This week’s guest for the Denny School of the Arts Lecture Series is eccentric British philanthropist Sir Arthur Eyland, whose radical solution to subsidizing the arts involves a decommissioned cruise liner, a geopolitical anomaly in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and a refreshing utopian lawlessness. Mostly known by fishermen seeking halibut, Hein Bank is a solitary shoal that affords water as shallow as 3 meters. Its location precisely 12 miles from the shores of Vancouver Island, Whidbey Island, San Juan Island, and Dungeness Spit technically places it in a tiny parcel of international waters- a fact that has gone mostly ignored by the US and Canada…but not Mr. Eyland, a veteran sea-steader (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seasteading), who has threaded a bevy of loopholes and established the world’s first floating artist colony (called “The Artists’ Republic of Fuca” …or just “Fuca”), free from tax regulations, business licenses, and other laws, due to its unique location. And based on its proximity to Victoria, Vancouver, and Seattle, Eyland’s miniature floating nation has already gained notoriety as being a seminal destination for NW artists to make and sell work. Lead Pencil Studios even designed and built an underwater glass-walled gallery off the bottom of the vessel, an old Carnival Cruise liner that Eyland bought when the recession hit and the Alaskan routes saw devastating fall-off in patronage.
Local artists Robert Hardgrave, Susan Robb, Tivon Rice, Anthony Sonnenberg, and Victoria Haven, just to name a few, have spent residencies there in the last year, creating in their seaborne studios and dealing their own art to a constant flux of curious wealthy patrons from around the world, who seem to flock like moths to Fuca’s definitive light. Eyland owns a small fleet of floatplanes to bring potential buyers flying into SeaTac or Vancouver International to the floating colony, and he hosts weekly mixers, studio tours, webcasts, and exhibition “smorgasbords” meant to get art into the hands of collectors. Sunsets over the Olympics, salmon fishing off the deck, and the occasional Trident submarine drive-by have combined with the general decadence associated with artist colonies to create an attractive social experiment, as well. How and why did he do it? Exactly what did Susan Robb sink into the shallow water bounding the boats anchorage? What’s the most bizaare thing that’s ever happened on that boat? How can you get onboard?
Ask him yourself in this exclusive engagement at Walden 3: Sir Arthur Eyland speaks at the steps, Denny School of Fine Art next Tuesday at 7:00 sharp.