South Sound Studio Tours Spring 2024

by Alec Clayton

Visiting artists in their studios, seeing them at work and talking about their art, tremendously enhances one’s appreciation for the art and enlarges the sheer joy in looking at art. The South Sound Studio Tours in Olympia, Lacey and Tumwater offer unique opportunities to visit, watch and learn from South Sound artists.

Artists invite the public into their studios in commercial buildings and in their homes to view artworks (some for sale and some not), talk to the artists, watch them work and learn about equipment, materials and methods. There will be demonstrations and direct sales by artists. More than 37 artists are scheduled to take part.


Local working artists first proposed the tours at an Olympia Arts Commission meeting in 1998. The commission took on the event and managed the studio tours through 2007, and then replaced the tour with the Artist Garage Sale that was held annually at the Armory for another two years. Ten years later, in 2019, another group of artists set about to revitalize the tour with the help of ceramicist Nicole Gugliotti and painter Hart James. Soon after the pandemic interrupted the tour for another two years, but it resurfaced strong with another all-volunteer committee made up of Douglas Cochrane, LeeAnn Perry and Neeltje (Nellie) Vos. Kathy Gore Fuss worked behind the scenes for several years, but officially joined the studio tour board in the summer of 2022. Cochrane and Perry retired, and a new board was formed in 2023 consisting of Gore Fuss, Marion Pollman, Randi Parkhurst, Susan Aurand and Sandra Bocas. Erika Naficy was hired as a consultant (Third Hand Artist Support) and has supported the board in taking the organization to a 501C3 status, upgrading the operating systems, and streamlining the event registration.

On the Bus by Lucy Gentry

In the early years, small passport booklets were Xeroxed and stapled together and sold through local art businesses. A visitor on the tour could get their ‘passport’ stamped or have something pasted on it that was reminiscent of that artist’s work. Gore Fuss said, “I remember how excited the tour’s visitors were to see where and how the art is made and to have a chance to ask artists questions. Seeing the diversity of workspaces offered an intimate experience for the viewer that was a contrast to Arts Walk.”

The tour has evolved over the years branding itself as an alternative to Arts Walk events. It is “an all-volunteer event managed by artists to highlight local studio spaces and help the community understand that artists live and work right in their own neighborhoods,” Gore Fuss said. “The tour also offers interactive experiences with the artists where they have an opportunity to watch demonstrations and try their hand at making something. And lastly, it offers an opportunity for the public and art enthusiasts to purchase original artwork directly from the artist.”

Missing Harriet Hemings by Lynette Charters

South Puget Sound Community College art faculty member and sculptor Joe Batt maintains a garage studio behind his home at 1511 6th Ave. SW on Olympia’s West Side. Batt creates Cartoon-like narrative ceramic figures depicting people and animals in various dreamlike settings. These pieces are often finished with mixed media after the firing, using colored pencils or pastels. His works explore our relationship with nature and technology, sometimes depicting dystopian worlds. Sharing his studio for the tour are artists Dan Meuse and Liza Brenner.

Four well known Olympia women artists will be displaying their work in Lucy Gentry’s LGM Studios upstairs over Browsers Books and Ossa Skinworks above Ossa and Browsers Books at 109 Capital Way N.

“I will be showing a variety of old and new work, which will include new abstract paintings, black and white ink drawings on paper, monoprints, and cyanotype prints,” Gentry said. “I have recently started a new series of ink paintings of significant contemporary activists which will be shown as works in progress. I am continuing my research of new materials, and on display will be an experiment with roots of wheat grass. A station will be set up for visitors to experiment-play with ink and homemade paint brushes.”

I Love You, I Love You Too by Sandra Bocas

Showing work along with Gentry will be Lynette Charters, Sandra Bocas, and Mikaela Shafer.

Lynette Charters, internationally recognized for her “Missing Woman” series, will be showing work from a new series celebrating the history of women’s achievements, “which tends to be less documented, less compensated, and often appropriated, leading us to believe that women are only useful in supporting roles, not the trailblazers they really are,” Charters says.

From “The Missing Women Series,” she will be showing “Da Vinci’s Muses and Children.”

Sandra Bocas is known for her colorful and enigmatic portrait faces. “My fascination with faces is that they provide me with an endless opportunity to explore, through the medium of paint, the expressions of the soul,’ Bocas says. “I will be showing some new original works and some prints. I’ve been creating a new series called ‘Love Between Humans.’ My endeavor is to contribute to peace in the world by showing how much we as humans have in common rather than how different we are.” 

Celestial Beings by Mikaela Shafer

Native American artist (Hopi) Mikaela Shafer was the cover artist for the Fall 2023 Arts Walk map and brochure. She rounds out the foursome at LGM Studio.

Kathy Gore Fuss, a Studio Tour board member will be showing her paintings with Randi Parkhurst at Gore Fuss/Parkhurst Studios, 1302 Pioneer AVE NE, Olympia, a studio connected to her home.

Gore Fuss explains: “I have shared a variety of work over the recent years, from floral garlands used in some installations I made around town during the Pandemic, to my paintings and drawings about our forests. I also teach art classes in my studio annually and will have class descriptions available. I will be sharing a painting series that I have been working on since June 2023. I have been painting plein air (outdoors) in a small ravine at Squaxin Park working from one particular nurse stump over the last nine months. Focusing on the place this stump occupies in the woods, the intricacies of her form, and the sustenance provided to the younger trees who grow from the stump are all part of her story. As I move around the stump the weather and the seasons weave themselves into each painting, capturing the different time and point of view from June through January.”

See her paintings, drawings, mixed media, floral garlands, paper art, hand-bound books, and paper structures.

Parkhurst’s studio on the northeast corner of the property, where she will be featuring her intricate paper houses, hand-bound books and elegant botanical prints.

Left: Layers of Consciousness by Debra Van Tuinen; right top: Nurse Stump by Kathy Gore Fuss; right bottom: Randi Parkhurst at Gore Fuss/Parkhurst Studios.

Julie Ratner will be sharing an audio version of ‘trees singing’ from an app that produces ambient sounds of the tree’s inner life, and Hailey Akers, an AVANTI ACE student, will be showing recent paintings.

In Debra Van Tuinen’s studio at 429 4th Ave W next to Heritage Park in Olympia you will see Van Tuinen’s large acrylic, oil, and encaustic paintings. Her large acrylics tend to depict or have the feel of water with rhymical slashes of mostly monochromatic colors. Her studio front door opens into a gallery space, and behind the gallery is her working studio where you can see works in progress and learn about the art of encaustic and other painting techniques. Also featured will be art by Dean Popek, Bob Coble, and Austen Lyon.

These and more than 70 artists in more than 30 venues are scheduled to take part in the tours.

South Sound Studio Tour

11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, April 20, and Sunday, April 21, 2024

Olympia, Lacey, and Tumwater

Maps and info available online at

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