Port Townsend’s Isabella Nunn, 12, models her Wearable Art Show creation titled “Madame Butterfly” at McCurdy Pavilion on Saturday night. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/for Peninsula Daily News)

Port Townsend’s Isabella Nunn, 12, models her Wearable Art Show creation titled “Madame Butterfly” at McCurdy Pavilion on Saturday night. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/for Peninsula Daily News)

A sea of ideas turns into Wearable Art

Two shows wow Port Townsend

PORT TOWNSEND — An ocean rushed onto the runway inside McCurdy Pavilion on Saturday, bringing with it a multitude of creatures — an octopus, an anemone, a jellyfish, Christmas ornaments — and that was just one wave.

As 48 works of art — displayed on dancing, vamping, spinning humans — constituted the ninth annual Port Townsend Wearable Art Show, the crowd was as loud as the colors. A fundraiser for the Jefferson Community Foundation Fund for Women and Girls, the show attracted entries from 34 communities from rural Jefferson County to Brooklyn, N.Y., along with a tumult of ideas expressed in repurposed materials.

In matinee and evening performances, Wearable Art Show designers and models proved that twine, fruit packaging, popcorn bags, bubble wrap, Dixie cups and Ikea lamp frames can be made into dresses. Scores of CDs became the jellyfish a-twirl in “Ocean Deep” by 14-year-old Caden Grant of Quilcene. Layered fruit packaging turned into “Orange You a Cutie?” by Port Townsend’s Cheri Kopp. A tsunami of glue held it all together.

And the models. They came in all body shapes and sizes. Some strutted, black-booted and platform-heeled, while several floated barefoot.

Pearl Munn of Quilcene models Coal and Fire, a piece originated by student artist Olivia Benson, in Saturday’s Port Townsend Wearable Art Show. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/for Peninsula Daily News)

Pearl Munn of Quilcene models Coal and Fire, a piece originated by student artist Olivia Benson, in Saturday’s Port Townsend Wearable Art Show. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/for Peninsula Daily News)

The Wearable Art Show is one of Port Townsend’s success stories — artistically and financially. It brings together designers who create far outside the conventional, and it raises a heap of cash. In recent years, ticket earnings have averaged $40,000 per year plus event sponsorships and sales from the show’s clothing boutique, said Bonnie Obremski of Storyborne, the marketing contractor.

“We broke the record for ticket sales” this time around, she added Saturday night.

“More than 1,000 people attended and helped bring in about $45,000,” and about a quarter of the audience came from out of town.

Net proceeds go to the Fund for Women and Girls, which in turn makes local grants. The beneficiaries are local organizations, such as Dove House and the Benji Project (thebenjiproject.org), seeking to further the fund’s goals. Its vision is a world where “women and girls are safe, secure, equal and empowered,” as emcee Denise Winter told the crowd at McCurdy Pavilion.

The Wearable Art Show is held there, in Fort Worden State Park’s largest hall, with a runway that angles through spectators seated on three sides. Their eyes were wide as the procession began; again and again waves of cheering washed over the models and their wigs, props and attire.

The show also is a competition with rewards for the way the artists turn their concepts — which range from the worry “monster” to a love of flowers or popcorn — into apparel.

This year’s $2,500 best in show prize went to a pair of outfits titled “Mycologistical.” Wafting down the runway, they were a tribute to an organism that lives large and often below surfaces: fungi. The ethereal black and white shapes, made of papier-maché mushrooms, folded paper, glue and fusible interfacing, came from an artist team called the Fungals of Port Townsend; in fact they are Margie McDonald, Sue Ohlson, Maggie Day and Karen Childers.

“Entwined,” the work of Port Townsend teen Nadia Fisch, was among the 48 ensembles that floated onto the runway Saturday night at the Wearable Art Show. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/for Peninsula Daily News)

“Entwined,” the work of Port Townsend teen Nadia Fisch, was among the 48 ensembles that floated onto the runway Saturday night at the Wearable Art Show. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/for Peninsula Daily News)

Then there was “The Agony & the Exsta-Sea,” winner of the $500 people’s choice prize. Doreen M. Reynolds of Highland, Md., assembled curtains, a nautilus shell, sea stars, an upcycled dress and long blue eyelashes on model Jaymi Shull. That was the first view. Then Shull turned to reveal the train behind her: a wretched mass of grocery bags and other debris.

Among the student artists — 14 of them, more than ever — the top prize of $500 went to Ava and Elvira Erickson of Quilcene’s “Popcorn Madness.” Ava the model, wearing a hoopskirt festooned with hundreds of popcorn bags, took the runway popping up and down on her feet.

Winter, speaking atop a perch above the runway, reminded the audience that next year is the Wearable Art Show’s 10th, so prospective artists, supporters and art lovers are encouraged to plan for another lavish event. She touted the many businesses backing the show including Olympic Art & Office, whose window at 220 Taylor St. displays Wearable Art Show pieces year-round.

Meantime, the show program invites volunteers and artists to email [email protected] or call the Jefferson Community Foundation at 360-385-1729. More about the show’s beneficiary is found at FundforWomenandGirls.com.

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Winners, artists, models, materials

The 2019 Port Townsend Wearable Art Show bestowed prizes on its participants:

People’s choice, $500: “The Agony & the Exsta-Sea” by Doreen M. Reynolds of Highland, Md., modeled by Jaymi Shull, made of many recycled and repurposed items;

Peer Award, $500: “Dragon Skin Ensemble” by Patti Barker of Friday Harbor, modeled by Emri Kilham, made of silks, merino wool and cotton shapes;

• Best in Show, $2,500: “Mycologistical,” by the Fungals of Port Townsend, a team including Margie McDonald, Sue Ohlson, Karen Childers and Maggie Day, modeled by Ohlson and Bonnie Obremski, made of paper, fusible interfacing, papier-maché and abundant glue;

Second place, $1,000: “Think Outside the Jar” by Anthony Schumann of Brownsburg, Ind., modeled by Cara Faith, made of glaze jars and zip-ties;

Third place, $500: “Danglementic,” made and modeled by Ann Emineth of Port Townsend, made of magazines, cardboard tubes, zippers, a bicycle helmet and suspenders;

Best fashion, $500: “Color of Fall,” by Seattle artist Dan Homer, modeled by Mary-Ashley Medeiros, made of recycled hair-color tubes, satin and screen mesh;

Best use of materials, $300: “Ocean Deep,” created and modeled by Quilcene artist Caden Grant, 14, made of CDs wire, yarn, ribbon and bottle tabs;

Best makeup, $125: “(She)Pocalypse,” by Tina Flores-McCleese of Port Townsend, modeled by Nan Dumond, made of leather, beach wood, rivets and screws;

Best hair, $125: “Fire and Ice,” by Seattle artists Sabina Boehm and Hilary Specht, modeled by Heather Dudley Nollette and Renee Baribault, made of borosilicate glass, fabric and steel boning;

Student art best in show, $250: “Popcorn Madness,” by Quilcene artist Elvira Erickson, 16, modeled by Ava Erickson; made of popcorn bags, mini rubber bands, plastic, tin, an umbrella, hoopskirt and cotton balls;

Student art second place, $100: “Entwined,” created and modeled by 13-year-old Nadia Fisch of Port Townsend, made of twine, ripstop fabric and tubing;

Student art third place, $50: “Pisces,” created and modeled by Anna Munn, 11, of Quilcene, made of cardboard, paint and papier-maché.

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Diane Urbani de la Paz, a former features editor for the Peninsula Daily News, is a freelance writer living in Port Townsend.

Ava Erickson of Quilcene modeled “Popcorn Madness,” one of the award winners in Saturday’s Wearable Art Show. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/for Peninsula Daily News)

Ava Erickson of Quilcene modeled “Popcorn Madness,” one of the award winners in Saturday’s Wearable Art Show. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/for Peninsula Daily News)

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