Tour Talk

Go virtual on Lummi Island

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

On a typical Memorial Day weekend, a drive or bicycle ride around the eight-mile land mass of Lummi Island might reveal stunning views of Mt. Baker and Orcas Island, bald eagles perched regally atop tall trees, and colorful balloons placed by the roadside that signal stops on the Artists’ Studio Tour.

Three times a year, the event highlights a number of the creative humans who call the island their home by opening up their studios or galleries to the public for perusal. The late-May tour signals the beginning of the summer season, supports local artists, and acts as a welcome to would-be visitors.

But with travel to and from the isle temporarily restricted to those who need to make essential trips, the happening that would’ve taken place May 23-24 has been put on hold. Instead, like many other events that have been tweaked due to health risks associated with the novel coronavirus, the Lummi Island Artists’ Studio Tour is going virtual.

Since early May, organizer and painter Ria Harboe has been highlighting on the group’s Facebook page various artists who would’ve been participating in the regular tour with the hopes that the posts will draw attention to their work—and perhaps help them sell some of their creations. 

Scrolling through the lineup, one will find marvelous landscape-focused watercolors by Meredith Moench (, hand-forged jewelry by Pam Einhauser utilizing everything from jasper to beach stones and irregularly faceted Herkimer diamonds, Kim Obbink’s simple yet fascinating botanical illustrations (, and abstract paintings courtesy of part-time resident Pete Bowman.

You’ll also discover works by one of the founders of the studio tour, celebrated potter Ria Nickerson. Her sturdy yet stylish mugs, dishes, sinks, mirrors, tiles and vases often feature maritime themes—think orca whales, mermaids, crabs and the ilk—and are built to last (my family is in possession of plates she crafted more than 30 years ago, so I speak from experience). Pieces by Nickerson’s longtime partner, master carver Basil Atkinson of Blue Earth Monuments and Good Thunder Arts (360-758-7121), are also featured.

Samples by mixed-media calligraphy artist Kellie Moeller ( are also on the lineup, as are the unique kelp (yes, kelp) creations of Judy Arnsten, and Lynn Dee’s striking raku pottery (

Dee (pictured above at her outdoor studio) creates clay sculptures and vessels that are glazed with colorful crackled and metallic elements, and most of her art is crafted on-site.

“I use a variety of clays to throw and hand-build,” Dee says. “I enjoy changes the shapes of thrown and slab-built work to create unique hollow forms. I like the primitive firings and smoking with raku and saggar firings.”

Quilter Mary Barstow, painter Ingrid McGarry, woodworker Tom Lutz (, stained glass master Mary Marshall (, Art Haus Container painter Patrick Vincent, and gourd painter Lynn Young are also among the artists who’ve been highlighted thus far.

Through the month of May, as Harboe continues to draw attention to those who find connection and creativity while living on a semi-remote island, keep an eye out for artists who catch your eye and consider supporting them virtually until you can check out their work in person. That day will eventually come, and you can bet the visit will be worth it.

For more details, search for the Lummi Island Artists’ Studio Tour at

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