Doh! Did you miss it too? The Coupeville Arts & Crafts Festival was scheduled for last weekend. Summer is a busy time on Whidbey. Here’s another art opportunity, the Whidbey Working Artist Summer Studio Tour is happening August 21 and 22, 2021. Are you reading this post months after that? Don’t worry. There are so many artists on Whidbey Island that almost every weekend there is probably a festival, a weekend tour, a standing self-guided tour, art walks, galleries, or sculpture gardens to visit.
Art isn’t new on Whidbey; especially if you consider the indigenous work that was practiced for centuries. A little over a hundred years ago, the island became more widely known for fishing, lumbering, and farming. That many bachelors gave the place a reputation for being a bit rougher than most, but that started to change as families, or the hope for a family, arrived. Artists were attracted to the island because it was appealing and affordable. It became a destination for art creation, study, and practice. Now, places like Langley are even officially a Creative District by the Washington State Arts Commission.
There are enough studios and galleries that it would take days to visit them all, and much longer to appreciate each one. Of course, the most efficient way to see the most is to visit the galleries that exhibit several artists’ works. The good news is that these are galleries, not museums. You get the opportunity to take art home with you, for the appropriate fee, of course. The same is true of the artists’ coops, places run by and for the artists. (That’s true of some of the studios, too. It’s a continuum.)
Here’s a short, incomplete, shifting, always being creatively redefined list:
Oak Harbor – Garry Oak Gallery
Coupeville – Penn Cove Gallery
Langley – Artworks Gallery
Langley – Whidbey Art Gallery
and then there are other spaces in those places as well as Freeland and Clinton. (Greenbank, too?)
Artists usually don’t work in the galleries. To see the artist and the art in progress it is best to visit their studio. Many maintain their studios as private, which simply may be not wanting to clean up for the public for appearances or safety reasons. Some have visiting hours, but that frequently works best when you already know the artist you want to visit. During events like the Whidbey Working Artist Summer Studio Tour, it is possible to sign up, get a map, and for a weekend, get access to studio spaces and the artist in a more personal environment. Don’t be surprised to encounter dust. Also, don’t be surprised to find places where masks have been the norm for decades.
Of course, this year has been a challenge for most artists. Even without a pandemic it takes a bit of courage to allow others to see the process. This year will probably have other restrictions. It may also exhibit some inspirations. Who knows?
Whether you visited the artists last weekend, this weekend, or any other time know that there is always more to see, new artists to meet, and more reasons to visit again.
(And, because I don’t want to show favoritism by picking one of those artists, I’ll show one of my pieces – though I only sell online. I was on the Tour, but that was years ago.)