This weekend I had the joy of seeing a vision become reality. It was not something I could have manufactured, but a grace -a gift from God – for which I am very thankful.

Here is that story.

In 2000 I first hammered out a plan to build an art studio on Camano Island that would showcase our family’s art and be a place where our family could share the beauty of Camano Island with the world.

It would be named “Sunnyshore Studio” – the name reflecting not only the plot of land where the studio would be, Sunnyshore Acres, but also the name of my dad’s first art studio on Camano Island.

A key part of my plan was that the Studio would bind together our family in a common project and that it would be a blessing to each family member both artistically and financially.

Here is the precise language of that dream as I put it in a 2012 document:

God’s beauty in creation and grace: Our family’s shared experience of Camano is a splinter of God’s beautiful creation and grace. Through art, renewal retreats, the “I Remember” picture book series, and hospitality we hope share God’s beauty with the world.

Partnership: Each family member – “business partner” – shares their unique gift, role, and strength with the others as we partner in the project and serve each other and the world through the project.

 Relational Renewal: Relationships in our extended family flourish as we share a common project together, work together, wrestle through issues together, dream together, plan together, paint together, etc.

 Sharing Success: Each business partner is no stronger than our weakest link. As we partner together each of our businesses share in the success of the others.

But it is one thing to write up a plan on paper. It is a much different thing to watch it unfold in reality. I did not know what to expect for “soft launch” of Sunnyshore Studio on the Camano Island Mother’s Day Studio Tour.

The Night Before

On Thursday afternoon, May 5th, Jackie and I drove up to Camano to prep for the opening. We discovered that mom had already made her upstairs space cozy and inviting. I was thrilled to feature her beautiful acrylics and that she could share a space with her famous grandmother, FY Cory, gifted mom Sayre Dodgson, and her granddaughter, the next generation of family artists, Rachelle Nelson.

We hung the the 32 original paintings from Dad and my book I Remember Fishing with Dad on the south and east wall.

We put my brother Jed’s art on the staircase wall facing north.

My sister and my dad’s art was tucked into the northwest corner.

The art was hung. The stage was set.


Jackie climbed the ladder to put on the “Open” sign. We did not know what to expect. The first day exceeded our expectations.


Friday’s Opening

Friday was a bright, sunny day on Camano.

Our very first guest were Dayle Gage Halverson, her sister, and her mom (I can’t find the picture I took of them, I’m so bummed).

Jenny’s aunt and uncle, Rex and Sharon Lewis, from Salem, OR and her cousin, Sharilyn, from Tacoma visited. It was so fun to see them!

We had a steady stream come through our doors on Friday, 153 people in all. At any point we might have 20-30 people in the downstairs and upstairs gallery, and it never felt cramped. It was fun to share the illustrations from I Remember Fishing with Dad with people, many of them who remembered going fishing with their dad (or mom) or with their kids.

I also invited everyone back to our  Grand Opening black tie Gala in December using the invitation created by Rebekah Kreiger!

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Dad set up an easel but ended up spending most of his time talking with guests and old friends.

Highlights for me were seeing old friends and teachers from Stanwood High School like Jeff Nicolas and Jennifer and Jerry Kelly.

We learned that we had more than ample parking with the front parking lot (which can hold 6 cars) and the back parking strip (which can hold 9 cars). We did not have to use the overflow parking, which can hold up to 20 cars.


Grace Wallace, Jenny’s mom, came up to help us with the weekend. She was a great support all day on Friday. I was happy that she also got to spend some time on the deck enjoying the beauty and peace of the place.

When the day was over dear family friends, Jack and Eunice Cavanaugh joined us for dinner at mom and dad’s. It was the end of a perfect day.

Jenny drove back to Redmond with Grace (Judah was at a wrestling meet all day). Jackie and I crashed at mom and dad’s.


Saturday was another beautiful day.


We had even more guests on Saturday, a total of 163. Highlights for me were mom selling a painting to family friends and classmates from Stanwood HS.


Jackie’s friend Mia from Redmond spend the day helping out. It was fun for Jackie to have a friend to hang out with. Here they are putting up the sign.

A gang of Mom’s dear friends and classmates from Stanwood who meet monthly for lunch and laughter paid a visit and brought lots of fun with them.


Mike Kelly, my friend and pastoral mentor, made the pilgrimage up as well. He bought a painting of dad’s that he has admired for years (Dad took Mike over to his studio to get the painting).

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Pastoral colleagues of mine, Dan and Bethany Robbins, visited. Dan is a pastor at a Presbyterian church in Bellingham, and Bethany is the sister to Sarah and Nathan Partain, dear friends of ours. It was so fun to see them. I’m thankful for their support.

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And Joe and Meg Garrison (I don’t have a picture of them), and Scott, Max and Mary Randal from our church in Redmond honored us with their presence.

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To top it off my big brother Jeff brought some pizza to help us make it through the afternoon. I’m hoping that he will show art in the future!

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We had dinner that night on the deck, and drove back to Redmond where Judah met up with us (he had been at a wrestling meet all day). Jenny, Jackie and Grace went to the airport to pick up our son Julian returning home from his Freshman year in college.


Jenny, Judah, Jackie, Julian and Grace drove to Camano early on Sunday morning to man the fort. Julian spoke of the “calvary” riding in. It was so great to have their help.

Even our dog, Winnie, got into the action.

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Highlights on Sunday were Kevin Williams and his family. It was fun to see another classmate, Lisa Dean Myhre, and meet her daughter (I didn’t get a picture of them).

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Terry and Anna Van Wechel, friends from our days at Green Lake Presbyterian Church in Seattle visited. It was super fun to see their daughter, Hannah, who was in my youth group a long time ago, and meet her husband Ryan.

Mary Van Hoy came the furthest distance for the opening (Mary is a member at the presbyterian church in Indianapolis that I pastored). Her son and my friend Ryan (also from Indy) and her daughter, Julie, and son-in-law Greg who she is visiting (they live in Mount Lake Terrace) came too! It was fun to catch up with them all, and I’m thankful that one of Mary’s values is “supporting the local economy.”

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By the end of the day on Sunday, 196 people had been through the Studio. It was fun to tidy up, close the doors, go back to dad and mom’s for dinner, and even take a quick picture to celebrate Mother’s Day.

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By the end of Mother’s Day weekend over 500 people had been through the Studio. Each family member had sold at least one original art work and together we had made over $8,200. Much more important than the numbers, however, was the weaving together of family and friends and community, the sharing of the beauty of Camano Island by hospitality, and being with family. That can’t be manufactured. It is God’s gift.

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