Virtual community topic of talk in Port Angeles

PORT ANGELES — Surrounded by Webster’s Woods, that forest full of art, and the Webster House art gallery, you can embark on another kind of art tour: through the virtual community, with Zinnia Zauber as your companion.

Zinnia is an avatar — a proxy presence — representing Sequim artist and teacher Renne Brock-Richmond, and this Second Life tour is part of the current “Strait Art” show at the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center.

So to explain all of this, Brock-Richmond — and Zinnia — will appear together this Friday at the center at 1502 E. Lauridsen Blvd., for a talk titled “Virtual Expression and Immersive Art: Exploring Second Life,” at 7:30 p.m. Admission is a $5 donation.

The illustrated hourlong lecture promises to be an in-depth voyage to a brave new world, said Jake Seniuk, center director said, adding that Brock-Richmond, “a flamboyant presence on the local art scene,” is a graduate of, and an instructor in, the University of Washington’s Virtual Worlds Certificate program.

The artist herself calls Second Life “the future of education, social media and active participation.”

Besides socializing with people around the globe, “you can attend lectures and classes, learn languages, learn about finance, and take a yoga class” in this cybercommunity, she added.

“A lot of fitness and wellness is taught through Second Life; there’s also philosophy and hard sciences. We were just discussing Robotics Week,” a forthcoming event.

And while Second Life’s marketers bill the online community as fast and easy to navigate, Brock-Richmond said the learning curve is steep at the start.

Many successful residents have mentors or take classes like those she teaches through Peninsula College.

Brock-Richmond invites would-be users to email her at — or come to Friday’s talk.

“Once you get through the basics, all you want to do is learn more and more,” she said.

“A whole world opens up. There are so many people there who will help you out, in the pay-it-forward philosophy” that she said pervades Second Life.

Coincidentally, Linden Labs established the cyber-community in 2003, the same year Brock-Richmond, who grew up in Vancouver, Wash., moved to Sequim.

Brock-Richmond emphasizes that Second Life is an expansion of, not a replacement for, interactions away from the computer.

Many of the people she’s gotten to know online are people she now knows offline.

Brock-Richmond has also set up a virtual office for the Sequim Humanities & Arts Alliance in Second Life’s Nonprofit Commons and encourages North Olympic Peninsula artists to participate in it.

More information is at

Friday’s “Virtual Expression and Immersive Art” talk is part of the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center’s spring “Enter Stage Left” series of lectures and performances.

To find out about forthcoming events, visit or phone 360-457-3532.


Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3550 or at

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