Kyle Jensen / The Record — Featured sculptor Hector Santos works toward completing his piece “Urban Pyramid” before the opening of the sculpture garden on Saturday.

Bringing sculpture to the masses for international celebration

South Whidbey knows how to celebrate International Sculpture Day.

With a plethora of residing talent to showcase and celebrate, South Whidbey’s multi-day rendition of the world celebration gives people a chance to see the work, meet the artists and witness the grand opening of a new and permanent outdoor sculpture garden.

And this time, Langley won’t hog all the attention of art lovers.

“This gives people a chance to see something unique, in that there are multiple venues to see outdoor sculpture on South Whidbey that people are not aware of,” Langley Arts Commission Chairman and sculptor Frank Rose said. “Of course Langley has a lot of public art, but Freeland has some great sculptures if you know where to look.”

Although International Sculpture Day is technically April 24, South Whidbey’s rendition spans two days — Saturday, April 22, and Sunday, April 23. A host of events and tours will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on both days, including tours of galleries, a sculpture preserve in Freeland and of the various pieces scattered throughout the Village by the Sea. The city of Langley will also recognize the work of renowned Clinton-based sculptor Georgia Gerber.

To properly celebrate International Sculpture Day, the resident artists at the Freeland Art Studios will unveil downtown Freeland’s first permanent outdoor sculpture garden. The garden is located next to the studio, which is the building adjacent to the WAIF thrift store on Roberta Avenue. According to Rose, who is a resident artist there, the garden and the studio are a glimpse into a largely unknown gem.

“This, in a way, is a look into the hidden Freeland art scene,” Rose said. “Most people don’t even know that we’re here inside this old garage.”

A grand opening will unveil the sculpture garden at 11 a.m. on Saturday. Although set in an industrial background — the studio is located in an old service garage and is littered with materials used by resident sculptors — the garden is a patch of green and artistic expression. Works from the 12 resident artists are positioned across the garden and inside the studio, providing a wide variety of works ranging from clay to stone to painting. Most of the pieces are for sale, according to Rose.

The resident artists include Rose, Sue Taves, Lane Tompkins, Lloyd Whannell, Penelope Crittenden, Declan Travis, Woody Morris, Carol Rose Dean, Tom Lindsay, Sara Owens, Dale Reiger and Teri Jo Summer-Reiger. Other South Whidbey-based sculptors will also have work on display, such as Dexter Lewis, Dan Freeman, Jan Hoy, Alexandra Morosco, Jeff Day, Hector Santos, Chuck Pettis, Ivan Neaigus and Pat McVay.

The artists will be present to chat about their works and their work process. Some will even give demonstrations of whatever projects they’re working on.

“There’s incredible talent here in such a small area; I’m in awe of their work,” Santos said. “There’s also so much appreciation on South Whidbey for art of all kinds. It’s a perfect situation for an artist to be in.”

Three miles from downtown Freeland, the works of sculptor Hank Nelson will also be on public display in his personal sculpture playground, Cloudstone Sculpture Park. Over 200 of his works ranging from “giant steel fabrications” to “acre-size earth works” cover the 15-acre plot of land, as well as a gallery that houses more sculptures available for purchase. Walking tours are available between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, and private tours are available by appointment at other times. Contact 360-331-3913 for details, or stop by Freeland Art Studios.

Over in Langley, celebrated Clinton-based sculptor Georgia Gerber will be presented with a pin of excellence by Mayor Tim Callison at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday. Gerber’s work includes the iconic pig at Pike Place Market, as well as “Boy &Dog” on First Street in Langley. The public recognition will be fittingly held at Boy and Dog Park.

“I’m mostly grateful to be a part of a community that has so many artists and so much talent that I often wonder why I’ve been chosen,” Gerber said. “It’s the other artists who inspire me. We feed off each other’s creative energy.”

Following the ceremony, people have the chance to go on a guided tour to see Langley’s public art, which covers nearly 40 different pieces scattered across the city. Callison is also slated to unveil a new Orca whale mural in Clyde Alley, Rose said.

“Artists are spread in large numbers throughout South Whidbey, and the various events for International Sculpture Day show that,” Rose said. “There’s so much to see, it’s hard to fit in within two days.”

Kyle Jensen / The Record — Freeland Art Studios resident sculptor Frank Rose explains the idea behind one of Sue Taves’ unfinished pieces. Taves is also a resident sculptor at Freeland Art Studios.

Kyle Jensen / The Record — Inside Freeland Art Studios, the work of 12 resident artists is on display.

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