Some of the artwork on view at Freeland Art Studios that’s hosting an open house June 9.

Some of the artwork on view at Freeland Art Studios that’s hosting an open house June 9.

Warehouse comes alive as art incubator

Freeland Artist Studios hosts annual tour

Artists are a lonely species.

When they seek company, it’s often in search of other creative creatures.

Such is the case of the space called Freeland Art Studios.

Lying low behind Freeland’s Harbor Street banks, the whirr and whiz of heavy machinery echos under the roof of an old lumber warehouse.

Where buzzing saws once cut maple and fir long boards, granite slabs, boulders of basalt, steel and metal and other chunks of material are melded, molded, cut and coerced into stunning pieces of art.

Some end up in galleries, others as functional design in high-end homes and a few serve as poignant cemetery memorials.

The sprawling 7,000 square-foot building is divided into studios of all sizes.

One dozen artists share it, working in a variety of different media including clay tile, jewelry, mosaics, cast glass, bronze, wood, resin paintings, mixed media and water features.

“What I like most about having a collaborative studio space is all the informal discussion about art and art making and the camaraderie,” said sculptor Sue Taves, whose work and tools keep expanding into bigger and bigger quarters. “Especially working in stone, having a second pair of trained hands around to help is so valuable.”

Once a year, the artists of Freeland Art Studios let the public peek in.

From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 9, they’ll be demonstrating and talking about their craft and showing works in progress. Art for sale will also be on display in small showrooms.

“We do this as a way to invite the community in to show what’s going behind the metal walls,” Taves said. “People curious about how art is conceived, planned and executed get a chance to find out.”

Two new artists recently joined the collaborative while a third is trying a new medium.

Karen Renz, who makes multi-dimensional glass creations, is in the process of setting up her studio while Jon Bloom is settling into his closet-size 8-foot by 10-foot workshop.

“I’ve been here six months. It’s really as much room as I need,” said Bloom, who is a photographer and shapes what he calls clay portraits — heads and faces intricately shaped into real and imaginary people.

“This one is just make believe,” he says of the gray stoic face before him with furrowed forehead and heavy brow. “I started it about one month ago. I wanted to show weariness.”

Bloom, a retired Microsoft employee, recently moved to Whidbey Island for the beauty and supportive artist community.

His friend is Woody Morris, who owns the company Waterscape and specializes in turning natural stone into indoor and outdoor waterfalls and fountains.

During the studio tour, Morris will be showing how he’s now turning lamp work glass beads into art.

Lloyd Whannell is the first artist who started renting at the warehouse some 15 years ago, Taves said. Whannell is the owner of Fine Art Builders, a custom stone fabrication business, which creates counter tops, fine art sculptures, memorials and other custom stone work.

Friday mornings, the Freeland studio artists gather for breakfast in Langley to share concerns or just chat. When they’re stuck or just plain procrastinating, they also wander the warehouse to see what’s incubating in each other’s heads and studios.

“I benefit from an energetic and synergistic effect that elevates my inspiration and productivity,” said Renz, whose glass art is produced using carving, fusing, enamels and frit work. “This result is sometimes greater than the sum of my individual efforts.”

Since artists by their nature have different expressions and sensitivities, sharing studio space can potentially enhance how a particular piece unfolds, Renz added.

“In short,” she said, “being a part of Freeland Art Studios keeps the creative juices flowing.”

Freeland Art Studios Annual Tour, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, June 9, 1660 Roberta Avenue (behind Whidbey Island Bank and the WAIF Thrift store.) For more information: www.FreelandArtStudios.com

Sue Taves often works outside on her large stone pieces.
                                At Freeland Art Studios, one dozen artists have created workspace in the old logging warehouse. Many work with large, heavy material, such as sculptor Sue Taves who creates outside when weather permits.

Sue Taves often works outside on her large stone pieces. At Freeland Art Studios, one dozen artists have created workspace in the old logging warehouse. Many work with large, heavy material, such as sculptor Sue Taves who creates outside when weather permits.

“Island View II” by Sue Taves

“Island View II” by Sue Taves

Jon Bloom works on one of his clay portraits at Freeland Art Studios.

Jon Bloom works on one of his clay portraits at Freeland Art Studios.

A work in progress by Jon Bloom

A work in progress by Jon Bloom

Glasswork by Karen Renz

Glasswork by Karen Renz

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