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Open Art Studio Tour

Local art event is back for the fall

By Rachel Kelly

Art By Clint Berreth

Just in time for fall, the Open Art Studio Tour is back! In conjunction with the Peninsula Art League, the Open Art Studio Tour is giving us locals a look behind the scenes to some of the best art in the gateway to the Olympic Peninsula. Held on September 17 through 19, here’s all you need to know about this year's in-person tradition.

Once a year, locals can enjoy works from close to 40 artists, with over 25 studios. Talent comes from the entire Key Peninsula, including Gig Harbor, Fox Island, Olalla and Port Orchard. This is a time to meet artists in their work environments and get a rare glimpse into their creative process. If you are curious about the process of art, or are simply looking for something fun to do, this tour is for you. Artists will also be showcasing and selling original work.

Gig Harbor Open Studio tour continues a tradition established in 1993, where artists who pass through a juried council are supported in the showcase of their unique talent. There will be explanations and demonstrations from new as well as known artists.

Art is always new and expanding; expounding upon known variables and making it into something new. Art changes our perspective, opening up new avenues of thought. New ways at looking at the world. A different way of seeing. At its simplest form, art is beautiful and comforting. It exhibits and brings emotion close to home. The Open Art Studio Tour is interested in showcasing artists who do exactly that, through all different mediums. Though their time spent in the field may be short or long spent, each artist is of a special caliber.

Of the mediums present this year we have photography, salt-fired ceramics, jewelry, printmaking, acrylic painting, sculpture (metal and stone), watercolor, mixed media, ceramics, graphite, textiles, glass, fiber, woodworking, pastels and oil. All of these various mediums will be present along with their creators and the space in which they create. Watching them demonstrate their craft could also give you insight into your own creativity! It’s like a myriad of free art classes!

Among the artists involved in the tour is the accomplished Donna Trent, who grew up in Northwest Washington. She has traveled far with her work, teaching locally as well as in Europe and internationally. Today she is a part of several art organizations and exhibits her work in several local galleries in Washington and Oregon. She mainly works with pastels and oil but also does acrylics. She holds classes for beginners to advanced students year-round in her well-lit studio, which is located in the Artondale area of Gig Harbor. Her studio will be open during the Open Art Studio Tour. If you’re interested in checking her out online, or booking classes, please see

Also present at this year's studio tour is Cathie Johnson, who is a “regional watercolor artist whose paintings reflect her love of local bays, boats and coastlines.” Cathie has been painting for more than 30 years, exhibiting and selling her work throughout the Willamette Valley and the Oregon Coast. In 2009, Cathie retired with her husband and moved to Gig Harbor. It was, for her, a return to her roots with the water and sails. She joined the EbbTide Gallery approximately seven years ago, where she exhibits all her original watercolors. Her contact is

The Peninsula Art League, with whom a lot of our local artists are a part, “typically [does] up to four shows a year. But a lot has been canceled because of COVID,” says Bill Watchler, who resides on the committee for the league. Once Washington opened up, the Peninsula Art League began moving toward offering its festivals and workshops again. The Peninsula Art League echoes how we feel, a scramble to enjoy the summer before the hot summer turns to a crisp fall. Their Summer Art Festival, usually held downtown, had to be held online this year (as that’s how it was organized before Washington opened up). But the league is looking forward to its future events being in person. Artists within the Peninsula Art League, such as Bill, are emerging in public once again for long missed community events, such as the Open Art Studio Tour. The tour is a celebratory comeback for our community, a sign of forward movement.

And what better way to celebrate freedom of both expression, health and movement than through art? The art tours are self-guided and intimate, which means that the tour is short on crowds. All in all, it sounds like a perfect way to gradually ease into in-person events. For our vulnerable members in our community, there are still virtual tours available. For information on local artists willing to showcase their work, studios available for visitors, a map, and information on virtual tours, please visit

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