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Reflections on Dad, his art and culture making legacy, life and death.

I’m sitting here in the quiet of the studio, alone. It is Monday, my Sabbath day. I’ve come to Camano to plant grass and be still in the quiet of this place. The studio is beautiful with the sunlight outside and the lights inside off.

last week 4

Light plays on the wall, paintings are soft and subdued. I sit with just dad’s artwork to keep me company just one week after he had a heart attack.

It was 3:30am on Saturday morning when dad got up because he wasn’t feeling well. He went to the bathroom but it didn’t help him feel better. Mom woke and asked him how he felt and he said not so good. So she said, well maybe we should go to the hospital. And Dad agreed. That’s when mom knew it was serious. When they arrived at the emergency room Dad told the aide what was going on and he was quickly wheeled into a room for an EKG, told that he was having a heart attack, and just as quickly wheeled into another room full of nurses and doctors. They put a stent in an artery in the lower right region of Dad’s heart and, thankfully, the surgery was successful, Dad feels great, he’s back at home though he has to take it easy for a while to give time for the stent to heal.

So today as I sit in the quiet and shadowed gallery I’m in a reflective mood. I’m more aware now than ever of the shortness of life, that our days are numbered. I’m very thankful to God for sparing my Dad and giving us more time together. And as I sit amidst all of Dad’s paintings of his Art Retrospective show that celebrates his 77th birthday I’m aware of two things.

First, I’m aware that this show represents Dad’s tremendous creative gifts and culture-making endeavors. I’ve spoken of this show as a Tour de Force and it truly is. In particular, I’m struck by Dad’s mastery of watercolor fundamentals: his technical skill, sense of design and color, precision of brushstroke against highly suggestive brushstrokes,  his tight realism contrasted with loose impressionism, his ability to capture mood – most notably his nostalgia for place and the man-made objects in those places. I realize that I sit amidst the work, indeed, the legacy of a culture maker; of a man who has contributed to the beauty and culture of the Pacific Northwest through creating artworks treasured by thousands of people.

Second, I’m aware that all of this creative, culture making work will come to an end when God calls my dad, His son, home. This flurry of painting, of culture making, by my dad will cease one day. And no one, in no place, and at no time, will ever be able to paint the way or the kind of paintings my Dad painted. I’m not saying that they won’t be able to paint better watercolors than Dad. Certainly in days gone by, today, and in future days there have been, are and will be better watercolorists. But none of them will be the kind of painter my dad is, and paint the kind of art that my dad does, for the simple fact that they are not him.

GICLEE of Historic wc painting Frank Olsen owns, Cary Cartmill resized (1)

And so I linger among the paintings thinking about the shortness of life, contemplating the artistic legacy of my Dad, and as I do so I have an overwhelming thankfulness for the creative energy and the cultural impact of my Dad.

Jack Dorsey’s Art Retrospective Show will be open for one more Saturday, April 1st, from 10:00am – 5:00pm. Stop by and see his beautiful artwork. You may even get a chance to chat with the artist himself! And for that I am thankful!

Thanking Jack Dorsey’s Patrons, Collectors and Friends: Frank Olsen

There is an important and symbiotic relationship between art patrons, art collectors and friends of artists. In short, patrons, collectors and friends purchase artworks created by artists, and, in so doing contribute to the local economy and cultural life of a place.

This is the second of a series of articles in which we celebrate and thank Jack Dorsey’s many art patrons, collectors and friends. This story shows how paintings can become symbolic of the friendship with the artist himself or herself.

Sunnyshore Studio: Frank, tell us a little about yourself.

Frank: I grew up in North Seattle and attended Ingraham High School. My family was in the lumber business so when I graduated from high school I started at the UW as forestry major. I eventually transferred to Western Washington University and graduated with a Bachelors of Music from there.

I’d always played music. My grandmother was a pianist and she taught me piano. One of my piano teachers in north Seattle wanted her students to take up a second instrument so I took up string bass. I got music jobs in high school, and have played professionally ever since high school until 2008 when I had a stroke which effected my left side and hand.

Music is like art, never a huge paying profession.  So I’ve always worked in the lumber business too. As I said, I grew up with the lumber business. My grandfather, dad, uncles and sisters were in it and I could always get a job in the lumber yard.

My family had a cabin on Camano. I’ve been coming here since I was a little kid in the early 1950’s. My wife Patty and I moved to Camano in 1974.

Sunnyshore Studio: How did you meet Jack Dorsey?

Frank: When I was going to Western I joined the Whatcom county volunteer fire department. When we moved out to Camano your dad and Ed Johnson, who was the fire chief of the Fire Station at the south end of Camano, stopped by our house to recruit me.  I don’t know how they knew that I had been a fireman. That’s how I met Jack.

But I knew of Jack, indirectly, before I even moved to Camano.  As I said, my dad was in the lumber business in Seattle. Chuck Bay, who is Jack’s half-brother,  was a salesman in the lumber industry who often  called on my dad’s lumber yard. He and my dad were good friends. One day Chuck heard that I was moving to Camano and he told me that his brother Jack was a painter on Camano Island. My dad bought a couple of Jack’s paintings in the early 1970’s because of his relationship to Chuck.

Sunnyshore Studio: Tell us about the first painting you purchased from Jack?

Frank: During my college years in Bellingham I became a Volkswagen enthusiast.  In 1968 my college roommate and I started rebuilding Volkswagens. Everyone was driving them in those days and they were always breaking down.

Jack had a Volkswagen van.  He had traded a painting for a short block engine and he asked me to help him install it in the van. We worked several days putting this new engine; I remember the car was parked on the north side of his house, next to this apple tree that I could see from underneath the van.

After we finished Jack said, “I want you to have something.” I told him that that wasn’t necessary, and that I just wanted to help you as a friend. But Jack insisted. He took me to the old chicken coop that he had turned into a studio and brought out this big box full of paintings. He told me to go through the paintings and pick something out that I liked. There were a ton of paintings in there. I leafed through each one and picked out a couple I really liked. One was a tug boat, the other was a painting of an apple tree; it turned out to be the apple tree I had seen from underneath the van.

The painting of the apple tree really struck me. Jack said, “Oh I didn’t know the painting with the apple tree was in there.” I said that it didn’t need to be that painting; but Jack insisted that I take it. It was just coincidence that that tree was right next to when we were working on the apple tree.

GICLEE of Historic wc painting Frank Olsen owns, Cary Cartmill resized (1)

So I didn’t purchase the painting. Jack gifted it to me to thank me for my help.

My dad did buy a couple paintings of your dad. The one my mom has in her bedroom is much larger, it is of a field with a barn from near Warm Beach. My sister has the other one my dad and mom bought. I have a tiny painting your mom did too; a little 4” by 5” painting of a rose bush. We bought that out at the Stanwood Fair.

Sunnyshore Studio: Share a meaningful memory you have of Jack Dorsey.

Frank: A couple of things come to mind. I remember one time working with Jack down at his pump house. It was an old-fashioned well with an old diaphragm down in the bottom of it that went up and down. Your dad told me the story of how some hunter’s bullet went through the pump house. I can’t remember if Jack was in the pump house at the time.

Another time your dad and I went over to his parents property in Plain, WA to rebuild the pole roof over their trailer. We went up into the forest service land and pulled a bunch of logs and hand peeled them. We slept in the Volkswagen. I remember his mom fixed us some food and Jack showed me their old John Deere tractor. I know that we didn’t get the job finished that weekend.

Your dad and I used to go out and fish quite a bit too. We trailered his boat down to Everett and launched there. But most of the time fished off the State Park and Cama Beach. We had a favorite spots, right at the end of the railway that boats went into the water on. We would make a circle right there and catch lots of winter blackmouth.

Sunnyshore Studio: How would you encourage emerging art patrons about the value, importance and meaning of purchasing original artworks?

Frank: Well in my case, I’m not into buying art. I happen to have an original of your dads that he gave me. And I bought two original acrylics of a neighbor of ours named John Mueller. Your dad knew him. I  bought them as gifts for my wife for mother’s day or a birthday. Those are the only original paintings I’ve bought.

I’m not trained in art, but as I see it, art just strikes you.  A good work of art, you really feel that art. Especially the one I got from Jack, the old apple tree. It could have been that we were laying on our backs under the Volkswagon van, looking at the tree. But there was something about it that struck me. I was just drawn to that tree. But it’s more than that. It’s a piece of Jack, my history with your dad. It’s very meaningful piece to me. My kids have grown up with it.

Announcing Release of Limited Edition Book: Jack Dorsey, Sketch of an Artist

Jack Dorsey’s children – Jeff, Jason, April and Jed – are pleased to announce the release of a limited edition coffee table book that tells his story and celebrates his beautiful art. Our goal is to have this book in our dad’s hands on Father’s Day, June 18th.

It is titled Jack Dorsey: Sketch of an Artist. Jack’s friends, art patrons and collectors, and northwest art historians will want a copy. We are offering a 20% discount if it is purchased before March 18th!

  • 100 hardcover copies, each signed by Jack
  • 64 pages, with over 40 paintings
  • Biographical sketch written by Jason Dorsey
  • Release Date: Father’s Day, June 18th
  • Cost: $40 (plus $6.48 for tax, shipping and handling) if purchased by March 18th!
  • Cost: $50 after March 18th

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Join us as we share the artistic legacy of our dad!


Thanking Jack Dorsey’s Art Patrons, Collectors and Friends: Melanie Serroels

There is an important and symbiotic relationship between art patrons, art collectors and friends of artists. In short, patrons, collectors and friends purchase artworks created by artists, and, in so doing contribute to the local economy and cultural life of a place.

This is the first of a series of articles in which we celebrate and thank Jack Dorsey’s many art patrons, collectors and friends. It is fitting that our first interview was with Melanie Serroels who is, herself, an artist. Artists support other artists, and Melanie is a significant contributor to the cultural and artistic life of the northwest.

Sunnyshore Studio: Melanie, tell us about yourself.

Melanie: I have always lived in the Pacific Northwest.  I was born and raised in Portland, OR. Moved to Sammamish, WA.  Built our home on Camano Island in 2004 and moved to Camano Island full time in 2006. I attended Portland Public schools: Fernwood Elementary (K – 8); U.S. Grant High School (9 – 12); and Portland Community College.

I worked at Aetna Life and Casualty Medicare Claims Administration for 7.5 years.  We got married in 1975 then had Brian in July 1981 and became a full time mom.  I have always volunteered and remain active in community organizations that support children, the arts, the environment and those less fortunate than me.

Sunnyshore Studio: How did you meet Jack?

Melanie:  I joined Camano Arts Association in the winter of 2003.  I knew of Jack through General Meetings, but didn’t actually talk to him until 2004 while enjoying the Camano Island Studio Tour with a friend.

I was thrilled to meet so many artists on the island.  I was encouraged to think I might be a part of Camano’s large artistic community.  I began volunteering my time for the association’s many committees right after joining, and met and worked with almost everyone on the roster.

In 2007, I rented a space and curated a large art show at Four Springs House and Lake Preserve during the Studio Tour.  It was a non-juried venue.  Mainly because I didn’t have time to do much but get permission from the Board and Membership to present 12 of the 50 new artists that had joined CAA that year.  We also opened up to host that year’s CAA Scholarship winner.

Jack struggled greatly with my proposal and the non-juried venue for the Studio Tour and much discussion about how and why, but in the end it was allowed for one year and I did it.  No negative results were ever reported, and after all was said and done, and I remained friendly with Jack, he admitted to me that we didn’t hurt his business.  It’s been years and a few cups of coffee at the table in the Dorsey’s kitchen, but Jack is okay with me mostly now.  Many of the artists from the Detour venue went on to become some of the most actively involved and successful Studio Tour Artist members of CAA.  Thankfully many don’t even remember and we have all moved on.

The Dorsey family members are some of my favorite Camano artists.  I have enjoyed getting to know each of them.  I have coached, promoted, taught, supported, attended openings and workshops, and worked with every member of the family over the years.  I’ve purchased work from Jack and Jed and worked with Annie and April.  I even hosted out-of-town workshop attendees in my guest room, so they could attend Jack’s & Thomas William Jones’ two workshops.

I was sad when Jack and Annie dropped out of CAA, but delighted to get a call from you, Jason, and hear your plans to return to the area and build Sunnyshore Studio.  I’m delighted that Jack and Annie are back working with you all on the studio tour.  It’s where they belong.  Jack complains about being busy, but that’s a good thing in this business.

Sunnyshore Studio: Tell me about Jack’s painting you purchased.

Melanie: We purchased Jack’s watercolor “Calm Morning” at a pre-holiday Open House that Jack and Annie held a few years ago.  Randy bought it for me for Christmas.

I first noticed the painting when I attended the second Dorsey/Jones workshop.  I wanted to support Jack and I was excited to help and own an original Jack Dorsey painting.  It’s a nice addition to our home and I enjoy it every time I look at it.

My motivation to pick out this painting was it depicts one of my favorite views. It’s to the right, looking north towards the San Juan Islands, when you cross over Mark Clark Bridge and drive onto the island.  It’s got to be during daylight hours, but this view is my “You’re almost home”.

It’s an unusual scene for Jack to paint.  He has even said that he has attempted it again, but has had no luck.  This view is easy to see, but hard to snap a good photo of, and very dangerous to stop or stand on the bridge to capture it.  I’ve painted this scene myself.  You must take a quick look to gather the details, over several trips across the bridge, get the jest of it and then just go for it.  The area’s official name is Leque Island.  It is described as the area under the Mark Clark Bridge, between Port Susan and Skagit Bays.

Sunnyshore Studio: What is a meaningful memory you have of Jack?

Melanie: Jack is one of the outstanding artists living out here on the Camano Island.  He has served as President of the Northwest Watercolor Society and has paintings hanging in the Frye Art museum in Seattle.  Jack is humble man, but it truly is an honor to know him.  He is dedicated to his art and works very hard to produce and frame his fine paintings.

I truly enjoyed the workshops that he put on with Tom Jones.  They are such good friends that it’s fun to be around them together.  We were treated to so many fun stories, and they are always teasing each other.  At the end of each day during the workshops, we would meet for a critique.  One day Jack slipped a little demo paintings into the mix without Tom noticing.  Tom critiqued it, rather thoroughly, before he asked who had painted it.  Jack fessed up. What a fun time we had as Tom “did the backstroke” to say what he really thought about Jack’s work!

Sunnyshore Studio: How would you encourage emerging art patrons about the value, importance and meaning of purchasing original artwork?

Melanie: My business’ name is Melanie Originals. I paint and sell original watercolors. I place a great value in and encourage others to purchase original artwork.  I like “Old School” hand drawn paintings in transparent watercolor. I cherish the pieces that I have been present to see painted. I have always learn best by watching, then doing.

My first purchase of original art was a painting I watched Charles Mulvey paint at a workshop in the 70’s. Charles taught me how to watercolor. The painting is a loosely painted clump of trees.  The focal point is an unpainted area that helped him explain how sometimes it’s the thing you don’t paint that makes a painting work.  I purchased two more Mulvey originals during the years before he passed.  He was a fine professional watercolor artist and I enjoyed knowing and learning from him.

Sunnyshore Studio: You are an artist yourself. Tell us about yourself as an artist? How would you describe your art? What organizations are you a part of? And is it common for artists to support each other?

Melanie: I paint watercolors and acrylics. I started with soft pastels and from art classes I took throughout my public school education. I juried onto the Art Staff my Sophomore year of high school and was very involved in the work that we did for the Drama, Music Department productions as well as for the school’s Year Book.  I was also introduced to calligraphy in the eighth grade and have shared my skills received by completing a certificate program from a Lloyd Reynolds I took in high school. I was allowed to focus on art classes from eighth grade on, and even skipped some “required subjects” to take extra art.  These classes allowed me the opportunity to try many art mediums and develop skills that I still use today.  I come by my artistic talent from my family too.  My mom and dad were both creative, my uncle was a well-known architect and my grandmother painted china.  We passed it on to our daughter who is currently a published Interior Designer in Seattle.

I paint in a realistic style.  I enjoy painting landscapes and seascapes and I’ve become known on Camano Island as the artist that paints colorful flying kites. Some people say, “If it’s got water in it, it’s probably Melanie’s.”

I am on the board of the Camano Arts Association (CAA), a member of the Stanwood-Camano Arts Guild (SCAG), and the Northwest Watercolor Society (NWWS).

Sunnyshore Studio:  Share a bit about how many artists support other artists in their careers by going to shows, purchasing works.  Why is this collegiality and support important?

Melanie: I believe that most Artists are interested in other Artist’s work and attend shows and gallery openings to critique themselves and as well as others. I’ve curated shows and co-managed Member’s art shows for CAA, SCAG and the Snow Goose Festival.

Most Artists don’t have the funds to purchase other artist’s work, but the peer appreciation and acknowledgement is very important.  Critique is difficult for most to accept, but it’s an exercises in peer review, and serves an important function.  Entering shows, getting accepted, attending, supporting, critique is like getting an artistic massage from the whole community.  Supporting an artist by purchasing their work is like the final test.  This acceptance encourages the artist to keep going and trying new things not to mention pays for more art supplies helps with framing.

To be a known generally as a collected Artist is a goal.  It’s in getting there that you must work past jealous feelings and inner thoughts of “I could do that!”  The marketing aspect of being an artist is usually not the most favorite part, but it’s exciting and much more enjoyable to do when your art leaves with someone else… It’s finding that little red dot on your gallery tag that is exquisitely exhilarating, sometimes sad, but oh so much fun!

You can see Melanie’s artwork at:

The story behind 77 paintings on Jack Dorsey’s 77th birthday


“Not every artist has a key to the Gallery but not every artist helps spread the gravel in the parking lot for his/her upcoming show,” Jenny Wallace Dorsey, the Director and Curator of Sunnyshore Studio told me in an interview this week.


In an interview this week Jenny said “At the beginning of February I went up to Jack’s house and laid out all of his paintings. We talked about which paintings he would show. At that time, Jack indicated that he preferred a show with fewer, well-displayed, high-quality artworks.  Jack and I walked through the Gallery space and discussed the best usage of each wall. We decided the far wall would feature a large, beautiful oil painting of a sailboat silhouetted against a sunset. The opposite wall would showcase Jack’s abstract art as well as three sculptures, and so on.”


“On Friday, February 24th, I drove up to the Studio and hung the show,” Jenny continued. “I was really happy with its flow, colors and the complimentary subject matters. I felt we had a very strong show and I was curious to know what my husband, Jason, would think since this is his dad’s art.”

On Monday, February 27th, Jason drove to Camano to see Jenny’s handiwork.  While there were a few paintings still to be hung on the wall, he was very impressed with her collaging of the artworks and the overall impact of the show.

He took the following video at that time.

Meanwhile, Jenny knew that Jack was still making the final decisions on what paintings he was going to display. And while Jenny expected him to swap out a few paintings, she was not prepared for what happened next.

“On Friday, March 3rd, Jason and I drove up to Camano. We arrived late, well after rush-hour traffic. When I walked in the door I stopped dead in my tracks. I wondered what in the world had happened. It didn’t take me long to figure out that instead of Jack swapping out paintings he had added many new paintings. In order to make all of the paintings he had brought over fit, he had had to re-arrange the whole show,” Jenny said.

“I wandered around curious to see if I could understand the rationale behind each painting and contemplated what I should do. I decided to go to bed and sleep on it. That night I had a troubled sleep, with multiple nightmares of setting up the show and then Jack coming in and re-arranging it,” Jenny lamented.

“The next morning I was cataloging the inventory of Jack’s paintings when I realized that the show would have over seventy paintings. I wondered to myself if we’d hit the magic number of 77 which would correspond perfectly with Jack’s birthday since he turns 77 on March 12th. I counted 74 paintings and realized I that was all the paintings. Then it dawned on me that I had forgotten to include Jack’s three sculptures. So the total number of artworks that Jack had unknowingly brought over for his show ended up being 77 on the dot. And that made the rationale for the show work!” Jenny said.

She went on to say, “You can argue that technically Jack only has 76 pieces of art in the show since one piece was done by his mother. But I have not shared this with Jack because I’m quite confident that he is going to bring one more piece over anyway and I’m hoping it’s only one, not two.”

After talking with Jenny I interviewed Jack to understand his side of the story.


Jack said, “I didn’t realize that the show was all hung. It seems like there was a miscommunication between Jenny and I. We had more paintings at the house that I brought over. Annie encouraged me to hang more paintings saying, ‘you can’t sell paintings that aren’t displayed’, and so we kept adding paintings to the show. It just happened.  And I had no idea that it would be a show with 77 artworks.”

Jack concluded, “If anyone is to blame it’s me. I didn’t realize that the show was all hung and set. “

Well, there you have it. In a stroke of unconscious genius or in the providence of God that is how Jack Dorsey’s “Past to Present” Art Retrospective ended up with 77 artworks ranging from watercolor, to oil, to acrylic paintings to marble and wooden sculptures, and from impressionistic to realistic to symbolic and abstract artworks spanning over 50 years of painting: a real tour de force of artwork, revealing the prolific art legacy of one of the vintage watercolorists of Washington State.

In the end, this process reveals the way family is supposed to work. Families are meant to stick together through thick and thin, bring our strengths and individualities to the table, work through out differences, and help each other out.  Jenny smiled and said, “it’s not every artist who has the keys to the gallery where his art is displayed. And it’s not many artists who spend their afternoons helping his son spread gravel to enhance the parking lot. I’m glad Jack has the keys to the Gallery and is such a great help to Jason and I in so many ways.”

Stop by Sunnyshore Studio (2803 S.E. Camano Drive) on Saturday, March 11th (10:00am-5:0pm) and on Sunday, March 12th (1:00 – 5:00pm) to see all 77 (or is it 76) of Jack’s paintings. Or give Jack a call for a private showing (360.387.7304). Jack’s “Past to Present” Art Retrospective will be up through April 1st.


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