Classical guitarist and South Whidbey newcomer Andre Feriante played at the recent launch party for Island Bohemians Cafe at Greenbank Progressive Hall. An off-shoot of Whidbey Island Arts Council, it hopes to bring together artists from all disciplines to spark creativity and alliances. Photos by Patricia Guthrie/Whidbey News-Times

Island Bohemian Cafe aims to crack the solitary artists’ life

European idea with Whidbey whimsy

Let’s be BoHo.

Bohemian, that is, or more specifically, let’s start a new club called Island Bohemians Cafe.

Although it may sound frivolous, this newest Whidbey arts entourage has serious intentions involving bringing order and inspiration to the often-solitary task of creativity.

An off shoot of Whidbey Island Arts Council, Island Bohemian Cafe is designed to “to offer social, inspirational and collaborative opportunities to creative professionals residing on Whidbey Island and currently active in the fields of visual arts, music, literature/poetry, theater/film, dance and culinary arts.”

It’s based on the European tradition of creative types gathering in cafes. Besides sparking friendships and ideas through meetings and featured speakers, another intent is to unite the south and north of Whidbey.

“We represent all of Whidbey. There isn’t a division between north and south, at least not among artists,” said Kay Parsons, president of Whidbey Island Arts Council, an umbrella non-profit agency based in Coupeville.

Plein air painter Brian Mahieu, who is co-president of the council, described his vision for the cafe during the group’s first meeting Oct. 22 at Greenbank Progressive Hall:

“Creation is a lonely business,” he said. “By its very nature it is a solitary pursuit. We stare into the abyss, we strive to find beauty in chaos, ugliness and pain, we reach into the ether to grasp our own truth and pull it into reality—making tangible that which only we can see. Creation is an act of sheer will.”

Mahieu has the look of a time traveler: long beard, wire-rim spectacles, high-collared shirt and suspenders.

With roots in the Midwest, Mahieu set his sights on the Pacific Northwest long ago and finally landed on Whidbey last year. He said when he first broached the idea of a cafe-style pursuit among the island’s musicians, sculptors, chefs, writers, dancers, poets and others, many approached him with wanting to bring the idea to life.

At its launch party, several members of the Island Bohemian Cafe steering committee spoke, including Kim Tinuviel, Alicia Maria Elliott and Karin Bolstad.

Tinuviel created a logo, Facebook page and website for the Cafe, emphasizing the European inspiration.

Musician Andre Feriante, a South Whidbey resident originally from Italy, played classical guitar and ukulele at the meeting.

Those in attendance seemed ready to engage in the proposed events of the cafe — monthly gatherings at people’s homes or studios, artists cafe nights and a January Bohemian Ball.

“I came out to see what it’s all about,” said musician Steve DeHaven of Mussel Flats band. “It’s really a good idea to get out and meet people pursuing other creative ventures.”

Standing in front of about 80 people gathered in a decorated hall with colorful sheer clothes and tall shoots of pampas grass from his yard, Mahieu spoke about how art can trump destruction and dismay, which seems to be the perpetual state of the nation and the world.

“The Second Law of Thermodynamics is called The Law of Increased Entropy,” he explained.

“The first law states that matter cannot be created or destroyed—that is the good news— however the quality of matter and energy deteriorates over time. Usable energy required for productivity, growth and repair becomes unusable energy in the process of entropy.

“As entropy increases, disorganization, randomness and chaos increase. When we create we are defying the Law of Increased Entropy. The act of creation defies disorganization, randomness and chaos.”

Called one of the finest painters of landscapes in Missouri, Mahieu’s work has been acquired by numerous museums worldwide and by the State Historical Society of Missouri.

His canvas of late depicts smoke lazing above the sea during this past summer’s wafting wildfire winds from Canada.

With obvious love for his new surroundings — both people and place — Mahieu said he looked forward to connecting with fellow artists “on this rare and wonderful island—dare I say this artists’ colony—in the Salish Sea.”

• For more information on Island Bohemian Cafe, see www.islandartscouncil.org/island-bohemians

Kim Tinuviel speaks about goals and plans for the newly-formed Island Bohemians Cafe.

Plein air painter Brian Mahieu (far left) is spearheading the effort to bring creative types together from all over Whidbey Island. “Creation is a lonely business,” he told the gathering of some 80 people.

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