Arts are Alive in the Islands

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Even the casual observer will notice that there are many art galleries in Friday Harbor, and we now have the Island Museum of art, a building that invited controversy by its very architecture. The island museum of art is on “upper Spring Street”, at 540 Spring. If you are visiting Friday Harbor you can experience their current featured artist at the gallery, and see her “Spineless, Portraits of Marine Invertebrates, The Backbone of Life.” The artist, Susan Middleton, is a portrait photographer of marine life. She gives gorgeous creatures without spines a starring role in her book of photographs called Spineless. Many of her portrait creatures are so tiny that they are barely visible with the human eye. She is said to capture the curious gestures and expressions of these tiny creatures. Visit our new art museum to learn more.

For her photographs, Susan Middleton had to take her suitcase to a frigate along with her makeshift aquariums, magnifiers, and cameras. It is possible for you to experience the life of an artist on a local level in a less demanding manner. On San Juan Island from 10 am to 5 pm on both Saturday and Sunday, June 6th and 7th, you can see how local artists work on their own particular crafts. This is the special event which is timed once a year. Fifteen of our local artists open up their personal studio spaces (often including artistic gardens) to the public for a celebration of the way they work and live. In addition to displaying their work, they share insights into how their art is created and what inspires them. This is a self-guided tour, which means that you can visit any artist at any time from 10 to 5 on Saturday or Sunday. There are no fees and there may even be some refreshments. The studio tour gives you an insight into the love these artists have of San Juan Island as well as the inspiration they find here. You may even decide to purchase an art piece directly from its creator.

Besides the surprise of the art and location, this tour gives the opportunity to identify with the appreciation of all kinds of art in the islands. Some of the many participants this year are displaying kiln fired and stained glass art pieces, encaustic paintings, one of a kind jewelry, bronze sculpture, glass serving dishes, furniture, printmaking, painting, sculpture, textiles, and more.

One of the author’s favorite studios is Paula West’s studio, a pottery studio set in a lovely rural location on the west side of the island. Here, on a private piece of acreage, she creates vessels to enhance daily meals and gatherings with her handmade, functional, useful pottery. Her work results in products that can provide pleasure on a daily basis. At her studio you can see the piles of clay, the potter’s wheel, the kiln, and shelves displaying her creativity in making porcelain mugs, dishes, and serving pieces for your table. Another potter, Lauren Jawer of Belle Terre Creations, states it well in her artist’s statement on the website for the open house event: “I believe an appreciation of the hand-made arts help define a sense of place and thus help us continue to feel rooted in our world.” You can learn more about the artists’ tour by visiting or stopping by our Sotheby’s real estate office at #1 Spring Street to pick up a map and a brochure of this islands artists tour. We also have on hand magazines with Sotheby’s auction house’s beautiful art for sale at auction.

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Wild Encounters

Living in the San Juan Islands means that sooner or later you will come in contact with our local wildlife. The islands and their surrounding