Sarah Jane, gallery and program director at the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center, observes “Incoming,” Twyla Sampaco’s acrylic-mounted photograph. Three of Sampaco’s works are featured in the Well+Being exhibit. Photo courtesy of Port Angeles Fine Arts Center

Sarah Jane, gallery and program director at the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center, observes “Incoming,” Twyla Sampaco’s acrylic-mounted photograph. Three of Sampaco’s works are featured in the Well+Being exhibit. Photo courtesy of Port Angeles Fine Arts Center

PAFAC’s ArtBites goes virtual on Aug. 21

“Art,” says Twyla Sampaco, “is part of my healing process.”

Sampaco joins fellow working artist Tiffani Erdmanczyk at the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center’s ArtBites program — an intimate discussion series focused on candid dialogue about topics relating to the arts.

Introduced last year, the center offers its first virtual ArtBites event, featuring a panel discussion on art and healing to coincide with the center’s current exhibit, Well+Being, from 6-8 p.m. via Zoom on Friday, Aug. 21.

In addition to the panel discussion, there will be time for attendees to ask questions. Tickets for the virtual event are $10, with proceeds benefiting the nonprofit arts center. A limited number of tickets are available: visit www.pafac.org for more information or to purchase tickets.

Everyone is welcome in this conversation, regardless of background or experience with art, PAFAC representatives say.

Sampaco and Erdmanczyk both have work featured in the Well+Being exhibit, and both have firsthand experience with the healing power of art, PAFAC representatives say.

“The healing process also fuels and inspires my art,” says Sampaco, while Erdmanczyk notes that art-making “helped bring me back from a very dark time in my life.”

Rounding out the panel will be Monica Vanderheiden of Peninsula Behavioral Health, who found in her experience as a mental health therapist how art can be a therapeutic tool.

“Art is helpful with trauma, depression, anxiety, self-worth … the list goes on,” Vanderheiden says. “I’m excited to share a few art therapy exercises and discuss the value of art in the therapeutic environment.”

The discussion will include an exploration of the relationship between creativity and wellness, how art can support a personal healing process, and insights from the panelists for people wanting to include art in their own self-care routines.

Sarah Jane, who serves as Gallery and Program Director for the center, notes, “Art is a powerful tool for expressing things that aren’t easily captured in words. Both physical and mental illness can be very isolating, but art can help us understand that we are not alone in these difficult experiences.”

PAFAC executive director Jessica Elliott saw a need to develop virtual programming during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’ve all had to quickly adjust and adapt how we are working and living,” Elliott says. “At the PAFAC, we thrive on engaging people with the arts and our team is becoming more savvy with how we are shifting our in-person programming to a compelling virtual one, like our upcoming ArtBites event.”

The exhibit

The center’s current exhibit features artworks by 32 artists from across the nation, juried from an open call that drew about 100 entries.

The artwork explores topics of wellness and healing, and includes works relating to a variety of health challenges along with those that explore impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

The exhibit continues through Aug. 30 and may be viewed in person during regular gallery hours: 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Thursday-Sunday.

Gallery visitors are expected to wear masks and practice social distancing.

Artwork in this exhibit is also available for viewing or purchase on the arts center’s website at www.pafac.org.

Well+Being is generously supported by Peninsula Behavioral Health, D.A. Davidson, Camaraderie Cellars and the City of Port Angeles.

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