Collecting art and artists in Edmonds | Art Town

'Same But Different' show at Frances Anderson Center
By Tracy Felix | Jul 05, 2018
Courtesy of: Tracy Felix Angela Bandurka, left, and Sue Robertson at a fundraiser for Washington Kids in Transition.

Artist Sue Robertson is a collector. She has an amazing art collection, acquiring paintings and sculptures that inspire and delight her. This is a great help to struggling artists who crave not just admirers, but sales.

It is the lifeblood of the painter to sell enough art, if only to buy more paint.

But Sue collects something else that has a positive effect on our art community. Sue puts artists together in ways that build friendships and careers. One such activity is a monthly get-together of seven artists at her home workplace, Joyful Art Studio.

I am lucky to be in the fold. Sue’s never-ending curiosity and experimentation in her own art has influenced me greatly. I met her 12 years ago at Artists Connect, a local artists’ networking group right here in Edmonds.

Painters Lynn Hanson, Mona Smiley-Fairbanks and Nancy Thompson were also there. As per the group’s name, we connected. One of the first things a few of us collaborated on was starting the Edmonds Art Studio Tour, which is getting ready to celebrate its 11th year. You'll be able to find most of us on the tour this September.

But there is more …

During that same timeframe, Sue was also a member of Parklane Gallery, a co-op of artists showing and selling their art in Kirkland. There she met Angela Bandurka and Donna Wallace.

Wallace remembers, “I met Sue at Parklane Gallery, on my first day there. I was a new artist and it was my first time showing my work and meeting other artists. I was like a deer in the headlights, overwhelmed by everything. She came up to me and helped guide me through my first meeting. She took me under her wing; I have no idea why, but I've been grateful to her ever since.”

Sue then established Joyful Art Studio as a place to collaborate and share. Because she finds her studio more joyful with other artists there, she invited some of us to join her once a month to paint, and yes, have coffee and lunch. Current members are Sue, Nancy, Lynn, Mona, Donna, Angela, and lucky me, painting and chatting and collaborating.

“Our group started meeting once a month approximately 10 years ago, and it is still an inspiration and a safe place to have your work critiqued,” Robertson said.

“Painters normally work alone, and it is important to connect with other painters occasionally to discuss your experiences and the work you are currently doing. It is interesting to observe the creative pulse when you get seven artists together.”

Angela Bandurka backs that up.

“Art is usually a solo endeavor, so having a monthly group of artists to bounce ideas off of, to vent to about industry frustrations, and commiserate with on life’s ups and downs is invaluable,” she said.

“We may each be different in our ‘regular’ lives, but we share a passion for making art that brings us together in a way nothing else could.”

The support we offer each other gives us professional depth not just as painters. Individual aspirations have gone in many directions.

Among our group, we have a gallery owner and an art store owner, leaders in local art events, art installations, representation in various publications, and teaching.

As it happens, this group of painters are women. We struggle over that as artists; does it define us? Icon painter Helen Frankenthaler lamented, “Looking at my paintings as if they were painted by a woman is superficial, a side issue.”

Group member Lynn Hanson brings up the fact we are women painters, but it is only one of several bonds we have.

“Being part of a group of women who are diverse, and yet supportive, of each other's individual styles has meant so much to me,” she said, “creating a depth of feeling that has come from knowing each other for many years.”

When you look at art movements of the past, you will always find a group of artists at the center of it. We naturally flock together. The desire to put together shows of our collective work is undeniable.

Where would the French impressionists be if they had not put together those first three shows outside of the established salon?

In that spirit, when our group was offered a chance to show together, which is now running through July 21 at the Edmonds Arts Festival Gallery at the Frances Anderson Center in Edmonds, we accepted wholeheartedly.

The newly minted official name for our group is NW7, as we are solidly Northwest and seven painters. We are all creating new work, four paintings each, for this show. Look for “Same But Different” to open the week after the Edmonds Art Festival.

However, you don’t have to wait to see these artists work. Our artwork is sprinkled all over the area at local shops and galleries.

If you are a creative soul, I would encourage you to attend the free monthly meetings at Artist Connect, meet some like-minded artists, and start a group.

Mona Smiley-Fairbanks sums it up nicely.

“Having a community of artists to work alongside has given me an appreciation of the local art vibe and encouraged me to grow my imagination.”

Well said. And thank you Sue Robertson, for NW7.

Artist Connect meets 10 a.m. to noon at the Art Works building at Second Avenue South and Dayton Street in Edmonds the fourth Saturday of every month. It’s free, and all are welcome. For more information, go to www.


Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.