Key Pen Highway is the main arterial through our community. Just south of Key Center lies a dark-red building known as The Art Barn, thought by many to be the artistic heart of the Key Peninsula.

Established in the early 1980s by Jim and Pat Blundell, the building originally was home to Pat’s passion, The Country Mouse. Pat Blundell filled the building with work tables and designed craft projects she sold to magazines. She also taught tole painting, sold craft materials and paints. The Country Mouse became recognized as a creative center where artists studied with Pat and developed their careers.

When Pat passed away, Jim decided to continue supporting the arts in her memory. In January 2003, Key Pen artist Beverly Pedersen located her art studio in the Country Mouse. With help from friends, she added personal touches to the building. With Jim Blundell’s blessing, a covered porch and larger windows were incorporated. He encouraged Pedersen when she wanted to fashion a flower garden. Through the work and changes, she maintained much of Pat Blundell’s painting and influence. As work progressed, Pedersen’s friends talked of working at “The Art Barn,” a name that became synonymous with the building.

The Art Barn is now Pedersen’s private studio. Art supplies are no longer for sale; however, Pedersen continues Blundell’s path of art education. Pedersen and fellow artist Laura McClintock often open the studio to classes and events.

One of those events, the Open Studio Tour, takes place Sept. 17 and 18. The community is invited to visit the Art Barn, enjoy a display of art created by five well-known artists and purchase items that excite them. The crowd will also be entertained by two fantastic groups performing free concerts during the weekend.

The Open Studio Tour encompasses Gig Harbor, Fox Island and the Key Peninsula. Artists have opened their doors for 12 years so art lovers can experience their work and their environment.

The Art Barn will open for the third year as a destination on the tour. Five artists will offer their work: Beverly Pedersen’s  silk creations and watercolors, Laura McClintock’s watercolor paintings, Karen and Norman Geiger’s jewelry, Christopher Mathie’s Raku pottery and acrylic paintings, and Chuck Gumper’s mixed media work. It is a great opportunity to see these fabulous artists together in one location.

In addition to visual arts, TWAA will offer two free community concerts at the Art Barn this year. The concerts are open to everyone. The Vicci Martinez Band, a group that’s become a national phenomenon, will present an acoustic concert Saturday, Sept. 17, at 1 p.m. Jazz Musette with Lorraine Hart, a local favorite, will perform Sunday, Sept. 18, at 3 p.m.

Details on the Open Studio Tour including directions and artist information is at www.gigharboropenstudiotour.org . To find out about the concerts, call 884-5934; call 884-2149 for questions about the Art Barn.

Open studio details

Now in its 12th year, the Gig Harbor-Fox Island-Key Peninsula Open Studio Tour will be Sept. 17 and 18, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. This year 23 professional artists, including two studio locations and eight different artists on the Key Peninsula, will be part of the tour. Robin Peterson will demonstrate the process of developing illustrations, painting on commission, and original paintings at her new Fernwood Studio off Lackey Road. The Art Barn will host work by Laura McClintock, Chuck Gumpert, Christopher Mathie, Karen and Norman Geiger, and Bev Pedersen.

TWAA September classes

Sept. 11, 18 and 25: Plein Air Painting  with Kurt Solmssen

Sept. 24, 25 & Oct. 1:  Make a Photo/Painting Journal with Robin Peterson

Sept. 11:  Beginning Gourd Basics with Kristen Bottiger and Nancy Howard

From Pioneer Stock: Helen Skahan of Elgin
Signs of the times: Illegal signs litter the Key Peninsula