Gazing with wonderment at a portrait simply titled “Jamestown Girl,” one might easily miss the resemblance between Verna Johnson and the earnest-looking woman in the pastel piece.
More than 16 years after posing for the award-winning portrait by artist Joy McCarter, Johnson is seeing herself in artistic form for the first time in “Joy McCarter: In Retrospect,” the January featured art exhibit at the Museum & Arts Center in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley.
It is a modeling debut that Johnson, who posed for McCarter in 1995 at age 38, may have missed if not for her cousin.
“This is the first time I have seen it. She (McCarter) gave me one that was the first sketching,” said Johnson, a member of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe. “I was really excited when Rosie called and told me about it the other day.”
Johnson’s cousin, Rosie Zwanziger, volunteers as a docent at the MAC and said she almost did not recognize her cousin as the portrait subject either.
“Initially I thought, ‘That’s no “Jamestown Girl” I know,’” said Zwanziger, who also is a member of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe. “You rarely see her (Johnson) serious like that. She’s usually laughing and smiling.”
Johnson said her uncle, Harris “Brick” Johnson, previously had posed for McCarter and recalls her session with the artist lasting about half an hour.
“I like it: the facial features, the color, my hair like that, everything,” Johnson said of her portrait. “I am really excited about it.”
The art exhibit “Joy McCarter: In Retrospect,” which chronicles much of McCarter’s five decades-long artistic career spent on the North Olympic Peninsula, runs through Jan. 28 at the MAC Exhibit Center, 175 W. Cedar St. in Sequim.
MAC program coordinator Priscilla Hudson, who has been working with McCarter in preparation for the exhibit, said the artist has expressed plans to give the “Jamestown Girl” portrait to the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe after the MAC exhibition closes. Similarly, Hudson said McCarter also plans to donate a painting of the Poulsbo waterfront to the Poulsbo Historical Society Museum and other works to the Sequim Prairie Garden Club and the Makah Cultural and Research Center in Neah Bay.
The MAC Exhibit Center is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. For more information, call 683-8110 or visit the MAC website at www.macsequim.org.