Supporting students with the imagination

PORT GAMBLE — Kitsap Arts & Crafts Festival public relations chair Mary Graves hopes people will be able to get around this year’s art festival much easier than in years past due to the slight modifications made to the ever-growing event.

Attendees will also be able to enjoy more art, have easier access to the various elements and take in the views that the old mill town has to offer.

The festival will be larger this year, primarily because of the increase in the number of vendors, Graves said. It’s also obvious by how the juried artwork is quickly filling the Walker Ames House and Masonic Hall to the brim.

“We used to have a lot of white space around the hangings but that’s not the problem (now),” she said. “We’re still able to stay within the square footage.”

There are close to 200 pieces that will be displayed in the two buildings, which include work from 50 photographers and 12 sculptors. Graves recalls when the group had its first sculpture entry about four years ago and because of it, the committee decided to create a new category for that medium. Since then, it’s grown dramatically.

“It brings a different element to your show,” Graves said. “As show organizer, you’re trying to capture all elements of the art world.”

Last year, 1 percent of the juried art was from out of state, but this year, about 50 percent of the art is from the immediate area, such as Kitsap and Jefferson counties, while the other 50 percent is from within the state.

“That’s really a great thing that we have so many local artists and regional artists,” Graves said, adding that artists seem to be attracted to the Port Gamble event because of the high quality judges who have been chosen for the juried process.

The group is the key element for the show as every artist wants to have well-known jurors say their art is good enough to be put in a show of such high caliber, she noted.

“And it’s been hard work getting to that point,” Graves said. “It’s really a wonderful thing for this organization that we’re put in that classification.”

Ranking aside, the purpose of the event is to raise money for budding artists who are pursuing higher education in the art world. Which, Graves, said, has proven successful. Last year, the event raised more than $23,000 and students continue to reapply for the offered scholarships year after year. Eight students have applied to renew their awards this year.

“It supports our students,” Graves said. “Proceeds we receive, whether they be parking, vendors, all of that are sponsorships, all that feeds into the scholarship program and there is nothing like supporting our youth.”

New non-art changes this year include moving the Poulsbo Noon Lion’s Children’s Corner. It will be located in the side yard of the Walker Ames House and will feature the well-known Puppets Please show and the annual children’s drawing contest. Every year, a winner is chosen and his or her drawing is featured on a poster for the festival the following year. The large blow-up, carnival-like rides will not be present, due to unpopularity in years past. The stage, which will feature local and regional entertainment all three days, will be closer to the tennis courts and there will also be tents for people to sit under while eating.

The annual festival, which is in its 46th year, will take place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. July 29-30 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 31. Parking is $2 but the event is free. Parking proceeds go toward the organization’s scholarship fund.

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