Saturday, July 12, 2014


"Tree" - Todd Spalti

Our neighboring Island (Orcas) has for years had a treasure of a museum, which few know about, and now seems to be on its last legs-  which we hope is not happening!  Several years ago Oblates took us to this treasure-house of fabulous local art, conducted by Leo himself.  He then became a friend, one we see not often enough.

Located on a high bluff overlooking East Sound, THE LAMBIEL MUSEUM, houses an extensive collection of art exclusively by artists from the San Juan Islands. “As far as I know, I’m the only person who is collecting local art,” said Leo. “The purpose of the museum is to house, preserve, and display the best pieces by the best artists who live or have ever lived in the San Juan Islands.”

Leo, who is from the same part of California I am from and was born 4 months before me ( I remember this, because one of his own works of art is a ceiling in which he shows the sky over Los Angeles the day he was born), moved to Orcas Island when he was 21 years-old. 

Front Room
For 50 years Leo has collected art, from painting and sculpture, to glasswork, photography and ceramics. The collection contains between 800-900 pieces, from about 270 local artists, the earliest dating back to 1915. 

The museum has  the world’s largest collection of  Helen Loggie
"The King Goblin" - Helen Loggie

On display are one hundred and forty-two of her original pencil and charcoal drawings, etchings, pastels, and oil paintings. "The artists that I am exhibiting know their best pieces are in the Lambiel Museum and they are happy that they are in one place to be experienced instead of having them scattered all over the country."

Now Leo is concerned over the future of his vast collection. “I’m not going to live forever, and I need to start making plans for the future of the museum, and the collection." 

Currently Leo is in discussion with Western Washington University, which could result in a portion of the collection going to Bellingham, the property being sold, and the balance of the art being scattered all over. WWU is interested in the Helen Loggie collection as they own the second largest collection of Helen's work.

Helen Loggie

“I think that the art should stay in the community, stay together, and continue to grow. But I’m getting older, and I want to have it organized. Ultimately, I’m trying to assess if people care, and if they even know that this museum exists. My questions is, is it important to Islanders that such a large collection of local art stay in our community And does the community want it?”

People appreciate fine art. It fulfills a need of the human heart. The creativity of the artist is admired, the diversity of expression is enjoyed, the meaning of the content is educational, and the perception of the beauty is uplifting.

If you are in our area this summer, make an appointment for the tour. The museum is open daily by appointment only and the two-hour guided tours are by donation. Even those who do not like museums will love this. Leo is a genius in his own right and one can see his many "inventions".

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