Creative Class: Art in Washington Wine Country

Uncover amazing theaters, studios, public art and galleries in Walla Walla, Yakima, Tieton, Toppenish, Richland and other cities in Washington's wine country region.

High on a plateau west of Yakima, surrounded by mountains and fruit orchards, where the wind howls and the sky goes on until it bumps into another mountaintop, a vibrant, fibrous wool tent—shot through with light—dangles from a gallery ceiling. Linger inside it, and you’ll feel as if you’ve been transported to some fairy world.

This is just one of the rotating exhibits that breathe life into The Mighty Tieton, a growing artists’ cooperative in the hills above the Yakima Valley. There’s a destination sound-art space here, too—the Trimpin Studio—complete with sculptural acoustic-making contraptions, as well as an artisan chandelier festival every December.

Roll east, and the arts follow. More than 70 murals in watery blues, dusky reds, and seafoam greens cover the brick and plaster buildings of tiny Toppenish, depicting everything from Old West life to legendary hijinks. Touring on foot takes roughly an hour, but for those more nostalgic, there’s also an almost-daily horse-drawn covered wagon that makes the rounds in summer.

Stained panes line wooden cubes at DB Studio, the workshop of glass artist Deborah Barnard. Come for a class, stay for a glass: The studio and classroom space adjoins the family winery, Barnard Griffin, and its hip new wine bar with an indoor-outdoor bistro.

One of the most exciting new arts offerings in the region is Walla Walla’s Gesa Power House Theatre, with its reclaimed stage and theater chairs in an exceptionally cool space. Here, eerily suspended beneath a tin roof, a car may dangle between brick walls. The Walla Walla Chamber Music Festival is held here, and touring bands often take to its stage as well. And, of course, there’s theater. The Blackfriars-style interiors—designed to replicate the playhouse in London where the Bard staged productions in winter—is now where Shakespeare Walla Walla stages its Shakespeare Festival in July.

Learn more about Washington's wine country region.

—Julie H. Case