Archipelago – Contemporary Art of the Salish Sea: Exhibition at San Juan Islands Museum of Art Opens September

Submitted by The San Juan Islands Museum of Art.

The San Juan Islands Museum of Art presents,Archipelago: Contemporary Art of the Salish Sea bringing together artists who are separated by an international border but share a common practice of making work that is informed and influenced by the all-encompassing Salish Sea. This collaborative exhibition with SJIMA, Salt Spring Arts and ArtSpring showcasing collections by artists of the Southern Gulf Islands (San Juan islands artists were featured in Canada’s Salt Spring Arts’ Spring Show this past April/May). Running Sept. 22 through Dec. 4, in the second installment of a two-part exhibition.

The six exhibiting artists from the Southern Gulf Islands are, Temoseng Chazz Elliott, Anna Gustafson, Jane Kidd, John Macdonald, Sam Montalbetti and Joanna Rogers. Curated by Canadians Richard Steel and Patrick McCallum and American Peter Lane of SJIMA, the six Southern Gulf Island artists and six San Juan Islands artists were selected for their thoughtful and boundary-pushing work in four mediums – painting, printmaking, sculpture/installation, glasswork, photography, and tapestry/textiles.

The show is framed as “twelve artists, six mediums, three exhibitions, two countries, one sea,” the descriptor orients visitors to the structure and theme of the collaboration.

The natural geography of the Salish Sea has always shaped the lives and culture of its inhabitants. Now, bisected by an international border and reshaped by the evolution of two countries and modern transport systems, island communities are still bound together by their shared geography.

From melancholy weather affecting their palettes to the desire for self-imposed isolation; from creating their work in old growth forests and on mountaintops to immersing themselves directly into the sea; from the Salish Sea being a location versus a state of mind – the artists share that they have a sensibility, a spirit, and a profound sense of place. Despite the forces holding them apart, the artists of the Salish Sea seem bound together more by commonalities than distinguished by differences.

This exhibition marks the first-time a cross-border exhibition of this size and caliber has been launched in the region and a first for these three arts organizations to work together towards a unified show – Salt Spring Arts and ArtSpring in BC and the San Juan Museum of Art in Washington.

“The impetus behind Archipelago was the desire to encourage a collaboration among the communities of the San Juan Islands and the Southern Gulf Islands – a region intertwined by history, in a space defined by a common geographical location, but divided by an international border,” explains Barbara Cox, Exhibition Committee Member and Advisor to the San Juan Islands Museum of Art.

For Yael Wand, Executive Director of Salt Spring Arts, connecting with the San Juan Islands was a natural fit. “We inhabit separate islands in one archipelago; a stone’s throw away and yet we rarely connect,” she says. “I’m curious how this creative dialogue will unfold – is there a common island language? Are there surprising contrasts? It’s a fascinating artistic conversation that lets us explore and better understand our neighbors across the sea and those down the street.”

SJIMA is open Thursday-Monday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Mondays are the Pay What You Like Days. To learn more visit

Location: 540 Spring Street, Friday Harbor, WA 98250.

Exhibition Sponsors:

The Honeywell Charitable Fund, Kim Miller, Dr. Timothy Kopet & Judith Okulitch, Anonymous, The Washington State Arts Commission, The Town of Friday Harbor, NEA Printonyx, Browne’s Home Center, Harbor Rental

About San Juan Islands Museum of Art (SJIMA): At the San Juan Islands Museum of Art, we celebrate artists, creativity, community and generosity through exhibits, education, and events. Located on beautiful San Juan Island in the Pacific Northwest, SJIMA connects islanders and visitors from around the world through powerful and timely museum exhibits and programming. Learn more: