Arts and Entertainment

'Pi' highlights Art Outside

Saturday, June 19, is the opening day for Art Outside, the annually renewed sculpture program in the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center's Webster's Woods Art Park.

Works by 19 artists, added over the past month, will be unveiled at the opening reception from 1-4 p.m., with many of the artists present.

At 1:30 p.m., Linda Crow, president of Friends of the Fine Arts Center, and Vicci Rudin, Webster Trust chairwoman, will accept the latest gift to the center's growing collection. "Pi a la Mode" is the humorous title for a serious piece of sculpture by San Juan Island artist Micajah Bienvenu.

The Pi in question is the mathematical symbol used in circle calculations, not mom's baked apple treat. Bienvenu has used that character's flowing post and lintel form to create an impressive entrance gate to the central meadow of Webster's Woods and to the paths of its sprawling labyrinth. The 7-foot-high "door" is constructed from sheet stainless steel, assembled into highly polished hollow arms and legs, shaped into serpentine curves that glimmer and reflect the encircling corona of foliage.

The piece was installed in 2005 as part of that season's Art Outside crop and has been on loan since then. A key feature of the art park, the Pi gate quickly became a beloved fixture and the artist extended his initial one-year loan of the sculpture to five years.

The generous purchase of the piece for the center by two Sequim arts patron couples, Harris and Diana Verner and Krys and Gary Gordon, ensures that the Pi will remain in perpetuity, welcoming visitors and sometimes serving as an altar for park weddings and other ceremonies.

At 2 p.m., Jake Seniuk, Webster's Woods resident curator and PAFAC executive director, leads his first Art Ranger Tour of the new season. Seniuk began the Art Outside program in 2000 with works from 40 Northwest artists and has added 20 or more each year since then. His behind-the-scene commentary will not only premiere the new arrivals but also provide revealing insights into the more than 100 works in place from previous seasons.

Dancing Fools and Thyme Gardens

Micajah Bienvenu returns with a second stainless steel sculpture "Dancing Fool IV." The graceful flowing lines of the 12-foot-tall abstracted figure set it to gyrating, an effect that is amplified by its rotating mount that allows it to be spun around a central point.

Figures are set into motion with color and posture in Judith Bird's (Port Townsend) line of dancing sweaters. Succeeding "Witness," Bird's memorable crowd of shrunken sweaters that occupied a hillside until it was swallowed by the forest - "Joined" exhibits a lighter touch with its chain of colorful linked torsos that flank the trail like a fence. This time Bird has enlivened the sweaters' original patterns with bright overlays of felted shapes that seem to have escaped from a comic book.

If these dancers are celebrating some kind of holiday, the nearby ceramic monolith by Dean Hanmer (Vashon Island) provides a Maypole-like icon as the focus of the celebration. Heavily encrusted with shards of tile and colored glass, it seems like a memorial or monument that could be ancient and futuristic at the same time

The ancient is uncovered in Anna Wiancko-Chasman's (Port Angeles) "Thyme Garden." Taking as her model an archaeological dig, Wiancko-Chasman has half-buried a dense abundance of both real and concocted artifacts. Ranging from miniature cave pictographs to faux Anasazi pottery to Barbie dolls, the progression of style and technology traces a timeline of civilization, which is interspersed with living thyme plants that will reclaim the spot for nature as they propagate.

Recycled materials are integral to the work of several artists. Karen Hackenberg's (Port Townsend) "Watershed" is a woodsman's hut constructed entirely from discarded plastic pop bottles that plays off Webster Woods' elfin charm to present a jarring reminder of the ubiquity of mass consumption in our lives.

Barbara De Pirro (Shelton) has crocheted spheres of many sizes entirely from discarded plastic grocery bags and created charming nestings resembling eggs or buds wedged into the fissures in the ruptured bark of a grand old tree.

Deanna Pindell's (Port Hadlock) "Squiggle" sends hundreds of feet of straw-stuffed wattle, normally used to combat highway erosion, snaking through the woods like lines on a contour map and bearing seedlings of new growth.

"These five lovely woodland acres are a privilege and a joy to work with, for both the artists and the curator" said Seniuk.

"Artists are thrilled by the majestic setting of Beaver Hill and the close integration of the works into the landscape, which has been the park's hallmark and which continues to enchant and inspire all who come here."

Artists from across the

region contribute

The integration of art and spirit within the bosom of nature is given symbolic form by Nepalese artist Djoti Duwadi (Bellingham), who uses a magnificent charred stump, left by a long-ago fire, to create a forest altar with indigenous earthen materials but inspired by his Himalayan cultural heritage.

Art Outside 2010 includes much more with works by Dan Cautrell (Duvall), David Nechak (Seattle), Colleen Hayward (Seattle), Gloria Lamson (Port Townsend), Alan Lande (Seattle), James Lapp (Mount Vernon), Carolyn Law (Seattle), Julie Lindell (Seattle), Margie McDonald (Port Townsend), Shirley Wiebe (Vancouver, British Columbia), and Kuros Zahedi (Bellingham).

"We've been fortunate to have received sponsorship for this program for the past five years from First Federal Savings and Loan," said Seniuk. "That allowed us to pay each artist a $400 honorarium that helps them cover materials and travel costs. However, the tightening economy has prompted our loyal sponsor to reduce this year's level of support, so we especially appreciate any and all donations that will help the program stay in the black ink column."

"Of equal interest to art sophisticates and 5-year olds, these works, in large part, are labors of love that come together in this very special place to create memorable experiences that leave visitors highly attuned to the spirit of art in their everyday lives."

Seniuk will give subsequent tours at 10 a.m. on first Saturdays July 3, Aug. 7 and Sept. 4 and at 2 p.m. on third Wednesdays July 21, Aug. 18 and Sept. 15.

Webster's Woods is open daylight hours year-round. Admission is free. The Fine Arts Center is at 1203 Lauridsen Blvd., a quarter-mile east of Race Street near the Jones Street water dome.

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