Island Life

Scenes from the studio



WHAT: Lummi Island Spring Artists’ Studio Tour
WHEN: 10am-5pm May 25-26
WHERE: Throughout Lummi Island
COST: The self-guided tour is free

WHAT: San Juan Island Artists’ Studio Tour
WHEN: 10am-5pm June 1-2
WHERE: Throughout San Juan Island
COST: The self-guided tour is free

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

When I moved to Whatcom County more than 20 years ago, I spent the first year of my residency at my family’s longtime cabin on Lummi Island. It was the only time in my life I’d ever lived alone, and I soon learned that being surrounded by natural beauty 24 hours a day took some of the sting out of the fact I’d left behind a whole lot of people I loved when I relocated from Idaho to Washington.

I’d wanted a change, but it was initially difficult to adjust from having a full-time job and a live-in boyfriend and roommates to a new reality that included entire days when the only living being I conversed with was the sweet white cat I’d shuttled with me from Boise. 

I eventually made a few new friends and was hired as a waitress at the Beach Store Cafe, but attending events such as the Lummi Island Artists’ Studio Tour were what helped me realize some of the things that had drawn me to the scenic slice of land—being surrounded by bodies of water, views of distant mountains and islands, and the fact that everybody who’s walking on the road waves to everybody who’s in a car (and vice-versa)—were probably what had initially drawn many other people, too.

These events also brought home the fact that creativity was in full force for those who’d chosen to reside in a place where they had to catch a ferry to leave home. And as an added bonus to being able to witness the works of the painters, sculptors, photographers, weavers and other artists, the tours also provided visitors with a chance to check out where the artists’ inspiration came to fruition.

Decades later, the scenes from the studios remain a big draw when the thrice-yearly tours roll around. For those who like to mix spectacular views with great art—one often influenced by the other—they’re a perfect way to explore a new place or see what’s changed since the last tour.

At the spring event taking place May 25-26 at a couple dozen locales throughout the island, more than 40 artists will make time to share their creative wares and talk about why they do what they do.

A couple of blocks down the road from my family’s place on Seacrest Drive, Wayne H. Chaudiere will reveal the softer side of steel at his waterfront sculpture park. Nearby, Joanie Roteman’s Treehouse Pottery will feature functional hand-thrown stoneware, and Lynn Dee Studios will offer up Raku-fired vases and sculptures (plus demos).

But that’s just the beginning of this particular artistic journey. Creekside Art Studio will feature handcrafted works by Debbie Pawlak combining nature, color and intricate designs through glass mosaics and mandala paintings. Photographer Ed Lowe will show off unique views of Lummi Island and a fisherman’s view of reefnet fishing at the Heritage Trust Resource Center.

Sculptor Ann Morris will also open up her acreage for self-guided tours, and the mythic sculptures surrounded by nature’s bounty should not be missed. Heirloom furniture, kiln-formed glassware, printmaking, quilted works, an all-bird show, Native American wood carvings, jewelry created with agates and beach glass, additional Lummi Island-focused photography, oil and abstract paintings, stoneware sinks and tiles, collage and more can also be found on the map.

The following weekend, the 28th annual San Juan Island Artists’ Studio Tour will fill Friday Harbor and the rest of the island with fine art. Organizers say this will be the “largest, most exciting and fun-filled island event yet,” with more than 50 artists showing at 22 studios.

Much like the happenings on Lummi Island, hidden drives and private studios will unearth pieces by many artists who are thrilled to be living remotely, and whose work is often influenced by the place they committed to inhabiting—whether they’re living alone with a cat or need to head to the studio to get some time to themselves.

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Upper Skagit Library Photo Contest


Lummi Island Artists' Studio Tour

10:00am|Lummi Island

Paper Voodoo Workshop

10:00am|Blaine Harbor Center

Ski to Sea Seconds Sale

10:00am|Good Earth Pottery

Bellingham Handmade Market

11:00am|Goods Nursery and Produce

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Upper Skagit Library Photo Contest


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Upper Skagit Library Photo Contest


Artist Workshop

6:00pm|Bellingham Public Library

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