Northwind Art Executive Director Teresa Verraes shows off the just-finished collective painting at the close of “The Big Reveal,” the fundraiser held at Fort Worden State Park on Sunday. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News)

Northwind Art Executive Director Teresa Verraes shows off the just-finished collective painting at the close of “The Big Reveal,” the fundraiser held at Fort Worden State Park on Sunday. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News)

Artists create pieces of bigger picture

‘Big Reveal’ a fundraiser for Northwind Art

PORT TOWNSEND — As people from various walks of life sat down to make art together, Max Grover stated rule No. 1.

“Don’t drink your paint water,” he quipped, referring to the cupfuls on each table.

That water was for rinsing paintbrushes during “The Big Reveal,” Sunday afternoon’s Northwind Art event at Fort Worden State Park.

For the next hour, two dozen painters worked on square tiles, each one a section of a larger tableau yet to be assembled. One tile depicted the eye of a woman; others showed white clouds in a turquoise sky, a gray seal in a royal-blue sea and, balanced on a rock, a steaming cup of coffee.

All the while, the band Stringology played: Northwind Art board member Tracy Grisman on the big stand-up bass, Eric Bogart on guitar, Terianne Stratton on ukulele. After a while, Grisman’s husband David, the internationally known mandolinist, joined in.

Grover sought to affirm everyone — the seasoned artists, the perfectionists, the people who hadn’t touched a paintbrush since childhood.

“It’s only paint. We can fix anything,” he said.

When all of the tiles were finished, Northwind teaching artists Michele Soderstrom and Meg Kaczyk began nailing them, jigsaw puzzle-style, onto a large board. An image began to appear.

As Grover stepped up, palette in hand, to touch up the whole thing, onlookers clustered around like guests watching a chef in his kitchen.

“Come back to your seats,” Northwind Executive Director Teresa Verraes said. “We just want to give Max a little space.”

Grover, well-known for his art in galleries, on buildings and on event posters over many years in Port Townsend, proceeded to use his brush to bring the picture together: a mermaid, afloat in the ocean waves, hot java within reach and a whiskered seal as her companion.

“What we’ve done,” Grover told the group, “is a great example of how individuals can contribute to the well-being of something larger than the individual.”

Sunday’s “Big Reveal” was also a fundraiser for Northwind Art, the 2021 merger of the Port Townsend School of the Arts and the Northwind Art Center. The nonprofit organization has built a board of directors, offered classes both online and onsite at its Fort Worden classroom and kept two galleries open, “all in the midst of a pandemic,” Verraes said.

She added one of her favorite things to do is write checks to artists — for teaching classes or selling their work in Northwind’s Best Gallery at 701 Water St. and in the Grover Gallery at 236 Taylor St.

“We’re over $110,000” in such payments, Verraes reported.

The mermaid painted Sunday is a kind of connector among Grover, Northwind and Bill Curtsinger, co-owner of Sunrise Coffee. She’ll grace the label on Sunrise’s Mermaid Blend and a sign outside the business at 10th Street and Sims Way.

A dollar from each pound of coffee sold will be donated to Northwind Art.

Sunday’s painting party gave Verraes a chance to tell supporters about the next art show at the Grover Gallery. Curtsinger, in addition to being the Sunrise Coffee guy, is an undersea photographer, and an exhibition of his work will open at the Grover Gallery on Thursday and stay on display through Oct. 31.

“You’re going to live underwater with Bill’s images,” Verraes promised, adding Curtsinger is one of the world’s most celebrated underwater photographers with six National Geographic covers to his credit.

Information about the forthcoming show, which will include small gatherings at the gallery, can be found at northwindart.org/curtsinger.

Verraes also sang the praises of Northwind classes coming up this fall. Among them are “Nerikomi: Jewelry Explorations” with visiting artist Malia Peoples at Wilderbee Farm’s ceramic studio in October, and “More Joy, Less Mess: Water Soluble Oils” with Nonie Gaines in November.

Seeing people paint together in support of Northwind’s cause is “incredibly fulfilling,” Verraes said.

“This is us. This is what we got to create today.”

________

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

Port Townsend artist and teacher Max Grover finishes up the collective painting he facilitated during “The Big Reveal,” Northwind Art’s fundraiser at Fort Worden State Park on Sunday. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News)

Port Townsend artist and teacher Max Grover finishes up the collective painting he facilitated during “The Big Reveal,” Northwind Art’s fundraiser at Fort Worden State Park on Sunday. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News)

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