Virtual programming fuels activity at Port Angeles Fine Arts Center

Two young children explore the beach with their grandmother, gathering interesting bits of driftwood and stone. Meanwhile, across town, a slightly older girl is experimenting with a hammer and nail, learning how to pierce small holes in bits of shell. In a third local household, two young teens carefully design a unique handmade Mother’s Day gift: a delicately balanced mobile sculpture created from items found in nature.

These performances were inspired by a short video on “Quarantine Crafts,” one of the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center’s ongoing virtual program offerings.

This week, the center launches new installments of two popular virtual programs.

With its newest installment that kicked off May 16, “Prompts: Think Like an Artist” offers open-ended prompts for writing or art-making that are based on artwork from Webster’s Woods Sculpture Park.

Suitable for school-age children as well as adults, “Prompts” can be accessed entirely online or may be used while exploring the sculpture park in person. (Note: All park visitors are strongly encouraged to practice appropriate social distancing measures.)

A second installment of “Quarantine Crafts,” this time focusing on mandala forms and radial symmetry, will be released on Wednesday, May 20. Designed for a younger audience, this series encourages participants to make art using regular household items or things found in nature.

Instructional videos emphasize the value of “artist thinking,” demonstrating how humor and creativity can help discover new possibilities when we may feel limited or stuck.

The Port Angeles Fine Arts Center’s first-ever virtual exhibit, “Earth: An Abstract,” continues through June 28. In addition to images of all the artwork, visitors will find a short video featuring insights from curator Sarah Jane, as well as sales information for works in the exhibit.

“We weren’t sure what to expect when we made the decision to host the exhibit virtually,” said Jane, who also serves as the center’s gallery and program director.

“It has been a learning process, but the response has been really encouraging, with lots of positive feedback and several pieces sold,” she said.

The success of its virtual programming will give the center plenty of options as it looks forward towards the summer. “Employee and public safety is our first priority,” executive director Jessica Elliott said.

Looking ahead

The center’s next big event is the Summertide Solstice Art Festival in June, when new artwork will be added to Webster’s Woods Sculpture Park.

Artists who are interested in exhibiting work in the park may enter current work or submit a proposal for new work via the Artist Opportunities tab on the PAFAC website. The deadline to apply is May 24.

While a large gathering isn’t in the works for this year’s celebration, the center will be offering lots of ways for the public to safely engage through art-making, video interviews with participating artists, and self-guided sculpture park tours.

The center also has an active call to artists to submit work for an upcoming juried exhibit, Well+Being, which will open July 11.

“Last year’s juried exhibit was one of our most popular events,” Jane said, “and we’re already seeing a great response to this year’s call.”

The exhibit will explore issues relating to physical and/or mental health — including, but not limited to, overall health and wellness, healing and recovery, public health, chronic illness, disability, addiction and impacts of COVID-19.

Jurors for this year’s exhibit are all local Peninsula artists: Michael Mills and Ellie Polk of Port Angeles, and Cathie Wier of Port Townsend.

For $15, artists can submit up to three pieces for consideration; the deadline to apply is May 31.

“Art is a way of exploring human experience,” Jane said, “and we know that the arts will have an important role in making sense of the unprecedented experience we’re all living through.”

For more information about the center’s virtual art programming, call to artists and upcoming events can be found at