Life at the fort: Art, walks

Katie Kowalski, arts@ptleader.com
Posted 6/27/17

Friends of Fort Worden board member Claude Manning is presenting his work to benefit the nonprofit that helps to support the state park.

It’s the first show he’s done in Port Townsend outside …

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Life at the fort: Art, walks

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Friends of Fort Worden board member Claude Manning is presenting his work to benefit the nonprofit that helps to support the state park.

It’s the first show he’s done in Port Townsend outside his family’s living room.

“I paint for the pleasure of painting,” said Claude, whose impressionistic oil paintings – some of which feature local landscapes and fort scenes – are being shown at Taps at the Guardhouse at Fort Worden in July and August.

Claude and his wife, Zan, moved to town five years ago and live a couple of blocks away from the fort. “What better place to live than next to a state park with acres of walking trails?”

A retired physician, Claude has been painting for the past 25 years, following in the path of his grandfather, an oil painter, and his mother, who worked with mixed media. “I guess I was predestined,” he said.

The creative process provided a welcomed contrast to his career. “My work life was very left-brained; a very didactic, deductive process,” he said.

Painting takes him to a different place – one that is in the moment. “It’s a very restful, meditative feeling,” he said. “I really love the experience – the process of painting.”

He works from photographs, many of which are taken by Zan. Recently, he started painting portraits. 

“I got the notion that I could paint my grandchildren,” he said, though noting that the portraits in the show are not of family members. “The portraits have nothing to do with Port Townsend, they’re just images I find that are interesting to me, and fun to paint.”

His landscape pieces include Fort Worden scenes like Memory’s Vault, a site that displays multiple pillars inscribed with poems by Copper Canyon Press founder and third Port Townsend Writers' Conference director Sam Hamill.

When the Mannings moved into town, there was graffiti on the pillars, which were also covered in blackberries.

“We would go up there once a week, and started taking care of it,” he said. Soon after, they became more involved. Zan became the president of the Friends of Fort Worden, and Claude is on the board of the volunteer-led nonprofit that works with Washington State Parks and the Fort Worden Public Development Authority to support the preservation and enhancement of Fort Worden State Park as a recreational, historic, educational and natural resource.

Fort Worden has become their home, and they’ve immersed themselves in all that it offers. “We love the diversity of the environment – the forest, beach, the wetlands; the wildlife we see.”

And they love the cultural diversity, too.

“We go to Centrum concerts, we go to lectures,” Manning said. “I’ve taken a few classes at Port Townsend School of the Arts.”

They’ve come to know the community at the Port Townsend School of Woodworking, and “Zan keeps saying I need to take a yoga class [at Madrona MindBody],” Claude said. But his early-morning walks, he said, are all the zen he needs.

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