New faces are joining a longtime art event on San Juan Island, making the largest San Juan Island Artists’ Studio Tour in its 27 years. Featuring 22 studios and 62 artists, there are many new stops including studios for kaleidoscope craftsmen Sallie and Luc Durette, mixed-media painter Lisa Lamoreaux and ceramic artist Maria Michaelson.
“I have actually been on the tour for seven years, as a guest artist,” Michaelson said, adding seeing the volunteer hours each artist puts into organizing the event was impressive and eye-opening.
The event began nearly three decades ago, as a small group of artist friends decided to jointly open their studios to the public for a free self-guided tour weekend. This year each studio will be open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday, June 2, and Sunday, June 3.
“The concept of showing the public a studio where artists work is such a fantastic idea,” Michaelson said, explaining people don’t often have a chance to see the labor behind the art.
Michaelson developed a passion for ceramics in art school. There is a skill to ceramics, she said, and flexibility for creativity, so the craft utilizes both sides of her brain. Her studio, the Alchemy Art Center is located on Wold Road, where there will be impressive sculptures created by Michaelson and her partner, bronze artist Eben Shay. Guest artists in this studio include acrylics by Lisa Lawrence and Kim Brun, as well as jewelry by Cady Davies.
Michaelson grew up on the island, as did mixed-media artist Laura Bauer, whose studio is located on Bailer Hill.
“The island is an awesome place to start an art career,” said Michaelson, adding that there is no need to move to a big city like New York or San Francisco. For artists like Michaelson, the community is incredibly supportive, and the lifestyle offers people time to think and reflect. Being surrounded by the natural beauty of the islands also lends material for the creative soul, she added.
Persistence creating and consistent marketing is Lamoreaux’s advice to young artists.
“Take advantage of every marketing opportunity, farmers markets, small shows,” she said. Even at farmers markets, she explained, you will get a feel for your customers and possibly even meet gallery owners.
“It’s really important to keep yourself out there in the world,” Lamoreaux said.
Mixed-media landscape designs as well as images of hummingbirds, bumble bees and owls will be prevalent at Lamoreaux’s brand new studio off Westside Road. Lamoreaux developed her layering technique over nearly a decade. First beginning with a papier-mache base, she then adds oil paint and watercolor to create dynamic images.
Lamoreaux moved to the island last year when a friend needed a house sitter for six weeks. That turned into a rental opportunity, and she quickly fell into the local art scene after taking the studio tour herself last year.
“It is stunning to me how much talent is here on one island,” Lamoreaux said.
The driveway to her studio is a long woodland drive, she warned, so don’t give up. Next door, are the Durettes, crafters of kaleidoscopes.
“Kaleidoscope means beautiful world to see,” Sallie Durette explained, adding that they were invented by a Scottish scientist while he was researching mirrors in the 1800s. They quickly became a popular parlor toy. Today, not only are they used for fun, but as a meditative device, as well as therapy for those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
The Durettes first began their venture by making kits, but people increasingly began requesting a finished product. Since then, they have been awarded three times by the Brewster Kaleidoscope Association, and their kaleidoscopes are on display in museums around the world. What makes the Durrette’s kaleidoscopes different, is the detail the couple put into the chamber.
“We are very careful about what goes into it,” she explained. As the chamber is designed, according to Durrette, several unique, often handcrafted objects will be inserted, and those items that don’t make the cut are eliminated.
At their studio, interactive scopes will be on hand. According to Durrette, people may insert objects like pieces of jewelry and see what it looks like. Sallie’s husband Luc will also be on hand demonstrating how kaleidoscopes are made.
Each studio in the tour will have a raffle, and the Durrettes will be raffling off a kaleidoscope with a $170 value.
“Our studio is fun for all ages, adults and children,” Durrette said, with the caveat that the art is handled with care.
Visit www.sanjuanislandartists.com for more information. View a map of the studios, below.