The Harbor Art Guild is opening new doors for Aberdeen High School graduates — with help from local art students, community members and Stafford Creek inmates.
Debbi Jensen, chairwoman of the Adoor Project of the PNW, launched the effort initially to help brighten up downtown Aberdeen. Her goal was to adorn empty shop windows with old doors transformed into functional art by local high school students.
But now, under the Harbor Art Guild’s nonprofit umbrella, that premise has evolved. This year, sales and sponsorships of newly created doors are raising scholarship funds for AHS seniors who are choosing career or technical education (such as forestry or nursing) after graduation.
“It’s totally thrilling to me,” said Jensen. “I’m jazzed!”
Here’s how it works: Earthwise Architectural Salvage in Aberdeen collects and donates old doors to the project. The Harbor Art Guild then works with local artists to refurbish them with unique designs. The finished works are displayed at the Aberdeen Art Center and local businesses.
Over the course of 90 days, patrons of each participating business can take pictures of the door and make donations to the scholarship fund. At the end of that period, each business may choose to purchase its door with the donations raised and keep it there on permanent display. Otherwise, members of the general public may purchase the doors — again, with the money going into the scholarship fund.
Twenty-three doors are included in the project this year: 10 painted by AHS students, two created by inmates and the rest from community members including Aberdeen Art Center owner/operator Douglas Orr. He painted an image of the Aberdeen Sunday Market on a door that has since been purchased by the market’s organizers. Several others painted last year by Aberdeen and Hoquiam art students are part of this year’s fundraiser as well, Jensen said.
Jensen said she got the idea to approach the prison for creative contributions after attending an inmate art show there last year. The results are on display at what she hopes will become their “forever homes.”
The inmate-created door at Mount Olympus Brewing Co. features an imposing three-dimensional red dragon made of recycled materials with yellow eyes that light up. It’s valued at $1,600. The brewery owner plans not only to make it a permanent installation there, but also to create a beer inspired by it, according to Jensen.
The other, now at Earthwise Architectural Salvage, is a steampunk piece adorned with wooden dials and knobs and painted to look like metal. This one, valued at $1,500, incorporates images, words and dates related to the history of Aberdeen and the steampunk culture. They include references to Nirvana, Vincent Van Gogh, Jimi Hendrix and more.
“If you go and google each one, they tell a story,” said Jensen. “It’s an interactive thing.”
She said she has more to come from the prison as well as the local community to keep the project rolling.
“It’s been a journey,” she said. “I cry to see what people create and put their love and heart and soul into. It just blows me away.”