February 6 – May 15, 2016, Lightcatcher Building
Curated by Barbara Matilsky
Born in Bellingham in 1938, Ira Yeager has traveled the world and created a unique body of work that illuminates the characters and landscapes that he encountered while living in Florence, Corfu, Tangiers, Santa Fe, New York City, San Francisco, and Calistoga. Returning Home: Six Decades of Art by Ira Yeager marks the first Washington museum retrospective of the artist, who left Bellingham for San Francisco, where he studied with renowned painters Elmer Bischoff (1916-1991), Richard Diebenkorn (1922-1993), and Nathan Oliveira (1928-2010).
This exhibition highlights Yeager’s multifaceted approach to art where figures and landscapes, vibrant colors and abstract lines harmoniously mingle. Highlights include the artist’s luminous Napa Valley Vineyards, playful interpretations of baroque and rococo masters, and the series titled Indian Paintings that occupied him for forty years. With 50 works of art, ranging from intimate plein air studies to large oil and acrylic canvases, Returning Homeprovides viewers an opportunity to appreciate Yeager’s stylistic development over 60 years.
Bellingham exerted a formidable influence on the budding artist. His father, Ira Yeager senior, the founder of a sporting goods store that bears his name, outfitted and led fishing and hunting expeditions in the majestic Pacific Northwest. But Ira, born of a sensitive nature, rejected this machismo culture. He found refuge in the world of art and began drawing at eight years old.
His father’s store, however, opened up a fertile avenue of artistic inspiration by providing Yeager contact with Native American traders from Western Washington and Vancouver Island. Although New Mexico sparked the artist’s interpretive series of aboriginal people, Bellingham provided the seed. For the cultivation of his career, Yeager looked outside of Whatcom County to a cultural center with an established art school. He studied in San Francisco at the California College of Arts and Crafts San Francisco, and later found his own way in the world of art through his life-long love of travel, which has influenced his work throughout the years.
Docent Tours: Take a 55-minute docent-led tour of the exhibition on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 1:30pm. Tours begin in the Lightcatcher lobby and are free with admission.