Galleries feature night skies, landscapes, ceramics

PORT TOWNSEND — Two galleries on Water Street in Port Townsend feature art as different as day and night.

Sally Pfaff exhibits landscapes in acrylics at the Port Townsend Gallery while KarenLee Eaton exhibits her new images of the night sky at Gallery 9, including images of the Northern Lights, all of which were taken here in the northern peninsula of ‘Olympic.

The artists are in the spotlight for the month of August. Both galleries are also highlighting ceramists this month. Mike Middlestead, whose work can be seen at Gallery 9, and Barbra Ewing, featured at Port Townsend Gallery, create functional works of art.

The Port Townsend Gallery, 715 Water St., is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily as well as by appointment.

Gallery 9, headquarters of the North Olympic Artist Cooperative at 1012 Water St., is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. six days a week. It is closed on Tuesday. Masks are optional.

Eaton, who was born and raised in Port Townsend, credits her 17-year-old toy poodle, Robin, for waking her up in the middle of the night last October to see the Northern Lights, dancing wildly across the sky and -above. Mount Baker.

“Robin is nearly blind, but he somehow knew the lights were dancing, and he wasn’t going to let me miss it,” she said in a press release.

It also shows black and white photos with sepia tones of Fort Worden.

“I’m excited to be back to working in black and white, as it was a style I shot a lot when I was still using film stock,” she said.

Eaton has been taking pictures since she was 7, when she came across her father’s old Pentax 35mm SLR and begged him to teach her how to use it. After many years of photography with film, she moved on to digital images. In 2017, she completed the University of Washington Photography Certificate Program.

Pfaff paints stories of landscapes in acrylics inspired by her outdoor adventures, she said.

“I work with paint, sometimes letting it guide me,” she said.

The first layers are intentionally spontaneous and can reveal an interesting subject while subsequent layers of color and shape are added based on need for value or form, Pfaff said.

Water is often a central theme in his work. Last year she made larger semi-abstract landscapes that explore water in different forms as it interacts with the landscape.

Ewing has been working with ceramics for 35 years. Its appetizers, trays, buds and standard vases, bottles, sconces and accent lamps are made from a variety of locally produced clays and mid-range glazes.

The various colored clay bodies are often brightly glazed, and each piece is enhanced by stamp, stencil and found object impressions as well as small additions of clay buttons and clay strips.

In recent years, Ewing has worked exclusively with clay slabs. Clay treated this way has a memory for mistakes, “so she eventually decided it was the process of making something versus the desire to do it perfectly that drove her,” organizers said.

“Heat is the miracle that makes everything hit or miss,” she said. “It can be a joy or a pain when you open the oven to see what it took you weeks to produce. Fortunately, I have more successes than failures after all this time.

Middlestead spent 25 years in the Coast Guard before discovering clay during an introductory art class at Peninsula College.

He said he is inspired by the outdoors and people connecting with art.

He makes functional items, such as bowls, cups and oil decanters, as well as vases and sculptures, often finished with Raku firing.

“I became a ceramist because of the feel of clay,” he said.

“I have a visceral response to the purely tactile nature of working with clay,” he added. “I love the feeling in my hands and the ability to create something amazing. Once I found clay, there was no turning back.

To learn more about Gallery 9, visit www.gallery-9.com.

To learn more about Port Townsend Gallery, call 360-379-8110 or visit www.porttownsendgallery.com.

Functional ceramics, like this plate created by Barbara Ewing, are on display at the Port Townsend Gallery.

The Northern Lights are featured prominently in photographs by KarenLee Eaton at Gallery 9.

The Northern Lights are featured prominently in photographs by KarenLee Eaton at Gallery 9.

Mike Middlestead's ceramic arts are on display at Gallery 9.

Mike Middlestead’s ceramic arts are on display at Gallery 9.


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