Island visitors and residents alike can get a sampling of the local art scene by following the Whidbey Art Trail, which officially opens on June 1 this year.
The self-guided tour meanders through a selection of sculpture parks, art galleries and personal studios. This year, there are 24 participating members on the map. This is the 11th year for the trail, which runs until May 31, 2023.
The event is a program of the Whidbey Island Arts Council.
For fiber artist Janet King, the Whidbey Art Trail has offered a low-key environment for her to get to know people visiting her studio in Freeland.
“I can spend more one-on-one time with people and show them things and there’s not a big crowd wanting my attention,” she said.
She works with wool, silk and other natural fibers to make handmade felt, which is a durable fabric used in clothes, wall art and bowl-like creations she refers to as “vessels.”
She also incorporates botanical printing into her art to create vibrant colors.
The process of combining the fibers is tricky to describe and is best seen demonstrated in her studio. She mixes them together to produce images on the fabric.
“It’s hard to get people to realize just how intense it is to do all the layout because you’re pulling the tiniest bit of fiber each time and it’s lots and lots of layering,” she said.
Her studio has been a destination on the Whidbey Art Trail for five years.
“I think that the art trail is really gaining momentum these last couple of years,” she said. “I’m hoping that more and more artists will join.”
Glassmaker Katrina Hude is appreciative of the art trail’s flexibility.
“The art trail is unique in that people enjoy the opportunity to do a self-guided tour,” she said.
“They can come and go on their own schedule and select which locations they want to visit and to what degree they want to engage with the art community.”
The Greenbank artist makes abstract shapes in glass, some which resemble barbells or pushpins. Household objects, such as watering cans or bowls, are also in her repertoire.
“I meet people from all over the place, all over the world, really, who discover the map or the online promotion who come to me and are interested in seeing art in action,” she said.
She also enjoys being located centrally on the map, meaning she’s not too far away for northerners or southerners on Whidbey Island to visit.
With the majority of artists on the map being located south of Greenbank, basket weaver Reggie Kastler is a rarity. The Oak Harbor resident specializes in colorful baskets woven from reeds. In March, she made her 18,000th basket.
“I learned to love color as a child,” she said. “People say that my baskets have incredible color schemes, and it’s because of the freedom I have that I can use.”
Her baskets range in price from $6 to $500 and come in all shapes and sizes. She dyes the reeds herself.
Even before moving to Whidbey, Kastler had a fondness for the variety of art represented on the island.
She believes that the Whidbey Art Trail has brought more business to her studio, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I like it a lot because the customers come to you,” she said. “It’s pretty cool.”