Arts and Entertainment

Whidbey Open Studio Tour welcomes some new faces to its roster of artists

Tour goers can see the work of Langley artist Doug Calder. This piece is titled,
Tour goers can see the work of Langley artist Doug Calder. This piece is titled,'Table Top.'
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Doug Calder

There will be some new faces on this year’s Whidbey Open Studio Tour.

Smugglers Cove textile artist Cheryl Lawrence is taking part in the tour for the first time.

Her work, which explores the ancient Japanese textile tradition of katazome, varies from quilts, wall hangings, decorated fabric and clothing to metalwork and tiles. The process involves applying a rice-paste resist through hand-cut stencils, then adding natural dyes and earth pigments for color.

“It will be a joy to have people in the studio to share the passion I have for the process and materials used in katazome,” Lawrence said.

She creates images on traditional and nontraditional surfaces from delicate natural fibers, as well as on strong architectural materials.

Lawrence said her muses are everyday images that catch her eye, such as a moth that clings to the door frame, a strawberry blossom noticed while picking berries, her daughter walking down the road or textures made with brush and ink. See samples of how Lawrence uses some of these motifs at

“I hope that people leave with a sense that their day has been enriched by being in a highly creative, beautiful and inspiring place,” the artist said.

As a first-timer on the tour, Lawrence said that she is impressed with the level of organization and commitment of the arts council organizers, and by the quality of work being exhibited by her fellow artists.

One of those is 10-year Langley resident and longtime artist Doug Calder, who is also a virgin tour guy. He’s grouped on the tour map at Location 41 — the map can be found at, and will also be delivered with the Sept. 22 print editions of the Record and the Whidbey News-Times — with the Langley Public Studio Artists, who also include Susan Jensen (pastels), Steve Marts (digital photography) and Kathleen Otley (mix-media sculpture). They’ll set up shop at the Island County Fairgrounds in Langley.

Calder’s ink drawings and acrylic paintings depict primarily the people, culture and natural beauty of Whidbey Island. Calder’s work might conjure up a kind of Rockwellian-style nostalgia for those who live and play regularly on Whidbey.

“I like to explore the small points of life on the island, and the moments in life that give it its flavor,” Calder said. “Clamming on the beach; waiting for a snack at the fish bar; a dad fishing on the dock with his kids, a boat tied up at the dock after a day sailing; a coffee and the newspaper on a sunny table; or the making of a dinner salad at the kitchen counter.”

When asked what he’d like viewers to see when looking at his work, Calder re-emphasizes his attachment to the simple, unfettered themes of his work, as if to leave a pure taste in the art lover’s mouth.

“I like to capture the small moments in our lives that give it its flavor,” he said.

In Freeland, and number 29 on the map, Carol Ann Bauer and her family have been creating porcelain pottery at Stillfire Pottery for 15 years on Whidbey Island.

“Water and nature themes have always been part of my work,” Bauer said. “Growing up by a wide, winding river in the Midwest, studying art in the mountains of Kentucky, living in Chicago near Lake Michigan and in Seattle by Puget Sound, and now living on rural Whidbey Island have all shaped what and how I see.”

All the work is handmade — meaning wheel-thrown and hand-built, individually glazed, and high-reduction fired in a gas kiln. The finished tableware — which includes bowls, vases, trays and mugs — is durable, lead-free, microwaveable and dishwasher safe.

“A beautiful line or form and fine detail have always caught my eye. Combining these elements harmoniously into a pot that is functional, as well, is very satisfying,” Bauer added.

Visit to see a preview of Bauer’s work.

Number 15 on the map in the Ledgewood neighborhood of Central Whidbey is the Salmonberry Studio of Francy Blumhagen, a painter for more than 30 years.

Blumhagen revels in what can be imagined from the inspiration of the natural world in her mixed-media collages, prints and paintings.

“I love what I get to do as an artist, especially the fun of experimenting and playing with color and pattern as these apply to my subjects from the natural world,” Blumhagen said. “I really enjoy sharing that with the folks who visit my studio.”

The Salmonberry Studio specializes in unique mixed-media cards that are individually crafted from start to finish. The images are produced on hand-painted Japanese paper by combining traditional block printing with paint and crayon embellishments.

No two images are exactly the same, though there are more than 190 designs in her card canon with descriptive titles such as “Fox,” “Pinecone,” “Zinnia,” “Tomato” and “Kiss.” The images are colorful, youthful in their design while well executed, decidedly whimsical and extensive in their variety.

The tour this year is free, with 44 locations open to art lovers between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. both Saturday, Sept. 25 and Sunday, Sept. 26. Visitors will see new works by glass artists, painters, photographers, fiber artists, jewelry makers, sculptors, metalworkers and potters — and where artists will talk about their work and perhaps demonstrate how they make it.

To find out more — click here.

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