Guide to the Art Community In and Around Port Ludlow

Art can bring people in any community together, and it can also provide a greater sense of place and attachment to a town. A survey of some 43,000 people in 43 cities across the nation discovered that two of the most important factors in choosing a new community in which to live, were its art and green spaces. Living in an art-minded community also helps artists of all types to learn from each other and create more.

Creating brings many physical and health benefits, whether it’s drawing, painting, writing, singing, dancing, photography or something else. In 2010, the American Journal of Public Health published a review titled, The Connection Between Art, Healing, and Public Health. In it, researchers revealed the results after analyzing over 100 studies about the impact of art on health, and the ability to heal oneself. They discovered that art can help distract from thoughts about illness, improve well-being by exchanging negative emotions for positive ones, reduce depression, stress and anxiety, and improve one’s self esteem and social networks.

Of course, you don’t have to have a particular talent to benefit from art – simply enjoying the works of others provides benefits too. A 2012 study from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, used data from the study which showed that visiting art galleries and attending other cultural activities were linked to better health, satisfaction with life, lower anxiety and depression levels in both men and women. In fact, 84 percent of the 50,000 individuals who participated in these types of activities reported good health, and 91 percent of them reported high satisfaction in their lives.

When a person views a work of art as beautiful, it causes them to experience joy that’s similar to falling in love, according to University of London neurobiologist Professor Semir Zeki. After scanning the brains of volunteers who viewed 28 different works, Zeki found that when they looked at a piece they considered to be beautiful, it triggered an immediate release of dopamine into the brain – the same thing that occurs when one is falling in love. Dopamine is often referred to as a “feel good” hormone, as the compound is linked to pleasure, desire and feelings of love.

The good news for Port Ludlow residents, as well as those who are thinking of moving to the area, is that arts enthusiasts will find that there are a number of avenues to enjoy it right in town, without having to leave. Of course, there are a wealth of options throughout Jefferson and Kitsap County too, within just a short drive away.

Port Ludlow Arts

Port Ludlow Art League. The Artist's League storefront showcases works by many local Port Ludlow artists who work with acrylics, oils, watercolors, and pen and ink. There are frequently opportunities to meet the artists and view their work, such as the Port Ludlow Artists’ League Gallery “Second Wednesday” reception. It’s a fabulous opportunity for mingling with the artists and others in the community as well as getting inspired to be creative yourself.

If you’ve got the creativity bug, everyone from would-be artists to the most experienced are welcome to join the Artist’s League. Artists of all types participate, including photographers, quilters, jewelry makers, pottery makers and more. Monthly meetings feature educational demonstrations by established and well-known artists where you can learn more about their process and techniques, while being able to mingle with creative artists throughout the community.

You can find out more by visiting portludlowart.org, and sign up to subscribe to notices of new exhibits, monthly artist’s reception and special events here.

A number of local merchants often display local works you can check out too. The Inn at Port Ludlow, for example, is currently exhibiting “Painting the Northwest.”

Clubs, groups, workshops, classes and more. There are also multiple clubs and groups that can be joined, as well as workshops and classes that are hosted (most through the Bay Club), including:

  • Hands on Clay – Sculpturing with clay. Workshops and beginner instruction offered and a kiln is available to use.
  • Quilters-by-the-Bay – An annual community project welcoming everyone from beginners to experts.
  • Woodworkers – A variety of individual and group wood-working projects, some for charity.
  • Ludlow Village Players – Performances in theater presentations.
  • Reader’s Theater – Play readings, including taking parts of listening to others.
  • Stamp and Paper Arts Group – A rubber stamping group that also utilizes decorative papers, photographs and other materials.
  • Scrapbooking – A group for those who like scrapbooking to come together.

Port Ludlow Performing Arts (PLPA). This organization is managed by a volunteer Board of Directors. It’s dedicated to bringing a wide range of performing arts events to the Bay Club and is open to all area residents. It hosts six concerts each season, between September and April. In June each year, Sounds of Summer” is typically a special dinner concert. The community is encouraged to participate and/or volunteer to help with events. The PLPA also encourages performing arts and arts appreciation in local schools, provides music scholarships; helps with equipment purchases, instrumental rentals, acquisition and repairs. The organization sometimes arranges for performers that appear in its series to provide entertainment for schools and local senior facilities.

Jefferson County

Within a 30-minute drive of Port Ludlow, you’ll find multiple arts offerings as well, with the majority of offerings located in the Jefferson County’s largest city, Port Townsend. There are a wealth of diverse, local art galleries, arts organizations, art walks, drama and theater, art schools, classes and workshops, and much more.

Marrowstone Island. Make a stop on the way to Port Townsend to visit the island’s art gallery and a local artist. The Little Island Gallery offers a variety of art and crafts for sale, in a wide range of mediums. Local artist Branan Ward specializes in tall ships of the early 20th-centuy, murals, and portraits of pets and people. He has a studio on Griffith Point Road and welcomes visitors. Marrowstone Vineyards also hosts a small art gallery.

Port Townsend. Port Townsend is home to a host of art galleries, many of which are on or near Water Street right downtown.

Here’s a look at some of the offerings:

Daily Bird PotteryPottery inspired from natural elements, including cookware, tableware, serving ware and sculptures.

Port Townsend Gallery – A fine arts cooperative gallery that features some of the area’s best artists.

Forest Gems Gallery – offering a collection of fine burlwood sculptures, furniture, home decor and objets d’art.

Northwind Arts Center – A nonprofit volunteer organization which promotes the arts in the Northwest by sponsoring educational programs, lectures, readings, and workshops, and by providing juried and invitational venues for displaying the work of regional artists, both visual and literary.

Earthenworks Gallery – Voted one of the Top 10 retailers for American craft and one of the best sources in the region for fine art and crafts.

Pacific Traditions – Original works of art from The First People of the North American Coastal Tribes, such as the Coast Salish, Haida, Nuu-chah-nulth, Tlingit, and Cowichan.

Simon Mace Gallery - A white wall gallery that showcases some of the Northwest’s best established and emerging artists, highlighting contemporary art in traditional forms like sculpture and paintings.

Wynwoods Gallery and Bead Studio – A bead gallery and full service bead store.

Gallery-9 – An art gallery collection that features an eclectic mix of artists.

First Saturday Gallery Walks. On the first Saturday of every month, from 5:30 to 8 p.m., you can enjoy locals and visitors in exploring the works of local artists through the historic downtown Port Townsend area. Most of the galleries offer complementary appetizers and beverages, and just about every type of art medium is represented.

Centrum. Centrum, located in Fort Worden State Park, offers a place for artists and other creative thinkers from across the globe to gather via a variety of programs and workshops offered throughout the year. Subjects include visual arts, theater, writing, dance and multiple forms of music, all led by master artists from across the region, and the world. Major festivals and public performances are frequently featured as well. If you want to enjoy great live music for free, attend the “Free Fridays” events. The lunchtime concert and reading series is held on the lawn of the Nora Porter Commons, inside the state park. Performances, from fiddle tunes to jazz, blues and more, are hosted between noon and 1 p.m. starting in late June and running through early August.

Theater. There are a number of theater options for those who like to watch and those who like to participate. The Key City Public Theatre is the premier theater in Port Townsend, created for and by the local community. The year-round season includes classics, musicals, contemporary plays, Shakespeare in the Park and more. The Mandala Center for Change offers theater workshops, performances and other creative events focused on creating social change. The city of Chimacum hosts The Paradise Theatre School and Artist Salon, which features experimental and contemporary performance, benefiting rural Jefferson County as well as visitors.

Music. There are a wealth of options for live music too, including many of the local pubs and bars, the Olympic Festival featuring classical at Fort Worden State Park, and Concerts on the Dock, a free summer music series at Pope Marine Park Plaza that runs from mid-July through late-August.

Film. Port Townsend is home to three movie theaters: The historic Rose Theatre, Uptown Theatre and a drive-in, the Wheel-In-Motor Movie Drive-In. The Port Townsend Film Festival is an annual event hosted in mid-September. It includes feature films, documentaries and classics from around the world – keep an eye out for celebrities, this event draws a number of them, including those who star in the films that are featured. More than 90 films are screened in seven venues and it attracts producers, directors, film historians, screenwriters, critics and other industry specialists. Every year a special guest is selected – past guests have included Beau Bridges, Bruce Dern, Debra Winger, Dyan Cannon, Chris Cooper, Elliott Gould and Tony Curtis.

Kitsap County

Port Ludlow residents also have easy access to some of Kitsap County’s best when it comes to the arts, including on Bainbridge Island, in Poulsbo, Port Gamble and Silverdale. The Kitsap County Arts Program is administered by the Kitsap County Arts Board, made up of artists, art enthusiasts and other area residents and is designed to promote and encourage both private and public arts programs. It also hosts a variety of arts-related events throughout the county, like the Kingston Arts Festival, the Poulsbo Arts Festival, Art in the Woods in Poulsbo, the Bainbridge Island Studio Tour.

Bainbridge Island and Silverdale both host regular art walks, with area businesses staying open late and serving as temporary art galleries for local painters, sculptors, photographers, and other artisans. The county as a whole is renowned for its outstanding galleries, like The Front Street Gallery in Poulsbo, the Bainbridge Arts and Crafts Gallery on Bainbridge Island and Silverdale’s Lisa Stirrett Glass Art Gallery.

Bainbridge Island. In addition to being home to a number of acclaimed galleries, Bainbridge Island hosts a wide array of local public works that can be found at City Hall, the Town Square, Waterfront Park and the Aquatic Center. It’s also home to the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, which displays a variety of works with proven cultural value along with new works by emerging artists and craftspeople.

In addition to hosting 260 of the Northwest’s best contemporary artists, the Bainbridge Arts and Crafts Gallery provides art education, including free artist demos and gallery talks, hands-on art workshops, and student art event. It also offers special programs like Art After 60 in which artists visit local retirement centers to encourage seniors to create.

Ovation! Musical Theatre Bainbridge offers education experiences and theater for all ages, producing two mainstage shows every year. It also operates a Performing Arts Academy which hosts classes and features youth show choirs. The Island Theatre is targeted for mature audiences with performances onstage and in other venues meant to challenge performers artistically. Bainbridge Performing Arts hosts a variety of performances, including theater, music, dance, and more, along with an art gallery.

Poulsbo. A number of excellent art galleries can be enjoyed in Poulsbo along Front Street. In addition to the well-known Front Street Gallery, you’ll find Liberty Bay Gallery, The Verksted Gallery and Carrie Goller Gallery. The Cultural Arts Foundation Northwest (CAFNW) hosts the Poulsbo Art Festival on the picturesque downtown Poulsbo waterfront park every third weekend in August. It features photography, ceramics, woodworking, fabric arts, jewelry, metalwork and more, along with art work raffles, demonstrations, live music and dance.

CAFNW hosts Art in the Woods every second weekend in November. This self-guided tour will take you to artist’s studios throughout North Kitsap County where you can observe demonstrations in processes like raku, etching and glass lampwork. Poulsbo also features the popular Viking Fest, which includes plenty of music and dance along with Norwegian/Viking focused events and activities.

Port Gamble. The Port Gamble Theater offers live productions throughout the year and also hosts auditions for those who would like to participate. This small town is also home to the Museum of Shells and Marine Life, which hosts one of the largest shell collections in the country.

Bremerton/Silverdale. Bremerton-Silverdale was named among the nation’s top 10 communities for the arts in 2017 by the National Center for Arts Research (NCAR). The NCAR notes that Bremerton has a “robust Art District with fine art galleries, the Puget Sound Navy Museum, two performing arts venues, and is also home to the Admiral Theatre, Bremerton Community Theatre, Bremerton Symphony, Kitsap Opera, Peninsula Dance Theatre, and West Sound Arts Council. The organization also highlights the city’s One Percent for Art Program ordinance, enacted in 2001, which states that all Kitsap County capital improvement projects must set aside one percent of construction funds to “enhance common public areas or structures either associated with the funding or as a general community improvement from pooled funds.”

Bremerton (about 45 minutes from Port Ludlow) is renowned for having one of the largest and most diverse official fine arts districts in the northwest. It includes multiple fine arts galleries, museums, two performing arts stages and clubs that feature jazz and other live music. An art walk is held the first Friday of every month downtown, from 5 to 8 p.m.

During the summer, free concerts are held at Evergreen Rotary Park, just north of the Arts District.

Silverdale hosts the Central Stage Theatre of County Kitsap, offering performances as well as the chance to participate.