Catch the wave

Katie Kowalski, arts@ptleader.com
Posted 5/9/17

A Port Townsend resident with a love for children’s art and an eye for window design has for the past several years annually been the recipient of hundreds of students’ pieces, which she then …

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Catch the wave

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A Port Townsend resident with a love for children’s art and an eye for window design has for the past several years annually been the recipient of hundreds of students’ pieces, which she then unpacks and disperses to historic district shops participating in the annual Art Wave.

“It’s always so fun,” said Helen Gunn, who especially enjoys seeing kids walk by a window during May, spy their art and exclaim, “Oh! There’s my piece!”

This year, the more than 400 pieces of art from Port Townsend School District students are displayed in 35 shop windows in the Uptown District and downtown for the annual celebration of student creativity. The 16th annual event, organized by the Port Townsend Main Street Program in partnership with PT Artscape, is also a fundraiser for art programs; many of the participating businesses have donation jars to raise funds for offerings at PT Artscape.

“It’s really important,” said Gunn of what the program does to support local arts in the community. This year, she’s been especially impressed with the high school students’ art and the progress some of these students have made.

Since all the art goes to Gunn first, she decides what pieces go in which store, often selecting art that harmonizes with a store’s theme or display. For example, a few years ago she received a collection of drawings of cupcakes and candy by Grant Street students; naturally, she sent those pieces to Elevated Ice Cream Co.

Gunn, who owned a consignment store, Up, in the Uptown District and has a background in window design, helps with some of the installations, too, and works with store owners to present an aesthetically pleasing presentation.

“Helen has got an incredible eye for design,” said Main Street director Mari Mullen. “We just think the world of her.”

All proceeds from the jars go directly to art education programs in the Port Townsend School District, said Mullen. Programs include the teaching-artist programs in Grant Street Elementary, Blue Heron School and Port Townsend High School, and professional development for teaching artists and classroom teachers.

PT Artscape also supports Centrum’s Tales, Texts and Theater program for the sixth grade, as well as special projects and materials. “It goes a long way,” said Gunn of the support.

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