On Saturday, September 8, somewhere between 375 and 400 visitors enjoyed the work of 17 artists in ten open homes during the Artists@Issaquah exhibition. The weather cooperated and people were wowed by our waterfront lifestyle and the creative artwork.
After a five-year hiatus, organizers John Schlag and Jennifer Gennari rebooted the art show and sale that ran for ten years from 2003 to 2012, with talented representatives from East Pier, Charles Van Damme, A Dock, Varda Landing and an anchor-out, in addition to Issaquah. “When the organizers of the Floating Homes Tour announced there’d be no tour in 2018, we saw this as the perfect opportunity,” John said. “We could avoid the competition between the two events that some had felt back in 2012. Now the idea is to alternate the events.”
Founded by Jim Woessner, the event’s twin purposes were to encourage people who did not identify as artists to create and present art in various media, and to give back to the community. This year’s event hewed closely to those values, resulting in a $500 donation to Marin City schools arts education as well as recruiting some new artists to the show.
Some artists had pieces for sale—and did quite well—while others exhibited for the pure joy of showing their work and interacting with visitors. Ricardo Castro, photographer, said, “Yes, we did it just for the fun of it!” Exhibiting alongside Alissa di Franco, painter and puppet-maker, Castro added, “And Alissa’s puppets got a lot of attention.”
Exhibition stalwarts Barbara Duncan and John Sibaila teamed up to show pen & ink drawings and jewelry in the Pirate. John Ryan and Stephen Ehret, both painters, tag-teamed an exhibition in John’s home, with Ehret delivering his oeuvre by water from the Night Heron. Other experienced exhibitors such as Pat Lawrence (watercolor), Annie Sutter (watercolor) and Katrina Wagner (sculpture), and of course Jim Woessner who exhibited in his own home/studio, added their inimitable touches. Lisa Manthe (acrylics and assemblage) and Robert Paul T (photography) interspersed their work to create a unique visitor experience in the White Pelican. Jarl Forsman (photographic art), and Katharine Butler (woodcut prints and cards) had wonderful sales. Newcomers Tracey Corbin (linocut prints), Betsey Finn (watercolor), and Laurie Fossier-Mills (glass-blower and kiln-former) rounded out the show.
Also, as in the past, the group threw a thank-you party for the Issaquah community at Ted’s Corner. Organized by Issaquah resident and realtor Rachelle Doris, with Steve Sekhon, it was a chance to announce the attendance and donation stats for the show, as well as toasting the success.
Volunteers also made wonderful contributions. Issaquah newcomers Katie and John Balestreri, together with Tim Brown manned the welcome table at the mailhouse, gamely swatting away flies between groups of entering attendees. Pete Hudson and Kats Hunter provided security patrol.
Rebooting the event was doable in no small measure due to the participation of the artists, venue hosts, and volunteers, as well as good record-keeping in prior years. “Jim ceremoniously handed over the binder with all the information from the first ten years,” John said. “It was invaluable. Once I’d digested that, I decided to update things a bit by bringing the organizing online, with a Google Group for email, and a shared spreadsheet for the artists and venue match-up.” John and Jen are no strangers to meetings and organizing. “People thanked us for running tight meetings,” he said. “I told them we do this all day at work.”
Jen served as Communications Director, aided by Tracy, Laurie, and Robert, and got the word out for both artist recruiting, calendar listings, and media mentions.
As to why one would undertake “herding cats,” John related, “This event is sacred to us. Jennifer and I got a lot of good information on how to finance and insure a floating home when I visited the 2010 show. People were so open-hearted. That spirit—plus the feeling that Issaquah is in some sense still an artist community—is what convinced us to buy here. So when the 2011 show came around, we were the first to volunteer our home as exhibition space.”