It comes around every May, as dependable and vibrant as the blooms on a rhododendron — Vashon artists fling open their studio doors to friends, gawkers and buyers alike to show off what they’ve created during the rainy winter months.
This year’s spring Studio Tour runs for the next two weekends, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., May 4, 5, 11 and 12, at 33 studios and other locations around the island. A record 60 artists will participate this year, with sculpture, paintings, clothing, ceramics, garden art, jewelry, candles, mosaics and more displayed in the environments in which they were created.
Several galleries, including The Hardware Store Restaurant Gallery, Judd Creek Ranch Gallery, Gather Vashon and VALISE and Vashon Center for the Arts, will also participate in the tour.
Launched in the late 1970s by a small but visionary group of island potters, the tour morphed into a wider display of many art mediums by the early 1990s. Studio tours have taken place both in spring and winter for decades now. But it took until 2015 for the tour group organizers to apply for nonprofit status. Another big change came in February 2018, when the group rebranded as Vashon Island Visual Artists (VIVA) and expanded the organization’s mission to serve island artists year-round. VIVA’s activities now include not only the semi-annual studio tours but also classes, workshops, salons, exhibits and social activities for artists. Membership in the group has grown to 300 artists.
Brian Fisher, VIVA’s current president, is an island printmaker who has participated in the studio tours since their early days.
“I’ve been doing this since forever,” he said. “But it continues to surprise us by growing every year.”
Fisher said he had not even met all the new VIVA members who will show work on the tour this year, and that he hoped to connect with all the newcomers soon, at other VIVA functions including regular potlucks held by the group.
He also noted that VIVA members won’t have much time to rest after the tour — a juried exhibition of VIVA members will open Friday, June 7, at The Hardware Store Restaurant Gallery.
Brochures with maps and descriptions of artists participating in the spring Studio Tour are available at most island businesses. Visit vivartists.com for more information.