ROOTED, REVIVED, REINVENTED: BASKETRY IN AMERICA

Coiled feather basket; Central California (possibly Yokuts), c. 1890. Sumac, devil’s claw, wool, quail feathers, 6 x 8 x 8 in. Lent by Lois Russell. Courtesy of the University of Missouri.

February 3 – May 6, 2018; Lightcatcher

Rooted, Revived, Reinvented: Basketry in America chronicles a history of American basketry from its origins in Native American, immigrant, and slave communities to its presence within the contemporary fine art world. Baskets convey meaning through the artists’ selection of materials; the techniques they use; and the colors, designs, patterns, and textures they employ.

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. Divided into five sections—Cultural Origins, New Basketry, Living Traditions, Basket as Vessel, and Beyond the Basket—this exhibition of approximately 95 objects has two primary goals: to model how to look at, talk about, and analyze baskets aesthetically, critically and historically; and to contextualize American basketry within art and craft history specifically and American culture generally.

This exhibition is generously sponsored in part by the National Basketry Organization, University of Missouri, the Windgate Charitable Foundation, the Center for Craft, Creativity, and Design, and numerous private donors. Additional support is provided by the Northwest Basket Weavers Vi Phillips Guild, the City of Bellingham, the Whatcom Museum Advocates, and the Whatcom Museum Foundation.

PARTY > Members see it first at the member reception, Friday, February 2, 5 – 7 PM at the Lightcatcher building

DOCENT TOURS (In conjunction with Jeweled Objects of Desire) > Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, 1:30pm beginning February 10th.

SHOWING CONCURRENTLY AT OLD CITY HALL > Gathered Together: A Show of Work Celebrating Members of the Northwest Basket Weavers Guild and Hidden in the Bundle: A Look Inside the Whatcom Museum’s Basketry Collection.

   

 

 

 

 

GATHERED TOGETHER: A SHOW OF WORK CELEBRATING MEMBERS OF THE NORTHWEST BASKET WEAVERS GUILD

Judy Zugish, Breathe; Willow, 22 x 8 x 5 in. Courtesy of the Artist.

February 3 – May 6, 2018; Old City Hall

View a selection of artwork 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 on hand on opening day to talk about basketry and the artwork on display.

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.

Gallery Tours > Sunday, February 11, March 11, and April 8, 1:30 PM; Knowledgeable members of the Northwest Basket Weavers Guild will be available to guide visitors through the exhibit, offering insights into the weaving materials, techniques, cultural and historical context, and how the traditional and contemporary variations on display are linked. Included with admission/Museum members free.

 

 

 

 

HIDDEN IN THE BUNDLE: A LOOK INSIDE THE WHATCOM MUSEUM’S BASKETRY COLLECTION

Lidded basket, Inuit. Gift of Dr. Gay Wickersham Davis. Whatcom Museum #2008.68.1.

February 3 – June 10, 2018; Old City Hall

Curated by Rebecca Hutchins, Curator of Collections

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.

 

JEWELED OBJECTS OF DESIRE: FROM ORDINARY TO EXTRAORDINARY

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

February 3 – May 6, 2018; Lightcatcher

This exhibition features rarely seen items from the vaults of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. Each piece in this exhibit demonstrates the skill and ingenuity of various artists in transforming simple materials into striking treasures. Originally curated by Cynthia Duval, who was then Chief Curator of the Florida International Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, this exhibit creates a sense of awe at the vision required to take the rough to polished, the mundane to exceptional, and the simple to complex.

Whether it is a faceted quartz crystal egg, a gold sardine can, a gold and pearl-studded corn cob, or a gold yoyo, each of these creations irresistibly attracts our attention and appeals to our imagination, encouraging us to think about why and how each piece was made. Let these rarely seen objects inspire as you explore this exhibit. Learn more about featured artist Sidney Mobell in this Smithsonian article.

Jeweled Objects of Desire is sponsored by Smith & Vallee Gallery, Mary Summerfield & Mike O’Neal, the Whatcom Museum Advocates, the Whatcom Museum Foundation, and the City of Bellingham.

PARTY > Members see it first at our member reception, Friday, February 2, 5 – 7 PM at the Lightcatcher Building

DOCENT TOURS (In conjunction with Rooted, Revived, Reinvented) > Thursday, Saturdays, and Sundays, 1:30 PM, beginning February 10

 

PEOPLE OF THE SEA AND CEDAR: A JOURNEY THROUGH THE TRIBAL CULTURES AND HISTORY OF THE NORTHWEST COAST

Photos by David Scherrer.

Ongoing, Lightcatcher

People of the Sea and Cedar, in the second floor gallery of the Lightcatcher building, shares the history and art of the Northwest Coast people, blending both historical and contemporary perspectives. This exhibit features artifacts from the Museum’s collection, such as Coast Salish artwork and carvings, woven blankets, hand-made tools, cedar hats, clothing, and baskets. The exhibit 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 present the Northwest Coast tribes as vibrant, living cultures who honor their past while building cultural and economic futures for their people.

 

DOCENT TOURS > Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, 2:30pm. Tours begin in the lobby of the Lightcatcher and are included with admission/free to members.

 

JOHN M. EDSON HALL OF BIRDS

The John M. Edson Hall of Birds includes an example of what amateur ornithologist Edson’s study would have looked like in the 1930s and ’40s.

Opened March 16, 2017; Ongoing; Old City Hall

This new exhibit in Old City Hall provides a glimpse into the local history and culture of the Victorian Era, when taxidermy flourished and mounted animals often decorated interior spaces. For the Museum, this collection of birds is also important to the building’s history. If it hadn’t been for John M. Edson, Old City Hall might not be standing here today. While city officials were considering demolishing it, Edson saw an opportunity to not only save the building, but also to create a public museum within its walls. He dreamed of having a permanent home for his bird specimen collection, and the museum became the perfect showcase.

Now, more than 75 years later, the Whatcom Museum has taking this important collection and reinterpreted it as an educational experience. Designed in collaboration with the North Cascades Audubon Society, the new exhibit provides opportunities to learn about bird migration, conservation success stories, birds in peril, and the importance of studying bird specimens today. Alongside the interpretive panels and the birds themselves, the Hall of Birds provides a variety of interactive opportunities, including video clips of birds in our local habitats, audio files of Puget Sound-area bird calls, and hands-on activities for children. We look forward to sharing this important collection with visitors for years to come.

 

KINSEYS IN COLOR

Foot logs provided by nature across fir-bordered trout brook, 1926. Photo by Darius Kinsey, Whatcom Museum #1981.53.10.

Ongoing, Old City Hall

Curated by Jeff Jewell, Photo Archives Historian

Before the development of color film, there was a way to make a color photograph — you painted it by hand! Known as tinting, it’s a meticulous, time-consuming process. The exhibition Kinseys In Color features fifteen examples of this art form by Darius and Tabitha Kinsey, whose half-century in commercial photography is renowned for views of the early Northwest timber industry. Kinseys In Color offers a different aspect of the Kinsey legacy, one focused on scenic views and Tabitha’s talent at hand-tinting prints.

HISTORY EXHIBITS AT OLD CITY HALL

Ongoing

The Museum’s 1892 Old City Hall building features a variety of exhibits that tell the stories of the building’s architecture, the city’s early days, logging history, and waterfront industry.

Visit our Maritime History Exhibit at Old City Hall to learn more about Bellingham's waterfront history.

Visit our Maritime History Exhibit at Old City Hall to learn more about Bellingham’s waterfront history.

GREEN GOLD: LOGGING THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST:
Relive the history of logging in our corner of the Pacific Northwest through photographs, artifacts, and stories documenting both the good and the bad of Bellingham’s timber era during the mid- to late- nineteenth century. Historic video footage takes you back to a time when only the sheer strength of the lumberjacks felled the enormous trees. Learn what it took to be a lumberjack, the long days and hard work. Find out what a “road monkey” and a “river rat” did for their jobs.

ORIENTATION THEATER:
Get a sense of place, and where we are in this fourth corner of the country, through an audio-visual journey of Old City Hall and the early days of Bellingham. Located on the main level of Old City Hall, in the gallery that was once the first mayor of Bellingham’s office in the late 1890s, you’ll learn a variety of historical facts and trivia.

MARITIME HISTORY GALLERY:
Walk into the second floor Allsop Gallery for a lesson on Bellingham’s maritime heritage. From early steam ships, to fisheries, to notable schooners plying the shores of Bellingham Bay, you’ll get a waterfront history overview through photographs, artifacts, interactives, and model ships while looking through the gallery windows to the Bay.

JOHN M. EDSON HALL OF BIRDS:
Partnering with the North Cascades Audubon Society, this exhibit features our founding collection of more than 500 mounted birds, with interpretation, videos, and hands-on activities highlighting Pacific Northwest flyway zones, migration patterns, habitats, nests, and more.