Whidbey artists open their studios to public

Artist Robbie Lobell is one of 92 artists who will open their homes and studios to the public Sept. 26 and 27, for an inside look at the artistic process.  - Photo submitted by Sherrye Wyatt
Artist Robbie Lobell is one of 92 artists who will open their homes and studios to the public Sept. 26 and 27, for an inside look at the artistic process.
— image credit: Photo submitted by Sherrye Wyatt

People will travel through the neighborhoods and back roads of 92 artists next week, for a close up glimpse of their private studios.

The 13th Annual Whidbey Island Open Studio Tour is Whidbey-wide event, and it runs Sept. 26 to 27.

“Artists are an interesting group. You hear what inspires them to do what they do and everyone has their own story,” organizer Sherrye Wyatt said.

There are a number of new artists on the self-guided tour this year, and many returning artists are offering something different.

Pottery artist Robbie Lobbell, who shares a studio with Maryon Attwood in Coupeville, will cook food with her flameware pots.

It’s a way to educate the public about cooking in clay. Lobbell is known for her sculptural cookware and the signs in her studio read: “please do touch.”

Another unique artist is Shirley Ashenbrenner, who will show her “Save Puget Sound” series. Ashenbrenner is a mixed-media artist, who creates pieces from found or recycled materials. For the series, she used objects she picked up along the beach near her Coupeville home, to send a message about keeping the sound safe and clean.

“It’s like working on a little puzzle, she builds around what she finds,” Wyatt said.

Guests may also meet woodworking artist Gary Leake, whose techniques and tools were employed during the 17tth through 19th centuries. Or fabric artist Mary Burks, who often experiments with new textiles and yarns.

The event allows people an opportunity to peek into an artists’ personal work space, which is often times very private. In many cases, the studios are in the artists’ homes.

“Many are quite incredible,” Wyatt said of the homes. “There are views and special areas where they create their work. There’s also a lot of interesting wall art, paint choices, ceilings and metal work.”

She said do-it-yourself decorators can get ideas for their own homes.

Each year, the event continues to attract more professionals, who are honored and rewarded on and off the island. The two-day tour provides a rare chance to meet these artists while experiencing the actual settings in which they work.

Guests may also purchase the art, as they hear intimate stories of its inspiration. Tickets are $10 and include a tour guidebook, map and calendar.

Proceeds from the event will support scholarships and grants for local students and aspiring artists.

To purchase tickets online go to, call 360-221-4121 or contact the Pacific Northwest Art School at 360-678-3396.

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