IN JUNE OF 2009, Anna Nasset-Glenn followed her dream and with only a few hundred dollars in the bank, bought an art gallery in downtown Port Townsend.
Wanting to establish connections with local artists, she arranged her first studio visit, with ceramic sculptor Anne Hirondelle.
With the address in hand, Anna set out from her home on 19th Street and headed uptown. But after driving around Morgan Hill for a while, she couldn’t find the studio.
“I thought I knew where it was,” she said.
She called Hirondelle and found out that the sculptor lived only a few blocks from Anna’s house SEmD so near she could have walked.
Anna lives on the “far side” SEmD west of the Port Townsend golf course and north of Kah Tai Lagoon. Bounded by Laurel Grove Cemetery on the hillside above and the “peace sign” field to the north, the neighborhood used to be dotted with small farms but is now home to a diverse palette of artists.
When Anna kept meeting more and more artists who lived on her doorstep, she decided to organize an exhibit at her gallery, Artisans on Taylor.
Exhibit of ‘Neighbors’
Opening at last Saturday’s Gallery Walk, it is called “Neighbors.”
“It’s incredible that there are artists of this caliber living within a four-block area of each other,” Anna said.
The exhibit features six artists.
Hirondelle is an Artist Trust award winner whose ceramics are in the Museum of Arts & Design and White House collections.
Stephen Yates is known for large abstract paintings; his work is in Microsoft’s and other private and corporate collections.
Kim Kopp is a painter and muralist who has exhibited throughout the country.
Martha Worthley is a well-known art editor, writer and educator who incorporates floral designs into her vivid paintings.
Roger Steinfort is known for folk-art wooden dogs he makes from scrap lumber and found objects. Anna has placed in the gallery window a pack of the dogs on leashes, which they appear to be pulling.
“They had to go for walk,” she explained.
The neighborhood, with its narrow lanes and empty lots on every other corner, is the perfect place to walk a dog.
But there were no other artists living there when Peter Gritt, a fabric artist, was looking for place to live and work in 1976. A two-story wood house, listed at $15,000, had everything he was looking for so he bought it.
“And I’ve loved it ever since,” Peter said.
Peter, whose colored drawings of whimsical subjects are in the exhibit, uses the whole downstairs of his house as a studio.
Hirondelle and her husband, Bob Schweisow, bought their circa 1902 workman’s house around the same time because it came with four lots SEmD enough space to accommodate additions. Anne, a Stanford University graduate, now works in a studio that grew out of an outbuilding where the previous owners, who raised chickens, sold eggs as well jugs of moonshine they distilled in the basement.
Kim, who studied art at the University of Chicago, also built a studio behind her house. A relative newcomer, she came to Port Townsend in 1993 to attend the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding.
Two years later, Stephen bought an old house down the street from Kim and remodeled it, also adding a studio in back. Stephen, who studied art at the University of Oregon and the University of Kansas, created the lush garden that almost hides the house.
“I’m the gardener,” he said.
At one time, Stephen, Kim and Martha were partners in the 1004 Gallery in Port Townsend.
Originally from Rhode Island, Martha has lived in Port Townsend since 1981 and the neighborhood for four. She works in a converted garage that had been a book bindery, while Mrs. Peel, her corgi, patrols the fence line outside.
Other artists in the neighborhood, but not in the exhibit, are Sandra and Mitch Poling, both members of Gallery 9.
Sandra Poling, a physician and retired Air Force officer, is known for watercolors of local and international scenes. Mitch is a retired chemistry teacher who builds baidarkas, or kayaks, in the tradition of the Alaskan island where he grew up.
Richard Inman, who makes kinetic metal sculptures, also owns property in the neighborhood, marked by a large red and blue fish sculpture whose ribs and tail undulate in the wind.
When my husband and I moved to Port Townsend in 1997, we bought an old farmhouse on a long, narrow lot, complete with falling-down barn. We knew no one in town but gradually got to know the neighbors when we walked our dog.
There were Bob and Anne, who kept dog biscuits by the back door to dispense to passing canines, to the disdain of their cat, George.
Kim had an elderly dog, Teak, who was friendly but whose stiff legs didn’t move very fast.
The house with the sawtooth trim was the site of yard sales featuring exotic fabrics and art supplies. We admired the house with the riotous front garden, gradually making the connection to the vases of flowers that appeared on the post office counter courtesy of Carole, the clerk. We connected Carole with spouse Stephen Yates when the annual studio tour came around, the map showing our neighborhood rife with stars.
We didn’t know the name of the man who walked the black and white short-haired dog, but a woman who moved into the neighborhood needed no introduction.
In addition to her other hats, Martha was the owner of a corgi from the same lineage as Willy Bob and Rufus, prominent neighborhood figures.
People in Port Townsend, we learned, are not separated by more than 2 degrees, sometimes through their pets.
At the exhibit opening, we met the dog walker, Roger, who donates the proceeds from sales of his four-legged folk-art to the local Humane Society.
The artists in the exhibit SEmD Anne, Kim and Martha, Stephen, Peter and Roger SEmD are literally my Port Townsend neighbors.
And we met Anna, who is married to Chase Glenn, a cowboy from Oklahoma who runs outdoor programs at Grey Wolf Ranch.
In addition to running the gallery, Anna is organizing the Wearable Art Fashion Show, a fundraiser for the Jefferson County Community Foundation’s The Fund for Women and Girls
The show is scheduled for Feb. 4.
For more information and applications, go to her website, www.artisansontaylor.com.
“Neighbors” continues through October at Artisans on Taylor, 236 Taylor St., Port Townsend.
________Jennifer Jackson writes about Port Townsend and Jefferson County every Wednesday. To contact her with items for this column, phone 360-379-5688 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.