Artfully Edmonds: Cole Gallery offers place to give art a try; plus Art Studio Tour this weekend

Denise Cole

Over the last 12 years, Cole Gallery has become known for the high caliber of artists the gallery represents, its swanky artist receptions and parties, and for the hundred-plus art classes and workshops it holds each year.

When Denise Cole opened her gallery, classes were not her highest priority. Artist and friend Dianna Shyne toured the gallery, including a very rustic, dank, dark and generally unappealing basement space, and said to Cole “You know, this would make a killer art studio space for classes.” Cole had a hard time envisioning it. Shyne insisted that artist students don’t want or need fancy surroundings to study and make art. As it turns out, Shyne was right.

There’s been an enormous interest in classes. “It’s been amazing how this program has grown. It stuns me, really,” said Cole.

It doesn’t hurt that Edmonds has a large population of the newly retired seeking to stay active. “Time and again I hear ‘I always wanted to try that.’ But people are nervous, they don’t think they’re good enough,” Cole said. “They’ve been shot down at some point. That’s become our big mission — to give people the confidence they need — to encourage them to try it.”

Cole Studio students, courtesy of Cole Gallery website.

In the beginning, Cole taught many of the courses herself. Shyne and artist Tracy Felix joined in. Soon many of Cole’s exhibiting artists were also teaching workshops.

Cole saw an undeniable increase in the interest for classes with the big economic downturn and also with the last presidential election. “People seem to turn to our classes to feed their souls; when the economy faltered, people stopped buying paintings, I think they felt like they could still afford to take a class,” she said. “Immediately following the last election cycle, we saw a 150 percent increase in class enrollment.”

The classes have become an important source of revenue for Cole. The benefits have extended to the community as well. Aside from the obvious advantage to prospective students who are able to choose from more than 100 classes, the artists/instructors are often local residents who really benefit from the additional income they derive from teaching. There is a terrific, unseen synergy happening here that includes art collectors, artists and students.

Encaustic paint at Cole Gallery.

In the first few years, Cole attempted to satisfy the art supply needs of students on site. That eventually led to a partnership with Felix that resulted in another local benefit — the creation of ARTspot, an Edmonds’ art supply store. ARTspot pays very close attention to the supply lists generated by Cole’s classes.

Cole is quick to credit others for the success of the program. Monette King, a friend of Cole’s since age 6, works with Cole at the gallery. King saw the potential of ramping up classes and kept quietly persuading Cole that they should keep plugging away at it.

Over the years, they’ve figured out what attracts interest and what doesn’t.

Based on feedback they received when they were trying (and failing) to float a portrait class, they made a slight modification. When they renamed the course “I Can’t Paint a Portrait,” people started signing up.


They’ve discovered that Friday night “Try It” classes are very popular. Here, the instructor supplies the materials — students can just show up and be exposed to a media they’re unfamiliar with, without a major expenditure.

They’ve also found that weekly courses of five weeks seem to work well. Students gather weekly for 2.5 to 3 hours and devote their attention to a specific media or technique.

Weekend workshops also work well. One-, two- and three-day intensive workshops tend to garner quite a lot of interest.

If you haven’t taken a class at Cole, maybe you should consider it. Perhaps you’re one of those folks that’s “always wanted to try that.”

Learn more at

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Cast of Something’s Afoot. (Photos courtesy Driftwood Players)

Friday, Sept. 14 – Sunday, Sept. 30
8 p.m. (Matinees – 2 p.m.)

The Driftwood Players Present:
Somethings Afoot

Directed by Scot Anderson
Musical Direction – Mark Press

Wade James Theatre
950 Main St.

This musical spoof takes a satirical jab at the Agatha Christie murder mystery. Ten people are stranded at an isolated English country estate during a raging thunderstorm. One by one, they are killed in mysterious (and hilarious) ways as they tried to discover the murderer’s identity. The situation is complicated by rising floodwaters, power failures and suspicious behavior!

Tickets and more information at

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Art Studio Tour preview

Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 15 and 16
10 a.m – 5 p.m.
Edmonds Art Studio Tour

It’s time once again for an exclusive glimpse into 15 private art studios showcasing the work of 30 local artists! This free, annual, self-guided tour, sponsored in part by the Edmonds Arts Festival, is an opportunity to meet professional artists, see how they create their work, and purchase pieces directly from the maker.

Map the event at

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Mikhail Shufutinsky

Thursday, Sept. 20
8 – 10 p.m.

Mikhail Shufutinsky – North American Anniversary Tour

Edmonds Center for the Arts
410 4th Ave. N.

Dubbed the Russian King of Chanson, Mikhail Shufutinsky will be performing here on his North American 70th anniversary tour.

Russian Chanson has been defined as a musical genre covering a range of Russian songs, including city romance songs, author song performed by singer-songwriters, and Blatnaya Pesnya or “criminals’ songs” that are based on the themes of the urban underclass and the criminal underworld. Shufutinsky is touring with his orchestra and dance group.

More at this link.

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Storm Chaser. Leah Rene Welch

Through Sept. 29

Gallery North’s September Exhibit, “Eclectic Approach”

Featuring paintings by Edmonds Artist Leah Rene Welch

Gallery North
401 Main St.

Leah Rene Welch is known for her vibrant, heavily textured paintings. She paints a wide range of subjects in a variety of styles from meticulous realism to expressive abstracts and impressionism, always with an eye toward keeping things interesting.

“I like to paint with non-traditional implements — with my fingers being my go-to tool,” said Welch.

Salish Sea. Leah Rene Welch

During the month of September there will be a silent auction for one of Welch’s paintings with the proceeds going to Orca Network. Orca Network is a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness about whales in the Pacific Northwest and the importance of providing them healthy and safe habitats.

The artist reception for Eclectic Approach will be on Saturday, Sept. 8, from 1- 4 p.m. at Gallery North. The public is invited to come see the art, meet the artist  and enjoy refreshments.

Learn more at or call 425-774-0946

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This exhibit closes Sept. 30 — don’t miss it!

Drama & Design: Yvonne Twining Humber & Blanche Morgan Losey

Wednesday – Sunday: 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Art Walk Edmonds: Third Thursdays, 5-8 p.m. – Free

Cascadia Art Museum
190 Sunset

Keeping with their commitment to revive the reputations of our region’s women artists, Cascadia Art Museum presents this important exhibition that brings together the work of two prominent regional artists active in Seattle during the period 1930-1950.

Yvonne Twining Humber (1907-2004) was a Northwest transplant, arriving in Seattle in 1943 after her marriage to local businessman Irving Humber. Originally from New York and Boston, Humber had developed an impressive national reputation for her unique paintings created for the WPA Federal Art Projects during the Depression. Her hard-edged Precisionist style was highly unusual in the Northwest, gaining her additional local and national attention including a solo exhibition at the Seattle Art Museum in 1946.

Blanche Morgan Losey: Tired Harlequin, 1945, tempura on illustration board (private collection)

Blanche Morgan Losey 1912–1981 was born in Los Angeles, California but raised in Olympia and Tacoma. She moved to Seattle in 1937. She studied at the University of Washington where she received a BFA in architecture and interior design.

“Of special interest will be a selection of her original watercolor designs for the stage sets and costumes created for Seattle’s Federal Theater Project as well as the Negro Repertory Company during the Depression”, said museum curator David Martin. “We are very excited that these works will be shown publicly for the first time at Cascadia Art Museum.”

Losey held the position of senior interior designer at Seattle’s Frederick & Nelson department store from 1939 to 1977. Her noted design projects included the Seattle Opera House and the “Higashi Nishi” (East-West) Japanese Garden and Room for the Uniroyal display at Century 21 Exposition, Seattle World’s Fair in 1962.

More information at

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Cascade Symphony Orchestra

Rising Star Competition

The Cascade Symphony Orchestra is encouraging talented young musicians to enter its “Rising Star” competition for the upcoming 2018-19 season.

The winning musician, to be selected by Cascade Symphony Music Director Michael Miropolsky, will perform as the soloist at the orchestra’s concert Feb. 9, 2019, at the Edmonds Center for the Arts.

The competition is open to young performers of piano, violin, cello, bass, flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, french horn, trumpet, trombone, tuba, euphonium, percussion, and harp.

A complete entry information, including an application form, rules, and the music repertoire for each instrument, is available on the orchestra’s website. The deadline for submission is Nov. 1.

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— By James Spangler

When not actively scheming about ways to promote the arts in Edmonds, James Spangler can be found (highly caffeinated) behind the counter of his bookstore on 4th Avenue.


  1. I Love teaching at Cole Art Studio! The “grotto” as we like to call it has been transformed over the years to a bright cheerful workshop space. It’s a hidden gem a lot of people don’t realize is underfoot when they are in the gallery. Thanks James Spangler for the write-up and a thumbs up to Denise for creating a regionally significant gallery here in Edmonds.

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