Perhaps nothing can keep a good idea down when its time has come. Such a concept was arrived at independently by several island artists in 1990. As luck would have it, they knew each other well and broached the subject to each other in passing. Thus the San Juan Island Artists' Studio Tour was born.
Lewis and Nancy Spaulding, Mary Sly and Dan Wyatt, Melissa Calohan, and Amanda Richardson met together to discuss the idea. They had heard of studio tours in other communities and thought it might be a good idea for San Juan Island. What if they and other professional artists opened their doors to island friends and neighbors and let folks see what they did while hiding away in their studios. They wanted the tour to be free to the public and to have a garden party feel. The tour became a celebration of artists, whose primary place of work is their studios, and who endeavor to create works of art. The open studios would also be a way to thank the community for support over the years.
A spring date was chosen for the event, a time when island wildflowers are in bloom and with the coming of longer days and warmer weather. People would be able to see artwork created over the quiet winter season. The idea of sharing the artistic process and to inspire others was as central to the original concept of the tour, as it is today.
That first year the tour included nine studios. The artists felt that it was important that people could easily visit all of the studios at their leisure during the two day event. With more professional artists moving to the island and with a larger population, as well as the evidence that more and more visitors were coming from off island, the artists’ studios were increased to twelve. Guest artists were invited in the following years. By adding guests to their studios the tour was able to include even more quality work as well as more variety, and artists that didn't have studios were able to join the tour. Studio artists and their guest artists found that they enjoyed the camaraderie of hosting the public together.
This year, the 24th anniversary of the San Juan Island Artists’ Studio Tour, 15 studios will participate with a total of 40 artists. All the artists have been working together to make this the best tour ever. A wide range of media are represented. Each studio is unique as is the work they produce. On June 6th and June 7th 2015 they welcome the community and their off island guests to visit their studios. We hope to see you there.
Last Updated 02/11/2014
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