There is nothing more beautiful than a clear sunny winter day on San Juan Island. The views go on forever and are always more defined when the leaves are off of the deciduous trees whose limbs gently frame them. Mount Baker with its fresh snow glittering in the clear air appears almost luminous. You can see Mount Baker right from the town of Friday Harbor so no hiking is required. A scenic drive down south to American Camp National Park brings it even closer. This drive provides gorgeous views. If you are very lucky you may even see a wild fox along the road as you pass by. Nature is art at its best.
If you want the inside kind of art, Friday Harbor has some fine galleries featuring local and visiting artists. The newest is the Island Museum of Art on upper Spring Street. It’s free and a perfect size for not getting overwhelmed. The glassed in front portion has some interesting changing displays that you can see driving by. Having just finished there were terra cotta bodies suspended in space, a favorite of mine. The rest of the galleries are all within a walk of each other in the shopping district of our small town. The Arctic Raven is at 130 First Street, www.arcticraven.com. It is worth a tour of their website if you are an armchair traveler. They feature Northwest coast native art; Alaskan, Inuit, and artists from the Salish Sea. An interesting kind of art is the commissioned totem poles which are featured in their lovely island homes on their website. If you become a totem pole fan, as I am, stroll down to the port of Friday Harbor and view the two poles along the way that are outside as they were meant to be.
The WaterWorks Gallery is at 315 Argyle Avenue, where it has been since 1985, www.waterworksgallery.com. They feature jewelry and sculpture, art for the casual stroller and also the serious collector. Many of their artists are northwest professionals. You will find it a welcoming place with a bit of whimsy. Architecture fans may enjoy walking just a short way up Argyle Avenue to see the craftsman style and farmhouse style houses that are on the left side of the road. The town’s historic committee has delegated this property to houses of a certain period style. Our island respects its heritage and that is why this area was designated historic.
Lastly, do not miss The Island Studios at 270 Spring Street. Formerly a hardware store, this is the place to see art from the San Juan Islands. You cannot miss this big blue building when you are in downtown Friday Harbor. You will be pleasantly surprised at the variety of objects for sale and a local artist will likely be the one answering your questions in the shop. Don’t miss the outside sculpture garden at the back of the store. Visit www.islandstudios.com to learn more. It is a fine place to pick up a momento of your trip to the island.
Done with your art tour? Time to warm up with a cup of coffee or chocolate at Roy’s Island Buzz Drive-thru, check out their Facebook Page and meet the friendly people who work there. Enjoy!