Island Exploration

Seeking out artistic getaways


This coming Memorial Day weekend, Bellingham will be abuzz with celebrations of many sorts—most of them having to do with the inherent insanity that ensues during the annual Ski to Sea race.

Some residents will embrace the busyness of the seven-leg competition and its accompanying parades and parties, while others will long for an escape from the hullabaloo.

For those looking for an alternate way to celebrate the weekend that unofficially kick-starts the summer season, all that’s needed is a conveyance that will get you to the shores of Lummi Island. Although it’s only about 13 miles from downtown Bellingham to the ferry landing at Gooseberry Point, once you’ve boarded the Whatcom Chief and been deposited on the lovely land mass, you’ll find the distance feels much, much longer.

I’ve written about the phenomena before, but something happens once you look across the waters of Hale Passage and realize that unless you swim or get back on the ferry to the mainland, you’re far removed from the real world. You’re on island time now, and you should embrace it.

What this means is that if you’re coming to take in the sights that are part and parcel of the semiannual Lummi Island Artists’ Studio Tour happening May 25-26 throughout the isle, you shouldn’t hold yourself to a rigid schedule.

After picking up a map at the Islander grocery store (which is directly to your left once you exit the ferry line), your instinct may be to start with the first artist and work your way to the end of the list. Resist this urge. I’d suggest perusing the map and begin with what looks the most interesting to you, and go from there. 

If you’ve never strolled Ann Morris’ sculpture garden on Legoe Bay Road, you may want to start there. The large bronze pieces that are part of her “Figuration of the Human Spirit” outdoor exhibit are mythical in nature, and, combined with the waterfront view from the woods in which they’re carefully placed, are both inspirational and interesting.

Maybe you’d prefer to begin with a look at Michael Oppenheimer’s Windy Hill Art open-air sculptures, which are designed to move in concert with the environment. Or perhaps Cheryl Bacchus’ framed photography featuring scenes from Skagit and Whatcom counties—with an emphasis on Lummi Island—will draw you in.

Other choices include, but are not limited to: touring the labyrinth garden and wildlife sanctuary at Tree Frog Farm or viewing Sharon Eva Granger’s black-and-white and color fine art photography; watching Lynn Dee fire her own Raku pottery, and getting in on the action yourself; perusing Art Hohl’s kiln-formed glass art at Vitreous Visions; stopping by Deja View Picture Framing to view local artists’ original images and historic photos from the island; viewing Mary C. Barstow’s quilted wall hangings and various embroidered goods; trying on Ona Robinson-Underwood’s gem- and metal-focused jewelry; strolling the peony gardens at Full Bloom Farm; or hanging out with Basil Atkinson (Blue Earth Signs & Monuments) and Ria Nickerson (Good Thunder Arts).

Whatever lineup you choose, don’t forget that part of the draw of the Lummi Island Artists’ Studio Tour—and the upcoming tours on San Juan Island and Orcas Island—is getting an eyeful of the natural beauty to be found once you get there. It’s island time, and you’re no longer on the clock.

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