In February 2016, the Bainbridge Island Arts and Humanities Council conferred one of the two 2016 Island Treasure Awards on Denise Harris.

Growing up with a big family in the Pacific Palisades, the multi-talented Denise Harris and her five siblings were encouraged to pursue whatever interested them in arts and music. At one point Denise even decided she’d learn to play every instrument in the orchestra! But after mastering several instruments she began branching out, expanding her artistic scope to become a sculptor, set designer, singer, actress, and much, much more.

Nothing seems to be beyond her: from her Gypsy Wagon at the annual Harvest Fair to her iconic signs at Lynwood Center (for island institutions such as Heyday Farm, Village Music, Pane d’Amore, O’Connor Architects, and the Treehouse Cafe) to her acting, her singing, and the fabulous sets she’s designed for Bainbridge Performing Arts, Denise’s range of talents and their impact on our community have proved to be extraordinary.

As a featured artist at Bainbridge Arts & Crafts, Denise is known for her enchantingly detailed miniature sculptures, several of which have become part of the permanent collection at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art. She also sings with a musical group on Saturdays and with the choral group Amabile, and she has performed in numerous plays at BPA. Clearly Denise’s childhood freedom to explore has stood her in good stead; if she determines to create or do it, she does. Even building a ukelele and a concertina with scrap wood were not beyond her perseverance and tenacity.

In this interview, Denise describes those early years with her family, and speaks fondly of her enduring close connection with her five siblings, most of whom now live on Bainbridge Island. Raised to delve into whatever caught her fancy, she continues to expand her artistic repertoire with the same joyful anticipation and fearless abandon she experienced as a child — and we can’t wait to see what she tackles next! Though she admits to being surprised and honored by the 2016 Island Treasure Award, it’s no surprise to the rest of us: clearly this award is richly deserved!

Credits: BCB host: Channie Peters; BCB audio editor: Barry Peters; BCB social media publishers: Diane Walker and Barry Peters.