Racy Port Townsend mural changes hands
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Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News
Bill Tennent, director of the Jefferson County Historical Society, holds up the mural bought by Kris Nelson, owner of Sirens Pub in Port Townsend.

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

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PORT TOWNSEND — A racy mural that was displayed in a Port Townsend bar for more than 20 years before the tavern closed will stay in Port Townsend, but it won't be appearing in public anytime soon.

The untitled painting, measuring 6 feet by 13 feet in its frame, features a reclining nude woman surrounded by demons and was bought by restaurateur and Port Townsend Deputy Mayor Kris Nelson from Stephanie Fairlee, who had owned the painting since 2003.

Nelson plans to keep the painting — which hung in the Town Tavern, later called the Water Street Brewery, until 2010 — in storage at the Jefferson County Historical Society for the time being.

“It is an iconic painting and represents Port Townsend,” Nelson said Thursday.

“It has a lot of history, and I thought it should stay here.”

Nelson owns two restaurants, the Alchemy Bistro and Sirens Pub, but she won't hang the painting, which she purchased Nov. 1, in either one.

“I could fit it in Sirens if I moved some furniture around,” she said.

“I don't want to do that, so I'll wait until I have bought or created a special place where it will fit perfectly.”

The mural was the backdrop of a bar scene in the 1982 blockbuster romance film “An Officer and a Gentleman,” starring Richard Gere and Debra Winger.

It was painted in the early 1970s by Canadian artist Terrance Merx.

Merx, who lived in an apartment above the Town Tavern, painted the picture in exchange for rent, according to local lore, and it hung there until the place, which by then had morphed into the Water Street Brewery, closed.

The painting was moved into the storeroom at the Jefferson County Historical Society.
Fairlee, who had owned the painting since 2003, contacted Bill Tennent, historical society executive director, and told him she wanted to sell it.

As soon as word got out about the sale, Nelson stepped forward and made an offer.

She declined to disclose a purchase price.

“It's a great piece,” she said.

“Someday, I will give it the home that it deserves.”

Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at charlie.bermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: November 09. 2012 12:55AM
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