Friday Harbor welcomes one new gallery and one new gallery owner

The Friday Harbor Chamber of Commerce welcomed two new galleries with back-to-back ribbon cuttings Feb. 2.

At 4 p.m. the crowd gathered at Waterworks where new owner Nate Fihn welcomed well-wishers.

“The opportunity to helm a legacy ship and continue the momentum of such long-standing island space, and in turn support and curate artists is a dream come true,” Fihn told the Journal. “Waterworks has been a staple for as long as I’ve been alive and I’m committed to freshening and modernizing this awesome gallery with new artists as well as [hosting] a myriad of cultural events, from music/poetry showcases to private cocktail events.”

Anyone who knows Fihn knows his passion for music, so it won’t be surprising that Open Mic is a favorite of his.

“Open Mic is our baby, born at Everelse with Jesi Jean, continued at 10th House with Nicole Fuenzalida. It’s living at Waterworks for the moment, every Sunday it’s church for artist from 7-10 p.m.” Fihn said. “Come share and be bolstered. We have also launched a series ala Tiny Desk [Concerts] where a featured artist who is already on the path to a career (and later well into a career) comes in and chooses the art around the ‘stage’,” he continued. “We fill the seats with 20-ish friends and capture a beautiful, intimate set for promotion and just dope content. Follow A Waterworks Gallery on YouTube to see the first episode featuring Wilsey Brumsickle soon, there will also be smaller content shoots available for up-and-comers.”

Fihn’s short-term goals he said, are continuing the stewardship of the longstanding artists and showcasing their beautiful work, as well as bringing new artists to the island and hosting several exciting events. The bottom line, of course, is selling lots of art to support artists and the space. Longer-term goals include maximizing, expanding, deepening all the short terms, and launching another Waterworks on one of the other islands.

Although the gallery will have a new vibe, it will continue honoring local and regional artists. “The PNW/Cascadia vibe will continue. Portland to BC is roughly where our sweet spot is,” Fihn reassured. “I’m sure there will be some geographical outliers when their work is undeniable.”

The Art for Aisle concept developed by previous director Jennifer Smith will also be brought back. The Argyle entry will become a mini show for a rotating local artist, Fihn said. “Who knows, it could lead to a big show [for the artist]! All our shows will have a central theme, be it a quote, a color, an idea, in the main sections and the support walls will be cohesive as well.”

Fihn is also excited to announce new long-term partnerships with Maria Micahelson and Glenn Hendrick of Alchemy Arts Center, making them gallery-represented artists. “The gifts and quality of art they provide the community through their own selves and Alchemy Art Center cannot be undersold. The partnership is a dream for me and the chance to launch them to as broad an audience as possible through the space is my business now, and I stand on it!” Fihn said. “Come in and see and feel the space. I’m always tweaking for energy flow. Come say hello, and come sign up for the email list, if you don’t do socials, that’s the best way to tune in. Support the arts!” Islanders can also follow Waterworks at @awaterworksgallery on Instagram for real-time events.

After the Waterworks ribbon was cut, and congratulations exchanged, the group walked down to Cannery Landing where the second gallery, Luminous, was located. Luminous is both a gallery and studio for textile artist Dana Alkebu-Lan and fine artist Lisa Lamoreaux.

“I first met Lisa on the Studio Tour in 2021, my husband and I’s first summer on the island,” Alkebu-Lan told the Journal. “I was struck by her beautifully intuitive paintings and vibrant spirit. The following summer we met again at the Maker’s Guild Art Show at Pelindaba, excitedly I showed her my hand-woven wall hangings.” Lamoreaux recalls seeing Alkebu-Lan’s lovely work during one of the August evening art shows at Brickworks. The two artist’s friendship blossomed since those early encounters. Last summer she joined Lamoreux as a guest artist during the Studio Tour. The Islands Studio Tour experience instilled a desire for a permanent way for Alkebu-Lan to showcase her work. What that looked like was unclear to her. Lamoreaux, meanwhile, discovered the space in Cannery Landing was available.

“I knew I wanted to have it as studio space with the potential for gallery space included. I had been looking for several years for the right opportunity to be downtown. When I told Dana that I really wanted the space, but that I also wanted to share it with another artist because it would be too big for just me, she immediately said ‘Oh me! I want to do that!’” Lamoreaux said.

Alkebu-Lan explained to the ribbon attendees “When Lisa and I get together, we experience big sparks of inspiration and really compliment one another, often finishing each other’s sentences. We intentionally sat with the name LUMINOUS which means the energy and light from within or to glow from an internal source of energy. This quality is something that we both hold true for ourselves as we approach our art and our lives. This quality is what we’re holding for the space and hope that you experience while visiting us.”

Later, Lamoreaux explained to the Journal the details of what occurred when they settled on the name.

“We later sat down on a cliff at Land Bank overlooking Haro Straight and began envisioning how we would like the space to look, function, and feel… within a couple of hours, we landed on the name Luminous as we watched sparkles on the water in the warm August sun… simultaneously, K pod went by in front of us, and we learned that Tokitae had passed away minutes earlier,” she recalled. Furthermore, Ocean Sun, generally thought by researchers to be her mother, was among the K pod group they watched. “The deep meaning of all the elements coming together were not lost on us, and we grew to feel strongly that the name Luminous represented so much more for us than we originally thought,” Lamoreaux said.

These artist friends have also been promoting first-of-the-month Friday Art Walks. “[The walks are] a grassroots effort from a bunch of local artists and art-related businesses that have committed to being open from 4-7 p.m. every first Friday of the month,” Alkebu-Lan said. The artists involved will have a special reception featuring there are, perhaps guest artists or even musicians. Art Walks, she added are a wonderful way to build artist/community relationships and support local businesses. According to Lamoreaux, as of a week ago, there were 12 artists involved, but the number seems to be growing. Stay tuned to First Friday Artwalk Friday Harbor on FaceBook for new announcements.