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Fresh and vibrant - Spring at SJIMA

The spring shows at the San Juan Islands Museum of Art (SJIMA) are wholly novel, dramatic and totally unique. Recently installed, enjoy INTO THE BREACH Sculpture, Drawings and Prints by Tom Gormally, What Was: unmarked by Helen O’Toole, and FIAT LUX by Gail Grinnell fills the Atrium Gallery.

To see the world in new ways via art, visit SJIMA until May 30, Friday through Monday from 11-5.

FIAT LUX - Gail Grinnell
Gail Grinnell. We Are A Crowd of Others (detail) 2016, Photo credit: Mark Woods.

Gail Grinnell’s eye-catching, large-scale installation, FIAT LUX, is made of non woven fabric, ink, paint and straight pins. Her work layers ideas, memories of her family history and the inner dependencies that are mark our lives.

This site-specific installation provides a place where people engage in the merging of intellect and emotion - the heart of artistic expression. Inspired by memories, Grinnell weaves materials and methods through place, time, opportunity and experience and creates grounds for the stories we tell ourselves. Her title is in Latin and means “let there be light.”

Grinnell has shown her work at the Francine Seders Gallery, as well as other museums and galleries around the world. Her art has been published in Sculpture Magazine, The Stranger, Fiber Arts and Seattle Magazine.

What Was: unmarked - Helen O'Toole
From the exhibition What Was: unmarked by Helen O’Toole. Pirate Queen, (diptych), 2021, Photo credit: Spike Mafford. Oil on canvas, 172 x 97 inches.

What Was: unmarked features the monumental paintings by Helen O’Toole. SJIMA is honored to be the first museum to exhibit these works publicly. This pivotal art piece, Pirate Queen, covers one whole wall of the museum. The title has special meaning relating to the 16th century mythic Irish leader, Granuaile, whose story captured O’Toole’s sense of “a visceral relation to the land.” While creating this seminal work, she made many small paintings where her new ideas were born. A few of those preliminary sketches of Pirate Queen and others are part of the exhibition.

The entire gallery work attests to her talent and desire to connect with her ancestors and their sense of place. O’Toole is currently Professor of Art and Chair of the Painting and Drawing Program at the University of Washington. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in Fine Arts, a Contemporary Northwest Art Award and a Pollock Krasner Award in 2013.

INTO THE BREACH - Sculpture, Drawings, and Prints by Tom Gormally
From the exhibition INTO THE BREACH by Tom Gormally. Sleeping Fox with Book and Owl  2020, Photo credit: Mark Woods. Cast resin, gold leaf, LED light, paint, 35" x 18" x 13.5"

With INTO THE BREACH Sculptures, Drawings and Prints, Tom Gormally brings us serious messages dressed in a bit of humor, a gift of his Irish heritage. Observing the divisiveness in American society, he wanted to create a body of work that would inspire dialogue and help bridge the widening gap not only in our culture but also within his own family.

Gormally has worked in sculpture for 45 years using, in part, his mechanic experience in the Navy to inform his appreciation of structure, scale and the use of tools.

His press includes reviews in Sculpture Magazine, The New Art Examiner, BBC TV, and BBC radio. His awards include a National Endowment for the Arts/MAAA award for sculpture, an Artist Trust Fellowship, an Allied Arts Foundation Artist Award. Gormally has created site-specific public art pieces around the US.


We are grateful to our many sponsors for bringing these thought-provoking works to SJIMA - The Honeywell Charitable Fund, Anonymous, Town of Friday Harbor, San Juan Island Community Foundation, Orcas Island Community Foundation, Browne’s Home Center, Printonyx and Harbor Rentals.

Admission is $10 with SJIMA members and those 18 and under admitted free. Mondays are Pay As You Can Days.

SJIMA is located at 540 Spring Street in Friday Harbor, WA. See for more information.

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