WEEKEND: Lower Elwha Gallery exhibit to showcase native art

PORT ANGELES — The spirits of the native people of the Strait of Juan de Fuca will be unleashed in an art exhibit Saturday.

Opening night of the Spirit Unleashed art exhibit, a semiformal event, will begin at 6 p.m. at the Lower Elwha Gallery & Gift at 401 E. First St.

It will feature at least four artists who have never shown their work publicly before, as well as a performance by the Elwha Drum Corps.

Tickets to the opening are $15.

After the opening, the exhibit will be free for public viewing until Tuesday.

An appetizer bar for the opening will be provided by Kokopelli Bar and Grill.

For the exhibit, gallery manager Suzie Bennett asked six local artists to “release their spirits,” to create works that draw on their own life experiences and feelings.

Artists include Darrel Charles Jr., Roger Fernandes and Robert Francis III of the Elwha Klallam; Ivan Francis of the Stó:lo tribe of British Columbia; Darryl Barkley of the Yakima tribe; and Jimmy Price of Port Gamble.

“I asked for anything from deep within them,” Bennett said.

A number of other artists also are showing their work.

Family of artists

For Brenda Francis, a first-time exhibitor and Elwha spokeswoman, the show will be a family affair.

Both she and her father have artwork in the show.

Brenda is a photographer and will display her images of a canoe journey at dawn and a candid view of the Elwha River restoration ceremonies.

She gained an interest in photography at Peninsula College, where she earned an associate degree in communications.

Most of her photos are photojournalism-style, Brenda said.

She had to convince her father, Robert Francis, that it was time to let people see the art he had been creating for years.

Robert carves and sketches with a unique and edgy style, Brenda said.

“It’s all inspired by his granddaughter,” she said.

Robert’s first canvas was fabric as he created designs on his granddaughter’s clothing.

He also carved walking sticks and recreated the style of a comb found at Tse-whit-zen, an ancient Klallam village uncovered on Marine Drive.

“People would always tell him he should show or sell his art,” she said.

“He would ask, ‘Why?’”

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Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-417-3535 or at arwyn.rice@peninsuladailynews.com.

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