Key Peninsula artist Gail Kelly will open her studio to the public as part of this year’s Greater Gig Harbor Open Studio Tour, Sept 20-22.
The free, self-guided tour was founded 20 years ago by a small group of artists in Gig Harbor, Olalla and the Key Peninsula.
The goal of OST is to educate the public about art and people who make art.
This year 24 artists, including Kelly, will open their studios during the three-day event.
This is Kelly’s third year participating in the tour.
Kelly creates unique sculptural works in a medium called “paper clay” which, she said, is composed of 80 percent clay and 20 percent paper.
“When you fire it, the paper burns away. It’s very easy to work with for hand building and slab or coil work,” she said. “But it’s not good for throwing on a wheel.”
Her work is in a category that stands on its own. “When I was in school one of my teachers called it ‘abstracted natural phenomenon,’” she said with a smile. “I like to find shapes in nature that intrigue me, and then they become my inspiration. There are so many fantastic things to see in the world.”
Her longest-running series consists of clay objects she calls “pods.”
“They represent fruition and the number of ideas you have to have before one of them sprouts,” she said. “I started the series in 1989. I gave myself an assignment, just like I’d give to my students: to make 64 pods.”
That number has special significance to Kelly: there are 64 trigrams in the I Ching “…and I’m now 64 years old,” she said.
Since then she has made many, many more. “I’ve actually lost count but I’m sure there are more than 500,” she said. “Now they just sort of make themselves.”
Some of the pods have seeds inside that make soft, rattling sound when they’re shaken. “That sort of engages you to stop and think about things for a moment,” she said.
Kelly grew up in Los Angeles, but her husband wanted to move back to the country, so they’ve lived most of their married life away from cities.
“Living in the Northwest, out here on the Peninsula, there’s so much abundance. I find the whole sheer abundance here is almost overwhelming. And so many interesting things happen here all the time,” Kelly said.
When she’s not in her studio, she can often be found hiking on the beach or in Salt Creek Recreation Area. She also teaches at an art camp in Leavenworth, Washington, and has taught clay in community colleges.
Meanwhile, she’s busy getting ready for OST.
“It’s a great way for me to exhibit my work,” she said. “And I look forward to welcoming people to my studio and meeting them.”
For information visit gigharboropenstudiotour.org.
The 20th Annual Greater Gig Harbor Open Studio Tour (OST) takes place Sept. 20-22. Studios are open from 10 a.m.– 5 p.m. each day. For information and a downloadable map of studio locations visit gigharboropenstudiotour.org.