Saturday, October 11, 2008

Artist's Studio Tour 2008

After living for two years in this gentle town that's filled with free spirits, I finally managed to get out and see a few of the local artist's studios during Northwind Arts' annual open house day. It's a wonderful event that allows both patrons and fellow artists to see where the magic is made. As with many artists I know, I have a fascination with how different people arrange their studios. From the materials to the work space, it all interests me. So although today's run around was a spur of the moment thing, as I decided to stop on my way back from the library. I was wearing a fleece shirt and jeans, and my hair was brutishly pulled back in a tie. Not a scrap of make up or even skin cream was to be found on my face. But I was glowing inside as a result of a newly deepening friendship, and the glow of love always makes a person look good. Thanks, Ang.

I only stopped at three studios, a masterful batik artist, a queen of the felting arts, and an artist of inspirational copper icons and bas reliefs.

The batik artist, Sakura Onuma Davis, is clearly a highly disciplined and exacting master of her media. Capturing the exquisite combination of Japanese and Pacific Northwest influences, Ms. Davis' art is layered in the most delicate detail work I've seen done in batik. Absolutely beautiful, and judging by the throngs crowding her spacious studio, I am not alone in my opinion.

My next stop was most welcome, as I have long admired Janice Speck's felt work. Located in a deliciously private setting, the walk to and from her studio from the gravel driveway was the calming experience I have come to expect from artists in the Northwest. Unexpected delights at every turn of the garden path led me to yet another lovely, spacious and light-filled studio. One wall was a blaze of rainbow coloured roving that made my heart race and my breath come faster. I love colour, and wool is such a wonder to work with. Standing at the large central table, Janice worked a silk and wool piece in shades of sky and sea as she talked with the ladies who preceded me. I lingered so I might have a chance to talk with Ms. Speck for a bit, and we had a very nice exchange about how important it is to understand and master your materials and techniques, but that the real pleasure comes later, when the "happy accidents" occur. I left her my contact information, and hope she has both the time and inclination to put it to use.

Lastly, I stopped at the studio of Sofia Christine, who creates luminous bas-relief, cast and copper works derived from Byzantine and Buddhist sacred imagery. To gain access to Ms. Christine's studio, a pilgrimage of sorts is required. A steady climb from street level to tower, through trees and up slate steps, past the weathered iron table and chairs, and up the hand hewn circling stairs to a windowed room where a view of the sea fills the eye. The artist's gilded images hang on the walls and the room feels much as a sacred chapel might. It is in this perfect metaphor of a studio that Ms. Christine, whose name must surely have played a part in dictating her direction in art, creates lovely images that allow the eye to fill with a peace seldom found simply by gazing at art. You may think I was quite taken with Ms. Christine's art, and you'd be right. But more than that, I was enchanted by the place, the art, and the woman who encompasses it all. I very much enjoyed seeing her work, and hope someday to own a piece.

As I wound down the stairs and out the door and followed the footpath to the street, I found myself thinking about how I no longer feel so utterly isolated here, and that after two years, I suddenly have come to love this place.

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