PORT ANGELES — It began as a slow burn, then sped up this week: Irish-American artist Katherine Shaughnessy of Boise, after visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, envisioned a lighted flame sculpture. She built it, put it in her pickup truck and drove it to the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center, where city workers lifted it onto the roof.
The sculpture, “Tempest-tost,” isn’t huge — just 5 feet tall and 4 feet wide — but it is bright. It’s also infused with the artist’s hopes, not only for literally lighting the dark, but also for keeping the flame of welcome burning.
“Tempest-tost’s” title comes from the Statue of Liberty’s Emma Lazarus poem, “The New Colossus:”
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free … send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
“I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Placing this sculpture, made of copper screen and pipe Shaughnessy hammered into shape, is “like setting out a lantern,” she said.
Perched atop the roof of the PAFAC at 1203 E. Lauridsen Blvd., it’ll be visible after dark from the city below.
Shaughnessy, whose great-grandparents came to New York Harbor from Ireland, is grateful for the chance to shine some light out here on the other side of the country from Lady Liberty.
The message, the artist believes, is still something to which we can aspire.
Part of the center’s Wintertide series of activities, “Tempest-tost” will be joined by three more lighted artworks placed in the center’s Webster’s Woods Sculpture Park.
They’re being installed just in time for two open gatherings Saturday.
First will be the members’ cocktail hour from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., when guests who aren’t yet members can sign up at the door. Wintertide artists will be on hand and PAFAC staffers Jessica Elliott, Sarah Jane and Lauren Bailey will highlight the center’s 2020 program calendar.
Then comes the public reception from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., with the staffers guiding a tour of the newly installed lighted artworks starting at 5:15.
Contributing to this light art installation — staying on display through Jan. 10 — are Port Townsend artist Adrianna Santiago, whose work is titled “Heart Is Home;” Port Angeles artist and Peninsula College professor Michael Mills, whose glowing tower of light is inspired by his children’s Duplo blocks and by abstract painter Piet Mondrian; and Lance Snider, who created a three-dimensional fiber optic work that shifts depending on the viewer’s position beside it.
“This piece highlights how people can have very different experiences of the same thing, since our perspectives vary,” said Jane, the center’s Gallery and Program Director.
As the winter solstice nears, the center will continue its Wintertide activities, including a luminaria-making workshop from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. this coming Thursday. This drop-in crafting session is open to ages 5 and up — including adults — with supplies provided and a $5-per-luminaria fee.
On the night of the solstice, Dec. 21, the public is invited to have warm drinks and make glow-in-the-dark solstice crowns starting at 6 p.m.
At 8 p.m., guests can walk to the Webster’s Woods meadow together for a brief reading, a few moments of quiet and, at the moment of solstice at 8:19, help light a fire atop Mark Fessler’s “Nest Sacrifice” sculpture.
The following day brings the last chance to visit the Holiday Makers’ Market inside the center.
This event, showcasing nearly two dozen local artists’ and writers’ creations, is open each Thursday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Dec. 22 — and will stay open till 7 p.m. during the events this Saturday and on Dec. 21.
“We are so excited about Wintertide and developing our outdoor light installation projects,” said Elliott, the center’s executive director. She added that the public can expect Wintertide to continue developing into the coming year.
For more about Wintertide and other activities, visit PAFAC.org or call 360-457-3532.