PORT TOWNSEND — Change is afoot on the downtown art scene this fall. On Sept. 30, the nonprofit Northwind Art will move out of the Grover Gallery, 236 Taylor St., and a group of four local artists will start moving in Oct. 1.
“We’re focusing our energy on Jeanette Best Gallery, our downtown anchor, and our Art School at Fort Worden,” Northwind Art Executive Director Teresa Verraes said this week.
“Nonprofits and businesses should always be evaluating and re-evaluating. We want to do new things at Jeanette Best,” she added. The 1,429-square-foot venue is in the 1885 Waterman & Katz Building at Water and Quincy streets.
Northwind Art formed in 2021 through the merger of the Northwind Arts Center and the Port Townsend School of the Arts. The organization, while operating the two galleries, has also expanded its education offerings at Northwind Art School at Fort Worden State Park.
The four artists who will begin filling Grover Gallery in October are painters Max Grover, Julie Read, Larry Crockett and Tracy Grisman. After many years as an art space under various operators, the gallery was named in 2019 after Max and his late wife Sherry Grover.
Max Grover is well-known across the Pacific Northwest for his artwork, which includes all of the posters for Centrum’s 50th anniversary music and writing festivals. Read, who was once his student, is also a prolific painter and teaching artist.
Crockett is a retired Army colonel who began taking art classes with Read some years ago; now his paintings are among the most popular shown in Northwind Art’s galleries.
Grisman, an alumna of Goddard College, is known for her paintings and drawings celebrating music and musicians.
Both Northwind Art and the Grover Gallery group look forward to bringing new artists in.
“Refocusing on Jeanette Best allows us to expand our exhibitions program in one space,” Verraes said.
“We want emerging artists. We want more diversity,” both in Northwind Art’s large gallery and in the whole arts community, she said.
The Northwind Art staff will work with community members on new Jeanette Best Gallery programming in 2024.
At Grover Gallery come October, each of the four artists will have their own walls to exhibit their own art. They also will invite potential guest artists to show them their portfolios, in order to share those walls.
Max Grover said their gallery will be a collaborative — and not hierarchical — endeavor.
“That’s the No. 1 thing,” he said.
“It’s kind of like a farm. Somebody feeds the chickens. Somebody milks the cows. We’re all going to get it done. We’ve known each other for a while, so we know we get along.”
“We formed a corporation so we know we’ll have continuation beyond these four people,” Grover added.
The artists plan to work in the gallery through October, and then host festive first-Saturday Art Walk nights on Nov. 4 and Dec. 2. A website and newsletter are coming too.
“We’re very grateful for Northwind to have put us in the driver’s seat with this project,” said Grover.
“It’s going to count for a lot. Port Townsend needs more art, not less art.”
Both Verraes and Grover believe a vibrant arts community is “the secret sauce,” as Grover puts it, that helps the city prosper.
The final Northwind Art exhibition at Grover Gallery is on view now through Sept. 24.
Titled “The Fiber of Our Being,” it features three unconventional artists: weavers Tininha Silva and Mo Walrath and sculptural quilter Andrea Alonge. Their tapestries, wall hangings and willow caskets fill the gallery, which is open noon to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Mondays.
At Jeanette Best Gallery’s exhibit spaces, open noon to 5 daily, there are two shows: “Outside In,” with large-scale photography and sculpture, and the adjacent Showcase, with works by 24 local artists.
More information about the galleries and about courses at Northwind Art School is found at https://northwindart.org.