We Bid Farewell to Caveman Al and his Gallery of Small Sculptures
After Al Smith's passing on November 20th, 2017, his friends and family held one last art walk to pay their respects at the "Cave." Prior to his death, mayor Laurie Gere had a sign made, dubbing the alley on the way to Al's Studio "Caveman Alley." This sign is all that remains as a marker of his studio. The landlords have plans to renovate the small structure and then continue to rent it out. (The next renter is already lined up, just in case you considered asking about it yourself!) Whether or not Al's lovingly maintained roses will be permanent residents remains to be seen. We like to think Al imbued the property with a bit of his wit and charm. Below is how we'll always remember his 110-year-old home.
Where the heck was 615-½ Commercial Avenue in Anacortes, anyway?
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Al's "Cave" was tucked away at 615-½ Commercial Avenue, around the corner from Bayside Sweets. Even though Caveman Al was listed in Google, the "½" part of the address confused even the most powerful internet map engines (see the listing on the map to the right). You wouldn't have seen Al's building drawn up on a map, but the satellite view showed his tiny studio/residence tucked away in the alley out back. You'd find Al in his studio most days, working on his latest project. Visitors were always welcome, even when Al was bedridden. His sculptures in the gallery surrounded him, keeping him and the nurses company.
Many folks come to Anacortes to catch a ferry to the San Juan Islands. It's situated on Fidalgo Island, in Skagit County, north of La Connor and west of Mt. Vernon. But it's a destination unto itself with a thriving community of artists, plenty of antique and second-hand shopping, cozy accommodations, world-class restaurants, parks, a farmer's market...you name it. Al liked to watch massive ships being built at Dakota Creek Industries at the end of his street. His favorite lunch spot was the Gere-A-Deli, where he enjoyed following up his half sandwiches with a massive brownie.
You can plan your trip here by visiting the Anacortes Chamber of Commerce website, with plenty of links that might convince you to come and spend a weekend...and pay homage to Al, of course.