A carver, a printer and a “nerd art” creator will be among the more than 40 artists participating in the 2017 Anacortes Artist’s Studio Tour at 30-plus venues during the two-day event, October 21-22. By joining the tour, these and other first-timers will increase the diversity and widen the appeal of this year’s art offerings.
Let’s take a closer look at the art of some of these newcomers to the 98221studio tour on Fidalgo Island.
TSUI-TON, MASTER CARVER
As the Artist in Residence for the Samish Nation, Tsul-Ton — also known around Anacortes as Bill Bailey — runs the “Carving Shed” at the tribe’s compound and meets weekly with other carvers to learn, to share ideas and to perfect their carvings. As you enter the shed, located behind the Samish Nation Administrative offices at 2918 Commercial Avenue, the sweet smell of cedar fills the air. Planks and large chunks of red and yellow cedar are stored in the shed for future projects and it also provides space for the carvers to meet and work together.
Sometimes up to a half dozen carvers show up for Thursday morning sessions, and the shed is Tsul-Ton’s workplace for all the special projects he’s always creating. They carve paddles, rattles, poles or anything else they feel like trying with the help and encouragement of the group. The walls of the shed are covered with sketches, photos and clippings that might trigger ideas for new projects.
“I have enjoyed many years of carving,” Tsul-Ton says, “as well as sharing what I know with so many. It’s been a true gift to see many pieces of my work go to different countries. It’s not something I planned, it grew out of vision, understanding and patience,” Tsul-Ton says with a smile that lights up his eyes.
Born in Tacoma, Tsul-Ton graduated from high school in Oklahoma and then attended Medicine Creek College and Northwest Indian College; he earned a degree in lithographic arts in Denver and studied computer graphics for a time. But Tsul-Ton considers himself a self-taught Coast Salish designer — and recalls that as a boy, “I was always drawing.”
He was living in Puyallup, when the grandmother who raised him asked during a visit to her home at the time, “When are you coming home?” That’s when he moved to Anacortes/Guemes in 2010.
Anyone who has been on the Tommy Thompson Trail as it crosses the Samish-owned Fidalgo Bay RV resort has passed the “healing pole” carved by Tsul-Ton and fellow carvers in the spring of 2010 after the tragic explosion at the Tesoro refinery and the arson that destroyed part of the Fidalgo Bay trestle trail. The pole, with its “red hand” design, was a gift from Tsul-Ton to the community-in-mourning, and its carving coincided with the life-giving gift of a transplant that restored his own health.
During the Anacortes Artist’s Studio Tour, visitors are welcome at the carving shed to meet Tsul-Ton and other local carvers who will be working there both days from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
JERONIMO SQUIRES, LETTERPRESS PRINTER EXTRAORDINAIRE
As an artist fully involved in the printing industry since the days of linotypes machines and moveable type, Jeronimo Squires has personally watched the transition of his chosen field of work morph from an industry into a craft.
The California native loved how surfing and newspaper printing intertwined in his life near the Pacific Ocean at Huntington Beach. But eventually he and his wife Kay Reinhardt found themselves running a major print shop in the heart of downtown Seattle at Second Street and Virginia Avenue when they bought Orrin F. Drew Fine Printing. The ink and creativity flowed as the giant presses turned out innumerable products that were in strong demand. You name it — they probably designed and printed it — menus, invitations, calendars, price tags, programs, matchbooks, business cards, posters, flyers, wine labels — always incorporating an artful touch in their creations.
As the printing industry was completely digitized starting in the 1980s, Jeronimo was one of those people who realized the hulking presses with their hypnotic, rhythmic sounds and perfect, mechanical movements infused with the scent of ink were worthy of preserving, and he realized there would always be a place for the aging presses in the world of art as well as commerce.
That’s when the printer also became a historian. He hung onto three letterpresses and moved into space on Commercial Avenue in 1997 in Anacortes. The shop was short-lived, but he kept the three presses — two treadle presses manufactured in 1902 and 1911 and a motorized press built in 1920. As devoted designers and printers, he and Kay founded the Living Museum of Letterpress Printing, a nonprofit organization which became an important repository for many donated “parts” of the disappearing industry and became a museum in their garage at 1102 O Avenue.
Thomas Edison called the printing press, invented by Gutenberg in Germany in around 1450, “The eighth wonder of the world,” and when Jeronimo's presses are running, visitors can see and hear for themselves how true that description remains. He delights in explaining the system and points out, “there’s lots of art in this…,” the art created by combining movable type and original designs.
Jeronimo would like to offer classes to others who still love all the possibilities letter presses offer - perhaps a class to learn how to create and print posters. He’ll continue to do his part to keep the presses humming. Visitors on the Anacortes Artist’s Tour may find themselves attracted to the fascinating abilities of the old machines and the unique process of letterpress. Heronimo and Kay will be on hand to explain and answer questions during the tour. Who knows what the next era of a letterpress museum in Anacortes may offer? You’re invited to come by to see if you fit into that future, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., both days, at the garage/museum at 1102 O Avenue.
E.J. TOOVEY, PREMIERE FOR ‘NERD’ ART CREATOR
Meet a transplanted Aussie who’s now at home in Anacortes and who wears many hats — small business co-owner (Predecessors), local roller derby coach of the the Cascade Reign, dance teacher (of modern jive) — and more recently an accomplished fine line drawing artist who creates what she calls “Nerd Art.”
E.J. is drawn to monsters, sci fi creatures and characters from 1950s B grade movies as subjects for the very intricate art she creates using black ink fine line pens with nibs that vary in size from tiny to miniscule. The finished projects take many hours but for someone who has always been a “doodler,” and because she has lots of energy, her drawings take her “out of my head” to a creative realm she enjoys very much.
“I love everything nerdy,” she claims and is always working to improver her “nerd credibility.”
Lately, she completed a commissioned drawing of a Trojan mascot and she’s beginning to experiment with watercolor and acryllic backgrounds for her drawings. She describes her art as “every man art — affordable — that uses simple tools, just MICRON pens and drawing paper. You can get everything you need at the stationery store!” she said.
E.J. is impressed by the amount of art and number of artists found in her small, new hometown of Anacortes after growing up in the west coast city of Perth in Australia. “I think people here have the time and inclination — because of the natural beauty of the place — to discover that they have latent artistic talent,” E.J. said. That combination of time and inspiration creates lots of artists of all ages here, she believes.
Although she touts the simplicity of her line drawings, there’s nothing simple about creating complex designs in ink — “It has to be perfect the first time you lay it down…” she admits. And she advises viewers to take a very close look at her work to find the hidden images she tucks into each drawing.
During the Anacortes Artist’s Studio Tour, E.J. will share studio space with her friend and fellow artist Heidi Brewer-Peters located on Cap Sante. The 2017 studio tour will be the “Premiere” for her artwork — she’s never shown any of it, anywhere, before. “Heidi just insisted I had to be in this show, it’s a little scary but it will be fun,” E.J. says.
Like all the participating artists — returning and new — Heidi and E.J. look forward to meeting visitors to the studio and answering their questions on Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m to 5 p.m.
Find out more here about the 98221 Studio Tour.
By Laura Hamilton
Anacortes Arts Commission member
Arts in Anacortes
Featuring arts for all in Anacortes.