Jessie Carter McDonald, Artist
Jessie Carter McDonald first visited on a bike tour of the San Juan Islands in the spring of 1980. It was on this tour that she fell in love with the islands and got the feeling she may someday return. In 1996, Jessie returned as a vendor for the San Juan County Fair. Fairy wings, skirts and face painting made for a booth of abundant charm and magic that returned to the small farming community year after year to participant in the Fair. In the spring of 2001, Jessie moved to San Juan Island, making it her permanent home. Jessie remains an active participant, volunteer and lover of the San Juan County Fair and the magic and history it shares with the community.
All this brings us to present day and the 2019 San Juan County Fair theme “A Wheel in Time: Cultivating Roots”. With her heart and mind filled with a love of history, illustration and mystery Jessie took on the task of solving the riddle of the theme through illustration.
“I have a love affair with small county fairs and all of the history, community and magic that they bring to those who visit. From the rides and events all lit and garishly painted, to the animals, carnival food, local art and the history that is apparent in all of the exhibits and the meeting of old friends and new, how one would not fall in love.”
In the winter of 2018, Jessie started on a series exploring her love of carnivals and fairs. This, initial series, was noticed by a fellow artist who encouraged Jessie to inquire about being the Fairs poster artist. This was the starting point and an original study in wheels, the Ferris Wheel. As the theme continued to percolate, the roots started to take shape linking the depth of our islands history and the San Juan County Fair, research began and Jim Crook became a focus. It was Jim Crook's farming of sheep, creation of machines, the famous carding machine to process wool, that Jessie discovered the wheels of creativity and progress that still held true to present day island activity and small sheep farming, and the bigger creative process that is still in play on the islands. It was with all this in mind that Jessie truly understood how a wheel in time carries the past into our present day. Where it beautifully cultivates roots that to this day brings us joy and beauty at the San Juan County Fair.
Today one can visit a building on the fairgrounds named after Jim Crook. It is here the youth of the islands share their own forms of creative endeavor. It sits in a circle, next to the Textile Building and Fiber Arts Courtyard where weavers, spinners, knitters, quilters and other hand crafters use wool to create beautiful items, a wheel, connecting activities that have roots in our islands past and still being actively carried out today.