Museum and Library Bring Art to the Heart of Science, Tech, Engineering & Math

By Colton Redtfeldt

Looking for a way to beat the summer heat? The Bellingham Public Library and the Whatcom Museum have partnered to offer free activities throughout the summer for children ages four and older that are aimed at making learning fun.

Held in the Lecture Room of the Central Library, four activities will be offered by staff from the Museum’s Family Interactive Gallery. The free events will focus on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) concepts using hands-on activities. All events are on Wednesdays from noon to 1pm.

Photo courtesy of Bellingham Public Library.

We want to inspire the imaginations of all ages and facilitate learning,” Susanna Brooks, the Museum’s Director of Learning Innovation, said. “One way we do this is by placing Art at the heart of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Our partnership with the library furthers our commitment to reach a wide variety of learners.”

On June 20, attendees can learn more about Pablo Picasso’s Cubism style of painting. Participants will create a self-portrait by studying their face in a mirror and then using geometric shapes to draw a portrait.

On June 27, participants can test their vision accuracy by playing a “Penny Cup Game,” in which they will attempt to toss coins into a cup with their eyes open and closed.

Kids can test their secret agent skills on July 18 by learning Morse code, which uses dots and dashes, as well as learning how to do “Mirror Writing.”

Photo courtesy of Bellingham Public Library.

Finally, on August 1, attendees will be able to test their math skills with fun money games such as “Dollar Dash” and “Coin War.”

“The library is thrilled the FIG can showcase their innovation at the library and provide families with fresh STEAM ideas and activities,” said Bethany Hoglund, Bellingham Library’s Head of Youth Services.

For more information about programs offered at the Museum’s Family Interactive Gallery, visit www.whatcommuseum.org/events/. For a schedule of summer programs and story times at the Bellingham Public Library, visit www.bellinghampubliclibrary.org/kids-teens/kids/childrens-events.

 

 

 

Museum Hosts Annual Washington Museum Association Conference

By Colton Redtfeldt & Christina Claassen

The Whatcom Museum has earned the honor of hosting the Washington Museum Association’s (WaMA) annual meeting June 20-22, 2018 on the Museum’s campus. It is the first time that the event has been held in Bellingham.

Museum professionals from across Washington State will come to Bellingham to participate in workshops, networking events, and the Association’s annual membership meeting. The theme for this year’s conference is “Transcending Boundaries.” In line with this theme, attendees will talk about ways to engage communities in conversations that bridge cross-cultural boundaries, according to WaMA.

Inspired by the theme, the Whatcom Museum plans on inviting museum professionals from British Columbia as well, inviting museum professionals across the border to collaborate and share their experiences.

“The Whatcom Museum is honored to have been chosen as the location for this year’s conference,” Patricia Leach, the Museum’s executive director said. “It is a wonderful opportunity to show off both our museum and our amazing community. We look forward to welcoming our museum colleagues.”

Part of the Museum’s responsibilities as conference host include offering space for the meeting and workshop sessions, organizing meals, arranging conference blocks at local hotels, and coordinating special events for the attendees.

Conference attendees will participate in an “Arts Crawl” on opening night, visiting other museums and cultural organizations in downtown Bellingham’s Arts District. On the second evening, attendees will take part in the Whatcom Museum’s annual History Sunset Cruise, learning the history of Bellingham from local historian Brian Griffin while enjoying a crab dinner provided by San Juan Cruises.

WaMA chooses a new location for its annual meeting each year, rotating every other year between museums on the east and west sides of the Cascades. The conference is not only a chance for museum professionals to network and learn from each other, but also an opportunity for the recently re-accredited Whatcom Museum to showcase the contributions it makes to the museum industry.

For more information about the conference visit http://washingtonmuseumassociation.org/annual-conference/

 

HISTORY SUNSET CRUISES SET SAIL THIS SUMMER

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bellingham, WA, May 1, 2018—The Whatcom Museum is excited to offer the 35th annual History Sunset Cruises this summer. Due to the popularity of last year’s sailings, the Museum is also chartering two additional cruises this year. Partnering again with San Juan Cruises for tour operation, the weekly cruises, which sail in July, August, and the first two weeks of September, will be offered on Tuesday evenings and will depart from the Bellingham Cruise Terminal in Fairhaven.

Starting Tuesday, July 10, and continuing each Tuesday through September 11, the Whatcom Museum’s popular summer cruises will take locals and visitors aboard the 100-foot Victoria Star tour boat. Participants get great close-up views of parks, businesses, industry, and neighborhoods from Bellingham Bay, with Bellingham historians Brian Griffin or Doug Starcher serving as tour guides. They will tie their knowledge of local history with up-to-date facts about bayside activities. Their narrative of history, trivia, and current events makes cruise guests feel they are becoming experts on their community, and gives new understanding of the area to both locals and visitors.

“It’s amazing that after 35 years, the history cruise continues to grow,” said Patricia Leach, Executive Director of the Whatcom Museum. “It has become a popular tradition for our community to take family and friends on the cruise during the summer months as a fun way to entertain.”

The Victoria Star leaves from the Bellingham Cruise Terminal in Fairhaven. The boat has indoor and outdoor seating on two levels, an on-board snack bar, and a full bar with a selection of Northwest beers, wines, and cocktails. Restrooms are available on board. Guests are welcome to bring dinner, snacks, and beverages (non-alcoholic) for a picnic-style dinner while cruising. Each sailing boards at 6:15pm, with a prompt 6:30pm sailing, and an 8:30pm return.

Tickets go on sale May 1st and are $35 general; $30 for Museum members; $28 per person for groups of 8 or more people (registered together). Purchase through BrownPaperTickets, https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3380820, by calling 800/838.3006 ext. 1, or in-person at the Museum Store located at 250 Flora St. Bellingham, WA 98225. Proceeds benefit Whatcom Museum exhibitions and educational programs. For more information about the history cruises visit www.whatcommuseum.org/history-sunset-cruise.

San Juan Cruises is located at the Bellingham Cruise Terminal, 355 Harris Avenue, Suite 104, Bellingham WA 98225. The Port of Bellingham charges $0.50/hour for parking, in the large lot with numbered spaces about 30 yards in front of the terminal building. Overnight parking is $6/day. There is free parking for up to 2 hours in front of the terminal. To learn more about San Juan Cruises visit Whales.com.

TWO DIFFERENT, UNIQUE EXHIBITIONS HIGHLIGHT CALIFORNIA ARTIST DIEBENKORN, NATIVE PRINTMAKERS

Richard Diebenkorn; Untitled, c.1988-92; Gouache, pasted paper, graphite, and crayon on paper, 9 1/2 x 6 3/8 in. (24.1 x 16.2 cm). Catalogue raisonné no. 4695 © Richard Diebenkorn Foundation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bellingham, WA, March 26, 2018—The Whatcom Museum is pleased to host two traveling exhibitions that feature distinct styles from renowned artists. The Intimate Diebenkorn: Works on Paper 1949-1992, organized by the Richard Diebenkorn Foundation, features drawings and paintings on paper by this important modernist who lived from 1922-1993. Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts at 25, organized by the Hallie Ford Museum of Art in partnership with the Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts, chronicles the history of one of the most important Native printmaking ateliers in the country. Both exhibitions will be on display at the Museum’s Lightcatcher building May 19 – August 19, 2018.

The Intimate Diebenkorn presents drawings, watercolors, oils, and gouaches on paper, showing the artist’s stylistic evolution through more than 40 years of his work. Richard Diebenkorn was an internationally-acclaimed California artist whose work is associated with Abstract Expressionism and the Bay Area Figurative Movement. He earned a reputation for creating ethereal, large-scale abstractions, though he returned to smaller formats in his final years. The artist interpreted landscapes and human figures in a unique way, creating a delicate balance between abstraction and representation.

“We are very excited to be bringing this exhibition from the Richard Diebenkorn Foundation, especially at a time when a larger, more extensive traveling exhibition of his work is making its way around the country,” said Patricia Leach, Executive Director of the Whatcom Museum. “Although Richard Diebenkorn is mainly recognized as a California artist, he was born in Portland, Ore., so it is nice that we can claim him as a Pacific Northwest artist too!”

Diebenkorn’s artwork, created during periods living and teaching in New Mexico and California, “are the works of a modern master,” as noted by Chester Arnold, Sonoma-based painter and curator of The Intimate Diebenkorn. His personal experiences, especially the California landscape, shaped his style, perspective, and career.

Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts at 25 features 75 prints drawn from the Crow’s Shadow Print Archive. Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts is a nationally recognized printmaking studio, and the only studio located on a reservation community in the United States. Sited on the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation near Pendleton, Oregon, the studio brings together Native and non-Native artists from around the world to make prints under the guidance and direction of master printmaker Frank Janzen.

Wendy Red Star (Apsáalooke, b. 1981); iilaalée = car (goes by itself) + ii = by means of which + dáanniili = we parade 2015, ed. 20; Nine-color lithograph on Somerset Satin white paper with chine-collé archival pigment ink photographs on Moab Entrada paper, 24 x 38 in. Courtesy Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts.

“The Whatcom Museum is both pleased and proud to be bringing works from this well-established press,” said Leach. “Many of the artists represented are recognized contemporary Native American and Indigenous Artists.”

The artwork in Crow’s Shadow focuses on themes of abstraction, landscape, media and process, portraiture, and words and image. The exhibition includes text panels, chat panels, and a video that highlights the history and location of the studio. Featured artists include Rick Bartow (Wiyot), Pat Boas (US), Joe Feddersen (Colville Confederated Tribes), Edgar Heap of Birds (Cheyenne), Brenda Mallory (Cherokee), Wendy Red Star (Apsáalooke), and Marie Watt (Seneca), among others.

The Intimate Diebenkorn: Works on Paper 1949-1992 is organized by the Richard Diebenkorn Foundation, Berkeley, California, with additional support provided by the Whatcom Museum Advocates, the Whatcom Museum Foundation, and the City of Bellingham. Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts at 25 is organized by the Hallie Ford Museum of Art in partnership with the Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts, with additional support provided by Mary Summerfield and Mike O’Neal, the Whatcom Museum Advocates, the Whatcom Museum Foundation, and the City of Bellingham. Both exhibitions will be on view through August 19, 2018 at the Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher building, 250 Flora Street. The member reception will take place Friday, May 18, 5 – 7 PM at the Lightcatcher building.

WHATCOM MUSEUM RECEIVES REACCREDITATION FROM THE AMERICAN ALLIANCE OF MUSEUMS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bellingham, WA, March 19, 2018—The American Alliance of Museums has announced that the Whatcom Museum has earned reaccreditation by the Alliance’s Accreditation Commission. Only three percent of museums in the United States are accredited by the Alliance. Of the nation’s estimated 33,000 museums, 1,070 are currently accredited.

Through a rigorous process of self-assessment and review by industry peers, the Whatcom Museum has demonstrated it has met standards and best practices set by the Alliance, and shown itself to be a good steward of the collections and resources it holds in the public trust, as well as a core educational entity for the community and beyond.

“The Whatcom Museum was last reaccredited long before the construction of the Lightcatcher building, and many practices and policies were in need of being updated to today’s standards,” said Executive Director Patricia Leach. “We have been working for several years to prepare for this, and our professional staff and board have worked intensely in the past year to complete our self-study. So much work is invisible to the public, but what is evident is the result of that hard work in the many new permanent exhibitions at Old City Hall, as well as the ‘People of the Sea and Cedar’ exhibition in the Lightcatcher. It is both an honor and a relief that we have achieved this status.”

As the ultimate mark of distinction in the museum field, accreditation signifies excellence and credibility to the entire museum community, to governments and outside agencies, and to the museum-going public. Developed and sustained by museum professionals for more than 45 years, the museum accreditation program is the field’s primary vehicle for quality assurance, self-regulation, and public accountability. Accreditation helps to ensure the integrity and accessibility of museum collections, reinforce the educational and public service roles of museums, and promote good governance practices and ethical behavior.

“Accredited museums are a community of institutions that have chosen to hold themselves publicly accountable to excellence,” said Laura Lott, Alliance president and CEO. “Accreditation is clearly a significant achievement, of which both the institutions and the communities they serve can be extremely proud.”

To earn accreditation the Whatcom Museum submitted an extensive Self-Study and key operational documents for evaluation in 2017. Last November, a two-person team of peer reviewers conducted a site visit to further evaluate the Museum’s practices. The Accreditation Commission considered the results to determine whether the Whatcom Museum should receive reaccreditation, and the Commission just announced that the Museum has earned reaccreditation. The Whatcom Museum was last reaccredited by the Alliance in 2003.

About the American Alliance of Museums
The American Alliance of Museums has been bringing museums together since 1906, helping to develop standards and best practices, gathering and sharing knowledge, and providing advocacy on issues of concern to the entire museum community. Representing more than 35,000 individual museum professionals and volunteers, institutions, and corporate partners serving the museum field, the Alliance stands for the broad scope of the museum community.  For more information, visit www.aam-us.org.

THOUGHT-PROVOKING EXHIBITION TO EXPLORE ENDANGERED SPECIES AND BIODIVERSITY

Isabella Kirkland; Gone, from the Taxa series, 2004; (63 species made extinct by human activities since 1700 and the colonization of the New World). Oil and alkyd on canvas over panel; 48 x 36 in. Private Collection.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bellingham, WA, January 30, 2018—The Whatcom Museum presents Endangered Species: Artists on the Front Line of Biodiversity, an interdisciplinary exhibition featuring 80 works of art, from rare books to cutting edge video, that span the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries. It opens September 8, 2018 in the Museum’s Lightcatcher building and closes January 6, 2019.

Endangered Species highlights an international group of 52 artists who celebrate biodiversity’s beauty, interpret natural and human-induced extinctions of plants and animals, and focus on species from diverse ecosystems under stress. It also includes the work of artists who spotlight the human activities that threaten biodiversity alongside projects that revitalize habitats and reconnect people to the rich tapestry of life.

“We often read news headlines with alarming statistics and then turn the page,” said Barbara Matilsky, exhibition curator and Curator of Art at the Whatcom Museum. “Artists take this information and create images that inspire emotional and thought-provoking responses. Hopefully, ‘Endangered Species’ will stimulate visitors to help preserve the planet and its biodiversity.”

Exhibition spotlights important thematic concepts
The first theme, Celebrating Biodiversity’s Beauty and Complexity: From Landscapes to Microscopic Imagery, focuses on artists who illuminate biodiversity’s stunning variety on its most grand and intimate scales. By examining the shared practices that inspire artists and natural scientists, such as exploration, observation, and documentation, visitors can learn what biodiversity is about and why it is important.

The second theme, Mammoths and Dinosaurs: Interpreting Natural Extinction, introduces the concept of the complete loss of an animal or plant species. When natural scientists first discovered fossils of early life, nineteenth century artists presented convincing visions of animals roaming primeval habitats in best-selling natural history books and panoramic murals commissioned by museums. The exhibition will showcase illustrated books and preliminary paintings for these majestic landscapes.

In the third theme, Portraits of Loss: Extinction by Human Actions, visitors can explore how artists transform scientific documentation about early human-induced extinctions of the Dodo, the Great Auk, and the Passenger Pigeon, among others, into stirring portraits and still life paintings. Their artworks reflect meticulous research and analysis of specimens from natural history museum collections. By reviving past life in sometimes startling ways, artists imprint their memory on our consciousness and spark awareness about the contemporary extinction crisis.

The plants and animals interpreted by artists in the fourth theme, Endangered Species: Plants and Animals on the Edge of Survival, symbolize the threatened ecosystems in which they live and the global decline of biodiversity. The artworks call attention to just a few of the 10,000 “endangered” and “critically endangered” species classified by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. An illustrated timeline highlighting conservation milestones will be exhibited here.

Contemporary artists not only portray animal and plant species at risk, they also interpret the human actions that lead to their precarious status: habitat loss, invasive species, pollution, population growth, and overhunting and fishing. These issues will be explored in the final theme, At the Crossroads: Destruction or Preservation of Biodiversity. Within this area, the challenges facing several biodiversity hotspots, such as tropical rainforests and coral reefs, will be highlighted.

An uplifting narrative is interwoven throughout this section by including examples of how artists collaborate across disciplines to revive habitats and engage humans with the natural world. These multi-media projects serve as inspiring models for individual and community grass roots efforts towards environmental restoration and education.

Endangered Species has been organized with the intent of impacting public discourse about biodiversity while advancing the artist’s pivotal role in building awareness. By tracing links between contemporary and earlier artists, the exhibition examines art’s contribution to an enduring cultural legacy of nature conservation.

Featured artists include John James Audubon, Brandon Ballengée, Nick Brandt, Edward Burtynsky, George Catlin, Catherine Chalmers, Mark Dion, Madeline von Foerster, Nicholas Galanin, Ernst Haeckel, Martin Johnson Heade, Patricia Johanson, Chris Jordan, Isabella Kirkland, Charles R. Knight, David Liittschwager, John Martin, Courtney Mattison, Susan Middleton, Alexis Rockman, Christy Rupp, Joel Sartore, Preston Singletary, Fred Tomaselli, Roman Vishniac, Andy Warhol, and Yang Yongliang, among many others. A full list of artists can be viewed on the exhibition webpage. A fully illustrated catalogue will accompany the exhibition.

Endangered Species: Artists on the Front Line of Biodiversity is supported by major grants from The National Endowment for the Arts and The Norcliffe Foundation, with additional funding from the Whatcom Museum Advocates, the Whatcom Museum Foundation, and the City of Bellingham. The exhibition opens September 8, 2018 and extends through January 6, 2019 in the Lightcatcher building, 250 Flora Street, Bellingham, Wash.

VIEW press images. Images available upon request by contacting Christina Claassen, Marketing & PR Manager, cmclaassen@cob.org, 360.778.8936.

MUSEUM TO EXHIBIT STUNNING GEMS AND JEWELRY FROM SMITHSONIAN’S NATIONAL MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY

John Sinkankas; Quartz Egg with Stand; Quartz egg with faceted corundum. Photo courtesy of Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bellingham, WA, January 10, 2018—The Whatcom Museum is pleased to host a traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, Jeweled Objects of Desire: From Ordinary to Extraordinary. This exhibition, showing February 3 – May 6, 2018 at the Lightcatcher building will dazzle visitors of all ages, as it features rarely seen items from the vaults of the National Museum of Natural History.

Each piece in this exhibition demonstrates the skill and ingenuity of various artists who transform simple materials into striking treasures. Whether it is a faceted quartz crystal egg, a gem-studded fishing reel, a gold seahorse pin, or a gold mouse trap with a diamond-encrusted cheese wedge, each of these creations irresistibly attracts attention and appeals to the imagination, encouraging visitors to think about why and how each work was made.

“As part of our affiliation with the Smithsonian, we are delighted to bring Jeweled Objects of Desire to Bellingham,” said Patricia Leach, Executive Director of the Whatcom Museum. “It is our first time collaborating with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and is a wonderful opportunity for our community to gain greater access to some of the Smithsonian’s extraordinary collections. In the exhibition, these precious stones ordinarily found in the geology of our planet are transformed into jeweled works of art.”

Presenting uncut examples of precious materials such as jade, amethyst, and quartz alongside the artistry of man-made objects, Jeweled Objects of Desire celebrates the beauty of stones found deep within the earth. Highlights of the exhibition include a 7,000 carat quartz egg from Brazil, containing 240 facets (or surfaces) and resting on a gold stand embellished with 16 small and four large sapphires; a freshwater pearl corncob with 18-karat gold husk, inspired by the importance corn played in Incan society; and a 14-karat gold sardine can studded with Russian diamonds.

This exhibition features the work of a number of artists, but also includes a selection of artwork by internationally renowned jewelry designer Sidney Mobell. Mobell is celebrated for crafting common utilitarian items into unique artworks through the use of gold and precious gemstones. Among the spectacular works on view are a 14-karat gold cell phone encrusted with more than 250 gems and a golden mail box studded with 76.70 carats of precious and semi-precious stones.

Jeweled Objects of Desire is sponsored by Smith & Vallee Gallery, the Whatcom Museum Advocates, the Whatcom Museum Foundation, and the City of Bellingham, and will be on view through May 6, 2018 at the Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher building, 250 Flora Street. The member reception will take place Friday, February 2, 5 – 7 PM at the Lightcatcher building. Opening concurrently at the Lightcatcher is the exhibition Rooted, Revived, Reinvented: Basketry in America.

BASKETRY EXHIBITIONS SHOWCASE DIVERSITY OF ARTFORM

Dorothy McGuinness; Satellite, 2012. Watercolor paper, acrylic paint, waxed linen thread, 12 x 15 x 12 in. Lent by the artist. Courtesy of the University of Missouri.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bellingham, WA, December 1, 2017 —The Whatcom Museum is pleased to host a traveling exhibition, Rooted, Revived, Reinvented: Basketry in America, February 3 – May 6, 2018 at the Lightcatcher building in collaboration with the National Basketry Organization and the Museum of Art and Archaeology at the University of Missouri. This is the only West Coast venue of this exhibition. The Museum will also showcase two concurrent basketry exhibitions at Old City Hall from February 3 – May 6, 2018: Hidden in the Bundle: A Look Inside the Whatcom Museum’s Basketry Collection, and a juried exhibition, Gathered Together: A Show of Work Celebrating Members of the Northwest Basket Weavers Guild.

In Rooted, Revived, Reinvented: Basketry in America, ninety-three objects provide an historical overview of American basketry from its origins in Native American, immigrant, and slave communities to its presence within the contemporary fine art world. Historical baskets were rooted in local landscapes and shaped by cultural traditions. The rise of the industrial revolution and mass production at the end of the nineteenth century led basket makers to create works for new audiences and markets, including tourists, collectors, and fine art museums.

Today the story continues. Some contemporary artists seek to maintain and revive traditions practiced for centuries. Others combine age-old techniques with nontraditional materials to generate cultural commentary. Still others challenge viewers’ expectations by experimenting with form, materials, and scale.

According to co-curators Jo Stealey and Kristin Schwain, “Baskets convey meaning through the artists’ selection of materials; the techniques they use; and the colors, designs, patterns, and textures they employ. This exhibition will feel both familiar and alien to visitors. Some objects are very utilitarian while others defy every idea you might have about what a basket could be.”

This traveling exhibition is sponsored by the Northwest Basket Weavers, Vi Phillips Guild and organized by the National Basketry Organization in partnership with the University of Missouri. For more information visit americanbasketry.missouri.edu. Additional support is provided by the City of Bellingham and the Whatcom Museum Advocates.

Hidden in the Bundle features a selection of baskets from the Whatcom Museum’s extensive Native American and First Nations collection. Representing different eras and cultures, the baskets showcase some unique, innovative, and even playful elements of design or decoration. The viewer can explore these creative and practical adaptations while pondering the role of individual expression in the world of basket-making.

Gathered Together presents a selection of artistic basketry at Old City Hall by members of the Northwest Basket Weavers Guild (NWBW) in an exhibition juried by Lisa Telford and Katherine Lewis, artists featured in Rooted, Revived, Reinvented. Members of NWBW will be available on opening day to talk about basketry and the artwork on display.

About the Northwest Weavers, Vi Phillips Guild
The Northwest Basket Weavers, Vi Phillips Guild began with a group of 16 people who loved to get together at Vi Phillips’ house on Whidbey Island, Washington to make baskets and share information. These weavers used reed, cedar bark and root, sweet grass, pine needles, and other natural materials to make traditional baskets. Thirty-five years later, the 180 guild members today weave both traditional and contemporary baskets. Several members are nationally known teachers and artists, who have baskets featured in Rooted, Revived, Reinvented: Basketry in America. For more information visit www.nwbasketweavers.org.

About the National Basketry Organization
The National Basketry Organization (NBO) is a non-profit organization that unites people interested in basketry to provide education and to promote basket making. Founded in the late 1990’s, the organization now has over 700 members, most of whom live in the United States and Canada. Although most of NBO’s members are basket makers, membership includes collectors, gallery owners, scholars, craft and art schools, and museums.

About the Museum of Art and Archaeology, University of Missouri
The Museum of Art and Archaeology advances understanding of artistic and cultural heritage through research, collection and interpretation. The Museum helps students, scholars, and the broader community to experience authentic and significant art and artifacts firsthand, and to place them in meaningful contexts. It furthers this mission by preserving, enhancing, and providing access to the collections for the benefit of present and future generations.

WHATCOM MUSEUM HOSTS WHATCOM ARTIST STUDIO TOUR EXHIBITION

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 31, 2017; Bellingham, WA—The Whatcom Museum is hosting the Whatcom Artist Studio Tour exhibition, August 4 – September 3, 2017 at Old City Hall. In anticipation of the Whatcom Artist Studio Tour in October, the Museum will be showcasing a diversity of artwork by participating artists in a variety of media. The exhibition will open on Friday, August 4, during Downtown Art Walk.

Brian O'Neill; Black/White V Bottle w/Flange. Mid-fire stoneware.

Brian O’Neill; Black/White V bottle with flange. Mid-fire stoneware. Courtesy of the artist.

The Whatcom Artist Studio Tour is a free, juried event offering an opportunity to meet the region’s finest artists in their own creative spaces. In its twenty-third year, the Tour features 44 artists working in eleven different media, showing their work throughout Bellingham and Whatcom County.

These diverse artists open their studios to the public October 7 – 8 and 14 – 15. Visitors can meet the artists and get a glimpse into their creative processes. A free guide can be picked up at the Whatcom Museum, as well as at many local businesses, to help visitors plan their route and visit the studios. It’s also a chance for the community to purchase fine art directly from artists. To learn more about the Whatcom Artist Studio Tour and to see a list of participating artists, visit www.studiotour.net.

The community is invited to the opening of the exhibition during the Downtown Bellingham Art Walk, Friday, August 4, 6 – 10pm at Old City Hall, 121 Prospect Street. Admission is free for this event.

About the Whatcom Museum
The Whatcom Museum offers a variety of exhibitions, programs, tours, and activities about art, nature, and Northwest history for all ages. Its multi-building campus is located in the heart of Bellingham’s downtown art district. Whatcom Artist Studio Tour exhibition will be on view August 4 – September 3, 2017 in Old City Hall, 121 Prospect St., Bellingham, WA 98225. Old City Hall is open Wednesdays – Sundays, Noon – 5 PM.

Dow Walling and the Comic World Of Skeets

The Whatcom Museum’s online virtual exhibitions feature a variety of historic photographs, artwork, and ephemera that visitors can view at their leisure. Recently, the Museum has uploaded new virtual galleries, which can be viewed HERE. Scroll down mid-way through the virtual galleries to learn more about one special exhibit featuring the comics of local talent, Dow Walling.     

Dow Walling and the Comic World Of Skeets

Dow Walling (1902-1987) was a self-taught comic creator and illustrator whose full-page color strip “Skeets” ran on Sundays in the New York Herald Tribune and in national syndication from 1932 until 1951. Walling was born and raised on a farm outside of Bellingham, Washington, and in a 1934 interview with the Literary Digest, describes his spunky young protagonist as “growing up in Bellingham – my home town….an average-size town in America [that] typifies the home town of the average boy.”

In the comic strip, Skeets rambles through fields and strolls down streets and alleys with his pal Button-Nose, cousin Eggy, and others while avoiding his nemesis Cue-ball Benson. Walling drew from events and places of his own childhood and featured locales such as Battersby Park and Whatcom Creek swimming holes in his illustrations. Read more

Drawing Practice: Bellingham National Juried Art Exhibition and Awards

Kelly Bjork; Tiger Overhead, 2016; Gouache and pencil on paper, 19 x 15 in. Courtesy of the artist.

Reposted from June 20th, 2017 Seattle Art Museum Blog

Catharina Manchanda, the Seattle Art Museum’s (SAM) Jon and Mary Shirley Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, juried this year’s Bellingham National Juried Art Exhibition and Awards, on view now through September 10 in the Lightcatcher building. Barbara Matilsky, Curator of Art at the Whatcom Museum, describes the biennial art exhibition and award as relatively new. “The Whatcom Museum’s first biennial was inaugurated in 2015. Patricia Leach, the Museum’s director, envisioned Bellingham National as a way to bring the rich variety of art created around the country to our region. Although the Museum is committed to supporting Pacific Northwest art, it has increasingly embraced a wider, cultural scope,” says Matilsky. “Bellingham National has attracted the attention of Washington artists, which means that their work is well represented here. Community reaction has been as varied as the works of art on display. One thing that I have noticed: The exhibition challenges people to think about art in new ways, which is ultimately a good thing. It also offers the invited curator a unique opportunity to explore ideas related to a particular theme or medium of her/his choice.” Read more

NEW EXHIBIT AT THE LIGHTCATCHER SHARES THE HISTORY AND ART OF THE NORTHWEST COAST TRIBES

Photo by Kiser Photo Co., Whatcom Museum #1946.24.27

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bellingham, WA, July 5, 2017 — A newly redesigned gallery in the Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher building shares the art, history, and culture of the Northwest Coast people, blending both historical and contemporary perspectives. The exhibit, People of the Sea and Cedar: A Journey through the Tribal Cultures and History of the Northwest Coast, opens Saturday, July 15, noon-5pm in the second floor gallery of the Lightcatcher.

Featuring artifacts from the Museum’s collection, such as Coast Salish artwork and carvings, woven blankets, hand-made tools, clothing, baskets, and cedar hats, the exhibit will show some of the traditional crafts created by the Northwest Coast people. Visitors will have opportunities to learn about the traditions, languages, and stories of these tribes.

“The Whatcom Museum hasn’t had a permanent presence of Coast Salish culture and history, past and present,” said Patricia Leach, Executive Director of the Whatcom Museum. “Now that our state legislature has mandated the teaching of native cultures in our schools, the timing on the creation of this new gallery space couldn’t be better. The Museum is excited to be enhancing the education of our local school children with the ‘People of the Sea and Cedar’ school program, which will actually take place in the new gallery.”

The Whatcom Museum has been offering its popular “People of the Sea and Cedar” program to Bellingham and Whatcom County students for more than 20 years. The new exhibit enhances the school program, which is being redesigned by the Museum education staff and will be in place this fall.

With input provided by tribal representatives, researchers, and educators, the Museum presents an experiential exhibit. People of the Sea and Cedar provides hands-on learning experiences, a Lummi and Nooksack language interactive, and videos showcasing Lummi and Nooksack weavers and carvers. Themes of cultural knowledge, art and symbolism, lifestyles, and community will present the Northwest Coast tribes as vibrant, living cultures who honor their past while building cultural and economic futures for their people.

People of the Sea and Cedar: A Journey through the Tribal Cultures and History of the Northwest Coast will be a permanent exhibit, which will be continually developed with rotating art and artifacts in the Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher building, 250 Flora Street. Through its Smithsonian Affiliation, the Museum plans to borrow artifacts from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in future years.

Members are invited to a members-only preview on Fri., July 14, 5-7pm in the Lightcatcher. The public opening on Sat., July 15, noon-5pm will include storytelling by Nooksack storyteller Tamara Cooper-Woodrich from 1-1:30pm in the Lightcatcher.

THE WHATCOM MUSEUM CANCELS FALL CONTEMPORARY CRAFT EVENT

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bellingham, WA, June 28, 2017 — The Whatcom Museum regrets to announce the cancellation of the upcoming multi-day event, Contemporary Craft: Artwear | Craftware, scheduled for Sept. 22-24, 2017. Due to scheduling complexities and facility limitations, the event has been canceled. The Museum came to this decision with great consideration and would like to express gratitude to artists, sponsors, and the community for embracing the event planning up to this point.

The Museum will continue to provide top-notch exhibitions and programming this fall at Old City Hall and the Lightcatcher building, including People of the Sea & Cedar: A Journey Through the History and Cultures of the Tribes of the Northwest Coast, and Art of the American West: The Haub Family Collection from the Tacoma Art Museum, opening October 7, 2017.

THE WHATCOM MUSEUM RECEIVES $50,000 GRANT FROM THE NORCLIFFE FOUNDATION IN SUPPORT OF ENDANGERED SPECIES EXHIBITION

Isabella Kirkland; Gone, from the Taxa series, 2004; (63 species made extinct by human activities since 1700 and the colonization of the New World). Oil and alkyd on canvas over panel; 48 x 36 in. Private Collection.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bellingham, WA, June 22, 2017 —The Whatcom Museum has been awarded a $50,000 grant in support of the upcoming exhibition, Endangered Species: Artists on the Front Line of Biodiversity, which will be on exhibit September 8, 2018 – January 6, 2019 in the Lightcatcher building. The grant will assist the Museum in funding exhibition design, related educational programming, and an exhibition catalogue. The exhibition will explore artworks by an international group of artists who interpret the fragile balance of life on Earth through a wide range of media.

“We are thrilled to have the support of The Norcliffe Foundation for this exciting project,” said Patricia Leach, Executive Director of the Whatcom Museum. “The grant funds will assist us to assemble a truly impactful exhibition, and bring related high-quality educational programming to our community.”

Endangered Species: Artists on the Front Line of Biodiversity presents 70 works of art in various media, from rare books to cutting-edge video, that span the 19th through 21st centuries. It highlights artists who celebrate biodiversity’s exquisite complexity, interpret natural and human-induced extinctions of plants and animals, and focus on endangered species from diverse ecosystems. The exhibition explores art’s historic role in raising public awareness about the human activities that threaten habitats. Weaving together art, natural science, and conservation, Endangered Species also features creative solutions by ecological artists who revitalize habitats and reconnect people to the rich tapestry of life. Featured artists include Ernst Haeckel, George Catlin, Andy Warhol, Patricia Johanson, Isabella Kirkland, and David Liitschwager, among many others.

“We often read news headlines with alarming statistics—60% of the world’s primates, including apes, lemurs and monkeys, are facing extinction—and then turn the page,” said Barbara Matilsky, exhibition curator, and Curator of Art at the Whatcom Museum. “Artists take this information and create imagery that inspires emotional and thought-provoking responses. Hopefully, Endangered Species will stimulate visitors to join with artists, scientists, and conservationists in preserving life’s biodiversity.”

The Norcliffe Foundation is a private nonprofit family foundation established in 1952 by Paul Pigott with the intention of improving the quality of life of people in Puget Sound communities by the application of financial and human resources. Succeeding generations of the family have continued to support The Foundation in this tradition. Grants are given to nonprofit organizations, and areas of support include education, health, social services, civic improvement, religion, culture and the arts, the environment, historic preservation, and youth programs.

BELLINGHAM NATIONAL 2017 JURIED ART EXHIBITION AND AWARDS @ WHATCOM MUSEUM FEATURES ARTISTS FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY

Artwork selected represents a variety of mediums interpreting the theme of drawing

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 17, 2016; Bellingham, WA—The Whatcom Museum is hosting the second Bellingham National Juried Art Exhibition and Awards, June 11 – September 10, 2017 at the Lightcatcher building. More than 300 artists from around the country submitted artworks for consideration for this exhibition, which centers on drawing practices. Representing more than 25 artists from six states, including Washington, the artists are based in cities such as New York, Portland, and San Francisco, as well as two artists from Bellingham.

Juried by Catharina Manchanda, Jon and Mary Shirley Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at Seattle Art Museum, the artwork selected will represent a range of approaches to drawing, from narrative and representational modes, to notation, transcription mapping, and deconstruction. Artists in the exhibition work in a variety of media. In recognition of their achievements, three artists will be honored with modest financial awards, in addition, members of the public will bestow a popular choice award.

The flood of images disseminated on the internet and social media invite renewed attention to drawing as a comparatively “slow” medium. Traditionally tied to the development of compositions and ideas, drawing remained the stepchild of painting and sculpture into the 1960s. Subsequent interest in artistic processes has elevated drawing to a more influential position. In light of the ever-expanding digital media stream that is in equal parts overwhelming and yet immaterial, contemporary drawing practices take on renewed significance and urgency.

“In light of the great technological shift that has profoundly changed our everyday interactions, this is an important moment to consider the conceptual possibilities and aesthetic capacities of drawing practices,” said juror Catharina Manchanda.

This juried exhibition will award prizes of $2,000, $1,000, and $500 to three of the participating artists during the opening celebration. The popular choice award of $500 offers the community an opportunity to have their voices heard, and will be announced September 6, 2017.

About the Juror: Catharina Manchanda joined the Seattle Art Museum in 2011 as the Jon and Mary Shirley Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art. A native of Germany, Manchanda received her undergraduate degree from the University of Stuttgart and her PhD from the City University Graduate Center in New York. Recent exhibitions at the Seattle Art Museum include Pop Departures, Miró: the Experience of Seeing, and Big Picture: Art after 1945. She also mounted a series of contemporary projects and site-specific installations by John Luther Adams, Moyra Davey, Harun Farocki, Victoria Haven, Martha Rosler, Guido van der Werve, and others. Previously, Manchanda worked at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum in St. Louis, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

34TH ANNUAL HISTORY SUNSET CRUISES SET SAIL THIS SUMMER

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bellingham, WA, May 12, 2017—The Whatcom Museum is pleased to announce the return of its popular summer history cruises along Bellingham Bay, now in its 34th year. For the 2017 season, the Museum is partnering again with San Juan Cruises for tour operation. The weekly cruises, which sail in July and August, will be offered on Tuesday evenings and will be leaving from the Bellingham Cruise Terminal in Fairhaven.

Starting Tuesday, July 11, and continuing each Tuesday through August 29, the Whatcom Museum’s popular summer cruises will take locals and visitors aboard the 100-foot Victoria Star tour boat. Participants get great close-up views of parks, businesses, industry, and neighborhoods from Bellingham Bay, with Bellingham historians Brian Griffin or Doug Starcher serving as tour guides. They will tie their knowledge of local history with up-to-date facts about bay activities. Their narrative of history, trivia, and current events makes cruise guests feel they are becoming experts on their community, and gives new understanding of the area.

The Victoria Star leaves from the Bellingham Cruise Terminal in Fairhaven. The boat has indoor and outdoor seating on two levels, an on-board snack bar, and a full bar with a selection of Northwest beers, wines, and cocktails. Restrooms are available on board. Guests are welcome to bring dinner, snacks, and beverages (non-alcoholic) for a picnic-style dinner while cruising. Each sailing boards at 6:15pm, with a prompt 6:30pm sailing, and an 8:30pm return.

Tickets go on sale June 1st and are $35 general/$30 for Museum members; $28 per person for groups of 8 or more people. Purchase through Brown Paper Tickets, by calling 800/838.3006 ext. 1, or in-person at the Museum Store located at 250 Flora St. Bellingham, WA 98225. Proceeds benefit Whatcom Museum exhibitions and educational programs.

San Juan Cruises is located at the Bellingham Cruise Terminal, 355 Harris Avenue, Suite 104, Bellingham WA 98225. The Port of Bellingham charges $0.50/hour for parking, in the large lot with numbered spaces about 30 yards in front of the terminal building. Overnight parking is $6/day. There is free parking for up to 2 hours in front of the terminal. To learn more about San Juan Cruises visit Whales.com.

 

5 Women Artists in the Whatcom Museum’s Collection: 2. Vanessa Helder

Inspired by the National Museum of Women in the Arts’ challenge, “Can you name five women artists?”, the Whatcom Museum is highlighting five female artists whose artwork is featured in our collection throughout the month of March (Women’s History Month). Follow us on social media and share our posts with your followers, or tell us your favorite women artists. Don’t forget to tag your posts #5WomenArtists.

Z. Vanessa Helder (1904-1968) Eastern Washington Landscape, 1936-40; Watercolor on paper, 19 x 23 in. Gift of the Washington Art Consortium through gift of Safeco Insurance, a member of the Liberty Mutual Group.

Artist # 2: Z. Vanessa Helder

The Whatcom Museum recently acquired a watercolor by Z. Vanessa Helder (1904-1968), who was born in Lyndon to one of the earliest pioneer families in Whatcom County, and attended Bellingham High School. This enigmatic work, featuring abandoned buildings with no signs of life, suggests the economic hardships of depression-era America.

Z. Vanessa Helder (1904-1968), ca. 1940. Courtesy Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture/Eastern Washington State Historical Society, Spokane, WA.

Nationally recognized in the 1930s and 1940s for her magic realist drawings, Helder was selected to participate in the Museum of Modern Art’s seminal exhibition, American Realists and Magic Realists (1943), alongside luminaries such as Edward Hopper and Andrew Wyeth.  However, once Abstract Expressionism seized the limelight, her work was largely forgotten. In 2013, the Tacoma Art Museum organized an exhibition of Helder’s work, reintroducing it to the public.

Helder is best known for a series of watercolors (housed at the Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture, Spokane) that interpret the building of the Grand Coulee Dam, a project that she completed for the Federal Art Project. She also painted several murals for public buildings that have not survived.

The Whatcom Museum is thrilled to own one of her watercolors, which are quite rare. Unfortunately, the art in her estate was privately sold without any trace of the buyers’ identities. To date, the majority of her works have not been found. The Museum’s drawing is especially significant to its collection because Helder probably studied with Bellingham-based artist Elizabeth Colborne (1885-1948), whose art will be featured next, so stay tuned!

CONTEMPORARY CRAFT 2017: ARTWEAR | CRAFTWARE 3-DAY FESTIVAL DEBUTS THIS FALL

6/28/2017 UPDATE: The Museum regrets to announce the cancellation of this event due to scheduling complexities and facility limitations. While we know this may be a disappointment to many, we hope you will mark your calendars for other exciting fall exhibitions and programs.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bellingham, WA, March 1, 2017—The Whatcom Museum Foundation and Museum Advocates host a brand new event this coming fall, Contemporary Craft 2017: Artwear | Craftware, held in downtown Bellingham, Wash., at the Whatcom Museum campus September 22-24, 2017. The show will bring 60 artists from across the region to display and sell their outstanding, unique handmade work in the Museum’s Lightcatcher building. Works of the highest quality will be on view, and for sale, in the categories of clothing, jewelry, glass, ceramics, wood, sculpture, and mixed media. The Whatcom Museum is a Smithsonian Affiliate, and uses the Smithsonian Craft Show, the most prestigious event of its kind in the US, as a model for this debut show in Bellingham.

Larry Richmond and Peggy Kondo, Ceramics, Bellingham, WA.

The three day affair will include several components:

  • Celebratory party opening the show on Friday evening
  • Two days of shopping for the public on Saturday and Sunday
  • Luncheon with informal modeling at Ciao Thyme restaurant on Saturday
  • Raffle for chances to win artwork and experiences
  • Online auction starting a week prior to the show
  • Juried gallery in the Museum’s Old City Hall building

While the City of Bellingham provides important support for the Whatcom Museum as a partner, the Whatcom Museum Foundation funds the Museum’s exhibitions and educational programs. Contemporary Craft 2017 will raise money for the Museum’s programs and bring new audiences to its campus. Visit www.contemporarycraft2017.com for more information about this exciting event, including sponsorship and artist participation.

NEW LIFE FOR 400+ OBJECT COLLECTION OF THE WASHINGTON ART CONSORTIUM FOLLOWING 40 YEARS OF COLLABORATIVE PROGRAMMING ACROSS WASHINGTON

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Seattle, WA, February 23, 2017 — The Board of the Washington Art Consortium (WAC) announced today that its seven member consortium will disband, and that WAC’s art collection and endowment assets will be distributed to six of its member art museums. Originally founded in 1976 by Seattle philanthropist and collector Virginia Wright, WAC was formed to bring works of art by distinguished modern American artists to the State of Washington, and to spur collaboration among art museums in the state. Across 40 years of partnership, WAC has amassed a collection of 411 works by 175 artists, including works on paper, photographs, and prints created from 1945 through the late 20th century, and presented more than 130 exhibitions and programs.

The decision to conclude the consortium arrangement follows a period of strategic planning over the last 18 months. This process included: an examination of the ways in which WAC has successfully spurred collaboration among its members; a review of the increased role of modern and contemporary art in Washington; and a careful analysis of the benefits and costs of maintaining the consortium as an independent 501(c)3 entity. Finding that the capabilities of each member museum—as well as other arts organizations in Washington—have grown substantially, the WAC Board, to which Ms. Wright is a lifetime adviser, determined the need for a separate entity to ensure broad access was now less relevant, and that the resources to maintain it could be better deployed in service of audience engagement with collections. While the consortium will no longer continue as an independent entity, the former members will continue to work together on exhibitions and programs, fulfilling Ms. Wright’s vision for collaboration among arts organizations throughout the state.

Of primary concern in the strategic planning process was the ongoing care of and access to the works of art held by WAC. Following the Board’s decision to disband the consortium, WAC assembled a panel of three independent arts experts to make recommendations on how to disperse the collections and endowment assets. The panel reviewed both the WAC collections and the collections of the member institutions, to determine which groups of works would best fit with a member’s current collections or programming expertise. The panel also considered geography as an element of the process, to ensure that these works of art would be distributed across Washington State, thus increasing their accessibility to a range of audiences.

“For the last forty years I have enjoyed watching the Washington Art Consortium’s progress and development,” said Virginia Wright, WAC’s founder. “In 2015, as we approached our 40th anniversary, I encouraged our board to think about the future. I am pleased with their decision and delighted that the collections will live on through our member museums, continuing to serve as an important resource for the entire state. And, finally, I want to extend my deepest thanks to the National Endowment for the Arts, to the Kreielsheimer Foundation, to the Aiken family, to Safeco Insurance, and to those other donors and advisors whose support has made WAC the success that it is.”

WAC’s seven members are: Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle; Museum of Art, Washington State University, Pullman; Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture, Spokane; Seattle Art Museum, Seattle; Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma; Western Gallery, Western Washington University, Bellingham; and the Whatcom Museum, Bellingham. The collection is currently housed at the Western Gallery, Western Washington University in Bellingham.

The expert panel that advised WAC on the distribution of its collections consisted of Brian Ferriso, Director of the Portland Art Museum and current President of the Association of Art Museum Directors; Jack Lane, former Director of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Dallas Museum of Art, and Carnegie Museum of Art, and founder of the New Art Trust, San Francisco; and Barbara Johns, an independent art historian, former chief curator of the Tacoma Art Museum, and former curator at the Seattle Art Museum.

The panel’s recommendations were to divide WAC’s collections as follows:

  • American Works on Paper 1945-75, comprising 98 works, will go to the Western Gallery at Western Washington University
  • American Photographs 1970-1980, comprising 185 works, will go to the Henry Gallery at the University of Washington
  • Mary Margaret Aiken and Richard Aiken Collection of 20th Century Prints, comprising 24 works, will go to the Museum of Art at Washington State University
  • Safeco Collection of Northwest Works on Paper, comprising 104 works, will be divided among the Tacoma Art Museum, Whatcom Museum of History and Art, and Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture

The panel also recommended—and WAC’s Board has agreed—that the former members of the Consortium will have priority access to borrow these works for exhibition or research, free of loan fees. To continue recognizing the donors who created the collection, and to ensure an ongoing legacy for WAC, individual works of art will continue to be acknowledged in records and labeling as from the “Washington Art Consortium Collection,” and thus exist as part of a legacy collection linked to other members and reflected on these institutions’ websites. WAC’s $2.3 million endowment will be divided among the six institutions receiving parts of the collection, and will continue to be used for the care and maintenance of these works. Those artists still living whose works are in WAC collections have been informed of this change and of the new home for their works.

“Since this Consortium was launched, the visual arts in Washington have grown to an entirely new level, with expanded facilities, collections, exhibitions, and programs across the state,” said Sylvia Wolf, the president of the Board of WAC and the John S. Behnke Director of the Henry Art Gallery. “WAC was at the forefront of these changes, demonstrating how much could be accomplished through collaboration and collection sharing. In deciding to take this next step, we recognize that the landscape has changed for the better. This approach honors the intentions of the donors who helped create WAC collections and enables us to stay focused on these incredible works of art, and to provide greater access to them for audiences throughout the State of Washington.”

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For more information, please contact:
Sascha Freudenheim / Alina Sumajin
PAVE Communications & Consulting
917-544-6057 / 646-396-2050
sascha@paveconsult.com / alina@paveconsult.com

Affirming Culture and Resisting Oppression: Selected Works of Chicana/o Art

By Amalia Mesa-Bains, Artist, Scholar, and MacArthur Fellow

The exhibition Images of Resilience: Chicana/o Art and its Mexican Roots has its foundation in the Chicano Art Movement known as “El Movimiento.”  From the 1960s on, the Chicana/o Movement of both political and cultural development galvanized a generation of Mexican-American youth committed to civil rights. The Chicana/o Movement was at its deepest level a movement of social justice and cultural identity, where the right to land, language, education, and working wages was marked by an overriding theme of cultural reclamation.  Many of these issues surrounding immigration, border politics, and cultural citizenship have arisen again today in a new era of immigrant concern.

Diego Rivera; Two Workers, 1938; Ink on paper, Collection of the Whatcom Museum, gift of the estate of William J. Eisner, 1975.110.39.

Within the context of the Chicana/o Movement for social justice, artists took their places in creating images and forms of art that would help enlist others in this movement for human rights. The work of individual artists and collectives was often anchored in community-based organizations such as the Galeria de la Raza, The Mexican Museum of San Francisco, Self-Help Graphics, the Social and Public Art Center, Plaza de la Raza in Los Angeles, and Centro Cultural de la Raza in San Diego. Across the country, the Guadalupe Center in San Antonio, the Mi Raza Center in Illinois, and later the Mexican Fine Arts Museum in Chicago, as well as El Centro de la Raza in Seattle, provided a base for individual artists and collectives. The seminal exhibition, Chicano Art: Resistance and Affirmation of the early 1990s, brought many of the artworks, centros, and collectives to a broader national awareness. Read more

EXHIBITION OF MEXICAN AND CHICANA/O ARTWORK EXPLORES HISTORY, COMMUNITY-BUILDING AND CULTURAL CITIZENSHIP

Carmen Lomas Garza; Tamaledera; 1990, Lithograph on paper. Courtesy of The Mexican Museum.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bellingham, WA, Jan. 17, 2017 — The Whatcom Museum is pleased to present “Images of Resilience: Chicana/o Art and its Mexican Roots” at the Lightcatcher building, opening Feb. 4 and showing through May 28, 2017. This exhibition, curated by Executive Director Patricia Leach, explores the development of Chicana/o art, from its beginnings in Mexican art of the early twentieth century, to the Chicana/o movement of the 1960s and ’70s, to its relevance today. Many of the artworks reflect how Chicana/o art has influenced community building, history making and cultural citizenship for Mexican-Americans and Chicana/os.

“The Whatcom Museum has not shown the work of these important artists before, and with a growing Latina/o population in both Whatcom and Skagit Counties, it is wonderful to be able to partner with the Mexican Museum in San Francisco and the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas, California, to bring the work of many well-known artists to the Pacific Northwest,” said Leach.

During the 1800s and early 1900s, Mexican artwork was largely influenced by artists academically trained in the European Academy style. After the revolution in 1910, the arts were dramatically changed, and artists outside of academia developed new styles. During this time, print-making through the creation of broadsheets—printed text accompanied by illustrations, usually printed on penny presses in Mexico City—became a way for artists to address politics and current events. “Images of Resilience” will feature examples of this art form created by José Guadalupe Posada in the early 1900s.

During the 1920s, a new style of art emerged in Mexico. Three internationally prominent artists known as “Los Tres Grandes”—Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and José Clemente Orozco—were hired by the Mexican government to create identifiably Mexican art through murals. Their work emphasized cultural roots with a respect for non-Spanish traditions and instilled a patriotic pride in the Mexican people. A few select artworks by these artists will be displayed in the gallery to represent their contributions, including a Diego Rivera drawing from the Museum’s collection.

In contrast to the early works of the 1910s and ’20s, “Images of Resilience” will also present a variety of artists influenced by the Chicana/o movement of the 1960s and ’70s. Artists of this era, and in the decades following, were motivated by cultural reclamation and the struggle for social justice. Drawing on styles created post-revolution, this era of Chicana/o art deals with rural themes—agriculture, religious holidays, folk heritage—as well as, the new urbanized lives that Mexican-Americans were living, shown through pop culture, cars and Hollywood iconography.

“Within the context of the Chicana/o movement for social justice, artists took their place in creating images and forms of art that would help enlist others in this movement for human rights,” said artist and scholar Amalia Mesa-Bains. “The work of individual artists and collectives was often anchored in community-based organizations.”

“Images of Resilience” will feature the work of contemporary artists such as Patssi Valdez, Ester Hernandez, Carmen Lomas Garza, Gronk, Enrique Chagoya, Frank Romero, and many more. The exhibition will also include mixed-media paintings by Seattle artist Cecilia Concepción Alvarez, and prints and paintings by Seattle artist Alfredo Arreguín.

“Images of Resilience: Chicana/o Art and its Mexican Roots” is sponsored by Heritage Bank and will be on exhibition Feb. 4 through May 28, 2017 in the Lightcatcher building, 250 Flora St., Bellingham, Wash. 98225. The Lightcatcher is open Wed. – Sun., Noon – 5 PM. Members are invited to a member-only preview on Fri., Feb. 3, 5-7pm in the Lightcatcher.

Related programs:

  • Public lecture with Seattle artists Cecilia Concepción Alvarez and Alfredo Arreguín, Sat., Feb. 4, 2pm at Old City Hall, 121 Prospect St. $5 suggested donation/Museum members free.
  • Docent tours: Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 1:30pm beginning Sun., Feb. 12. Tours last one hour, start in the Lightcatcher lobby and are included with admission/free to members.
  • Film Screening: “Chicano Legacy: 40 Años,” co-presented with the Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival, Sun., Feb. 19, 2pm at Old City Hall, 121 Prospect St. Free.
  • Public lecture with artist and scholar Amalia Mesa-Bains, Wed., March 22, 12:30pm at Old City Hall, 121 Prospect St. $5 suggested donation/Museum members free.

PHOTOGRAPHY EXHIBITION MARKING 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF HURRICANE KATRINA TRAVELS TO THE WHATCOM MUSEUM

David G. Spielman; Central City, 2012 from The Katrina Decade: Images of an Altered City. Courtesy of The Historic New Orleans Collection 2015.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bellingham, WA, Jan. 10, 2016 — The Historic New Orleans Collection marked the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina with the release of the book and exhibition, “The Katrina Decade: Images of an Altered City.” Traveling to the Whatcom Museum, courtesy of The Historic New Orleans Collection, this photo exhibition features the haunting black-and-white images of New Orleans-based photographer David G. Spielman. His photographs chronicle the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina and the arrested processes of rebuilding and recovery that persist in many neighborhoods today. The exhibition will be on view Jan. 14 through May 14, 2017 at the Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher building.

Spielman, a fine-art photographer, freelance photojournalist and New Orleans resident, has spent the last decade capturing subtle, gradual changes happening in less-documented areas of the city affected by the storm, like the West Bank, Central City and Mid-City. Inspired by the traditions of photographers like Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, and Gordon Parks, who captured the changing face of America during the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl in stark, simple images, Spielman’s contemplative look at the city reveals the complicated task of recovering from a major disaster.

The resulting photographs beg for careful consideration: where one initially sees stasis, a longer look reveals movement and hints of rebirth, as well as evocative traces of human activity. New Orleans’s subtropical climate makes for a city in perpetual struggle against nature’s attempts to reclaim the landscape—vines have begun to subsume structures in some of the photographs, but evidence of maintenance and new construction often inches its way into the background or the margin. From these images emerge stories of neglect, renewal and perseverance within New Orleans’s altered cityscape.

“Photography is the great educator,” Spielman said. “It puts a face on war, poverty and disasters. My most important task as a photographer is to render the most truthful image of each and every situation I find, because years from now, people want to see what it was really like.”

Although the photographs in this exhibition document a part of America that is far from the Pacific Northwest, it is a reminder that we are all affected by natural disasters. Earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanos are a concern to Northwest communities, especially along the coastal regions. The Whatcom Museum hopes that this exhibition will inspire visitors to consider the importance of disaster preparedness in our own region.

This exhibition accompanies the book, “The Katrina Decade: Images of an Altered City,” which contains 138 black-and-white photographs, along with essays by Spielman, exhibition curator John H. Lawrence, and journalist and preservationist Jack Davis. The book retails for $39.95 and is available for purchase at the Museum Store.

About the photographer:
Assignments have taken David G. Spielman to six continents, where he has photographed presidents and other world leaders. “The Katrina Decade” is his fourth published collection, following “Southern Writers” (1997), “Katrinaville Chronicles: Images and Observations from a New Orleans Photographer” (2007) and “When Not Performing: New Orleans Musicians” (2012). He has called New Orleans home for more than 40 years.

About The Historic New Orleans Collection
Founded in 1966, The Historic New Orleans Collection is a museum, research center and publisher dedicated to the study and preservation of the history and culture of New Orleans and the Gulf South. For more information, visit www.hnoc.org.

THE WHATCOM MUSEUM CELEBRATES “DECK THE OLD CITY HALL”

DOCHFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bellingham, WA, November 1, 2016—This year marks the fourth year of the Whatcom Museum’s Deck the Old City Hall festivities. Running Wednesdays through Sundays, November 25 through December 31, 2016, the building will be decorated in garlands, wreaths, and sparkling lights, and will feature more than 20 themed, decorated trees. In addition to the festive decorations, the month-long program will feature visits with Santa, a pop-up shop, and a signature cocktail party to kick-off the holidays. Visitors can:

VISIT with Santa: Sat. & Sun., Nov. 26 & 27 and Sun., Dec. 4, 12:30 – 2:30 PM

 CELEBRATE at our signature cocktail party, sponsored by Scott and Lori Clough: Fri., Dec. 2, 5:30 – 8 PM. Guests will enjoy tasty appetizers and drinks, music, dancing, and beautifully decorated trees. Tickets are $50 and are available on BrownPaperTickets.com beginning Nov. 1.

 SHOP the pop-up Museum Store, featuring seasonal and handmade gift items and decor.

 ENTER to win raffle prizes, including a completely decorated tree, ready to take home!

 Admission is by donation throughout this program. Proceeds help make Museum programs and exhibitions affordable for all. Deck the Old City Hall is sponsored by Northwest Honda, the Museum Advocates, and the Museum Foundation Board of Directors.

MAJOR TRAVELING EXHIBITION, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC’S 50 GREATEST PHOTOGRAPHS, COMING THIS FALL

Steve McCurry; Afghan Border, Pakistan 1984. Haunting eyes and a tattered garment tell the plight of a girl who fled Afghanistan for a refugee camp in Pakistan.

Steve McCurry; Afghan Border, Pakistan 1984. Haunting eyes and a tattered garment tell the plight of a girl who fled Afghanistan for a refugee camp in Pakistan. Courtesy of National Geographic.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bellingham, WA, September 1, 2016—On Saturday, October 1, 2016, the Whatcom Museum will open a major traveling exhibition National Geographic’s 50 Greatest Photographs, in the Lightcatcher building. The exhibition, which showcases some of National Geographic’s most compelling photographs, runs through January 15, 2017. From Steve McCurry’s unforgettable Afghan girl to Nick Nichols’ iconic image of Jane Goodall with a chimpanzee to Thomas Abercrombie’s never-before-seen view of Mecca, the exhibition includes some of National Geographic magazine’s most-remembered and celebrated photographs from its more-than-120-year history. The Whatcom Museum will be this traveling exhibition’s only West Coast stop of the national tour.

In addition to seeing the photographs as they appeared in the magazine, visitors to the exhibition will learn the stories behind the photos through text panels and video interviews with the photographers. For some images, visitors will be able to see the “near frames” taken by the photographer: the sequence of images made in the field before and after the perfect shot. The exhibition is based on the popular iPad app released by National Geographic in 2011 and featured by iTunes as an iPad “App of the Week.”

“Many people learned about the world from the stunning photographs featured in National Geographic. They vicariously experienced the elation of mountain climbing in the Himalayas, looked in awe at Mayan ruins in the Yucatan, felt the pain of animal poaching in Africa, or the horror of burning oilfields in Kuwait during war,” said Barbara Matilsky, Curator of Art at the Whatcom Museum. “The photographers, who often put their lives on the line to capture these images, continue to contribute to the legacy of National Geographic through the magazine, internet site, television channel, and films. This exhibition is a must-see for both young and old, from all walks of life, as it raises important questions about humanity’s future on Earth.”

About National Geographic Traveling Exhibitions
The National Geographic Society is one of the world’s largest nonprofit scientific and educational organizations and one of the world’s leading organizers of large-scale, traveling exhibitions. Since it launched Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs in 2004, National Geographic has organized two more Egyptian-themed exhibitions, Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs and Cleopatra: The Search for the Last Queen of Egypt. Other exhibitions National Geographic has organized include the four-city US tour of Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul. National Geographic also offers a broad selection of stunning photography exhibitions to museums and venues around the world. For more information, visit www.nationalgeographic.com.

The member preview reception, which will also highlight the exhibition Spineless: Portraits of Marine Invertebrates by Susan Middleton, takes place Friday, September 30, 5 – 7pm in the Lightcatcher, 250 Flora Street.

JUST WOMEN FOCUSES ON WOMEN’S CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE ARTS

Louise Dahl-Wolfe; Untitled,  Gelatin silver print; 10.5 x 9.5 in. Gift of George and Pearl Yewell.

Louise Dahl-Wolfe; Untitled, Gelatin silver print; 10.5 x 9.5 in. Gift of George and Pearl Yewell.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bellingham, WA, May 23, 2016—In 2010, the Whatcom Museum presented the pioneering exhibition, Show of Hands: Northwest Women Artists, 1800-2010, which marked the centennial of woman’s suffrage in Washington State. Six years later, Just Women focuses once again on women’s contributions to the arts and highlights work created by a diverse group of national and international artists. The exhibition will be displayed in the Lightcatcher building, June 18 through September 4, 2016.

Drawn from the Whatcom Museum’s extensive collection of work by female artists, Just Women will explore a wide range of subjects—portraiture, abstraction, landscape, social commentary—in a variety of media, including painting, drawing, printmaking, photography, sculpture, and video. Although some of the artists hail from the Pacific Northwest, many established their careers outside the region: London, New York City, Paris, San Francisco, and Tel Aviv.

According to Curator of Art Barbara Matilsky, “The Whatcom Museum has established a reputation for organizing exhibitions of under-recognized women artists. This exhibition affirms the museum’s commitment to collecting and presenting work by extraordinary women whose visions continue to inspire and delight.”

The installation of Just Women will feature unexpected, thought-provoking juxtapositions, such as Louise Dahl-Wolfe’s (1895-1989) glamourous photographic portrait that reflects her work for Harper’s Bazaar, and Lesley Dill’s (b. 1950) Eye Drop, a visionary mixed-media work on paper. The exhibition also draws relationships between international styles and West Coast interpretations, including Op Art pieces by British artist Bridget Riley (b. 1931), and Mary Henry (1913-2009; born in Sonoma, CA and a long-time resident of Whidbey Island). Just Women provides visitors an opportunity to consider the history and future of women in art both close to home, as well as globally.

Just Women will be on exhibition June 18 – September 4, 2016 in the Lightcatcher building, 250 Flora Street, Bellingham, WA 98225. For more information about the exhibition visit www.whatcommuseum.org.

WHATCOM MUSEUM EXHIBITION TO FEATURE COLOR PRINTS OF NORMA BASSETT HALL

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bellingham, WA, September 30, 2015—Opening at the Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher building on October 24, 2015, is the traveling exhibition, Chipping the Block, Painting the Silk: The Color Prints of Norma Bassett Hall. Guest curated by Joby Patterson, scholar and author of Norma Bassett Hall: Catalogue Raisonné of the Block Prints and Serigraphs, the exhibition presents a spectrum of the Oregon-born Hall’s twenty-five year career as a printmaker. The exhibition will be showing through February 14, 2016.

Hall, who was born in Halsey, Oregon, in 1888, was a watercolorist and oil painter, but her greatest love was color printmaking. After studying at the Portland Art Association School and graduating from the Art Institute of Chicago, she spent two years in Europe, where she learned the skills of block printmaking. She returned to live in Kansas, where she was a charter member of the Prairie Print Makers, and later New Mexico, where she became part of the pioneer movement in the development of serigraphy.

Hall was educated in early twentieth century America, when the Arts and Crafts movement was all the rage. This training is revealed not only in the carving of woodblocks as a form of craft, but in the Japanese-influenced style and interpretation of her subjects. As was typical of an Arts and Crafts artist, Hall found inspiration in the diverse landscapes that she encountered in her extensive travels through Oregon, New Mexico, France, and England.

This is the first solo exhibition of Hall’s artwork since her death in 1957, the first time that more than sixty of her prints have been gathered for exhibition, and likely the first time prints by the artist have been exhibited in the Pacific Northwest since a 1930 group retrospective at the Portland Art Association. Exhibited for the first time will be a cherry woodblock and a portfolio of color block prints depicting the Oregon coast, jointly made by Hall and her husband, artist Arthur William Hall (American, 1889-1981), on the occasion of their marriage in 1922.

Guest curator Joby Patterson has been involved with fine prints for more than thirty years. After research in black and white intaglio prints for the book Bertha E. Jaques and the Chicago Society of Etchers, Dr. Patterson’s new interests turned to color. Her most recent book, Norma Bassett Hall: Catalogue Raisonné of the Block Prints and Serigraphs, traces the adventurous and creative life of Hall and her spouse.

Patterson says she “hopes that visitors who enjoyed the Museum’s Elizabeth Colborne exhibition, [which showed at the Lightcatcher in 2011], will also enjoy Hall’s work, and that the exhibition will contribute to the appreciation and knowledge of color block print artists, especially from the Pacific Northwest.”

Patterson will share her adventures in uncovering Hall’s life and work during a tour of the exhibition on Sat., Oct. 24, 2pm. A book signing will follow the gallery tour. Museum members can attend a preview reception on Fri., Oct. 23, 5-7pm. All events will take place in the Lightcatcher building, 250 Flora Street.

SEATTLE AUTHOR AND PHOTOGRAPHER PAUL BANNICK SHARES STRIKING NEW IMAGES AND STORIES ABOUT OWLS AND WOODPECKERS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bellingham, WA, Tuesday, July 28, 2015–The Whatcom Museum, North Cascades Institute and North Cascades Audubon Society present author and photographer Paul Bannick for a slideshow and lecture in the Rotunda Room of Old City Hall on Tues., Aug. 11, 7pm for “The Owl & the Woodpecker Revisited.” Bannick brings the inter-relationships between these two birds into fresh focus with dozens of new images and stories, including many never presented before.

Bannick will share striking new images, videos and stories that provide fresh illumination to the themes of his book and the exhibit. Find out the latest discoveries since the release of his highly acclaimed book, as well as information from his newest title, Woodpeckers of North America. Doors open at 5:30pm, so come early to see Bannick’s exhibition by the same name on display in Old City Hall. The exhibition features 25-large format color photographs, exhibiting some of the most important species of owls and woodpeckers in North America. Books will be available for sale at the event. This event is co-sponsored by the North Cascades Institute and the North Cascades Audubon Society.

Tickets are $10 General admission/$5 Museum members and are on sale through August 10 at BrownPaperTickets.com (event # 1381965) or by calling (800) 838-3006 ext. 1. You may also purchase tickets directly at Whatcom Museum reception desks. All seats are general seating. Space is limited, so purchase your tickets soon, as Paul’s previous events at the museum have been sold out, standing-room-only! Come early to get the seat of your choice; doors open at 5:30pm.