Presented by Guemes Island Community Center Association (GICCA)
“Enriching and Connecting our Island Community”

Artist of the Month!

Bob Anderson

Bob Anderson

Bob Anderson wears many hats – artist, teacher, spiritual leader, and social justice advocate to name a few. Bob has a rich artistic history that was nurtured by those around him and he wants to pass along that gift by mentoring the creative talents of artists around him. Read on to learn about what makes Bob tick and be inspired by his generous spirit.

Have you ever imagined yourself as an artist? Do you love to explore your artistic side, but aren’t confident enough to jump in and totally share your visions with others? April’s Artist of the Month, Bob Anderson, can help you with that. Bob has generously offered to tutor or mentor art in varied media for friends and neighbors on Guemes Island. He is “especially focused on encouraging beginners who are interested, but hesitant, to ‘plunge into’ the world of artmaking.” Bob would love to bring the world of “arting” to students, teens, and young adults. Elementary students are also considered with active participation by their parents.


Who is Bob Anderson and why would you want to learn from him? For starters he has a master’s degree in art education. Throughout his life, Bob has been surrounded by people who have nurtured his creative tendencies and encouraged his endeavors so he has experienced first-hand the benefits of what such support can yield. His dad gave him real hand tools for birthday gifts to use in his basement shop or out in the yard redesigning the landscape. Much of his childhood was spent building forts, tree houses, and villages of roads and buildings for his toy cars. Those early landscapes eventually became theater set designs, children’s playgrounds, and many landscapes in Seattle and on Guemes Island. If you’re ever near Seattle, he has a large stained-glass series in the Bellevue First Congregational United Church of Christ (UCC).


His “epiphany moment” occurred visiting the home of a new college professor from the Rhode Island School of Design and seeing the artist’s sculpture and asking himself “Could I do this?” He realized instantly that he visualized three dimensionally and has been a designer of form in space ever since.


His inspiration comes from almost anything intensely visual: random dance forms to kids play movements. Favorite images include prehistoric and archeological, cultural and ethnic, figures, classic Christian themes, and anything with wings or flying. Bob shared that “ancient icons and culture, to me, evoke timeless spiritual messages. Both my professional life and my art are deeply influenced by my Christian roots and inner faith.” He has served as a Congregational-UCC minister professionally in 6 churches, 4 small solo pastorates, and 2 larger staff situations with emphasis on community ministry and social justice work, especially with refugees and other marginalized populations.


Bob is currently using a paintable medium called clay paper and has tentatively returned to the use of color added to form and texture. In addition to his love of mask-making, Bob continues to experiment in various media. His favorite haunts for material are dumps, local hardware stores, discarded wood, used foam, and “anything you can make into something new’. Additionally, he’s been a camera nut with an 11,000-image iPhoto file for image mining. Visual art isn’t his only artistic outlet. For 20 years he’s been amassing a large collection of unpublished poetry, which he would like to share publicly to benefit his favorite charities.


Retirement, along with a desire to leave the big city, brought Bob and his wife, Boots, to Guemes Island. Seattle colleagues offered them the sale of their lot in Holiday Hideaway when they were unsuccessfully looking for a getaway north of Seattle. Reminiscent of his early years in the southern Berkshires of western Connecticut, the small farms, rustic homesteads, low rolling hills, wooded parcels, old orchards, and the “live and let live” attitude of Guemes spoke to him. Like so many who live here, they, and their dog, loved it so much that they looked for reasons to stay longer, and the rest is history.


I asked Bob what he does when he’s not in the studio. He replied, that “I continue modest social justice work, to the annoyance of some folks. I helped start the Guemes Historical Society, participate in the community church, and help with occasional Guemes projects, like raising money with my friend, Howard Pellett, for the first solar project on the fire hall.” Since the pandemic he has been trying to open ways for folks to again have significant, personal, face-to-face conversations on issues that matter, admittedly with very limited success.


Bob’s art is for sale. He said that his art needs new appreciative homes, especially as he ages. Most sales will benefit charities that he and his late wife, Boots, have long supported. Charities including various Island groups and the Skagit Land Trust. “I do not price my work, preferring to negotiate an exchange face-to-face or entertain an offer. Come on the next tour or phone me for a private home visit of my collected art.” Bob also has a page on the Guemes Art Initiative website.


If you are interested in taking advantage of Bob’s art lessons offer you can call him at 360-293-3770. As you have read, he is well versed in many different mediums and he will adapt his materials to “the expressed needs emerging from learners, both amateur and professional, to inspire their creative work free of the boundaries of commercialism, sales, gallery shows, and cultural expectations about what is/is not art.” The cost for instruction is based on financial circumstances.


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