There are all kinds of annual holiday traditions, like shopping for the perfect Christmas tree, attending a performance of “The Nutcracker,” or baking cookies. For many people in Skagit County and surrounding areas, a favorite tradition is attending the Rexville Grange Art Show, a pop-up arts and crafts gallery just outside La Conner that appears every November.
Raku by Marguerite Goff at Rexville Grange Art Show
It all began over 20 years ago. On Best Road, just north of Fir Island, between Conway and La Conner, once stood the Pleasant Ridge Pottery & Gallery, which hosted pottery studios and a gallery featuring work by many local artists. When it closed in 2000, a core group of artists decided to look for another venue. This included Marguerite Goff, a ceramics artist; Janet Hamilton, a pastel artist and painter; and Beth Hailey of Dona Flora Herbs & Flowers (familiar to regular customers of the Bellingham Farmers Market).
Pottery by Marguerite Goff and painting by Janet Hamilton at Rexville Grange Art Show
This group looked to the Rexville Grange hall just up the road from the gallery, an old building used for decades for weddings, meetings and parties. They cleaned up the hall, installed new lighting and a hanging system, and put on a holiday art fair as the Rexville Grange Art Show. This was so successful it became a twice-yearly event and has continued for more than 20 years.
Pastels by Janet Hamilton at Rexville Grange Art Show
Each year there are two shows. The spring show is scheduled during the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, to take advantage of out-of-town visitors. In November, there is a holiday show which is typically held the two weekends before Thanksgiving. For every show there is an opening reception with wine, snacks, live music, and most of the artists in attendance. In the past this has been held on the first Friday of the show, but this year it has been shifted to Thursday.
Purses by Linda Ballard at Rexville Grange Art Show
The art show is set up in the grange’s basement, which has ground-level access from the parking area. Each artist has their own display area, and a central sales table is staffed by participating artists. While the space is not exactly glamorous, it regularly transforms into a warm, inviting space full of beautiful things.
Printed tiles by Susan Cohen Thompson at Rexville Grange Art Show
The roster of artists changes from show to show, but there are many regulars in addition to the founding members. The show frequently offers brilliant paintings by Anne Martin McCool, purses made from reclaimed carpet and horse tack by Linda Ballard, encaustic photography by Kathy Hastings, jewelry by Ellen Dale, handweaving by Liz Moncrief (a weaving instructor and loom repair expert), handmade soap by Andrea Lawson of Bellingham shop MW Soapworks, Wendy Ross’s painted ceramics, and much more. The show also may include woodworking, cards, prints, photography, stained glass and mosaic, jewelry, clothing, metalwork, cement garden art, felted hats, and wreaths.
Soaps by MW Soapworks at Rexville Grange Art Show
Most of the artists are local to Skagit, Whatcom, or Snohomish counties, and the work reflects that with its imagery and materials. Whether you’re just picking up a few cards, buying gifts for your family, or investing in a statement painting, Rexville Grange Art Show makes it a wonderful shopping experience.
Reception: Nov. 10, 5-8 p.m.
Open hours: Nov. 11-13, 19-20, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
19299 Rexville Grange Rd., Mount Vernon, rexvillegrangeartshow.com