What’s it all about, Alfie?

Posted in Duff 'n Stuff

Duff ’n Stuff, July 24, 2012

Some folks around here have been asking me, “What exactly is the Whidbey Art Source website?”

Well, in a nutshell, it’s a website where anyone interested in the arts and culture on Whidbey Island can go to find out what events are going on that week, read stories about interesting island folks and events, and showcase whatever they do online.

The visual arts members are already set to sign up and go. The creative dragons (my name for the team behind me) are creating the signup  forms for literary, music, theater, dance and culinary artists, so they too can create their member profiles.

One can post what they’re doing most recently and show maybe a little of their work on the page, submit any “Member News” that might be a press release for an event or workshop they are holding, or a recent award, gallery show, performance or wine tasting or restaurant opening  they wish to announce, and have a link to their website or Facebook page. It gives islanders and island visitors a one-stop venue for all things cultural on the island.

There are different degrees of membership, including free, and you can go to www.whidbeyartsource.org to find out what those are. (Please note: the dragons are still building the site, so not everything is completely in place yet, but will be very soon.)

Anyone can subscribe to the email list for free and get the Duff ’n Stuff blog (Tuesdays) and Feature Stories (Thursdays) delivered right to your inbox.

Basically, this nonprofit site hopes to generate revenue from membership sales, ad sales, corporate sponsorships and donations. Without that revenue stream, the site can’t exist and I’ll be out of a job (again), along with the team who built the site. Here are Jan, Sue, me and Kim:

So please, if you like what we’re doing and want me to continue writing and blogging about this island and its tasty brew of arts and culture, please become a member, buy an ad or donate to the site. Thanks very much for that.

On to the stories…

On Whidbey, if you spit you’ll hit an artist

I can’t turn around without somebody telling me there’s something or somebody I just have to write about. I’m trying to keep up here; so let’s see if I can fit in every artistic encounter I’ve had in just the last couple of weeks. (Next I’ll tell you about my weekend at Loganberry Festival.)

Two Sundays ago, I was invited to an open house at the studio of metal artists Jean Whitesavage and Nick Lyle near Mutiny Bay. In their great big art shop by the Bay, the artists had invited onlookers to see the series of nine panels that was being shipped off that week to be installed as a 36-foot long “Rhododendron” fence at the Data Center in Olympia, Wash.

Here are the panels on the floor of the studio, while visitors mill around them:

That’s Whitesavage (in green) telling an interested visitor about the process of building the fence panels. Here’s another angle of the piece with its beautiful metal leaf work:

Sometimes collaborating, sometimes working independently, Whitesavage and Lyle came to the island about six years ago from Ballard and built their “dream studio,” where they design and fabricate artworks in hand-forged steel, as well as a variety of other media.

Here Whitesavage talks about the process of creating the drawings and cut outs for the individual leaves of the project, and how they are painstakingly fused or welded to the larger panels:

Whitesavage and Lyle  incorporate traditional blacksmithing methods with modern steel fabrication techniques to create their sculptures.  Nick and Jean’s public artwork is always designed for a specific site. They often design work that is integrated directly into functional elements of a public space.

They have completed more than 25 public art commissions and countless private projects all around the country. You can see some of them here: Cool public art by Whitesavage and Lyle.

For several recent commissions they have returned to their roots as painters, creating works in stained glass, porcelain enamel and hand painted steel.

The Rhododendron Fence will be painted a green color, like the color of lichen, Whitesavage said, so that it blends into the environment.

Here’s an example of one of their garden gates:

Not surprising, were the many other local artists I ran into that day, who were also there  to admire the Rhododendron project.

First was painter Pete Jordan, who told me he was slightly dumbfounded that his 13-year-old violinist daughter came home from music camp recently with plenty of  beat-boxing skills.

I also ran into Buffy Cribbs and Bruce Morrow, each currently featured at Brackenwood Gallery in Langley (which I mentioned in a previous blog about Choochokam Arts) , and who were giving me the latest update on their artist daughter  Briony Morrow Cribbs, a unique and exceptional etcher and illustrator, now living and teaching in Wisconsin.

I also ran into my friend Maureen Freehill; check out her engaging blog on being a butoh artist and the founder of the MomoButoh Dance Company. Freehill also engages the island with SOMA, the Sanctuary of Moving Arts. Here’s Momo dancing with the earth:

I also had the pleasure to see Fine Gelfand, a local textile and surface design artist who never ceases to amaze with all manner of earthy, nature-inspired designs. Here is one of her spectacular hanging designs:

I ran into another inimitable Cribbs family member, Robbie, the multi-media artist and owner of Sound Trap Studios in Freeland.

Robbie was there with his son Liam and wife Marni, who, I discovered is a long distance swimmer. Marni recently swam between the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and, was it another bridge or Alcatraz? I need to find out more about that whole long distance swimming thing and the local fish who do it. I’ll get back to that later.

I also ran into Christopher Dennis, a painter on the island who owns Island Framery, a custom frame shop in the Bayview Cash Store with his wife, also an artist,  Joy Dennis.

As I said, you can spit and hit an artist around here. Luckily, I don’t spit in public.

From the heart,

Patricia Duff




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