PORT TOWNSEND — Some volunteers are so essential that events aren’t possible without them.
Other times, it’s background support that makes the difference.
Port Townsend’s Arts Commission honored one of each on Friday during its annual Angel of the Arts celebration at the Cotton Building.
Stephen Yates was named the Angel of the Arts and Dan Huntingford was posthumously named the Patron of the Arts, with city proclamations read from Mayor Deborah Stinson.
Huntingford’s widow, Louise, and his sister, Fran Gunn, accepted the award on his behalf.
Yates curated half a dozen exhibits last year at the Jefferson County Historical Society museum, including the Lockwood Dennis prints available for viewing through Oct. 21 at 540 Water St. in downtown Port Townsend.
“Stephen has been here for a long time, endlessly evolving his work,” said event emcee Stan Rubin, the vice chair of the city’s Arts Commission. “He’s always exploring new things to do.
“A real artist, as you know, always has something important to say.”
Yates, who has lived in Port Townsend since 1980, has a background in fine arts. He said he’s written catalogues for some exhibits and curated others.
At one time, he studied museology and thought about managing a museum.
“Then I decided I enjoy curating the art,” he said.
Yates loved the space at the historical society museum and worked to bring it up to exhibit standards, adding lighting and additional features.
He thought other volunteers were more deserving of the award.
“First, because it’s something I enjoy, and second because it’s something I have a natural affinity for, it’s something I would be doing anyway,” he said.
He said he enjoys working with the rest of the staff at the museum.
“I’m just one of the cogs in the wheel,” Yates said.
Louise Huntingford said Dan, the former owner of SOS Printing, enjoyed supporting the arts from behind the scenes.
“Even his own family members were in the dark about how magnanimous he was — how far-reaching and generous,” Gunn added.
“We’re really touched,” Louise Huntingford said. “To us, he was our unsung hero.”
The Angel of the Arts is nominated by community members, Rubin said.
The Patron of the Arts is selected by the Arts Commission to honor a business owner or community leader for outstanding support, he said.
Huntingford was a musician and writer who died last December. He had deep local roots and was well-known for his service and leadership, Rubin said.
“These awards were established to recognize a volunteer and it’s expanded quite a bit to include the community,” he said. “It’s a lovely thing, because this town is amazing with its volunteerism.”
Jefferson County Managing Editor Brian McLean can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 6, or at [email protected].