Weekend showcase: artists in action on 22nd Annual Studio Tour

Artwork from this year
Artwork from this year's Artists' Studio Tour.
— image credit: Contributed photo

Get a small group of talented artists together and something creative is bound to spring up.

Need proof?

Then look no further than the Annual San Juan Island Artists Studio Tour. It’s Saturday, June 1, and Sunday, June 2.

The tour, now in its 22nd year, has long served as a weekend-long showcase for a vast array of intriguing island-created endeavors of all shape, size, dimension and medium. You’ll no doubt find that to be the case by stopping in at any, or all, of the 15 studios on display as part of this year’s safari of island art, which will feature the work of 41 separate artists.

Beth HetrickBut it’s more than just about the finished product. The essence of the tour, as first conceived by a handful of local artists two decades ago, is right there in its name: studio.

“Back in the beginning the whole idea for having the studio tour was to be able to show people how and where art is made, rather than just where its shown,” recalls Mary Sly, who’s been designing hand-drawn and hand-painted silk garments for more than 30 years, and whose participation in the tour, both as an artist and featured studio, dates back to the square one (Sly’s Sunrise Ridge Road studio is No. 2 on the tour brochure).

Tour co-founder and encaustic artist Yvonne Bujis-Mancuso says part of the original idea was to de-mystify the creative process. Opening the doors of the creative workshop offers the tour-goer a gateway into the everyday life of an artist and a good look at the surroundings in which an artist creates, and at the place where inspiration turns into art.

The tour is intended to be as much about education as it is about art itself, she said.

“People get to see the art and how it’s made, where we live, the creative process in action and where we get our inspiration,” said Bujis-Mancuso (Studio No. 13). “It’s more than just about the art.”

Demonstrations, watching an artist in action, has evolved into one of tour’s hallmarks.

Paula West of Paula West Pottery estimates anywhere between 150-200 people drop by her studio over the course of the weekend. This year is the fifth that her studio (Studio No. 12) will be featured, and she expects interest will run high in watching the five artists her studio will host, including herself, in action.Dollahite

“People get excited see what’s new, I get a lot are returnees,” West said. “And they like to see the process. I try to have something going on for a demonstration but sometimes it gets a little too busy.”

And busy is precisely what many of the studio-artists have been to make sure all is prepared for the weekend ahead.

“It takes a lot of energy to get ready for it, when you know you’ll be sharing your space,” says Laurie Burns, nationally renowned for her glass artwork. Burns (Studio No. 10) says she spends a good deal of time making sure that her studio, home, yard and garden are all ship shape. It appears to pay off. “I think it’s interesting that people get to see such an intimate space. For a lot of artists it’s almost a sacred space they’ve put together so they can create. People are very gracious about the amount of work that goes into this.”

For the established artists, like Burns, Sly, Bujis-Mancuso and West, one of the highlights of the tour is the newcomers, artists and studios. Dollahite Studios, home to popular painters B.J. and Matt Dollahite, and Waldronshire Studios, the creative workshop of woodworker Richard Waldron, are each making a debut as part of the 2013 tour.

Burns will be hosting guest artist Janie Ogle, creator of hand-painted silk scarves, while Sly, the hand-painted silk garment artist, will host painter Alice Shull and her collection of dazzlingly colorful oil pastels and charcoal paintings. It’ll be somewhat of a family affair at Paula West Pottery, as West will host husband Joe Cooper, a mixed-media artist, and sculptor Tom Small and daughter Fiona Small, a mixed-media artist as well.

Paula WestIn the host department, Bujis-Mancuso tops the list, sharing space and the weekend with five guest artists. She wouldn’t have it any other way.

“It just makes it that much more enjoyable,” she said.

For a complete list of studios, artists, and map, visit,


We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

Read the Oct 19
Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates