Colorful Anacortes garden reflects the painters who grow it
Al Currier and Anne Shreivogl are buoyant, confident colorists. Their delight in lively,contrasting hues fills their studios and spills out the door to engage their Anacortes neighborhood.
See, learn more about the work
Anne Shreivogl's paintings can be viewed at the Howard/Mandville Gallery, 120 Park Lane, Suite D, in Kirkland, March 31-April 19.
"Alfred Currier: Impasto" (Marquand Books, $39.95) by Ted Lindberg is a study of Currier's work, complete with full-color plates. This year's Skagit Valley Tulip Festival runs April 1-30. For information see www.tulipfestival.org/
THE ANACORTES home and garden of artists Al Currier and Anne Shreivogl are as vibrantly colored and richly layered as their paintings. Currier, known for his depictions of the Skagit Valley at bloom time, used to have a studio right out in the fields. He's moved indoors these days, with a studio next door to his wife's.
In 2008, the couple gutted their little 1920s house for a thorough green remodel. Now a sheltered, sunny courtyard provides a pleasant commute between the house and the two airy new art studios.
Currier and Shreivogl are buoyant, confident colorists. Their delight in lively, contrasting hues fills their studios and spills out the door to engage the neighborhood. The home's exterior is a multicolored medley of lavender, purple, brick red and cream. Arbors, lattice and gates are painted in shades of buttercream and green.
A fetchingly pod-shaped little trailer sports school-bus-yellow trim and a flower-garden mural. "We wrapped the trailer in paint to fix a crack in it," says Shreivogl. The trailer may look like an art piece parked along the sidewalk, but the couple put 10,000 miles on it last year traveling to en plein air painting sites like Glacier Park, Mont., and Sun Valley, Idaho.
Closer to home, the textures and colors of leaves and flowers provide the couple with fresh artistic inspiration through the seasons. "Our mode of gardening is to plant a bunch of things, and if they last, we plant more," says Currier. Their front garden is colorful even in winter, with red and yellow twig dogwood and hellebores blooming beneath three big firs. Sweeps of tulips and more tulips are the springtime show. "We planted more than 500 reds and yellows, plus a few purples," says Shreivogl, bemused that it's the red tulips that persist. In summer, tall, golden sunflowers and blazing red Crocosmia 'Lucifer' are focal points among the heather and grasses that clothe the garden through autumn.
Even the lettuce-filled cold frames alongside the house are painted purple. The courtyard garden between house and studios is sheltered from neighbors by a hedge of bamboo. A red sun shade swoops like a pirate sail over the seating area. A coral bark maple, pots of annuals and whimsical pieces by artist friends enliven the space.
Nowhere is the color brighter than on the canvases of these two busy painters. Both traveled and taught in Italy last year. Earlier this spring, Shreivogl traveled to Japan to distribute cherry blossom paintings to people displaced by the tsunami.
Shreivogl paints mostly in acrylics. Her subjects are birds and flowers, books, bikes and people. Currier paints in texture-rich oil impasto, layers and layers of brilliant purples, yellows and reds beneath vast Skagit Valley skies. "My interest is in telling the story of the migrant workers" in the fields, says Currier.
While the couple travel, teach and paint around the world, they love working at home. "We think of all this as our creative hidden world, right here in downtown Anacortes," says Shreivogl. "Our garden inspires our artwork, and the garden mimics our painting."
Valerie Easton is a Seattle freelance writer and author of "petal & twig." Check out her blog at www.valeaston.com. Mike Siegel is a Seattle Times staff photographer.