Crisse Bennett was not only one of Edmonds’ most beloved artists, she was also a big part of the Edmonds Festival of the Arts. In addition to her service to the festival, she won numerous awards at the Edmonds Arts Festival for her work, including the Purchase Award in 1978. Her painting, “Hanging Flower Basket”, was the work of poster art of the Edmonds Arts Festival 1985.
Crisse was born and raised in Washington. His artistic talent began to show early in life. As a child, her mother often submitted her sketches to national art competitions, which she usually won. She attended the University of Idaho and Oberlin College. Crisse met and married her husband, Chet Bennett, during his senior year at the University of Idaho. Shortly after their marriage, the couple moved to Oakland, California, where Chet attended law school.
In 1954, Crisse and Chet moved to Edmonds, where they settled and raised a family of six children. She quickly rose to prominence for her artistry and became the go-to person at Edmonds Methodist Church for artwork for everything from cookbook covers to flyers. She also created the Madonna that once adorned the northern end of the church at Christmas.
When she and Chet moved to Edmonds, Crisse also joined the Edmonds Music and Arts Club. She was one of the original members of the artist group that organized and launched the Edmonds Arts Festival. She continued to serve with the Festival in a leadership capacity for 13 years.
In 1970, Crisse received a Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts from the University of Washington.
Crisse attributed much of his success and growth as an artist to his association with Quintessence, a group of five female painters who provided him with great support and encouragement, and Gallery North, a gallery of co-operative art of which she was a member for 10 years. and a former president too.
The outdoors were a big part of Crisse’s life. Her family loved camping trips and she loved spending time around Mount Rainier, the San Juan Islands, Mount St. Helens, and the Olympic Range. One of her favorite summer destinations was the beaches near Ocean Park, Washington. Crisse especially enjoyed spending his summer days painting and drawing on the beaches of Edmonds and the surrounding area, toes in the warm sand while his children played.
The beauty of the Northwest exterior has been the inspiration for much of Crisse’s watercolor. Whether it was a familiar location or a small cluster of beach seashells, the topic was always secondary to a personal and intuitive interpretation of it. Watercolor has allowed him to challenge himself and grow in his personal artistic expression.
Crisse Bennett died on May 4, 2016, at the age of 86. The festival is very grateful to Crisse, not only for his service to the festival, but for his love and service to his community. His art can be found in the Edmonds Historical Museum and in the municipal building in the town of Edmonds.
If you would like to have an art print from the Edmonds de Crisse Festival of the Arts, the “Hanging Flower Basket”, you can get it on a mug. Reprints of virtually all Edmonds Festival of the Arts posters since 1983 are available in the Festival Shop.
The Edmonds Arts Festival will be held this year August 27-29 in downtown Edmonds. On Friday and Saturday, the festival will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free, and in addition to over 160 juried art stands, the festival will feature food and drink options for hungry festival-goers and free performances.
Every piece of art you buy at the Edmonds Arts Festival supports the Edmonds Arts Festival Foundation, which has offered over $ 1 million in college scholarships to art students, community grants to support local organizations d arts and entertainment, arts education grants, and funding for the many amazing public art projects you can see all around Edmonds. For more information, visit www.edmondsartsfestival.com.
(The information in this article is taken from Crisse’s artist statement in the 1985 Edmonds Arts Festival program and his obituary on Legacy.com.)