Camano Studio Tour returns, thanks to dedicated volunteers

The 22nd tour celebrates five artists who have volunteered for the Camano Arts Association for many years.

“The Regal Poppy” in oil by Amy Martin.

“The Regal Poppy” in oil by Amy Martin.

CAMANO ISLAND — Volunteers get the spotlight for this year’s Camano Studio Tour.

As such, there are no fewer than five poster artists for the 22nd tour: Amy Martin, Kathy Dannerbeck, Sally Chang, John Hadley and Mary Simmons.

“We decided to celebrate the volunteers,” said Mary Simmons, who also is tour director. “All the poster artists do a lot to make the studio tour happen.”

The Camano Arts Association has scheduled a modified tour for June 25-27 on Camano and in the Stanwood area. The event has drawn upwards of 5,000 to Camano Island over two weekends — but due to the pandemic, this year’s is just the one weekend.

More than 30 artists at 16 studios and four galleries will show their work on the juried tour, including sculpture, photography, textiles, ceramics, jewelry, paintings and glass.

“I like to go on these tours because I like to see the studios,” Simmons said. “You get to see where the art is created and what inspires them to make their art. You get to spend the day exploring the island and looking at fine art.”

A ceramic mug and bottle in old white glaze by Sally Chang.

A ceramic mug and bottle in old white glaze by Sally Chang.

Studio No. 6 on the tour is Sally Chang Designs. Chang, who earned a master’s degree in art from the University of Washington, has been making pottery for about 35 years.

“I like to say my style is perfectly imperfect,” Chang said. “I don’t strive for perfection because I let my hands and the clay reach some sort of accord.”

She finds her inspiration from Camano Island. She offers ceramic tableware and garden art — jugs, bowls, plates, colanders, mugs, vases, pitchers, tiles and vessels.

Chang has a pottery technique she calls “smashing” in which she takes leftover bits and pieces of clay and smashes them together to make a new work that is uniquely textured.

Amy Martin’s “Twilight Fishing” in oil is based on an old photo of her father.

Amy Martin’s “Twilight Fishing” in oil is based on an old photo of her father.

Stop No. 8 on the tour is at Amy Martin Studio, which recently moved from Juniper Beach to Madrona Beach on Camano. Martin, who paints mostly in oil, served in the U.S. Army for eight years as a Black Hawk helicopter pilot.

“I spent a lot of time looking at the ground from above,” said Martin, who minored in painting at Edinboro University in Pennsylvania. “That’s really fueled how I see things, so a lot of times I’ll be painting from that perspective.”

She paints still life, landscapes, aerials and portraits — but whatever her subject, her signature vibrancy is there. Now that she has a job with the Camano Island Fire & Rescue Administration, she’s painting an aerial of Camano Island from a firefighter’s perspective.

Because oils take a long time to dry, Martin likes to work on two or three paintings at a time. In addition to the fiery aerial, she’s also painting a portrait of her mom at the beach.

Kathy Dannerbeck makes necklaces, bracelets earrings and rings.

Kathy Dannerbeck makes necklaces, bracelets earrings and rings.

Kathy Dannerbeck will be at studio No. 11. Dannerbeck, who owned the bead and button store Beads & Beyond in Bellevue, has been making jewelry for about five decades.

You’ll find her handmade necklaces, bracelets, rings and earrings at LeMaster Studios. New this year, Dannerbeck will also have jewelry made from salmon skin leather and recycled dictionaries.

Dannerbeck, who is known for her woven wire chains and drilled beach rock pendants, has taken art classes at the University of Puget Sound, the University of Washington and Western Washington University.

Her jewelry is influenced by her international travels. She’s visited Kenya, Mexico, Turkmenistan, Morocco and Zimbabwe, among others.

“I really like all of the jewelry from the Middle East,” Dannerbeck said. “I have a trip scheduled to Uzbekistan. Unfortunately, that was postponed because of COVID-19, so hopefully I will be going next year.”

“Mt. Baker Hwy.” in acrylic by John Hadley.

“Mt. Baker Hwy.” in acrylic by John Hadley.

Stop No. 16 is at John Hadley Studio. Although he is a longtime Camano Arts Association volunteer, Hadley is new to the tour this year.

He has a bachelor’s degree in studio art from Dartmouth College in New Hampshire and a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

After practicing architecture for 50 years, Hadley rediscovered his love of painting four years ago.

He paints impressionistic landscapes and seascapes in acrylics. When he goes rowing or for a drive, he’ll bring his smartphone with him so that he can take photos for inspiration. More than paint what he sees, he paints how he feels.

“It’s a very easy transition from architecture into art,” said Hadley, who also draws in pen and ink. “I love the freedom to paint with emotions rather than figure out the engineering and cost of it. I put myself into a zone and say ‘OK, Hadley. Go for it.’ Then I just paint.”

Mary Simmons specializes in fused and cast glass.

Mary Simmons specializes in fused and cast glass.

Simmons’ studio is No. 17 on the tour. At Camano Island Art Glass, which recently moved to Camano from La Conner, you’ll find lighting, glass-topped tables and benches, platters, bowls and trays, as well as wall decorations.

After working at Boeing for 25 years, Simmons found a second career in glass art.

Simmons, who specializes in fused and cast glass, has been an artist in residence twice at the Pilchuck Glass School, which has a 54-acre campus northeast of Stanwood. She has trained with such glass artists as Steve Klein and Richard Parish. Her work also was featured on the Street of Dreams when the showcase of new homes was in Woodinville.

She is inspired by the beauty of the sea. Her art incorporates kelp, water, fish, dragonflies, canoes and kites. Nicknamed “The Kelp Lady,” Simmons has been working on a series of glass kelp for five years.

“It’s like a forest under the water,” Simmons said. “Kelp beds are so vital to our ecosystem. Sadly, our kelp beds and forests are sensitive to changes in our climate and environment. Many are disappearing.”

Simmons said the tour has 17 artists taking a sabbatical this year — they opted out of the tour for COVID-19 safety concerns.

The Camano Studio Tour was canceled in 2020 because of the pandemic. Simmons said that modifying the tour so that it’s just one weekend instead of two, as well as following COVID-19 rules and regulations, allows for a safer event this year.

“We’re really excited to be open again and sharing our art,” she said. “It’s been two years — a lot of artists have been doing a lot of creating in this down time. I’m looking forward to seeing what they came up with.”

If you go

A modified Camano Island Studio Tour is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 25-27 on Camano and in the Stanwood area. More than 30 artists at 16 studios and four galleries will be showing a variety of work in this year’s self-guided and free tour. Go to for more information.

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