It’s back! It is time for the Summer Open Studio Tour hosted by Whidbey Working Artists. Saying “it’s back” makes it sound like a traveling show, but this is an event where the artists stay in one place and the visitors do the traveling. The show is particularly notable because is covers much of the island from north to south. And yet, with over four dozen artists, one site is rarely far from another. A truly Whidbey event.
The idea is simple. Artists open their studios and their workspaces to the public. Sure, their art may be in galleries and co-ops around the island, but visiting an artist in their space is a different experience.
It may be easy to imagine a painter’s studio, and yet even then you may learn that what it takes is more than an easel, a canvas, brushes, and paints. It might be a corner of a spare room with everything stored like some 3-D puzzle, or a separate building bigger and better than their house. There may be framing equipment, works in progress, works set aside while the artist decides what it needs next, and even classroom space. Don’t be surprised though if it is a bit cleaner than usual.
Fiber artists can show off looms that wouldn’t fit in a gallery. Simply seeing the colorful array of yarns can be artistic, too. What other tools do they use? What other things have they tried?
There are the hot studios where glass is melted and shaped, clay is fired, bronze is poured. These studios can come with places where Do Not Enter really means it. Feel the heat, and be impressed with variations on rock become functional or fanciful or fancilly functional art.
Some art is built up but built by breaking things down. Stone and metal sculptors may cut away pieces for things small enough for jewelry or large enough to require forklifts and cranes. Whidbey art adorns many big city landscapes, and you get to see where they started.
Through all of this, visiting an artist’s studio is an opportunity to visit the artist. Seeing the art in a gallery may show off the work best, but meeting the artist and seeing their process can make real the hours and effort that can go into something simple and elegant. “Making it look easy is the hard part.” (Hunting for the primary attribution for that.)
Visiting an artist’s studio is can be a chance to see their supply of completed works that are waiting for a gallery piece to sell which opens precious wall or floor space.
Every art may not be represented, but there may also be others included. And don’t assume that an artist only works in one medium.
One unexpected consequence may be meeting artists whose workspace is not on the Tour. It can be a handy time for artists to visit artists, to take a day to visit friends, compare notes, and be reminded that they aren’t alone.
This is a two-day event, which means over 363 days where visiting might be more difficult. There’s a partial answer for that, too. Whidbey Art Trail exists as way to visit those artists whose studios are better adapted to visitors. Check ahead.