98221 Studio Tour Takes Visitors Behind the Scenes

More than veggie seeds have been sprouting on Fidalgo Island this summer.

The local arts community has pulled back the curtain on the many creative souls who’ve been drawn to the islands’ beauty, tranquility, and vibrant cultural Alfred Currierand environmental scene. The 98221 (think local zip code) Artist’s Studio Tour, October 21 and 22, adds a major new two-day event to the local arts calendar, providing a personal and educational way for artists and art enthusiasts to interact in studios and galleries across Fidalgo Island. The 2017 Anacortes Artist’s Studio Tour will be twice as large as last year’s inaugural event. Presented by the Anacortes Arts Commission, this year’s tour will feature the artwork of over 40 artists at 30+ venues, with studios open from 10 am to 5 pm both days.

“We have a plethora of phenomenal artists within the confines of our little island,” says Jennifer Bowman, whose boisterously colorful paintings reflect the waterfront and scenic vistas that attracted her to Anacortes 17 years ago. “98221 creates a compact, cohesive, and easy-to-navigate tour, connecting our urban and rural studios with the scenic drives that inspire us every day.”

Karen ElliottTo that end, available Maps for the free self-guided tour around Fidalgo Island will be available at all participating studios, local galleries, the Depot Art Center and the Croatian Cultural Center, The Anacortes Chamber of Commerce, plus many other establishments throughout the area. View the map online and plot your route.

Today’s Fidalgo artists follow in the footsteps of the Northwest School artists of the early 20th-century who made their homes in and around Anacortes and Skagit County. Today you’ll discover their metal work, painting, graphics, sculpture and carving, as well as fiber art, jewelry, printmaking, and photography.

Among the 30 participating artists, many names will be familiar to art aficionados—metalworker Paul Thorne, fiber artist Anita Luvera Mayer, and painters Jennifer Bowman, Alfred Currier, Anne Martin McCool, and Anne Schreivogl. Others gems are waiting to be discovered.

“The people and the environment are what make 98221 the perfect place to create,” says acclaimed painter Alfred Currier, a 25-year resident of Anacortes. “We have a great diverse art community, but rarely does the public get to see [a wide range of] their creations. Gallery shows are important, but provide an edited look. Plus, the 98221 studio tour allows artists and patrons to connect.”

Jill McDougallDisplays of finished and in-progress work will abound, with many pieces waiting to transport these personal stories into patrons’ own homes.Yes, to be welcomed into real working studios, talk with the artists, and glean insights into the materials, tools, and techniques they use to create their work. See for yourself how the waters, forests, serenity, and imagination of island living permeate a wide-range of today’s artistic mediums and individual expressions.

“We are thrilled by this year’s response,” said Lisa Rhoades, the member of the Anacortes Arts Commission who chairs the event. “And we know local art supporters will appreciate the added energy and diversity of this year’s tour,” she said.

All three downtown galleries, Scott Milo, Acme Creative, and The Good Stuff, will be open again this year with working artists at each venue.

And what better way to maximize and reflect on your explorations than to make it a weekend! Local inns, hotels, and B&Bs can turn your adventurous days into a peaceful evening sunset over a glass of wine or a delicious dinner.

“The welcome mat will be out to everyone interested in our local artists,” Rhoades said. The community of artists is strong and growing in Anacortes, Rhoades pointed out. “It’s exciting to discover all that’s happening here,” she said – from a bronze sculpture studio to a letterpress shop to many glass, ceramic, carving and fiber artists. Painters and photographers will offer a wide array of examples — from very well-known local artists to emerging artists who make Fidalgo Island their home.

Tara GilhulyAnd while you’re in town—or if you need an excuse to return, locally inspired artistic expression can be seen across 98221 throughout the year! You’ll find them  in galleries and at the regular First Friday Art Walk. They’re in the city’s many outdoor sculptures and public murals, art collections, memorials, and monuments. Discover them tucked along city streets, and on the post office building. Walk through the hospital, and gaze at the city hall walls. You’ll also see them on public buildings, along the waterfront, and atop mountains! These are works by such notables as Northwest School painter Kenneth Callahan, sculptor Philip McCracken, artist Derek Ward, and sculptors Merrilee Moore, Tracy Powell, and Lanny Bergner.

The annual 98221 Artist’s Studio Tour is organized by the Anacortes Arts Commission. Quietly perpetuating a vibrant local cultural community, this behind-the-scenes organization is an integral part of city decisions as an advisory board to the City of Anacortes on public arts and culture.

originally written by Jan Hersey in 2016, updated September 2017

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