Galleries display night skies, landscapes, ceramics

PORT TOWNSEND — Two galleries on Water Street in Port Townsend are showing artwork that is as different as night and day.

Sally Pfaff is exhibiting acrylic landscapes at Port Townsend Gallery while KarenLee Eaton is displaying at Gallery 9 her new night sky images, including shots of the Northern Lights, which were all taken here on the North Olympic Peninsula.

The artists are featured for August. Both galleries also are highlighting ceramic artists this month. Both Mike Middlestead, whose work can be seen at Gallery 9, and Barbra Ewing, featured at Port Townsend Gallery, create functional art pieces.

The Port Townsend Gallery, 715 Water St., is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day as well as by appointment.

Gallery 9, home of the North Olympic Artist Cooperative at 1012 Water St., is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. six days a week. It is closed on Tuesdays. Masks are optional.

Eaton, who was born and raised in Port Townsend, credits her 17-year-old toy poodle, Robin, for waking her up in the middle of the night last October to see the Northern Lights, which were dancing wildly across the sky and above Mount Baker.

“Robin is nearly blind, but he somehow knew the lights were dancing, and he wasn’t going to let me miss it,” she said in a press release.

She also is showing black-and-white photos with sepia toning of Fort Worden.

“I am excited to be returning to black-and-white work, as it was a style I shot a lot when I was still using film,” she said.

Eaton has shot photographs since she was 7, when she came upon her dad’s old 35mm Pentax SLR, and implored him to teach her how to use it. After many years of photographing with film, she switched to digital images. In 2017, she completed the University of Washington’s Certificate in Photography program.

Pfaff paints acrylic landscape stories that are inspired by her outdoor adventures, she said.

“I work with the paint, at times letting it guide me,” she said.

The first layers are intentionally spontaneous and can reveal an interesting subject while subsequent layers of color and shapes are added depending on the need for value or form, Pfaff said.

Water is often a central theme in her work. This past year, she has made larger semi-abstract landscapes that explore water in different forms as it interacts with the landscape.

Ewing has worked in ceramics for 35 years. Her appetizer dishes, platters, bud and standard vases, bottles, sconces and occasional lamps are made from a variety of mid-range regionally produced clay and glazes.

The various colored clay bodies are often glazed with bright colors, and each piece is enhanced by the impressions of stamps, stencils and found objects as well small additions of clay buttons and strips of clay.

In recent years, Ewing has worked exclusively with clay slabs. Clay treated this way has a memory for mistakes, “so that she ultimately decided that it is the process of making something versus the desire to make it perfectly that motivates her,” organizers said.

“Heat is the miracle that makes it all a success or failure,” she said. “It can be a joy or sorrow when opening the kiln to view what it has taken you weeks to produce. Fortunately, I am blessed with more successes than failures after all this time.”

Middlestead spent 25 years in the Coast Guard before discovering clay during an introduction to art class at Peninsula College.

He said he is inspired by the outdoors and people connecting with art.

He makes functional ware, such as bowls, mugs and oil decanters, as well as vases and sculptures, often finished with Raku firing.

“I became a ceramic artist because of the feel of the clay,” he said.

“I have a visceral response to the sheer tactile nature of working with clay,” he added. “I love the feel of it in my hands and being able to create something amazing. Once I found clay, there was no turning back.”

For more about Gallery 9, see

For more about Port Townsend Gallery, phone 360-379-8110 or see

Functional ceramics, like this plate, created by Barbara Ewing are exhibited at Port Townsend Gallery.

The Northern Lights are highlighted in photographs by KarenLee Eaton at Gallery 9.

The Northern Lights are highlighted in photographs by KarenLee Eaton at Gallery 9.

Mike Middlestead’s ceramic arts are on view at Gallery 9.

Mike Middlestead’s ceramic arts are on view at Gallery 9.

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