Arts and Entertainment

Friends celebrate 130 years of life and art

Skip Smith
Skip Smith's 'Shelter, Deception Pass' is one photograph in a retrospective opening this weekend at the Bayview Cashstore.
— image credit: Skip Smith photo

One hundred and thirty years of art is worth celebrating.

Especially when it’s your birthday.

That’s the combined ages of Francy Blumhagen and Skip Smith, who wish to share the auspicious occasions of their 60th and 70th birthdays with local art lovers.

“A Retrospective Show of Our Art” opens Feb. 28 at the Open Door Community Gallery in the Bayview Cash Store.

Blumhagen said she has always drawn and painted.

“Some of my earliest memories are of sitting at my mother’s desk making a picture,” the artist said.

“It’s been more a matter of entertaining myself than a conscious effort to make ‘art.’”

Blumhagen, who is currently represented by the Karlson/Gray Gallery in Langley, said throughout her 60 years she was always a picture maker whether at college, while at her “real job,” on camping trips or ultimately, while living the life of a full-time working artist. During the past 27 years, she has shown her work in a number of galleries throughout the West.

“The pieces I’m showing in this retrospective are the ones I’ve kept, for whatever reason, over the 60 years of my life,” Blumhagen said. “They represent my different ages, different media, different frames of mind.”

Much of the work for this show has never been out of her studio and reveals a glimpse into the artist’s personal side; the pieces done to amuse herself rather than to show in galleries.

“It will be fun for me to see this group on the wall and I hope for others, too,” she said.

Blumhagen, who has a March 8 birthday, said the milestone of turning 60 is made even better by being able to share the celebration with her dear friend and artist.

Smith, whose birthday is Feb. 27, is a photographer who came to art by way of bugs.

“As a biology professor and entomologist, I started to photograph to illustrate my lectures,” he said.

“Then I got involved with black-and-white work and my creative juices switched from studying insects to art.”

For him, this retrospective show traces some of the various paths that he has taken in exploring and developing a vision.

Smith said his 70-year-old self realizes that he has come a long way, but more important that he has a long way to go, as well, in the explorations of his art.

For this show, he has selected a variety of pieces that explore different photographic techniques and themes.

His work includes landscapes, still lifes, figures, portraiture and travel photos, as well as antique photo albums and handmade books with an eye to making all the work appear old, as if from a century past.

Like Blumhagen, the personal celebration extends outward for Smith and it is the community that provides the impetus for new work.

“I am celebrating not only a milestone birthday, but also the vast art community on Whidbey Island. It encourages and stimulates people of all abilities and techniques and it certainly is what makes Whidbey such a marvelous place to live,” Smith said.

The show runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 28 through Saturday, March 7.

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