PORT ORCHARD — Three South Kitsap artists — Roy Carr, Sherry Beck and Jane Krause — haven’t allowed the COVID-19 pandemic to put a crimp in their artistic pursuits over the past year during a time when much of society shut down and hid behind closed doors.
Carr, Beck and Krause used their time in near-solitude to continue creating art at home. For Carr, it included forays into imagined landscapes envisioned through the medium of oil paints. Beck practiced her Plein airbrushing and Krause produced paintings of jellyfish on glass.
But while a pandemic can’t stop art from being created, the coronavirus left a glancing blow to the organization the three artists have belonged to for many decades — the South Kitsap Art Association. For the approximately 20 members who belonged to the group before COVID overwhelmed the landscape, it meant a cessation to their monthly meetings at the Sidney Art Gallery and the regular artform demonstrations given by art experts.
And perhaps most importantly, it has meant a halt to one-on-one discussions and constructive critiques that are essential for budding artists to grow their craft.
Carr put it more bluntly, however.
“COVID has knocked the crap out of our membership,” Carr, who heads up the organization, said of the pandemic’s impact on South Kitsap Art Association’s mission: to encourage budding artists to improve their artistic skills through mentorship and association.
“Before COVID, there were over 20 members in the group,” Carr said. “Some members since then have died; others have moved out of the area. We’re now at a point where we have between 10 and 15 members.
“We’re trying to reorganize and re-influence the art community here, and encourage them to come on over and help the [Sidney Art] Gallery.”
Carr said he is hopeful current members will be able to encourage newcomers to attend the organization’s first meeting in a post-COVID setting, at 7 p.m. on the fourth Monday of this month — June 28. At that meeting, Carr said he will demonstrate the art of paper sculpture. And, he hopes, to regenerate that person-to-person communication and encouragement.
A former California resident who relocated to Port Orchard in 1978, Carr joined the group a few months after arriving in the Pacific Northwest.
Art skills aren’t required to join
Carr said there are no prerequisites required to join South Kitsap Art Association. “We don’t screen anybody,” he said. “We accept anyone at any skill level who comes in the door. That’s why we do the art demonstrations — to help them improve their art. And it’s kind of fun to watch that develop over the years.”
Beck, who once taught at elementary schools in the Bremerton area, said when she joined the group many years ago, she was just a beginner.
“It was a good way for me to get to know other artists in the area and to take classes,” Beck said.
Krause said she first joined “many years ago, I can’t remember just when.” But she does remember meeting renowned watercolor artist Amy Burnett of Bremerton at a meeting held at South Kitsap High School.
“I also remember working with an artist named Toni Nelson. She was great. Painting with Toni was wonderful.”
While members are prompted to seek out critiques and get tips from more advanced artists, Carr and the two members agreed that the organization’s primary “secret sauce” in improving skill levels is the encouragement that’s shared all around the room.
“Well, they really inspire each other,” he said. “Your level of art skill can plateau over time, but then at a certain point, you suddenly figure out, ‘Hey, I can do this!’ And encouragement from others can bring that on. I was at a point once where I figured that two of the 10 paintings I’d done were ok. Now, I figure about 80% of what I do, I’m satisfied with.”
SKAA annual judged show
South Kitsap Artists Association will host its annual judged show at the Sidney Art Gallery starting Sept. 1, which will run during September and October. Members will be encouraged to enter their artwork, which might include watercolor and oil paintings, beadwork, sculpture or photography.
Carr said he especially encourages young people to join the organization, whether they’re into traditional forms of art or not.
“I find that kids are not interested so much in fine art as they are in computer art,” he said. Carr said the group has offered scholarships to promising art students. A scholarship of up to $1,200 has been awarded to a graduating high school art student in the past, he said.
The initial SKAA membership fee for new members is $10. Active members pay a yearly fee of $25. For more information about joining, email Cindi Schaum at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, as Carr said, just show up for the June 28 meeting at the Sidney Art Gallery, 202 Sidney Ave. in Port Orchard.