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  • Gig Harbor Living Local

A Culture Where Art Thrives

The arts are alive and well in the harbor

By Rachel Kelly

Photo by Dianne Gardner

Gig Harbor isn’t just the gateway to the Peninsula, it’s also a nexus of talent. Maybe it’s in the water, or maybe it’s the gorgeous landscape. Whatever it is, Gig Harbor is a sanctuary for art. From galleries, artists, open studios and outdoor events, there are a lot of ways to experience something new and beautiful this year. Outdoors and in, there’s plenty to look forward to.

“A lot has been cancelled because of COVID. But as this year goes on, there’s a lot to look forward to,” says Bill Wachtler of the Peninsula Art League and the Ebbtide Gallery Cooperative. The Peninsula Art League has served as a meeting and gathering place for arts in the harbor. They are a group of photographers, painters, sculptures, designers, calligraphers and just plain old art-lovers who gather together in one place to support each other, creating a culture where art thrives. They host up to four events and nine meets a year, in normal years. Their website,, also hosts artist websites where their art is on sale. The league is an open community that welcomes new members. To get involved just contact them online.

As the harbor opens up, the Peninsula Art League is looking forward to starting up their events again. The Summer Art Festival will be hosted online this year, which began in July and continues through August, as it was organized as such before the official opening. However, coming up in September is the Gig Harbor Open Studio Tour, which draws guests from throughout Washington. The event is exactly as its name describes: a tour of the studios of the masters. Artists Donna Trent and Kathy Johnson are just two of many accomplished artists who will be featuring their work in the place where they create it. If you choose to spend more time in these studios, some artists (including Trent) hold regular classes in their master craft. Information on joining classes can be found online on the artists’ websites, or on the Peninsula Art League website. For more information on the Gig Harbor Open Studio Tour, your best bet is to follow the event on Facebook for new and changing information.

But art doesn’t begin and end with painting, photography or sculpture. For do-it-yourself projects, there is the AR Workshop in Gig Harbor. The workshop is a combination of retail and workspace, where anyone can get their project done. It combines the practicality of everyday use with a beautiful expression of what makes a project “you.” Offered through the workshop are do-it-yourself kits, summer camps, group sessions, and instructor-led one-on-one courses that center around home décor and practical-use home crafts.

Weekly art classes for homeschoolers, after-school art, weeklong summer arts camps, adult workshops, weekend gatherings and parties are all offered through Peacock Paisley Art Studio. With mediums to include watercolor and acrylic painting, drawing, pottery, hand lettering, art journaling and crochet, Peacock Paisley Art Studio prides itself as being a place to connect and create.

If you're looking for a studio offering private classes and art parties, look no further than Art By Tami, with artist Tami Figliola. Catering to groups of six to 20, Tami enjoys sharing her passion for her craft with others.

For truly dynamic art that’s available year-round, there are several distinguished galleries throughout Gig Harbor. The Water’s Edge Gallery on Pioneer Way hosts a variety of artists, as well as provides custom framing (for all those works of art you created during the COVID year). The gallery also hosts the widely appreciated Gig Harbor Art Walk every first Saturday of every month, providing regular support for the arts throughout the year.

The Ebbtide Gallery Artist Cooperative is a gallery dedicated to showcasing the incredible talent available here in the South Sound. Artists apply for membership in the cooperative, with new applications for membership being accepted now. The gallery regularly showcases new and emerging artists, as well as featured artists. The gallery does the hard work of seeking out new and visionary local art.

The Birdnest Gallery and Custom Framing has been serving the South Sound on the Gig Harbor waterfront since 2002. For experience and selection in both frames and art, the Birdnest Gallery can’t be beat. This gallery also offers items such as pottery, woodwork, glass art, jewelry, cards, windsocks and Norwegian rosemaling. The Birdnest Gallery displays the roots of Gig Harbor, showcasing an impressive array of nautical art.

Gallery Row showcases incredible talent and celebrates artists everywhere. In operation since 1988, the gallery changes out its collection every month. Priding itself as a destination gallery, Gallery Row represents the work of 16 local artists. Mediums include oil, watercolor, acrylic, stained glass, fused glass, and much more.

Also happening very soon is the Maritime Gig Festival. The much beloved celebration of the rich history, traditions and vitality of Gig Harbor is happening provisionally on August 21 and 22, once the harbor is fully reopened. But planning is underway for a festival of fun, which includes parades, music and community celebration. The Peninsula Art League is also working with the Chamber of Commerce to showcase art! Outdoor demos are still underway and in the planning stages. For more information, follow the Maritime Gig Festival and the Chamber of Commerce, and gear up for a celebration.

Whether indoor or outdoor, online or in person, in our homes or in the galleries, art is alive and well in the harbor. What better way to ease into opening than with the beauty and emotion that only art can bring to the forefront? What better way to explore the newness of events than with our community? Together, we struggle, and together, we open up. Together, we try something new. Together, we create.

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