Art's Alive!

Another reason to love La Conner

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

At press time, the powers that be at La Conner’s Skagit County Historical Museum were in a quandary.

They’d recently heard that celebrated Skagit County painter and multimedia artist Joel Brock had passed away over the weekend, and the exhibit of his they had planned to open Nov. 1 suddenly took a backseat to the fact that a supremely creative talent was gone.

Ultimately, the museum decided not to present the full exhibit at this time, and are working on putting together a retrospective of Brock’s paintings, with a tentative plan for a Friday evening reception at the museum (for confirmation, call (360) 466-3365 or go to

Brock’s untimely passing will likely be a subject of many conversations and fond remembrances this weekend, when the town presents the 29th annual Art’s Alive!, a three-day celebration of Northwest art and artists that sees both locals and visitors exploring art at a variety of venues throughout the scenic small town.

“It’s a small community, but we’ve got big dreams”—a comment made by a participating artist on a short video touting the event—might as well be the tagline for the shindig, which aims to highlight both longtime professional artists (such as Jack Gunter, Theodora Jonsson, Steve Klein, Becky Fletcher, Roger Cocke, Kathleen Faulkner, and others) as well as those who are still “emerging” and making names for themselves (Dee Doyle, Mit Harlan, Dassy Shellenberger, Gary Giovane, Lindsay Kohles, and Patti Sayre are on the list).

The aforementioned artists will all be showing their works at Maple Hall starting Nov. 1 and continuing through Nov. 3, but that’s only the tip of the artistic iceberg.

For example, Gallery Cygnus will be highlighting a one-woman show by printmaker and sculptor Jean Behnke through the weekend (and beyond). At the Museum of Northwest Art (MoNA), there will be demos by glass artists, carvers and fiber artists. Earthworks Gallery, Salon Rouge, Caravan Gallery, Wood Merchant and others will also open their doors.

Additionally, groups such as Skagit Artists Together and Art League North will be exhibiting and demonstrating various works at community gathering venues such as the La Conner Civic Garden Club and the La Conner Retirement Inn. And the list goes on (visit the website listed in the info box to see the full roster of events).

Also worth mentioning are demonstrations by Guinness World Record fire walker Trevor McGhee at various times throughout Saturday and again at the end of the long weekend, when art has been perused and those who have bought works to share in their homes or for early Christmas gives have safely stowed away their fine art finds.

While there’s no doubt the weekend-long event would be even richer if Joel Brock were there to share his art at the Skagit County Historical Museum, Art’s Alive! is the perfect time to pay your respects to a Skagit Valley artist who took in the beauty of his surroundings and translated them into his own unique visions. Raise your glasses to him, and take a moment to realize how blessed we all are to live in a corner of the world that inspires so many.

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