming virtual events will provide a behind-the-scenes view of the curatorial process and historical research leading up to this exhibit.

Webster, who lived from 1903 to 1985, was a fiercely independent artist whose life took her from rural Oregon to the art world of New York City and finally to the North Olympic Peninsula, where she lived and worked for more than 50 years both in art and in publishing.

Compelled by a lifelong passion for art and culture, she became an award-winning painter and arts champion as well as an outspoken community leader through the Port Angeles Evening News, where she worked as a reporter and an editor, essentially running the paper — a precursor to the Peninsula Daily News — after her husband Charles became ill.

She became an award-winning painter as well as an outspoken community leader and champion of the arts.

Upon her death, she bequeathed her home and estate at 1203 E. Lauridsen Blvd. to the community to become the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center.

The events are set for March to mark Women’s History Month.

Creating a Scene: The Legacy and Vision of Esther Webster will be on display through April 25 at the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center, which is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Sunday.

Admission is free by donation.

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