Whatcom’s Newspaper War  

By Colton Redtfeldt

The years from the 1890s to the 1910s were a turbulent time for America’s journalism industry. William Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer were in a fierce circulation war that had pushed the United States into the Spanish-American War. But journalism’s mighty waves weren’t a faraway thing. In fact, Bellingham was the scene for its own circulation war.

From 1903 to 1911, two of Bellingham’s largest newspapers, The American Reveille and The Bellingham Herald, were in a seven-year circulation war that cost their owners, two wealthy publishing tycoons, tens of thousands of dollars.

 

Background

On June 15, 1883, Will Jenkins and Thomas Nicklin published the first edition of the Whatcom Reveille. On March 11, 1890, William Vissener, a Kentucky-born Civil War Colonel, and E. G. Earle, a local business man, printed the first edition of the Fairhaven Herald.

The two papers were in different towns at the time, the Reveille in the Sehome area, and the Fairhaven Herald in Fairhaven, but it wouldn’t be long before the two worlds collide.

Early office of the Reveille Printing at C and Dupont Streets

Both papers served the community without much competition. The economic boom in the area ensured that both papers were prosperous. The good times didn’t last, though, and all the papers in Whatcom felt it. By the beginning of 1891, Fairhaven’s economy began to crash and the newspapers in Fairhaven took most of the financial blow. This depression allowed the Fairhaven Herald, which had fared better than other papers, to buyout some small papers in the area.

As the economy improved, both the Fairhaven Herald and the Daily Reveille survived the depression and continued printing daily papers. A thriving economy brought the towns of Sehome and Whatcom closer together and talk of unification started. This meant that the paper’s markets started to merge. The stage was set for a show-off between the papers. All it took was the money and drive from two wealthy men to set it off.

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5 Women Artists in the Whatcom Museum’s Collection: Mary Randlett

Mary Randlett, Photograph of artist Helmi Juvonen, 1983. Whatcom Museum #1986.0017.000001.

By Colton Redtfeldt, Marketing Assistant

This is the final installment of #5WomenArtists, inspired by the National Museum of Women in the Arts’ challenge, “Can you name five women artists?” The Museum featured five female artists from its collection throughout the month of March—Women’s History Month. Share our posts with your followers on social media and tag your posts #5WomenArtists.

Artist #5: Mary Randlett

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. If that’s the case, Mary Randlett has spoken hundreds of thousands of words about the Pacific Northwest and the people in it. Through her powerful photography, Randlett has captured the beauty of the Pacific Northwest.

Born in Seattle on May 5, 1924, art has always played a central role in Randlett’s life. Her mother was active in the arts and crafts movement and Randlett had contact with early Northwest artists such as Kenneth Callahan, Morris Graves, and Mark Tobey from a young age. At the age of 10, she received her first camera, a small Kodak, and within a few years had produced her first photo album. She continued to take photographs throughout high school at Queen Anne High.

It wasn’t until college that Randlett really developed her photography skills. In the basement of Whitman College’s darkroom, Randlett experimented with different development techniques. In 1947 she graduated with a bachelors in political science. Read more

5 Women Artists in the Whatcom Museum’s Collection: Dale Gottlieb

By Colton Redtfeldt, Marketing Assistant

Dale Gottlieb; Tuskegee Airmen, 1995; Hand-knotted wool rug, 8 x 5 ft. Purchased with funds donated by Chuck and Dee Robinson, WM #2004.28.1

Inspired by the National Museum of Women in the Arts’ challenge, “Can you name five women artists?” the Whatcom Museum is continuing the tradition it started last year and highlighting five female artists whose work 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.

Artist #4: Dale Gottlieb

Dale Gottlieb was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1952. From an early age she was frequently exposed to the art world. Almost every Saturday morning she would go to the Brooklyn Museum of Art. It was at this museum that Gottlieb became heavily inspired by African art. She also drew inspiration from her environment growing up. Raised in Brooklyn during the 1950s, Gottlieb was constantly surrounded by people from a diverse range of religious beliefs, races, and sexual orientations.

Up until the 8th grade, she attended Brooklyn’s Ethical Culture School. This alternative school emphasized a curriculum based on philosophy and humanitarianism.

Gottlieb attended the School of Art and Design at Alfred University, in New York, in the 70s. At the age of 20, she postponed her studies for a couple of months to travel to India and stay at a Hindu ashram. While in India, she was deeply touched by the spiritual rituals and considered staying in India, but eventually decided that continuing her work as an artist was her true calling. She returned to Alfred University and finished her degree with honors in 1975.  Read more

5 Women Artists in the Whatcom Museum’s Collection: Doris Totten Chase

By Colton Redtfeldt, Marketing Assistant

Inspired by the National Museum of Women in the Arts’ challenge, “Can you name five women artists?” the Whatcom Museum is continuing the tradition it started last year and highlighting five female artists whose work 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.

Doris Totten Chase; Sun Disc, 1980; Silkscreen print, 22 x 30 in. Gift of Doris Totten Chase, Whatcom Museum # 2003.51.12.

Artist #3: Doris Totten Chase 

Doris Totten Chase was an influential figure in early computer-generated art. Her early experimentations helped defined the future of the medium and expressed themes about the lives of women.

Chase was born in Seattle on April 29, 1923. In 1941 she graduated from Roosevelt High School and began to study architecture at the University of Washington. It wasn’t long after this that she met Elmo Chase, a lieutenant in the US Navy, and dropped out in 1943.

Chase’s introduction to the art world came after the birth of her first child. After suffering from an emotional breakdown, Chase decided to explore new interests and discovered a talent for painting.

She originally studied oil panting under prominent Northwest artists like Jacob Elshin, Nickolas Damascus, and Mark Tobey. She found her first success in 1948 when one of her paintings was accepted into the Seattle Art Museum’s Northwest Annual Exhibition.

Chase continued to work in the Pacific Northwest and make a name for herself, coming up against many biases that affected Northwest women artists at the time. Gradually, she shifted mediums, going from oil painting to cement work to outdoor sculptures. Her artwork began to include interactive elements that invited viewers to move the art around for further exploration. One of her more recognized pieces was the sculpture Changing Form, in Kerry Park on Queen Anne Hill in Seattle. The sculpture, which was made at a time when sculpting was considered a man’s art, became one of Seattle’s most widely recognized pieces of art. Read more

5 Women Artists in the Whatcom Museum’s Collection: Maria Frank Abrams

By Colton Redtfeldt, Marketing Assistant

Inspired by the National Museum of Women in the Arts’ challenge, “Can you name five women artists?” the Whatcom Museum is continuing the tradition it started last year and highlighting five female artists whose work 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.

Artist #2: Maria Frank Abrams

Maria Frank Abrams, (1924-2013); Untitled, 1977; Graphite on paper, 13.25 x 21.25 in. Whatcom Museum #2008.78.3. Gift of the artist.

Maria Frank Abrams’ life was one of tragedy, perseverance, and beauty. Her powerful paintings were seen by people around the world and touched the hearts of those in the Pacific Northwest

Born in 1924 to a Jewish family, Abrams grew up in Debrecen, Hungary. At five years old, she began to paint. However, her life was forever changed when, at the age of 19, her family was taken to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland in 1944.

According to the Washington Jewish Museum, during her time in the concentration camp, Abrams was able to find pencils and paper, and women in the camp would ask her to draw what they looked like before the war. From this experience, she said she was able to find some sort of reality in the “unreal tortured world that we lived in.” By the end of the war, she had lost 33 relatives; only one cousin had survived. Read more

5 Women Artists in the Whatcom Museum’s Collection: Ella Higginson

By Colton Redtfeldt, Marketing Assistant

Inspired by the National Museum of Women in the Arts’ challenge, “Can you name five women artists?” the Whatcom Museum is continuing the tradition it started last year and highlighting five female artists whose work 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.

Artist #1: Ella Higginson

Whatcom Museum #1968.24.208

Ella Higginson was a prominent Bellingham author whose books, essays, and poems are regarded as iconic to early Pacific Northwest literature. Her writing, which detailed the vast wilderness landscapes and inherent beauty of the region, introduced many readers to the Pacific Northwest for the first time.

Higginson was born in Council Grove, Kansas, however her family soon afterwards moved to Oregon. As a young girl, Higginson showed a talent for the written word. When she was 14, she published her first piece of work and by her late teens her work was being published in newspapers around Portland.

In 1885 she married Russell C. Higginson, and in 1888 they moved to Bellingham. Soon after they moved, Higginson began to make a new literary life for herself. In 1889 some of her poetry was published in national magazines such as Collier’s Once a Week and Harper’s Magazine.

Her career really started to take off in 1894 when she won McClure’s Magazine’s writing contest for her short story, “The Takin’ In of Old Mis’ Lane.”

Following the contest, Higginson released multiple books of poetry and continued to write until her declining health slowed her down. Some of Higginson’s most significant works include A Bunch of Western Clover (1984), When the Birds Go North Again (1902), Mariella of Out West (1902), and The Vanishing Race and Other Poems (1911).  Read more

Long-time Educator, Mary Jo Maute, Retires After 21 Years

For 21 years, Mary Jo Maute taught the history of the Northwest Coast people to thousands of Whatcom County school children, brought art to families experiencing homelessness, inspired high school students to consider careers in the arts, and taught adults painting and art techniques through various workshops. Last month, Maute, an education and program coordinator at the Museum, retired from her position, but her legacy will remain. Before leaving, Maute reflected on her time and experiences at the Museum.

How long have you worked at the Whatcom Museum, and what role(s) have you had?
Twenty one years ago, we moved to Bellingham from Montana, where I had served as the Curator of Education at the Yellowstone Art Museum. We were drawn here for this job at the Museum.

Maute teaches an ArtFUNdamental program to elementary school children at the Museum’s 2017 “Images of Resilience” exhibition.

My role has been planning and presenting programs that relate to the permanent and special exhibitions, most often working with school groups to enhance the school curriculum. The school program that has kept me the busiest since day one is the People of the Sea and Cedar tour and workshop. Pretty much every 3rd grader in Whatcom County and many from Skagit, Snohomish, and Island Counties benefit from this program. One would think that running this remarkable program for 21 years would become tiring, but I love working with children and everyone has a good time. Teachers praise the program and return each year because it fits so perfectly with the Washington State education standards and provides an authentic quality experience that is not replicable in classrooms.

I’ve also coordinated a variety of public programs, including talks by artists, curators, and historians, Family Activity Days (now Community Art Museum Day), Brown Bag lunch programs, Artful Pairings (opportunities for adults to get creative and learn interesting techniques while sipping wine), and concerts, which provide the community with opportunities to engage with our local arts and culture.

I can say with certainty that Mary Jo is a beloved art teacher, a well-respected colleague and friend of this community! –Susanna Brooks, Whatcom Museum Director of Learning Innovation

This past spring marked the 20th anniversary of the high school Art Career Day, a special project of mine. Art Career Day builds the next generation of artists, educators, and lifelong creative learners. This conference brings together 130 Whatcom County high school students and their art teachers for a day at the museum meeting with regional artists and college art department representatives.

I’ve also been the education department’s liaison with the museum intern program through Western Washington University’s (WWU) Anthropology Department.  It’s been a real joy to give college students a taste of what it’s like to work in a museum and engage with school groups and the public.  Read more

Partnership between Whatcom Museum and Bellingham Public Library Lets Anyone Enjoy Art, Nature, and Northwest History

By Colton Redtfeldt, Marketing Assistant

The Whatcom Museum and the Bellingham Public Library (BPL) have teamed up to offer complimentary Museum passes to library card holders as a community resource.

The Museum pass, which are available for free to library patrons, allows entry for up to four people into all of the Museum’s buildings, including Old City Hall, the Lightcatcher building, and the Family Interactive Gallery (FIG). While there, visitors are able to take advantage of the exhibitions and programming that regular admission offers, including special presentations, and FIG workshops that are happening that day.

Bethany Hoglund, Head of Youth Services for the Bellingham Public Library believes that this partnership is important because it removes the roadblocks that prohibit some people from accessing arts and creative spaces in Bellingham. She also believes it helps further the library’s vision of being a place where all people, from babies to seniors, are able to find engaging activities and offerings.

“I love that this partnership with the Museum can be a natural extension of the public library, and vice versa,” said Hoglund. “Both have resources and materials to ignite creativity, challenge perceptions, and to explore.”

Last year, BPL distributed more than 380 Museum passes to people throughout the community, and the Museum welcomed roughly 650 visitors from those passes. The program has been expanded for 2018, with passes offered on all days that the Museum is open, Wednesday through Sunday. The Whatcom Museum and the Bellingham Public Library look forward to another successful year of the program.

“The more agencies within a community work together, the stronger the network of support and services for citizens becomes,” said Hoglund. “Partnerships such as this provide the opportunity for agencies to learn more about each other and learn from each other.”


For Those Interested:

To get one of these passes, library patrons will need to go online and register from the library’s website. Each family is allowed one set of passes every 60 days, and the passes are available only on the day selected by the person registering. There are only a limited number of passes available per day. Additional information can be found on the library’s website: https://www.bellinghampubliclibrary.org/.

To sign up, go to the link below and select “Register Online.” From there, select the day you’d like to visit the Museum from the calendar. After that, fill out the form at the bottom of the page. You’ll be sent a confirmation email. Bring your confirmation—either printed or as an email on your phone or tablet—to the museum and show it at the welcome desk for entry.

https://www.bellinghampubliclibrary.org/using-the-library/free-passes-to-whatcom-museum

 

Community Partnership: Audubon Society

By Colton Redtfeldt, Marketing Assistant

Sometimes two organizations come together to better achieve their missions. The Whatcom Museum and the North Cascades Audubon Society (NCAS) are an example of this. Through an ongoing partnership, both the Museum and NCAS have produced a variety of events, and most recently an exhibit, that have informed and inspired people throughout Whatcom County to explore the natural world around them.

The partnership began in 2013 when the Museum opened an exhibit in the Syre Education Center that showcased the Museum’s collection of taxidermy birds and Native American artifacts on a limited basis (two to three times a year for 2-6 weeks at a time). Shortly after the exhibit opened, Museum staff invited NCAS to help assist with education programs about the birds. NCAS agreed and representatives from the Society spent time each month volunteering to be present in the exhibit to answer questions and engage in conversations about birds with Museum visitors.

A collage of birds set up in the “John Eden Hall of Birds” exhibit.

More recently, when the Museum decided to move its founding collection of taxidermied birds in 2016-17 from the Syre Education Center to Old City Hall and create the John M. Edson Hall of Birds, which is open year-round, NCAS played a key role in the exhibit development.

“When planning began for moving the birds to Old City Hall, knowledgeable NCAS birders joined in and we discussed key birds to move (ultimately they were pretty much all moved!), and important themes for the exhibit. These became foundational to the new exhibit,” said Chris Brewer, a previous Museum educator involved in getting Audubon active at the Museum, and the current Audubon Board Education Chair.

The Hall of Birds showcases more than 500 mounted birds and provides opportunities for guests to learn about migration, conservation, birds in peril, and the importance of studying bird specimens today. The NCAS is still involved with the Hall of Birds exhibit. Every fourth Sunday of the month from 1:30-3:30pm is “Audubon at the Museum,” where volunteer experts from the Society are available to answer questions that guests might have about the exhibit or birds in general.

The NCAS uses the Rotunda Room of Old City Hall as the venue for its monthly meetings and educational presentations on the fourth Tuesday of every month, 7-9pm. The public programs are open to the public, and highlight a diverse range of topics, from bird habitat to the effects of climate change on migration patterns to highlights on specific bird species.    Read more

The History of Old City Hall

By Colton Redtfeldt, Marketing Assistant

Reaching into the sky with its four spires and clock tower, Old City Hall is one of Bellingham’s most iconic landmarks. Everyone in Bellingham has seen the building and many have been inside when they visit the Whatcom Museum, but fewer people know the long and interesting history behind it — and the many secrets that it holds.

Interior of Comptroller’s Office, c. 1913 Photographer Unknown: Whatcom Museum #1988.16.19

The story of Old City Hall starts more than 100 years ago. Prior to 1891, the New Whatcom City Council had been housed in the Oakland Block at the corner of Champion and Holly Street. However, as the government grew, it became evident that the City Council, which had shared the space with a clothing store, a music dealer and a hotel, needed something bigger. They asked local architects to submit plans for a new city hall and in November the council accepted a design from local architect Alfred Lee.

Lee, a self-taught architect, pulled the designs for the late-Victorian building from various catalogues and combined different plans together.

The council purchased a plot of land on a bluff overlooking Bellingham Bluff for $5000 and construction started in February 1892. Construction was wrapped up quickly when an economic depression in 1893 caused funds for the project to disappear, leaving the second and third floor interiors unfinished. One side effect caused by this abrupt stop was that the clock faces that had been installed didn’t actually work. Instead, the city moved the hands on the clock to permanently read seven o’clock. These didn’t last long, however, as strong winds eventually knocked out the clock faces and the city, not having the funds to replace them, simply left them as gaping holes.

The city did install a large, three-feet-in-diameter bell in the tower, which was rung to alert the volunteer fire department whenever there was a fire in the city. The height of the building made it easy to see any fires in the area.

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