Arts and Entertainment

Five Bellevue artists picked for annual Kirkland studio tour

Janice Yu paints a coffee mug at the Kirkland Artist Studio. - Daniel Nash, Bellevue Reporter
Janice Yu paints a coffee mug at the Kirkland Artist Studio.
— image credit: Daniel Nash, Bellevue Reporter


Five Bellevue artists have been selected for inclusion in the 11th Annual Kirkland Artist Studio Tour, a city-spanning open house of fine artists' studio space.

Jeweler Jihee Kim, ceramicists Sharon Jamieson and Joyce Yu, and craft team Aiko Vail and Poul Erickson will have their work featured with more than 40 other artists on the tour.

The Kirkland Arts Center will hold the tour May 10-11. For walkers, it’s an opportunity to look at items created in the Eastside’s backyard. For the artists, it’s an opportunity to put their work in front of an audience and make deeper connections with colleagues in their community.

“I think you learn a lot from each other and there’s a sense of camaraderie,” Jamieson said. “You meet people who understand what you’re doing and you feed off each other, in a way.”

Jamieson has been making pottery for more than three decades but, 25 years ago, she found a passion for the uncommonly used pitfire technique while searching for a pastime on she and her husband’s small island campsite.

“It was wonderful, and we had these 360-degree views,” she said. “But what did you do once you were there?”

Jamieson studied videos on how to fire ceramics outdoors, cooked in a fire pit wrapped in materials that would add color and natural varnish. Over time, she’s mastered the technique to the point that one recently made large pinecone sculpture is perfectly smooth. Another piece, a dual statue set of mother and child elephants, displays painstaking detail in the animal features.

Yu, a resident artist of the center, uses the high-fire kiln method to create functional ceramic art – custom dishware and sculptural containers, such as a set of mushroom vessels.

“Life is too short to use mass-produced stuff,” she said. “I like to inject a little bit of fun into objects you see all the time. I like the idea of having your mug, or your plate, that you use all the time.”

An optometrist by trade, Yu began exploring creative outlets while living in Shanghai without a work visa. She tried her hand at photography before becoming enthralled by pottery classes at a nearby studio. Her deepening involvement led her to rent space for all-hours access. After moving to Bellevue, the arts center allowed her to continue her work. Now she works in her field part time while spending most of her days working with clay.

“I love the idea that adults can enjoy it, I love the idea that kids can enjoy it,” Yu said. “You get to see the transformation of clay into something useful … (working in) ceramics, you are involved in the process of transformation.”

Vail said she likewise was fascinated with useful art, like “whimsical” glass garden bird baths. One favorite past project was ‘Tini Heads, custom made martini glasses that resembled triangular faces.

“They’re almost like a Picasso kind of face, made of scraps of glass,” Erickson said, describing Vail’s handiwork.

Erickson was a trained ceramicist, earning a major in the artform at Central Washington University. After college he started paying the bills as a construction carpenter, using skills that he eventually brought into his art. Art is a creative outlet, but it’s also been a recreational outlet. They soon plan to relocate from Bellevue to Cle Elum, where they maintain a studio.


Sharon Jamieson has been making pottery for more than three decades but, 25 years ago she found a passion for the uncommonly used pitfire technique.

Daniel Nash, Bellevue Reporter

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