PORT TOWNSEND — This is the story of how a village created a village. And of one man’s desire to give back by opening up opportunities for others.
Ted Krysinski’s day job is deputy chief of training operations for East Jefferson Fire Rescue. But he’s also a technical wiz.
Krysinski studied theater art at Sacramento State in California and went on the road as a production electrician/rigger for 15 years. He was then hired by the fire department, just as a “side detour.”
He has been the “creative technical geek” behind the scenes of many performances and events in the area for several years.
Krysinski’s mind began to dance with ideas when he learned of a community problem, one he saw as an opportunity.
“I was in a meeting with Main Street and they were trying to figure out how to draw more people downtown through the holidays,” Krysinski said.
“I’ve had this idea for a number of years to do a display in vacant windows for Christmas.”
The time frame was really short, but he was optimistic. He told Mari Mullen, executive director of the Port Townsend Main Street Program, that it was possible.
“You get me a space, I’ll do a display,” he said.
A storefront at 823 Washington St., was available. Krysinski went to work on his idea: The Winter Window on Washington Street.
He asked Kimberly Matej to help him get the word out: He needed enough buildings to create a village. Quickly.
Matej, who is the volunteer communications and public relations point on the project, spread the word though social media. Within a couple days, several structures had been donated for the cityscape, along with loaned pieces and some purchased figurines.
“Most winter window displays as performance art are already conceptually finished before they go into production,” Krysinski said.
“When you look at Macy’s or the other big stores in New York or Chicago, they start the project in February. We started the project last Monday. We don’t have all those conceptual drawings and we didn’t have all the products.
“I didn’t know what we were going to get so I didn’t know what the room was going to look like,” Krysinski continued. “Conceptually, it’s a cityscape, but it’s based on what we were able to gather.”
The unfinished plan then became the big idea.
“The idea that Kimberly and I came up with was instead of something finished, we were going to build it as an ongoing reveal,” he said. “Every few days there will be a little bit more to see, and it will keep changing up to Christmas.”
Tall adults and small children will be able to peer through peepholes created at their heights and view an ever-changing landscape using technical ingenuity, lighting and special effects.
“This is our Fifth Avenue on Washington Street,” Krysinski said.
Krysinski’s long term plan is to share his love of technology and teach others to be technical collaborators.
He founded the Red Truck Foundation to create micro-educational opportunities through vocational training for youth and young adults on the technical side of the performing and creative arts business.
“My world has changed and I’ll be retiring soon,” he said. “People gave me opportunities, and I believe everybody needs to give back. This is ultimately the way I want to give back.”
He said there are organizations like Centrum and Key City Players that do performance art curriculum for musicians, dancers and actors.
“But there isn’t an avenue to train technicians on how to do the performance art craft,” he said.
“If you’ve been to New York or Seattle, all those windows are installed by people who specialize in that skill. What I want to do with Red Truck Foundation is provide those same opportunities for youth to learn the technical trades,” Krysinski said.
”It also allows them to have a craft where they earn an income as an electrician, plumber, master carpenter, or scenic artist painters, computer technicians and software engineers.
“All of these disciplines support the arts. I’ve found that school systems have not supported the arts as much as they have over the years.”
He wants to provide opportunities for technicians to replace his generation because someday “we are going to retire.”
“We have to have replacements in the future because window displays will never go away,” he said.
Next year, Krysinski plans a semester class to teach “something specific to a window display, whether it’s the actual art of crafting in terms of painting, electrics, carpentry or whatever.”
The final project they complete will be an actual display.
“It’s like a skill center, but do it as a technical theater,” he said. “All of what they learn can be applied to the real world to gain a real skill.”
If all goes according to plan, another Winter Window or two will pop up next year.
Krysinski remembers what a teacher once told him.
“If you learn a craft, you will always be able to feed yourself. I want to be the teacher this time.”
The Winter Window on 823 Washington Street can be viewed everyday through Christmas. For more information visit www.facebook.com/RedTruckFoundation/.
Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Jeannie McMacken can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at [email protected]