Jonah Trople of Port Townsend, working with wood outside his studio, has been chosen to create sculptural “art markers” for the city’s designated Creative District. (Port Townsend Main Street Program)

Jonah Trople of Port Townsend, working with wood outside his studio, has been chosen to create sculptural “art markers” for the city’s designated Creative District. (Port Townsend Main Street Program)

Port Townsend artist chosen for Creative District

Man to create 7-foot-tall sculptures as wayfinders

PORT TOWNSEND — The five sculptures, standing around town, will be both human-like and a little bit Stonehenge, said artist Jonah Trople.

“The forms are postmodern, stacked blocks, to find this balance, this equilibrium,” he added, as he introduced his next project: the wayfinding “art markers” for Port Townsend’s new Creative District.

The city’s Main Street Program, which won the designation last May from the Washington State Arts Commission (ArtsWA), has selected Trople’s work from a field of eight proposals.

Trople’s sculptures will be made of local cedar whitewashed and weatherproofed to last at least 20 years, said Mari Mullen, Main Street executive director.

Each will bear a QR code linked to more information about the district, which includes the local organizations that compose the city’s creative economy.

At nearly 7 feet tall, the art markers will dot the city: two downtown, two Uptown and one at Fort Worden State Park, Mullen said. Trople, a graphic designer and a fine artist, also will design a Creative District logo plus an image for as many as 60 directional wayfinding signs.

Trople will be paid $28,000 for design, work and materials; that sum comes from the Creative District project grant of $49,000. Half came from ArtsWA, which is part of the state Department of Commerce, while the other half is a local match by contributors including the Port Townsend Food Co-op, Centrum, the Port Townsend Public Library Foundation, 1st Security Bank, Northwind Art, KPTZ 91.9 FM, the Kuhn Building and Key City Public Theatre.

The sculptures and signs will be finished by early May for installation in June.

Trople, whose company is called Clementine Art Department, moved to Port Townsend five years ago soon after his daughter was born; he wanted to raise his family away from urban Seattle, where they had been living.

Trople, 32, grew up in Sedro-Woolley and attended the Evergreen State College and Pilchuck Glass School.

When asked about inspiration, Trople quickly spoke about his material.

“I just have this passion for wood,” he said. “It’s so ingrained in the Port Townsend culture and community,” from the School of Woodworking at Fort Worden to the Northwest Maritime Center downtown.

As for the shapes of his sculptures, Trople hopes passersby find their own personal associations. He sees a kind of family in them, and as he works in wood, he feels a reverence for the trees.

Kris Nelson, chairwoman of Main Street’s Creative District subcommittee, hailed this first project as a way to show people Port Townsend is a place that celebrates artists.

“We are looking to tell a story of the makers and the writers, musicians, performers and culinary artists in our community,” said Nelson, whose downtown holdings include the Mount Baker Block building, Sirens Pub, Alchemy Bistro & Wine Bar and the Old Whiskey Mill.

Trople, for his part, said he feels both honored and grateful.

“This is exactly what I want to do,” he said.


Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]

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