Magic at the Anacortes Arts and Crafts Fair

The annual Anacortes Arts and Crafts Festival never fails to put a big grin on my face. I meet the nicest folks there…

  • There was Carla and her Funky Art – I’ve come to look forward to seeing her and her fun, whimsical creations every year. Her art and her words inspire me. We talked about the special challenges that kind-hearted, sensitive souls are experiencing lately, and I thanked her for sending hope out into the world
  • I met Jeff Walters and his baby girl waiting for an iced coffee at the Gypsy Coffee Stand – Jeff is one of those people that just glows with kindness – genuinely interested in the people around him. The barista asked me if I wanted a straw – I told her I’ve been having issues with straws lately – and she assured me her straws were compostable. Jeff wanted to know more about that – so I explained that there’ve been pictures circulating of straws sticking out of turtles’ noses (“…and manatees are feeding straws to their babies,” another coffee patron chimed in) and so compostable straws sound good. Jeff agreed. Then we got to talking – I learned he shared the same Alma mater as my dad, and told him Dad had pole-vaulted for the University of Washington after WWII. One thing led to another – and I learned that Jeff was a mountain climber, also. That was pretty cool.
  • There was Dixie – I met Dixie at a booth that sold jewelry made from agates and jasper. As I was talking to the artist about her jewelry, Dixie stood unobtrusively off to the side. When I asked the artist if she had a card, Dixie quietly pulled out the artist’s card and handed it to me. When we needed a pen, Dixie quickly conjured up a pen. It was like having a fairy godmother standing next to me. She was magic.
  • As I was walking by the water I came upon Barb and her grand-daughter, who were engaged in a cheerful game of checkers – with checker pieces as big as Kentucky Derby hats.

At the end of my morning in Anacortes – as I sat on a bench looking out across the marina and the bay – I felt all wrapped up in a sense of peace and well-being. It’s awfully nice to be reminded that the world is full of kind people and beauty, isn’t it?

“The best part was the people.”

Every year, during the first weekend of August, Anacortes, Washington, hosts its art festival. I always have such a blast there – not just because of the beauteous art that fills every booth along seven blocks of the city – but because there are so many fun people there. The highlights for me this year:

There was a group of about a dozen dudes in leather jackets and tatoos laughing and joshing around with each other – and I just had to find out more about them. “You guys look like characters,” I said. They grinned back at me and told me that they were a gang of motorcyclists from Bellingham. “Like the Wild Hogs?” I asked them, referring to the protagonists in the comedy with Tim Allen, Martin Lawrence, William Macy, and John Travolta. No, they said, more like the Del Fuegos (who were the bad guy antagonists in the film). I started laughing then – these guys cracked me up – and asked them if I could take their picture for my blog. They were agreeable to this and posed for me, then they each came by me and shook my hand and introduced themselves with a friendly smile. The last guy introduced himself as something like, “Never Know” – which was perfect. Later, when I was wandering down the street looking at stuff, I heard someone call out cheerfully, “Hi, Karen!” and¬†glanced over to find “Never Know” grinning at me. ūüôā


Motorcyclist Friends from Bellingham

As always, there were a lot of wonderful entertainers at the festival, too. I think my favorite this year, was¬†the young man who stood by himself at the edge of the intersection and sang¬†The Man in the Mirror while I waited for my breve at the Gypsy Espresso. ¬†There were a couple of other ladies sitting there with me – one of them had just fallen off a bench (which indicated to me¬†I’d just found a kindred spirit), and had taken my hand to let me help her up – and as we watched this youngster sing his song, I said, “He’s so brave! It takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there! And he’s so young!”

The woman who had just fallen off the bench said, “I was just thinking the same thing!”

I started rooting around in my pack for a tip to put in the singer’s guitar case, and my kindred spirit bench-faller said, “I was just going to give him a tip, too!”

Just as I deposited my tip, the young man got to the refrain and belted out “I‚Äôm starting with the man in the mirror/¬†I‚Äôm asking him to change his ways/¬†And no message could have been any clearer/¬†If you wanna make the world a better place…” And everyone whooped and clapped – it was a moment, for sure.


Young Singer at the Anacortes Arts Festival

In the last year or so I¬†started finding these cheery colorful “art poles” in the local gift shops. These pieces of art never failed to put a smile on my face and a lift in my heart. And today I actually met the woman who makes these poles! Her name is Stephanie Joan Burgess and, like the motorcycle dudes, she is from Bellingham. I bought a welcome flag for my front porch and a picture frame that she’d created and told her how happy I was to meet her, and she cheerfully agreed to let me take her photo standing next to some of her creations…


Stephanie Joan Burgess, the¬†“Painted Peace” Lady

And before I left the festival, I returned to a booth I’d passed at the very beginning of my art festival¬†adventure¬†to visit with Francisco Bautista and¬†buy one of his woven masterpieces. Francisco came with his young family to Oregon from Mexico 13 years ago. One of the art pieces he has hanging in his booth was based on a zentangle design his young daughter had created in school. ¬†He beamed with pride as he¬†showed me her original zentangle art. Here is Francisco, holding the pillow case I bought from him, and standing in front of the wall hanging based on his daughter’s zentangle…


Francisco Bautista

More photos from the festival…


Anacortes Arts Festival

I stopped by the Anacortes Arts Festival yesterday and saw most¬†wondrous¬†things… ūüôā
(The festival ends today.)

Celebrating Joel Brock’s Life…

News came this week that our friend, the exceptionally gifted artist Joel Brock, had died. ¬†And already I’m having trouble finding the right words here – died? passed on? None of those terms feel quite right. ¬†This is a case where it seems obvious that he’s still with us – his art is everywhere – hanging in museums, in government buildings, in universities and the headquarters of corporations. ¬†His friendly, open smile, his humor, his generosity – all those things are still vivid in his community’s collective memory of him. And his daughters – his beautiful, wise, poised, amazing daughters – he lives on in them, too. They are his most beautiful legacy.

Still… “too soon, too soon, too soon” keeps running through my thoughts. ¬†Too young. Too soon. ¬†So many pieces of art undone.

I guess sometimes I’m a little greedy.

His community gathered in Edison to celebrate Joel’s life yesterday…

Steve Delaney, Nathan Waterstreet, and Hamster Threads, Too!

Ran into a couple of way amazing artists yesterday on my walk along Bellingham Bay.

Met a wood-carver extraordinaire named Steve Delaney in Boulevard Park. Steve grew up in Homer, Alaska, where he told me there was no TV and and not a whole lot to do – so he took up carving. I was blown away by his work, and ended up walking away with one of his sailboats for a price so reasonable, I’m embarrassed to name it.

At the other end of the walk Nathan Waterstreet had hung his colorful, magical paintings from a chain-link fence and was working on several of them simultaneously – one color at a time…

And big news from Suzanne, jewelry-designer and Wailing Goat espresso shop owner and all-around cool person – about the Hamster Threads extravaganza: On Saturday, August 4th at 7:00 pm at The Hub (903 N. State Street in Bellingham), there will be a fashion show (featuring recycled duds), a dance off, live music, and a DJ dance party with proceeds to benefit the Brigid Collins Family Support Center. Suggested donation are $5.