Second record year for San Juan Artists’ Studio Tour

In its 28th year, the San Juan Artists’ Studio Tour offers a glimpse of the work of more than 60 artists at 22 studios across the island. This year’s free, self-guided tour is from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on June 1 and 2.

“I know all the artists, and everyone has a unique story worth telling and everyone works exceedingly hard at their art form of choice,” artist and tour co-founder Nancy Spaulding said. “The tour is defined as a group of ‘working studios,’ and the artists are all led by their passion.”

Spaulding is a pastel painter who designed the license plate that will be released soon to commemorate the San Juan Islands. Her husband Lewis is also an artist, his medium being photography. Started in 1991 by nine artist friends who wanted to share their studios and artistic process with the public has grown into a highly anticipated annual event. This year’s tour coincides with the San Juan Lions Club’s Friday Harbor Bike Fest.

“This was intentional, and routes were planned so that families could ride together and visit studios along their way,” Spaulding said. “We hope it will be a beautiful weekend for all to enjoy.”

There are two newcomers to the studio tour this year, Jason Munkries and Howard Rosenfeld.

Munkries’ studio at 24 Hubbard Lane is number 22 on the tour. Primarily a rug weaver, Munkries said he finds inspiration in the natural beauty of the islands.

“Sometimes a vision or image drives my work, other times, it is mere exploration of colors and patterns,” Munkries said in his bio on the tour’s website. “My work is an exercise in how readily materials and equipment accept or reject my instructions.”

To view Munkries’ rugs, visit

Rosenfeld, who has lived on the island since 1981, is a printmaker who dabbles in the art of scrimshaw — the carving of images into ivory, bones and teeth — as well.

“I got interested in sailing ships, traditional scrimshaw, and saving the whales at the same time over 40 years ago,” Rosenfeld said in his bio on the tour’s website. “Later, I developed my own technique to scrimshaw (engrave) directly onto copper plates. This is how etchings were originally done in the 1400s, before acid etching.”

Rosenfeld spent the last 30 years as a commercial retailer, running the Friday Harbor Art Studio, formerly Atelier Gallerie. He’s been creating scrimshaw since the 1960s, partly inspired by President John F. Kennedy’s Oval Office scrimshaw collection. He said whales’ teeth also had no value at the time, making it an inexpensive medium to work with.

“Now that I’m settled into a home-based studio I can finally participate in the studio tour,” Rosenfeld said.

For more information about Rosenfeld and to view his work, visit

Yvonne Buijs-Mancuso, one of the tour’s originators and organizers, said her favorite part of the tour is seeing friends who stop by just to say hello.

“Even though we are a small community, you don’t get a chance to connect with a lot of the people during the year as everyone is so busy living our daily lives,” she said. “It’s a lovely reunion!”

Buijs-Mancuso said she encourages nonartists to visit studios to demystify the life of an artist and prove they’re not just some strange recluse. It also offers education, she explained; people get the chance to learn about how art is created via demonstrations done at the various studios.

“Also it is an opportunity to buy directly from the artist and make a connection with the artist that created it,” fellow organizer and founder Paula West said.

Spaulding emphasized the tour is self-guided so visitors get to see only the studios they want to see. She also said she encourages islanders to attend the tour, to see some hidden locations not usually available to the public.

“We artists love visitors to the island but we also love our island neighbors and extend our hospitality especially to them,” Spaulding said.

For more information about the studio tour, visit