Arts & Leisure

An international air will pervade the First Friday Art Walk in November as Anacortes partners with its Sister City of Sidney, BC, to present “The Salish Sea Art Exhibit,” original, juried artwork by artists from BC’s Saanich Peninsula.

Sidney will reciprocate next year, when it hosts the work of local Fidalgo and Guemes island artists, May 23-29, 2016. Anacortes’ closest Sister City, Sidney is an albeit hefty stone’s throw from Anacortes across the Salish Sea on Vancouver Island’s scenic Saanich Peninsula, 13 miles north of the provincial capital, Victoria.

“Like Anacortes, the sea and ocean are important to the economy and life of Sidney,” explains Lesley Nicholls, Sidney Sister Cities Association (SSCA) president. “We have a busy boating community, both commercial and recreational, and we’re the hub for transportation into southern Vancouver Island.”

Nicholls says the exhibit’s two-dimensional Saanich art—paintings, photography, other hanging media, and fiber arts—will celebrate these marine and transport features as well as the area’s flourishing wine and agricultural industries.

“Both Anacortes and Sidney have wanted to arrange an exchange for a long time,” notes Laura Hamilton of the Anacortes Arts Commission. “We hope the exhibits are the beginning of continuing cultural exchanges among our Sister Cities.” Sidney’s Nicholls echoes the sentiment, hoping to bring together art from all three of Sidney’s Sister cities—Cairns, Australia, and Niimi, Japan, as well as Anacortes.

The Anacortes Sister Cities Association was launched in 1991, part of an international organization founded in 1956, in the wake of World War II, by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The program fosters bonds among people around the world, celebrating differences while building partnerships to lessen the chance of new conflicts.

In addition to Sidney, Anacortes enjoys Sister City partnerships with Lomonosov, Russia, Nikaho City, Japan, and Vela Luka, Croatia.

Visits between Sidney and Anacortes residents are not uncommon. The cities have participated in each other’s Fourth of July, Canada Day, and Christmas parades, as well as annual celebrations of the inaugural spring Washington State Ferry run between the two cities.

Over the years, the Anacortes Sister Cities Association has hosted art and cultural exchanges with Japanese calligraphers, artists, tea ceremony practitioners, Taiko drummers, and archery masters; Croatian dancers and musicians; Russian singers, musicians, and artists; Canadian town crier competitions; and Romanian dancers.

Art exchanges are not new to either Anacortes or Sidney Sister Cities Association. Explains well-known Anacortes artist Anne Martin McCool, some years ago, the Anacortes Depot hosted an exhibit of its Sister Cities’ art. McCool herself has visited several of Anacortes’ Sister Cities, staying in local homes, enjoying the food, and learning about the culture.

In November, Anacortes Sister Cities Association and community members will open their homes to host visiting Sidney officials, artists, and guests, introducing them to their favorite features and places of interest on Fidalgo Island.

In 2007, 2008, and 2009, Sidney artists participated in art exhibitions as one of the seven Sister Cities of Cairns, Australia. Each Cairns exhibit focused on a particular medium—ceramics, Anacortes Arts Commission photography, and fiber art. More recently, Sidney artist Richard Wong was Cairns’ first Sister City Artist in Residence.

This first Anacortes–Sidney arts collaboration is forging partnerships within cities as well as across borders. Working together for the first time on the November and May 2016 exhibitions are the Anacortes and Sidney Sister Cities Associations, the Anacortes Arts Council, and the Community Arts Council of the Saanich Peninsula.

The exhibit at the Anacortes Depot will be open to the public Noon–9 pm, Friday, Nov. 6, in conjunction with the Downtown First Friday Art Walk, and on Saturday, Nov. 7, 10 am–3 pm.

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