A Guilded Gallery

Michelle Cooper, a regular instructor at A Guilded Gallery, teaches advanced techniques in her popular painting class.

Stanwood Camano Arts Guild is celebrating 25 years of helping artists develop their skills, get their art into the public view and sell their work.

Faces have changed through the years, but it’s still a volunteer effort of about 100 artists helping artists to promote art in the community.

“Life can be solitary in a studio,” said Val Paul Taylor, first vice president. “The Guild gives people an opportunity to show, sell art, learn in classes and rub shoulders with other artists. Our clubhouse is A Guilded Gallery. This is where artists find out about each other.”

“The fact that a nice gallery exists here reinforces the idea that Stanwood is a destination for art. This is an artist community,” said Bill Koger, president. “Every year we pull people from all over, there’s a place to go.”

Guild history

In the early 1990s, artists started gathering at the Snow Goose Bookstore, according to a history written by member Hallie Price. The artists organized an art show upstairs in the Granary Building in downtown Stanwood. Lifted by the camaraderie and excitement of organizing a successful show, the group officially incorporated in late 1993 as the Stanwood Camano Arts Guild.

The following summer, July 1994, the Guild organized the first Art by the Bay Festival at Utsalady Grocery Store with 23 artists. The festival grew and changed locations many times. Meanwhile the Guild added more events to its roster.

The artists’ big goal was to join the business community with a storefront. In 2012, they created their dream, opening A Guilded Gallery in downtown Stanwood.

Artists in action

Now the gallery is a busy art hub, serving as the Guild’s clubhouse, offering shows, classes and events that spill out into town.

“Galleries are a tough thing, they come and go. We’re doing well, with 30-35 artists, all local. Classes, especially drawing and painting, are a big hit,” Taylor said. “When you decide to create art, if you want it to be seen, you have to be an entrepreneur. Eventually, the hobby becomes a business. The Guild gives artists the tools to take that leap.

“There are people in the gallery who have had other careers, but have always done a bit of art, or thought that someday they’d get to it. Then when they retire, they plunge into art,” Koger said. “We give them the opportunity to say, ‘I’m going to take the chance and do it.’ They may find that they have a latent talent.”

“I’m the robot guy,” Roy Johnson said. He’s been with the Guild for six years. He is one of the founding members of the gallery, which is run by artists who volunteer about 12 hours per month.

“I got onboard when the idea came up — count me in,” he said. “The gallery definitely has gotten me continuous exposure. Otherwise, I’d be limited to a show here and there. As an artist, I’ve been doing this for years, putting effort into the gallery. Now I can’t keep enough art available. I’m just going gangbusters.”


Upcoming guild events

The Guild sponsors several events throughout the year, plus featured artist receptions and special themed shows. In addition, The Guild gives scholarships to high school students each year through SCAF, Stanwood Camano Area Foundation. Classes and workshops are ongoing.

  • Art at the Schoolhouse: April 3-29 at Christianson’s Nursery, 15806 Best Road, west of Mount Vernon, part of the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. Guild members will show art cards, prints, and original matted works in the historic 1888 schoolhouse on the nursery grounds.
  • The Miniature Show: April 13-29 at A Guilded Gallery, 8700 271st St., Stanwood. Featured art measures 8-by-10 inches or smaller.
  • Art in Public Places is a Guild program headed by Jan Nicholson to get art into the community for all to enjoy. Artists sign up to show 70 works in eight businesses. The works are for sale. Nicholson will soon install the citywide display, which she changes every six months. Look for the art in Bank of America, Coastal Community Bank, Washington Federal, Stanwood Community & Senior Center, Edward Jones, Everett Clinic and Heritage Bank in Stanwood and Camano.
  • Art by the Bay: The show has a new date, Aug. 18-19, in the 8700 block of 271st Street, near A Guilded Gallery in downtown Stanwood. This street fair becomes a block party with art booths featuring Guild members and nonmembers.
  • Art Aloft is the winter show for members only. It’s a judged show with ribbons for top rated works.
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