Past Exhibitions


June 27 - October 11, 2015, Lightcatcher Building


 Helmi Juvonen, Vantage, circa 1975-1976; 
Gouache on rice paper. Gift of Dr. Ulrich & Stella Fritzsche.

Helmi Juvonen (1903-1985), known in her day simply as Helmi, was a prolific artist whose creativity embraced diverse media. She was drawn to the ceremonies and arts of Northwest aboriginal culture and developed a rapport with the chiefs of the Lummi, Swinomish, Muckleshoot, Makah, and Yakama tribes. Helmi devoted years to studying and drawing Northwest Coast Indian and South Pacific objects in the Washington State Museum (later the Burke Museum).

Helmi’s World presents 65 artworks—paintings, drawings, prints and ceramics—drawn from the Whatcom Museum’s collection of her work, which numbers 250 objects. Some of her finest pieces are highlighted, including paintings of petroglyphs from Central Washington, watercolors of Lummi masked dancers, and linocut prints based on the Makah Wolf Dance experienced at Neah Bay. The exhibition suggests the complexity of Helmi’s vision by displaying some of her most unusual artworks, where images and symbols from a variety of cultures converge. The influences of Mark Tobey, Pablo Picasso, Scandinavian Folk Art, and Judeo-Christian and Buddhist iconography are also explored.



May 9 and extended through October 25, 2015, Old City Hall

Featuring the work of Seattle photographer and author Paul Bannick, The Owl & the Woodpecker introduces museum visitors to the most important species of owls and woodpeckers in North America, illustrating how they define and enrich the specific habitats on which they depend, and highlighting the critical importance of conservation. The exhibition includes:


  • Twenty-five large-format, framed color prints by Bannick
  • Text descriptions of each bird, written by the photographer, plus several thematic text panels that highlight the conservation issues affecting different owl and woodpecker habitats across North America
  • Audio recordings of the calls and drumming sounds of the birds featured in the photographs, provided by audio-naturalist Martyn Stewart, who has recorded more than 200,000 bird sounds worldwide.


Paul Bannick is known for his intimate wildlife photography, which supports environmental conservation efforts. He his the author of a book by the same title as the exhibition, and his work has appeared in Audubon magazine, the National Wildlife Federation Guide to North American Birds, Smithsonian Guide to North American Birds, and in many other books, magazines, parks, refuges, and other places in North America and Europe. The Owl & the Woodpecker: Photographs by Paul Bannick was organized by the Burke Museum, University of Washington, created with Paul Bannick and Braided River, a partner of The Mountaineers Books.

The Whatcom Museum, the North Cascades Audubon Society, and the North Cascades Institute featured a slideshow and presentation by Paul Bannick in the Rotunda Room of Old City Hall on Tues., Aug. 11th. 



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Northern Saw-whet Owls. Photo by Paul Bannick. 




Pacific Northwest Masters Series

March 7- June 14, 2015, Lightcatcher Building

Tom Sherwood interprets the beauty of the human form and the natural environment in exquisite detail. His mastery of perspective, anatomy and techniques that define Renaissance art – egg tempera and gold leaf on wood panel – elevates the work to a spiritual dimension. In his paintings, drawings, and wood block prints, the artist integrates a rich variety of inspirations: poetry, garden landscapes, mythology, architecture, and mathematics.

Based in Bellingham since 1970, Sherwood has traveled and taught art at colleges and universities in the United States and China. His life and work have touched many prominent Washington artists, including Susan Bennerstrom, John Cole, Ann Morris, and Thomas Wood, among others. Tom Sherwood: A Golden Perspective offers viewers an unusual opportunity to experience the unique work of a master artist, who has made a significant contribution to our community's creativity.

 Apotheosis, 1997
Egg tempera and gold leaf on panel
Collection of Ron Binns




Juried by Scott Lawrimore, Director of the Jacob Lawrence Gallery, University of Washington

May 31 - September 6, 2015, Lightcatcher Building

KaleeAppleton Untitled2ResizedWeb

Bellingham National Art Exhibition & Awards waa juried exhibition featuring artworks in a variety of media, including video, photography, ceramics, mixed media, paintings and more. Representing artists from 16 states, including Washington, the exhibition included 101 pieces from more than 60 artists.

Juried by Scott Lawrimore, Director of the Jacob Lawrence Gallery, University of Washington, the exhibition attracted more than 600 artists who submitted works to be considered. Lawrimore selected pieces that inspire not only a sense of wonderment, but also curiosity and reflection about the meanings of art. "There is a strong undercurrent of social justice, gender identity, ecological, human rights, and other political issues running throughout the exhibition," says Lawrimore. "While this represents some of the societal concerns of artists working in the 21st century, I also wanted there to be pure aesthetic reflection and contemplation 'breaks'…of art with more formal concerns."

The top three artists were announced at the May 30th opening reception and received cash awards--$2,000 first prize, $1,000 second prize and $500 third prize.

1st Place: Alison Bremner, Kingston, Washington
2nd Place: Robert Campbell, Vashon, Washington
3rd Place: Rengin Holt, Blackburg, Virginia 

The popular choice award of $500 was announced at the Downtown Art Walk on Fri., August 7th.

Robert Campbell, Vashon, Washington

About Scott Lawrimore: As a curator, writer, art historian, and gallerist, Scott Lawrimore has dedicated his career to championing contemporary artists. He was recently appointed the first director of the Jacob Lawrence Gallery, University of Washington. From 2012-2014, Lawrimore was deputy director of collections and exhibitions at the Frye Art Museum, where he curated historical exhibitions drawn from the collection as well as innovative contemporary shows, such as the forty-year retrospective, Buster Simpson // Surveyor. Lawrimore held positions with Art Access Magazine, Foster/White Gallery, Davidson Galleries, and Greg Kucera Gallery before opening his own space, Lawrimore Project, in 2006. He also taught for graduate and undergraduate students in various colleges and universities. He holds a bachelor of art degree in art history from the University of California, Davis, and a master of art degree in art history from Sacramento State University.

Juror's Perspective: A walk-through of the exhibition with juror Scott Lawrimore was held on Sun., May 31, 1pm at the Lightcatcher Building.

 Image credit: Kalee Appleton, Untitled 2, Archival Inkjet Print (binary collage), 2014



Magic Windows/Framing Place

February 7 - May 17, 2015, Lightcatcher Building
Curated by Barbara Matilsky, Curator of Art

Exhibitions often represent the personal preferences of a curator whose experience looking at works of art defines a distinct aesthetic taste. For the curator, collection shows offer both opportunities and challenges contingent on the nature of the museum's holdings. S/he tries to tease out a theme from widely disparate artworks in different styles, media, and periods. Drawing upon imagination, knowledge of art history, and willingness to experiment with unconventional groupings of work, the curator makes a selection and presents a unifying idea that hopefully engages the viewer's mind, senses, and spirit.

The theme of this exhibition, Magic Windows/Framing Place, derives its name from a painting, Magic Window, by the renowned artist Robert Colescott. Dreamy interiors, surreal landscapes, and cosmic visions are highlighted through a diverse mix of work that traces the way artists represent multiple worlds of reality and experience. These paintings, drawings, photographs, and sculptures provocatively evoke places both real and imagined. 

MagicWindows Robert_ColescottReSize

Robert Colescott, Magic Window, 1960s; Oil on
board. Gift of Don Foster, 1991.29.2.


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