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Originally published Friday, June 6, 2014 at 6:17 AM

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Orcas Island Artworks still awaiting new home after fire

An update on cooperative gallery Orcas Island Artworks, which was burned out of its space in the Strawberry Barreling Building in the tiny village of Olga. It’s still in a temporary home in Eastsound, on the island.


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Summer is usually a good time for businesses scattered across the San Juan Islands. That’s when the tourists — and locals looking for a getaway — arrive, with time and money to spend. Those accustomed to browsing Orcas Island Artworks or the James Hardman Gallery, or sampling pie at the Olga Cafe, all in the village of Olga on Orcas’ southern shore, will have to adjust their plans a little this summer.

The Strawberry Barreling Building, which housed Artworks, the cafe and James Hardman Gallery, was heavily damaged by fire in July 2013. The blaze was ruled suspicious by the fire department.

Artworks, a cooperative gallery of more than 40 members, Hardman Gallery and the cafe relocated to the island town of Eastsound. Artworks’ current space is about two-thirds of what the gallery had, said Sue Roland, a member of the co-op, which was established in 1981. “In Eastsound, we’re one of many shops. In Olga, we were unique, out at the end of the island.”

The Olga Strawberry Council owns the barreling building, built in 1938. According to a recent council bulletin, rebuilding has begun and is expected to be finished by the end of the year.

The two galleries will return to the building; the cafe will not.

B.J. Arnold, another longtime Artworks member, said that while the building might be deemed “completed” by then, an additional $30,000 will likely be needed for the gallery to move back, a daunting figure now that the gallery is facing a full tourist season far from its usual home.

For updates on the building construction and the gallery: orcasartworks.com and olgastrawberrycouncil.org.

Seattle Times staff



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