Local artists hold exhibition at SJIMA

Adding to the community holiday festivities this month will be the annual Artist Registry exhibition, which celebrates island artists at the San Juan Island Museum of Art opening Dec. 10.

“The registry is a very popular exhibit because community members know these artists personally,” said Yvonne Buigs-Mancuso, local artist and founder of the show.

The exhibition’s grand opening event, titled Christmas Cider and Art Talk, will be Dec. 10 from 12-4 p.m. in the museum. The public will have an opportunity to speak with the artists as they view the show and enjoy a festive atmosphere with cider and cookies. For those that miss the opening, or want to return, the exhibition runs through Feb. 18. The museum’s winter hours are Friday through Monday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Buigs-Mancuso launched the exhibit five years ago because she saw a need to connect local artists with the community, and the museum seemed like the logical venue to bring the two together. The original exhibition, 18 years ago, included 40 local artists on the registry. The exhibition, showcasing their work, was located in the old SJIMA space on First Street. Today, 92 of the 126 artists on the registry are participating.

If 126 artists sounds like a lot for this small community, it is. The San Juans are known for the number of artist who call the islands home. According to Buigs-Mancuso, San Juan County has one of the highest artists per capita rate in the state. Artists, she said, tend to be drawn to visual beauty, which the islands have in spades. Combine the natural beauty with the solitude of the region and it becomes a paradise for people to be both inspired and creative, Buigs-Mancuso said.

This year, due to the number of participants in the show, Buigs-Mancuso said it took longer to organize. The result is a wider variety of art that fit a broad range of artistic styles and tastes.

“There is something for everyone,” said Buigs-Mancuso, adding that the theme of “spirit taking form” was purposefully elusive to give artists freedom to explore what the theme meant to them. There needed to be a theme to create a cohesive show, she explained, while also allowing for artistic expression.

“Both the size of the show and the work of the artists has grown over the years,” Buigs-Mancuso said proudly, going on to explain some of the benefits of joining the museum’s Artist Registry, like being part of an artist community, mentoring, networking, sharing ideas and receiving feedback on their work.

The qualifications, according to Buigs-Mancuso, for joining the registry are pretty simple.

“You have to be brave enough to call yourself an artist,” she said.

For more information visit their website https://sjima.org/artists-registry/.