Arts and Entertainment

Artwork helps to make a garden tour grow

Next weekend, Vashon Allied Arts will present its 22nd annual Garden Tour — a two-day fundraiser for VAA that celebrates all things landscaped.

But during the event, the five private gardens open to tour-goers will be filled not only with green, leafy and flowering things, but also with Island-made art.

According to Janice Randall, director of communications at VAA, it’s one more way for the organization to support local artists.

“This is another opportunity for artists to exhibit and sell their works,” she said.

This year, works by nine artists will grace the gardens.

Gregory Burnham’s bamboo screens and Steve Zartman’s metal sculpture will be displayed in Sylvia Soholt’s garden — a place described in Garden Tour materials as “a healing garden infused with quiet energy in three seasons that becomes vibrant in summer.”

Soholt’s garden also features a metal sculpture by Mike Urban, a functioning swing shaped like a leaf by Spanish designer Veronica Martinez and a pergola designed and constructed by Kris and Ray Gibbs.

Whit and Mary Carhart’s lush Northwest-style garden, covering much of a 20-acre spread on Quartermaster Harbor, will show off Clare Dohna’s tiled creatures and a metal sculpture by David Erue during the tour. Sculptures by Julie Speidel and Dominic Benhura permanently accent the landscape.

A garden belonging to Bruce Fillinger and Barry Foster — a place with both cultivated year-round gardens and natural landscapes — will provide a backdrop for Brian Brenno’s cut can metal sculpture and Jim Chobot’s furniture. The garden also features other colorful attractions, such as whimsical birdhouses and what is described in garden tour materials as a “chicken museum/palace.”

Dean Hanmer’s large cement humanoids and Barbara Wells’ bronze and glass works will be displayed in Todd and Mary Margaret Pearson’s garden — a tucked-away 10-acre spread described by Randall as “low maintenance, owner maintained and mostly deer-friendly.”

Another garden, belonging to David Pfieffer and Daniel Klein, will be accented with Charlotte Masi’s painted gourd art. There are also Asian structures and statuary in the garden.

Those not going on the tour can also view garden art — works by 20 more local artists will be on display in the tour’s “garden market,” a spread that will be located on the K2 lawn and open to the public.

A silent auction raising money for VAA will feature 13 additional artists who have been asked to embellish metal watering cans. The one-of-a-kind ewers are currently on view at locations all over town, including Heron’s Nest, The Hardware Store Restaurant and Island Home Center & Lumber.

According to Randall, this year’s Garden Tour emphasizes art more than any previous one  — a reflection of a growing trend by gardeners to embellish their gardens with all kinds of artworks.

“Garden art has really come into its own,” she said. “Why limit art to the inside of our houses?”


The Garden Tour begins with a Sunset Garden Gala at 6 p.m. Friday, June 22, in a private garden. Tickets are $125, call 463-5131 to reserve. Tickets to the tour, slated for Saturday and Sunday, June 23 and 24, are $25. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit


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