Eat It All

The most beautiful place on earth is tucked away right up here in the PNW, equal distance from Washington State and B.C. Canada. The San Juan Islands are paradise and Lopez Island is the crown jewel.

Unlike San Juan or to a lesser extent Orcas, Lopez Island is still a working agrarian island relatively untouched by tourism, so there are fewer places to stay and not as many restaurants. That is not to say you can’t get a good meal on Lopez; The Love Dog served salmon caught that day with fresh blackberries and sauce, along with fresh beans and potatoes harvested right there on the island.

Our family has a tradition of taking ‘dusk drives,’ where we view the stunning vistas and count the deer and rabbits before heading home to root beer floats. Among our favorite places on the island is Agate Beach, where we picnic, or Shark’s Reef, where we watch the seals on nearby rocks. Richardson’s Store, on the South tip of the island, was a good old fashioned country store with an inventory that made no sense to anybody but locals, but they served the best ice cream cones and until the store burned down in the 90’s, it was a favored destination for dozen’s of bicyclists who enjoy the rolling hills of Lopez.

This weekend it was our good fortune to arrive in time for the 2003 Lopez Island Studio Tour where 15 artists opened up their studios to the public. In addition to providing an opportunity to drive past the ‘private road’ signs, it was a great chance to meet the artists in their homes, enjoying their work and having a chat. Christa Malay and Corwin Martin explained their decision to take the little they had and start over on the island. Despite their modest commercial success they still live simply on five acres just up the road from Shoal Bay. Sheila Simpson-Creps just moved to the island year around, having summered there for years. We talked about why she loves painting birds. Richard Singer loves canvas, but since being influenced by Asian art and culture, is now working with boxes. Luba Lukahnovich demonstrated some unique firing techniques she uses in her pottery, and at the Eidos Studio Steven Wrubleski explained how he gravitated to stained glass and made it his specialty. (You can actually see some of it at the Mountlake Terrace Pool and in the Bothell Library.)

I almost didn’t visit Kate Scott on Channel Road but she turned out to capture my fancy and is the only artist I took my daughters back to see the next day.

Kate is a whimsical artist with a social conscience who greeted me from a porch she shared with two dogs and a cat. Her simple cabin is packed with inviting books and every inch of wall, counter and tabletop is occupied by art of every kind. Her own work was scattered across the porch and down a path towards a second smaller cabin.

‘Manhattan Island Circa 1492’ shows a lush green island in the foreground with the outline of skyscrapers in the misty background. This piece was inspired when somebody pointed out that Lopez (25 miles north to south) occupies approximately the same landmass as Manhattan. Sitting on her porch looking through towering pines towards a Blue Heron winging its away above the water line, then thinking about the cacophony of noise, density of building and mass of people in Manhattan, the contrast was staggering and sobering.

In ‘Which Illegal Immigrants’ we see five Native Americans clustered and looking down towards a caption below, where we see the letter to the editor from a woman in San Diego complaining about the problems immigrants are bringing as they cross the border into “her country.” The obvious questions arising from the hostile quotes below and our land’s original inhabitants pictured above… Who are real the immigrants? What am I to make of my immigrant status? Who brought devastation to which inhabitants of this land?

My favorite Kate Scott piece, ‘Eat It All’, shows nine people gathered around what appears to be a dining table with knives and forks at the ready. Upon closer inspection we see they are gluttonously devouring the earth itself! John De Graff’s ‘Affluenza’ book and PBS series came to mind, as did the phrase ‘conspicuous consumption.’

One thing I’ve always liked about Lopez is the mix of people and different worldviews represented there. I wanted my daughters to meet Kate Scott, because in an America overrun with consumerism, racism and environmental travesty, here is an artist who creates her art out of the dissonance of what is and what should be.

(Kate Scott’s art is available in prints of different sizes and on gift cards. For more information contact Kate Scott direct at 1470 Channel Road, Lopez Island, WA 98261. Her e-mail is greatscott@rockisland.com)

Posted in Staublog, Thoughts in September 3, 2003 by | No Comments »

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