Open Studio Tour offers a peek inside artists’ workplaces
This weekend’s Open Studio Tour is an annual opportunity to meet local artists and learn how they work and what inspires them to create.
The 2022 tour features 23 professional artists in Gig Harbor, the Key Peninsula, Fox Island and South Kitsap. Participants include painters, potters, jewelry designers, fiber and glass artists and sculptors who work in wood, stone, metal and clay.
The 2022 Open Studio Tour takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept, 16, 17 and 18. Click here to download a map of the free self-guided tour.
Meet the artists
Gig Harbor ceramic artist Barb Bourcheidt is a long-time Open Studio Tour participant. She likens the act of making bowls, containers and serving plates to returning to the pleasures of childhood: “Squishing mud between my fingers, splashing in water and playing with fire.”
Her work reflects her feeling of profound connection to the natural world.
Dan Barnett is another OST veteran who works in clay. Like Bourcheidt he makes functional pieces, but he’s also well known for his ceramic totems – tall outdoor sculptures whose individual parts are often interchangeable.
Most of Barnett’s work is salt fired, a process he calls “labor intensive and very unpredictable.” Opening the kiln after a successful firing is joyful, he said – like a kid unwrapping presents. It’s a process that keeps him “going back to the studio to start the whole crazy process all over again.”
Barnett and his wife, jewelry designer Mariam Barnett, co-chair the tour this year. Miriam recently retired as executive director of the Pierce County YWCA.
To her, the tour is an opportunity to connect with people and teach them about art.
“Dan and I have been working on our crafts for more than 40 years,” Mariam said. “We believe the arts save lives. And creating art is what keeps us whole, balanced and happy. We love doing the studio tour because it allows us to share our passion for the arts with others.”
Open Studio Tour rookies
This is Natalie Benner’s first year in the studio tour. She was actually accepted two years ago, just as Covid shut everything down. Her preferred mediums are textiles and embroidery, and her work reflects her fondness for making use out of almost anything.
“The tour brings attention to how many talented creators we have in our area,” she wrote in an email. “I think supporting local talent and local businesses is essential for community building and engagement. And even if a person didn’t buy any art from the tour, just visiting the studios and making connections is a great way to show support.”
In her studio deep in the Olalla woods, Rebecca Stansbury – another first-timer – sculpts a menagerie of whimsical creatures and quirky human characters from clay. You’ll find floppy-eared hares riding on magic carpets, fairy-like figures about to take off in flight, fantasy fish critters, smiling gargoyles and all manner of other imaginings of her fertile mind.
Each piece is developed through numerous test-firings. Experimenting with glazes and the figurative forms “are a timeless means of discussing various aspects of the human condition.”
A community of local artists
Andrew Van DeGoede works in paint, charcoal and chalk. He grew up in the Puget Sound area, and the beauty of the natural world infuses his artwork, which he calls “impressionistic realism.”
DeGoede joined the studio tour four years ago to be part of a community of local artists, he said.
He teaches high school design courses full-time. Although his art career takes a back seat during the school year, the tour “gives me an excuse to plan my compositions during classes and spend my holidays bringing them to fruition. It’s a call to action for me to stay in the studio.”
Stained glass artist Marty Bobrowski has been practicing her craft for nearly three decades. Much of her inspiration comes from Frank Lloyd Wright, the Art Nouveau movement and – of course – from nature, she said. “Playing with colors and textures of glass and the effect that sunlight has in it is like music for the eyes.”
Finding art in the utilitarian
The father-daughter team of Dale and Micayla McDaniels use their shared passion for wood to create utilitarian objects like bowls and containers, and also carved items.
Dale’s fondness for wood began as a youngster when his father gave him a toolbox. For a while he built cabinets, but found that industry too restrictive and began experimenting with a lathe.
Micayla took shop classes in high school, but her interest really developed when she met an artist in New Zealand. She started by doing bone carving with files and rotary tools and then expanded to wood carving and wood burning.
When Dale retired, the two teamed up in what they call their “dream shop” on Fox Island.
“It’s the love of wood and all it’s beautiful God-given properties that ignites our passion,” Micayla said “We provide form and function and let the wood speak for itself.”
Other tour artists include stone sculptors Sharon Feeney and Pierre Mollinet; painters Jani Freeman, Tami Figlioa, Lisa Eul, Kate Larson, Barbara Bleich and Bill Wachtler (who also does photography and woodworking); printmaker Lea Lazarus; photographer Rick Alway; fiber artists Shannon Kruger and Maureen Reiley; potter Becky Horkan; jewelry designer Claudia Ann Wild and bead artist Paulette Hoflin.
Open Studio Tour history
The tour was founded in 1993 by the late Al Johnsen, a Gig Harbor painter and potter who founded a similar tour when he taught art at UC Santa Cruz.
One of Johnsen’s goals was that tour should introduce the community to artists as people who actually create things with their hands.
He also believed that participating in the tour would encourage artists to “dig a little deeper and try new things” so they could show new, fresh work every year. His hope was that educating the public about art and how it’s made might inspire others celebrate their own creative spirits.