PORT TOWNSEND — At first, only the woman’s outward form is visible.
Then the artist, Mary O’Shaughnessy, opens her sculpture like a book, and her youth is revealed: pictures of girlhood, her Irish family, her first boyfriend, Harry. In 1967 she’s got him and a towering beehive hairdo; two years later there she is in hippie braids, as she calls them.
“All the things we do in life stay in there. We’re always carrying our home, our family with us,” said O’Shaughnessy, whose piece, “The Home Within,” is part of the Grover Gallery’s March exhibition, “Spirit of Home.”
The gallery at 237 Taylor St., is open to visitors noon to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays, while the show and artist statements also can be seen at Northwindart.org via the Exhibits link.
“Spirit of Home” features just nine works, each a response to the 2021 Port Townsend Community Read, “House Lessons,” by local author Erica Bauermeister. Subtitled “Renovating a Life,” the memoir explores not only the remodeling of a run-down Port Townsend house, but also the family relationships living in it. More about free Community Read activities is found at PTpublic library.org.
Bauermeister picked O’Shaughnessy’s piece for the Author’s Choice award and the artist, in turn, said the book resonated with her. “House Lessons” is about walls and stairs, O’Shaughnessy said; more important, it delves into how we build a sense of home.
Sharing the Grover Gallery space is Joe Wuts’ “The Sky’s the Limit,” winner of the Best Representation of Book Award from the Friends of the Library.
Chosen by Port Townsend Library Director Melody Sky Eisler, it’s an exaggerated portrayal of Bauermeister’s gray house, sitting atop two rows of wooden risers that look like legs. There’s a red box at the bottom, representing the unified hydraulic jack system described in the “House Lessons” chapter about how the house had to be lifted off its foundation.
This is an example of whimsical Wuts; “some of his works have been known to bring outright laughter,” his artist statement notes. A carpentry contractor and kayak builder, he makes art with repurposed wood, stone and exotic hardwoods.
Also showing works in “Spirit of Home” are well-known regional artists Max Grover, Mike Blankenship, Larry Crockett, Barbara Luttrell, Elizabeth Reutlinger and Chris Witkowski. And Ben Bauermeister, husband of the “House Lessons” author, also contributed: in response to his wife’s book about a house, he built a tabletop house out of a book. Rather than cutting up a copy of “House Lessons,” he found a used copy of E. Viollet-le-Duc’s “How to Build a House.”
Crockett, meanwhile, created a painting of a memory: a Swanson’s TV dinner like the ones he ate while his family’s house was being remodeled in the 1950s.
“We do our own things by ourselves in our studios,” said Crockett, a retired U.S. Army colonel, until “somebody throws an idea at us,” such as the theme of home.
Like her fellow “Spirit” artists, O’Shaughnessy has shown her work at the Grover Gallery and Northwind Arts Center, now called the Northwind Art Best Gallery in honor of the late cofounder and artist Jeanette Best.
Both galleries are part of Northwind Art, the nonprofit organization formed in January after the merger of the Port Townsend School of the Arts and the Northwind Arts Center.
Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]