The annual Whidbey Working Artists studio tour is a unique opportunity to get an up-close and personal look into the professional lives of local artists.
From 10 am to 5 p.m. on Aug. 20 and 21, people will be able to visit art studios and meet with artists all over Whidbey Island. Participating artists include painters, photographers, sculptors, woodworkers and several other mediums.
This year, there are 43 stops on the tour and a total of 53 artists. Some studios house more than one artist, such as Freeland Art Studios and Whidbey Clay Center in Freeland.
“The fascination with studio tours is about seeing where people work, how they work, seeing their tools, how they organize their space and what inspires them while they work,” said Kay Parsons, the program director for Whidbey Working Artists and the president of Whidbey Island Arts Council.
Whidbey Working Arts formed in 2004 and originally ran studio tours for artists who lived on the north end of the island. In 2015, the tour expanded to include artists who live in South Whidbey. Parsons said the tour attracts people from off the island and is great for the local economy.
Parsons described the tour as “intimate” and said people can get a more personal experience with an artist than they would at a gallery or arts fair, for example.
“It brings you closer to the art, very often,” she said.
The artists themselves also have something to gain from the tour.
“It’s a creative experience on both sides,” she said. “When you interact with people who like your work, who question, who are interested and who make you think about your work.”
While a lot of the artists on the tour have participated in it before, Parsons said she also likes to make sure there’s room on the tour for emerging artists and those who haven’t shown their work as much.
Oak Harbor artist Dan Ishler has been making pottery since 1970 when he had to take an art elective in college.
“I needed an art course and I took ceramics and just stayed with that,” he said.
Ishler has lived on Whidbey Island since 1999 and participated in the studio tour many times. In fact, he was part of the original effort to create it.
Ishler creates a wide variety of ceramic products, from more traditional vases and bowls to miniature cars and mugs with monstrous faces sprouting from them.
“I’ve been making them since college and they still sell,” he said of the mugs.