An adventure in art on Camano Island, WA

An adventure in art on Camano Island, WA
Matzke Fine Art Gallery and Sculpture Park

Call it an outdoor gallery, a sculpture garden, art in the garden or perhaps an outdoor sanctuary.  Any way you look at the outdoor sculpture display at Matzke Fine Art Gallery on Camano Island, WA you’re going to have one heck of a personal experience. Walk the 10-acre site following rolling grass trails surrounded by tall evergreen trees and seasonal flowers. Come to immerse yourself into a grand art exploration. It’s a truly a unique #onehourwalk opportunity.

If you love the whole art-in-public places idea which transforms the cultural and visual landscape of a community into a personal outdoor experience, this is  the place for you. It’s a private estate, but there is no entrance fee. It’s the grand feeling of the great Northwest outdoors with a sculpture twist. Just take it slow, look beyond the first thing you see.  Many delights are waiting for you placed behind the first sculpture you see.  Look high, look low. Concentrate. Expect the unexpected.

In 2008, owner, creator, curator, artist Karla Matzke opened the doors to Matzke Fine Art Gallery.  The 3000 square foot Gallery showcases American and international artists. Attached to the gallery is a ten acre park featuring quirky and traditional world -class sculptures using bronze, steel, glass and stone. The installations, according to one volunteer, is ever changing. Items sell or the artist pulls it for another purpose.

Ms. Matzke personally installs all of the pieces alongside each artist.  Together they decide where a piece should be placed outdoors.  Indoors, she has the luxury of moving a painting wherever she likes, finding just the right place inch by inch. But outdoors, she says of the often several-ton sculptures, “I am not moving it. It’s there.”  The ebb and flow of the park is breathtaking.  Somehow Ms. Matzke’s placements of the sculptures, defies tradition, opening up an ever changing background for art and a welcoming destination for visitors.

Imagine a place where early morning sun shines through cedar trees highlighting a martini glass sculpture.  Stay a while longer and you may catch the afternoon sun showcasing sculpture that serves as a threshold for viewing other art. By the end of the day you might spot a whale’s tale sprouting from the grass or a tall wire and stone sculpture that challenges your notion of balance. Any way you walk  the trails, you come up with surprise after surprise.  It’s very much an adventure in art among Northwest foliage.

Yard Shaping

Of course this kind of operation can’t be done without volunteers.  I was able to speak with volunteer Scott Jamieson (a multi-media artist himself), whose job it is to “yard shaping.” We’re talking big cedars, not tulips. Once an installation has been finished he takes a look at the placement to decide how the trees around it need to be trimmed to bring out the best in the art piece and the landscape.  It’s harmony he’s looking for.  He’s precise.  He’s artsy. Scott says, “My work is defined. No half limbs or raggedy ends.” Hear more from this artist/ yard shaper in this short interview.

The gallery is open weekends and other days by appointment. No ticket or entrance fee required.  To reach the gallery, take SR 532 to Camano Island. At Terry’s Corner, bear south to East Camano Drive. Follow it to Elger Bay Drive until it becomes South Camano Drive. Turn left on Blanch Way and follow the signs. You can find out more about the gallery at the gallery website.

 

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Matzke Fine Art Gallery and Sculpture Park
2345 Blanche Way
Camano Island, WA 98282

Whidbey Island and Camano Island
Tourism Information

“Whidbey Island and Camano Island are two islands located in the middle of the north end of Puget Sound. Both are an easy drive north from Seattle. These rural islands are a great antidote for big city pressures.”

Linda Kissam

Article By Linda Kissam
Photos by Allan Kissam