Gray Lucier’s sculpture catches the light in Webster’s Woods. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/for Peninsula Daily News)

Gray Lucier’s sculpture catches the light in Webster’s Woods. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/for Peninsula Daily News)

DIANE URBANI DE LA PAZ: A fresh variety of reporting

AS PEOPLE POUR out of classrooms and into the new summer, I’m thinking about the last time I attended — and finished! — school.

It was my 200-hour yoga teacher training five years ago, a curriculum that taught more than how to lead sun salutations.

During and since, Ana T. Forrest was among my teachers; her book “Fierce Medicine” and her concept of beauty reports have stuck with me.

Here’s how it goes: In the course of your day, notice beauty. It’s that simple. The thing of beauty can be anything; the sight of blue water, the feeling of an orange section on your tongue; the sound of guitar strings vibrating.

Drop your blasé attitude, Forrest tells trainees. Pay attention to the beauty in and around you.

Ideally, at lunch or dinner time or both, we would all make reports to one another. We’d keep our senses open and opener. We’d watch the daily news — beauty seen/heard/tasted/scented — grow better and better.

Where have I noticed beauty? This time of year, the Iceland poppies are busting out, but that’s almost too easy.

This past weekend, I took a good look at a metal sculpture I’ve walked blindly by every day since moving to uptown Port Townsend. Standing and twirling in front of Carlson Chiropractic, it’s pure grace. The pieces look like leaves, at least to me; the breeze turns them in a swirl.

After many hurried steps past it, I’m glad I really saw this thing.

In Port Angeles, a beauty-report wonderland lives up alongside Lauridsen Boulevard. It’s called Webster’s Woods after Esther Webster, who bequeathed the funds needed to preserve these five acres for anybody who wants to go for a walk among the tall trees.

She also provided for Webster House, the art gallery popularly known as the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center.

On a recent walk down one of the trails there, I found a steel sculpture I’d never seen before. Sunlight illuminated its tomato-red and lemon-yellow paint as if to say, “Would you look up here, for heaven’s sake?”

Suspended on wires among the trees, the piece was a mysterious one. What does it mean? Who made it?

I put out a plea on social media, asking if anybody knew the sculptor’s identity. Almost instantly, Port Angeles artist Dani LaBlond answered: Gray Lucier is your guy. A little while later, Lucier himself posted confirmation.

I contacted the artist to ask him my usual news reporter’s questions: What’s the title of the piece? Does it symbolize something, such as the sun or a Chinese checkers board?

Lucier, a gentle grizzly bear of a man, was mum. All he would say is that the sculpture is made of steel and that when it was on his workbench years ago, he was pleased with the way it behaved. He was also happy to be included in Webster’s Woods.

Not knowing what the art is supposed to mean doesn’t hurt my ability to enjoy it. Seeing those colors and that symmetry up in the air, well, it just makes me feel good.

And that, friends, is a beauty report.

Fortunately we’ve a whole summer stretching out before us in which to sharpen these reporting skills. Oh, and one of many places celebrating this glorious season is Webster’s Woods, where it just so happens the first Solstice Art Festival will go all day Friday and Saturday. It’s a free time for frivolity.

There will be new art awaiting us in the forest, artists talking and walking around, crafts and solstice crowns for everybody. I’ll be beauty-reporting for all I’m worth.


Diane Urbani de la Paz, a freelance journalist and former PDN features editor, lives in Port Townsend.

Her column appears in the PDN the first and third Wednesday every month. Her next column will be July 3.

Reach her at [email protected]

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