Peninsula artist picked by Skagit Valley Tulip Festival to create poster
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Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Rick and Karen Sistek of Port Angeles converse in their studio next to stacks of decorative tiles with Karen’s artwork that is being sold at the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival.

By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News

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PORT ANGELES — An internationally known Port Angeles artist will be featured at the monthlong 2013 Skagit Valley Tulip Festival that began Monday.

Karen Sistek, 67, who works with silk, was selected from a group of artists by a Tulip Festival committee in June to create an iconic poster for the annual event.

The festival, which features tours of tulip farms, a basketball tournament, art studio tours, winery tours and museum shows, continues through April 30 in Mount Vernon, Bayview, La Conner, Burlington, Sedro-Woolley and Fir Island.

Known by silk painters for developing a fabric treatment that allows the paint to behave like watercolor, Sistek said the festival gives her a chance to present her works to a larger — and more local — audience.

“It is an amazing opportunity. We're already getting calls from people who have seen it on the brochure,” Sistek said.

On Wednesday, Sistek was busy packing the products she has been having printed with her tulip painting for sale at the festival, including ceramic tiles, silk scarves, tote bags and linen-finish paper placemats.

Many of the festival tulip-poster products, and some of Sistek's other works will be sold at Tulip Town, 15002 Bradshaw Road; RoozenGaarde, 15867 Beaver Marsh Road; and other Mount Vernon locations during the festival.

A larger selection of her silken works are on display at Courtyard Gallery, 701 First St. in La Conner.

Sistek will offer festival prints in Port Angeles at a signing from
6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Karon's Frame Center, 625 E. Front St., and many of her silk products will be available at Country Aire Natural Foods, 200 W. First St.

An Expeditions NW cruise
April 20 to the Tulip Festival also will offer her work, Sistek said.

The tulip that appears on the Tulip Festival poster is a “parrot tulip,” Sistek said, and originally was photographed by the father of a friend, Dymytry Fodchuck in Vancouver, B.C., she said.

“I walked into her house, and she had this photo on her bulletin board,” Sistek said.

The photo, and the flower, were stunning and perfect for the poster, she said.

Sistek got permission from Fodchuck to use the photograph as a model for her painting and started work in her Port Angeles studio.

It took four attempts before the final painting was accepted, and the final poster was unveiled in November.

It is the first time the committee has selected a silk painting, she said.

The 36-inch-by-42-inch original hangs in the tulip festival office at 311 W. Kincaid St. in Mount Vernon.

Two of the paintings that weren't accepted were taken by a friend to be quilted, and a third hangs in Sistek's guest room, where no one but Sistek and her private guests can see it, she said.

Sistek offers silk-painting classes for small groups (six or more), semi-private courses, private classes and a “Fast and Fabulous” one-day course where students can paint their own silk scarf.

For more information on Sistek's art and classes, visit her website,, or phone 360-457-3559.

Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at

Last modified: April 02. 2013 6:17PM
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