BY PENNY WEBB
Whidbey Life Magazine contributor
March 4, 2014
The 12th annual spring edition of Whidbey Working Artists Studio Tour lets tour-goers spend time this weekend with artists in their studios, seeing firsthand what goes into making their art.
Coinciding with Musselfest in Coupeville, the Tour highlights 25 artists in 17 different venues.
The free tour was established 12 years ago by a group of artists who felt the central and north end of the island was being under-represented in the arts community. Over the years, the tour has grown and there are now two tours each year—one in spring—to coincide with Musselfest—and the other in summer, on the same weekend as the Oak Harbor Music Festival.
“About half of the folks who come to the art tour are from off-island,” said, Kay Parsons, this year’s tour coordinator. “And, of those, a surprising number are from Canada!”
Planning the tour to coincide with two of the upper island’s big events creates a real weekend getaway opportunity. “It just made good sense for us to buddy up with Musselfest and the Music Fest and promote our events together,” Parsons said.
A group of about seven artists make up the core group behind the Tour. “We are a club that supports and appreciates each other’s work,” Parsons said. “This year we have a couple of new artists that we’re really excited about.”
One of the new additions is Janet C. Lewis, a luthier, who creates beautiful, one of a kind wooden instruments with inlays inspired from nature. Kim Tinuviel, who works with both encaustic paper and hand-hewn metal to create gorgeous working lamps, will be showing her work at Lewis’ studio also.
Two other artists, who use encaustic techniques, are Kathleen Otley and Anne Smidt. Both incorporate subjects from nature in their compositions. Otley also creates large woven willow sculptures.
Jim Short calls himself a rescuer of wood. He finds interesting pieces of wood headed for the landfill or the fireplace and turns them into beautiful works of art. Another artist working with wood, Rob Hetler, makes fine wood furniture and exquisite treasure boxes. Gary A. Leake specializes in one-of-a-kind wooden furniture, custom orders, and restorations.
The Pacific Northwest Art School, in downtown Coupeville, serves as a central hub for the tour and is showcasing five artists. On display will be Patty Picco, who works in mixed media; Carol Ann Bauer, pottery; Kay Parsons, watercolors and the mother/daughter team of Mary Ellen O’Connor, who works primarily in silver and etched glass and Linnane Armstrong, woodcut prints.
Stretching from Freeland (Island Art Glass) to Oak Harbor (Dan Ishler, hand thrown pottery), the tour winds through scenic Whidbey Island landscapes that inspire so many artists. Luckily, the tour lasts three days, giving everyone an opportunity to visit with artists at all 17 locations.
Tour hours are 10-5 Friday through Sunday. Brochures, with a map, are available at Ishler Studio, 30678 State Route 20 (just south of Oak Harbor) or at Pacific Northwest Art School, 15 NW Birch Street, in Coupeville. For a downloadable version visit WhidbeyWorkingArtists.
While you’re out visiting studios, stop in at the Penn Cove Musselfest, happening in Coupeville this weekend. For more information on the event and the famous Penn Cove Mussels see this WLM photo essay “Muscle you way into Coupeville for some fine Penn Cove Shellfish Mussels.”
Penny Webb is a writer, musician, gardener and mom. She is currently writing feverishly on her memoir and loving two hormonal teenagers.
(Photo at the top: Pottery by Dan Ishler, this photo and others are courtesy of Whidbey Working Artists)
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