By Reeve Washburn, Art Walk Coordinator
I thought it was all about the gardening – but it’s really all about the giving. In the words of president Laird Applegate, the West Seattle Garden Tour is a fundraising organization that helps our West Seattle neighborhoods grow strong. Through a shared love of gardening and the beauty of nature, they make connections and foster relationships. With the funds raised by the Garden Tour’s efforts, the organization supports local non-profits working hard to make our community a better place. And this is the year for celebration! The Garden Tour is 25 and inviting everyone to the party. The tour itself is Sunday, June 23, at nine locations in West Seattle. The winner of their garden-inspired art competition is making its own tour throughout West Seattle before finding its forever home.
Joy in Growing Community
The Garden Tour is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, all-volunteer organization, shaped by passionate gardeners, garden designers and those with a love of green things. Laird got his start in 2014 when the organization knocked on his door and asked him and his partner to be on the tour. In the years that followed, he was invited to join the group, and has participated on all levels, from volunteer chair and event chair, to vice president and now president for the past two years – all because of how much he believes in the organization. Laird is also a garden designer and an oil painter – so you know he’s dedicated to bringing beauty into our lives and the spaces where we like to spend time. He enjoys that it’s a very diverse and friendly group, with members from their 30s to their 80s that like to spend time together at potlucks as well as in their gardens.
The Garden Tour shines a light on local non-profits that work hard to make our community a better place. They donate net proceeds from ticket sales and sponsorship revenue – about $25,000 each year – to organizations whose goals fit their mission to promote horticultural-based interests, education, and artistic endeavors. The 2019 grant recipients are ArtsWest, City Fruit, Community Orchard of West Seattle, Gatewood Elementary School, The Fauntleroy Watershed Council, and West Seattle Bee Garden. Read more here about their community-centric projects.
Creative and Garden Arts Intertwined
The Garden Tour art competition is an integral part of the organization’s fundraising and awareness efforts. Like the Art Walk, the competition is a forum for artists to share their art for a great cause, and is a unique way for the winning and finalist artists to get exposure. This year, 28 artists submitted work with the hope of it gracing the Garden Tour poster, bookmarks and ticket book cover – and garnering a generous $500 award.
This year’s competition winner Sheila Lengle is a West Seattle resident, and her whimsical, exuberantly-colored acrylic piece Garden Girl in Red Shades will be displayed at Capers Home during the May 9 Art Walk, 5-8pm. Gretchen Flickinger, the Garden Tour competition lead, reached out to Capers to host the winning and finalist artwork, knowing about owner Lisa Myers’ unflagging support of our neighborhood and their loyal customers. Gretchen, an artist herself, was the competition winner in 2015, which led her to joining the organization to help fulfill its mission.
LOVE THIS ART? Garden Girl in Red Shades will be sold by silent auction, with all proceeds benefiting the 2019 Garden Tour grantees. Bidding will open at Capers at the May 9 Art Walk, after the awards ceremony at 6pm, through May; continue at Homestreet Bank in June; then close on June 23, at the Garden Tour. See their website for more details.
Synergy of Purpose
Gretchen worked with Capers’ Kassie Hennessey to mount the exhibit as part of the West Seattle Art Walk, for greater community awareness of the Garden Tour’s efforts. Kassie, responsible for vetting Art Walk artists at Capers since 2014, has served on the West Seattle Arts Council since 2015, helping select each quarter’s featured Art Walk artist for the posters. Like Gretchen and Laird, Kassie also brings the experience of being a working artist to Capers’ business, with the good kind of structure she knows is needed to represent and promote artists. Lisa and she invite art lovers and garden lovers to come see Sheila Lengle’s work as well as the finalist works by Louise Hones, Linda McClamrock, N. Naoj, Anne Strandoo, and Suzanne Uschold, which will be for sale. It will be the best kind of garden party with friends and neighbors – just indoors!