Art Blooms in Skagit Valley

Tuesday, April 30, 2024 12:49 AM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

Art Blooms in Skagit Valley

i.e and Smith & Vallee Gallery • Edison, Washington

While crowds flock to the Skagit Valley throughout April to witness the beautiful tulip blooms, May is quickly proving to be another excellent time to visit the area. Edison continues to be a favorite for both locals and visitors with its excellent food and drink options, home goods shopping (including a newish bookstore), and beloved art galleries. The two staple art venues continue to be Smith & Vallee Gallery and i.e. Both galleries exhibit primarily the work of local artists but the artistic styles of their gallery directors can range greatly from traditional landscape painting to sculptural assemblages to ceramics. In short, a visit to the small town of Edison can quickly fill the day of both foodies and art lovers alike.

i.e. gallery typically exhibits one-person shows that can include both 2D and 3D artworks in their one-room space in the historic Edison Eye Building. However, May is a departure from their usual program. The gallery exhibits photographs by David Hall, an artist that the gallery represents, in addition to artwork on loan from Stonington Gallery in Seattle by Indigenous artists based in the Pacific Northwest. The show is titled “Reflections on Northwest Coast Formline” and it includes Hall’s series titled “Shoreline Reflections” and the work of numerous Indigenous artists including Susan Point, Preston Singletary, Kevin Paul, Rande Cook, and many more. The impetus of the exhibition began when Hall was photographing the water along the shore of Ross Lake, and he began to notice a similarity between the curves of the water and the shapes included in the iconic formline imagery. The comparison between the artworks provokes discussion about the origin of this imagery and its continued utilization in the present day.

It is important to note the significant work that is included in the exhibition, especially Tom Hunt’s “Kwaguʼł Thunderbird” from 1999. There are several artists based on Vancouver Island in the exhibit, and Hunt’s work is a key example of the master carver’s skill and artistic perspective. Another artist to note is Kevin Paul, also a master carver whose recently completed totem can be seen outside of the new La Conner Swinomish Library. Bringing all of these artists and their work together in conversation with David Hall’s photographs is quite the achievement, and visitors benefit greatly by learning more about formline along with the opportunity to experience many excellent examples in person. If you do visit i.e., please note that the beloved Tweets Café is right next door. But be sure to bring cash so that you can purchase one of their delectable baked goods.

A short way down the road from i.e. is Smith & Vallee Gallery. The gallery director and curators often exhibit the work of two artists during their month-long shows in the historic school house, and May is no different. Local painter Lisa McShane continues to transfix viewers with her sweeping vistas of the surrounding landscape, as the reader can see in her painting titled, “Blanchard Mountain at Dusk.” McShane shows with ceramicist Brian O’Neill who meticulously forms his vessels and pays extra attention to their surfaces. The gallery is comprised of one large room with a smaller gallery space in the back of the building. This space provides the gallery the opportunity to work with artists not on their roster, and in May they feature work by Perri Lynch Howard. Howard reflects on the landscape and includes a series of lines that emanate from various points in the picture plane. The artist refers to these as “frequencies” and writes in their artist statement that the sounds of a place transferred into a visual manifestation bring the viewer closer to their natural environment.

In summary, May brings artists from across the Pacific Northwest to the small, yet vibrant, town of Edison in the Skagit Valley. The themes range greatly and provide a rich, substantial viewing and learning experience for even the most frequent gallery visitor. If you do decide to visit and want to see even more artwork, continue to La Conner to see the Museum of Northwest Art’s exhibits, peruse the art galleries on South First Street in downtown Mount Vernon, or head to Camano Island for its 25th Annual Camano Island Studio Tour from May 10-12 and 18-19.

Chloé Dye Sherpe

Chloé Dye Sherpe is an art professional and curator based in Washington State.

“Reflections on Northwest Coast Formline” is on view Friday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., May 3 through June 3, at i.e., located at 5800 Cains Court in Edison, Washington. Visit for more information.

Until May 26, Thursday through Monday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., view exhibitions by Lisa McShane, Brian O’Neill, and Perri Lynch Howard at Smith & Vallee Gallery, located at 5742 Gilkey Avenue in Edison, Washington. For further information, visit

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