Scene Swap

Off the island, into the gallery


What: "Lummi Island Artist Show"

Where: Allied Arts, 1418 Cornwall Ave.


WHEN: 11am-4pm Tues.-Fri., through Nov. 28


Wednesday, November 11, 2020

In a video posted on Lummi Island Artists’ Studio Tour’s Facebook page shortly before Labor Day, painter Ria Harboe gave a short glimpse of her home studio, pointing out that, typically, the coming weekend would’ve seen the well-lit space full of visitors checking out her large- and small-scale landscapes as part of the island’s annual end-of-summer tour.

That’s not happening,” she intoned as the camera panned up a narrow stairway leading to a room filled with her paintings—including a Georgia O’Keefe-esqe interpretation of what appeared to be the inside of a yellow iris, magical star-filled seascapes, renderings of rocky outcroppings and much more.

“I’ve been working a lot out of here during the pandemic,” Harboe said, noting that an Open Air Art Experience tentatively planned for that weekend had been scrapped due to coronavirus concerns, and that the next in-person art event on the Whatcom County land mass likely wouldn’t be until Memorial Day, 2021.

This, of course, means the Lummi Island Artists’ Holiday Studio Tour—that in a less-plague-filled world would’ve taken place Nov. 14-15—is scrapped, and the work of the sculptors, potters, painters, photographers, jewelers, stained-glass artists, mosaic mavens and other creative types who populate the isle will remain behind closed doors for now.

An exception is an exhibit on display through Nov. 28 at Allied Arts in downtown Bellingham. Simply titled the “Lummi Island Artist Show,” the works are described as a “unique representation of art based on the beautiful coast surrounding Bellingham and its nearby islands.”

Harboe is one of the featured artists, and paintings sourced from both her studios—she also maintains a space in Bellingham—are on display here. Many showcase the natural beauty of the place she calls home, including “Beautiful Beginning,” a sunrise scene depicting a spot near the island’s ferry landing. There are also secret forest places, still-life stunners, and smaller paintings featuring barns and roads Harboe comes across on her walkabouts.

Also on display throughout the gallery are clay works by Raku master Lynn Dee, who throws, fires and glazes her one-of-a-kind pottery pieces and sculptures at her hidden gem of a studio on the island. The highlighted works at Allied Arts are primitive-yet-precise, featuring hues of blue, red and green that call to mind the land itself. Dee has been perfecting her craft for decades—as well as teaching it—and it shows.

Watercolors and colored-pencil pieces by Kim Obbink also shine. As a resident of both Lummi and Sinclair islands, she uses her surroundings for inspiration to realistically portray minute details of botanical and marine life such as purple starfish, dragonflies, moths, frogs, decaying tulips and flowers gone to seed.

There’s an environmental bent to Obbink’s contributions to this exhibit, as well. In one detailed drawing with the numbers “33” superimposed over it in white lettering, she showcases eggs from more than 30 different endangered species found in our region. It’s beautiful, but it’s also a little heartbreaking.

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