Pacific Traditions Gallery: Native Artwork from Coastal First Peoples
You will find a fair number art galleries and craft stores in Port Townsend, and at least three of these include "Native" artwork, but this is the place to find true local traditional art work made by coastal "First Nations" tribes of the Pacific Northwest coast.
The gallery originally started in 1992 in the lobby of the %[http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/tp/206191/]Waterstreet Hotel, and was owned and operated by the Jamestown S'Klallam tribe. By 2000, the gallery manager had proven herself so adept at operating the gallery that the tribe gifted the entire store and its operation to her. Today, the gallery also serves as the main lobby of the hotel.
The store must meet certain standards when it comes to being described as a gallery with "Native American" art works. This includes labels on each piece describing the tribal history of each person, and making note if the artist is in fact not a Native American, but is in fact working in ways inspired by Native traditions.
One-half of a block away, you will find another gallery with quite an extensive collection of artwork inspired by "Native" culture, but a rather significant portion of their material is actually made in Alaska.
The gallery owner told me that she has seen all manner of fakes come in to her gallery - including items carved in the Philippines in a Native American style and a manufactured substance that is made to be a reasonably good imitation of deer antler. She has a long enough history with working with local tribes and their artwork to be able to identify what is and isn't fake, and apparently there is a lot of fake material out there.
So, if someone else offers you a deal that seems to be too good to be true, chances are it is.
What to buy: Artwork here is difficult to describe in words, as the objects here are not of European descended American culture. However, the objects are of significance to the traditions of the tribes from which they come, which now includes tribes from a number of areas along the Pacific Northwest coast.
The artwork may not necessarily be entirely from Native artisans, but in some cases is made by artists working in traditional materials and methods.
There are some items that are just simply artwork (sculpture and wall hangings), useful items decorated with a Native American style (bird houses, refrigerator magnets, boat paddles, pens), or ceramic vases, or musical instruments, rubber stamps, and great gobs of other items that really defy explanation.
What to pay: How much do you have? Items here can be fairly expensive, as they are unique works of art in a fairly one of a kind form.
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Port Townsend Farmer's Market: get the local vibe
The Port Townsend Farmer's Market is a great place to get the vibe of the colorful local community if you are there on a Saturday morning. Though comparatively small, it's an interesting stop not to be missed.
What to buy: It features lots of local produce, local cheeses, a couple of bakeries with breads and pastries, and even some homemade crafts. This is artisan quality stuff so don't expect it to be cheap. But cheese samples were very good and the organic produce was picture-perfect looking too.
This is a great place to grab something small to eat while soaking up the atmosphere. We had some locally baked pastries which were tasty.
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