As artist Yuminh Zhu welcomes guests to his home studio in Woodinville, a sign reads “masks required; clothing optional.”

After 16 months of canceled gallery shows and art events, local artists shared their passions with community members during the Woodinville Arts Alliance studio tours on Sept. 18 and 19. According to the WAA, the public was invited to tour nine studios and meet 18 artists across Woodinville.

According to Zhu, the mask mandates prompted by the pandemic inspired him to complete a new series of oil paintings. In one of them, a woman is depicted wearing nothing except a mask.

“[Masks are] a new definition of the private part,” he said.

Zhu said he used to show his work in Seattle and Kirkland-based galleries. However, when the pandemic hit, he moved to his personal studio in Woodinville. He usually hosts three art shows per year, he said.

At age 10, Zhu said, he picked up a paintbrush for the first time in Shanghai, China. He took private lessons throughout his education and studied with some great artists from China, he said. 

After earning his master’s degree in California, Zhu said, he moved to Woodinville about 16 years ago. 

For the studio tours, Zhu invited resin artist Kimberly Leo to show her work in his private studio as well. 

Leo, who grew up in New Orleans, said she studied fine art and dabbled in oil painting at Louisiana State University. She was drawn to the Pacific Northwest more than 20 years ago, she said.

Three years ago, she said, a friend showed her a video of resin art, which is made of a fusible organic substance that is typically transparent. Leo enjoyed the look of the product so much that she brough the supplies to try it herself, she said. 

“Once I did my first piece, I just kept making more,” she said. “It got to a point where I was working on resin art every day.”

Due to the quick dry time, which is about 90 minutes, Leo sketches her designs beforehand. Since resin has a honey-like consistency, she said, she occasionally uses a torch to heat the materials.

“I’ve put in many, many hours to the point where I can feel like I’m controlling [the resin],” she said. “But resin is boss.”

Leo’s artwork can be found in FOGUE Gallery in West Seattle, or online at kjleodesigns.com/

Located across town, Mike Osterling and Ron Alessandrini of RAM Studio in Woodinville displayed their unusual craftsmanship during the studio tours.

Osterling and Alessandrini create carved bowls, cutting boards and other wood products. Each piece has a twist. Inside RAM Studio, trinkets line the shelves of the shop and glass ornaments cover almost every inch of the ceiling.

Alessandrini held up a book encased with a bark-like cover and a jewel in the middle.

“I’ve always been handy and very tactile,” he said. “I’ve always admired people that could do fine art, I just can’t do that so I naturally gravitated toward crafts and woodwork.”

Alessandrini said he wanted to participate in the WAA tours to collaborate with other local artists, like Amanda Predmore, who set up her large canvases outside of RAM Studio. 

Predmore attended Skidmore College in upstate New York to obtain a bachelor’s degree in studio art and dance. After college, she joined the Peace Corps in Morocco. 

“People really don’t like you to take pictures of them for religious reasons,” Predmore said, referring to working in Morocco. “That was challenging for me as a portrait artist.” 

The vibrant colors and fabrics she found in the country inspired her to create patterned paintings instead, she said. To view Predmore’s art, visit saatchiart.com/amandapredmore.

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