BY PENNY WEBB
Whidbey Life Magazine Contributor
March 4, 2015
Like Alice down the rabbit hole—or Dr. Who opening the door to the Tardis—this reporter opened the long-ignored door to the Whidbey Art Gallery on Second Street in Langley today to find another world.
“It’s huge!” were the first words I uttered as I entered the gallery. Through two doorways I saw that the room I thought to be the summation of the space was only the beginning. Room after room extended into the rear of the building, chock full of art from Whidbey’s finest.
“I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never been in here before,” I sheepishly confessed. My tour guide, Linda Schwarz, artist and curator of guest artists, was unfazed. “We are a bit of a hidden treasure.”
The Whidbey Art Gallery is a member-owned and operated gallery that has been around for 22 years. It’s been in several locations in Langley and obtained its current space four years ago. Two years ago the Clock Shop and Gift Shop in the building downsized and consolidated to allow for more gallery space.
Membership now stands at 39 artists, both working and consignment. Members are chosen through a juried selection process, and working members take turns staffing the gallery and rotating their work throughout the different rooms. The front room features a guest artist as well as two or three featured members.
This month’s guest artist, Gina Williams, comes to the gallery via Whidbey Life Magazine. “I had read Gina’s winning entry in the Whidbey Writes contest in Whidbey Life,” Schwarz explained. “I loved her writing and saw that she had a website so I clicked…and found she was a visual artist! I contacted her and she was thrilled to have a chance to show her work on the island where she grew up.”
Williams lives in Portland currently, but she was born in Oak Harbor and her family has lived on or owned property on Whidbey since the 1930’s.
“I have the fondest memories growing up there,” Williams said. “The island…it’s in you. I get a whiff of the air on the ferry and it’s like coming home.”
Williams comes home to Whidbey this Saturday, March 7, and will be at the gallery from 5-7 p.m. for Langley’s monthly art walk. Drawing on her love of the outdoors and her experience as a landscape photographer, Williams’ pieces play with texture and images in digital collage and mixed media. She will also display her poetry.
“I have been writing creatively for the last 10 years,” Williams said. “This will be the first time I have shown my writing and my visual art in the same venue.”
Whidbey Art Gallery shows artists working in all mediums. Oils, watercolors, photography, encaustic, pottery, jewelry, printmaking and ceramics are on display, as well as a wonderful card selection
“We have a balanced variety of mediums,” Schwarz explained. “Some members have been around from the beginning and it’s been wonderful to watch their work grow and change as our community of artists has grown.
“It’s not just about the art,” she continued. “It’s about the connections. The artists connect with each other and the people coming through the gallery and the work reflects that. We get a chance to learn from each other’s processes and cheer each other on as we try something new.”
Each piece has a story. And, since this group of artists is not only colleagues but friends, a visitor to the gallery will get the backstory along with the beauty.
“We’re in this together,” Schwarz said. “We’re a community. We bring our different skills to the group. And, of course, getting a lot of creative types together can be interesting,” she smiles. “But, we’re here for each other.”
Whidbey Art Gallery is located at 220 Second St. in Langley. It’s open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and participates each month in the “Langley First Saturday Artwalks” from 5 to 7 p.m. The gallery can be reached by phone at 360-221-7675 or online at www.whidbeyartists.com.
Find out more about the Whidbey Writes.
Gina Williams’ website can be found at www.ginamariewilliams.com.
Penny Webb is a writer, singer, songwriter, mother, and gardener. She is currently looking for her next adventure.
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