It’s been 40 years, since Sherry and Ivan Rasmussen have created art — from origami stars and pottery to stained glass and watercolors — on and around West Street.
The Rasmussens, who were awarded the 2014 “Acadia Arts Achievement Award,” remain a force in Bar Harbor’s lively arts scene and on West Street. The couple run the Alone Moose Fine Crafts Gallery as well as an artist’s studio, Art on West at 78 West St.
The couple actually first met in the West Street building where Sherry ran an artisans gallery back in 1976. She had packed up her blue-and-white Volkswagen bus and moved to Bar Harbor after vacationing on the island.
In the ’70s, Sherry recalls, it was much easier to open a business there. All you needed was an employer identification number.
“It’s much more structured today,” the paper artist says. “That’s a good thing. It was very Wild West back then.”
Originally from Oregon, Ivan ventured to Maine to start a pottery cooperative in the Downeast town of Cherryfield in 1970. He and some of the other potters showed their work in Bar Harbor.
As a child, Sherry loved to design and cut outfits for her paper dolls. Origami and paper making later piqued her interest while spending time in Japan. Now she makes paste paper and creates and teaches both origami and kirigami. She is especially known for her signature folded star.
Ivan is a versatile artist who has worked in many different mediums from pottery and lampwork glass to sculpture and now oils, acrylics and watercolors.
For years, crows have been a favorite subject ever since the Cherryfield Co-op’s pet crow, Barney, used to tap on the glass of their workspace when he wanted in. The pesky bird was often shooed out when he left prints in the wet clay pieces.
After Ivan and his friends moved to Bar Harbor, Barney followed suit. The artists recognized their old studio mascot because of its habit of pecking people’s shoelaces — a trick that landed the bird in the local newspaper.
One of Ivan’s more recent paintings, “Trade-Off,” depicts a crow holding lip balm. The watercolor was inspired by an encounter with another crow in town.
“After buying coffee at a local convenience store I was approached by a crow as I walked to my car. The crow held a tube of Chapstick firmly in his beak as he strutted in a small circle,” Ivan recalled. “Knowing that crows like to make trades, I went back to the store and bought some peanuts to exchange for the Chapstick. Since crows do not have lips, he obviously made the better trade.”
Over the years, the Rasmussens have come to know many other artists and they feature a diverse mix of artwork and fine crafts in their store. Bronze sculpture, bird carvings and hand-painted silk are among the works displayed.
To meet the Rasmussens and see their creations, the Alone Moose Fine Crafts Gallery stays open through October. For more info, call 288-9428 and visit www.finemainecrafts.com/artists.html.