reframe-the-conversation

Museum Employee and Professional Artist David Miller Brings Prehistoric Creatures to Life

By Colton Redtfeldt, Marketing Assistant

David W. Miller, American, b. 1957; Quetzalcoatlus, 2002; Oil and acrylic on illustration board, 16 x 12 in. Courtesy of the New York State Museum, Albany.

On a Thursday afternoon in October David Miller, the Museum’s Preparator, sat at his desk in the attic of Old City Hall and thumbed through the many binders full of his old paintings.

He was in search of a piece he had created many years ago. With each turned page he uncovered a new prehistoric creature like some sort of artistic archeologist. Every so often he would come across a work that piqued his interest and he would make a quick comment or two about its history.

Finally, he came across the piece he was looking for. It depicted the prehistoric flying beast Quetzalcoatlus as it soared above a North American forest millions of years ago. The piece, titled Quetzalcoatlus after the creature it depicts, was notable because one block away a reproduction was on display at the Lightcatcher building as part of the Museum’s exhibition Endangered Species: Artists on the Frontline of Biodiversity.

“I think it’s an effective drawing. The forced perspective re ally shows you the immensity of the creature,” Miller said as he mused over the piece. Getting the immensity of the creature was essential. Quetzalcoatlus, with an imposing 52-foot wingspan, was the largest flying animal to ever exist, after all.

Miller originally painted Quetzalcoatlus in 2002 for a book on Pterosaurs. The painting ultimately didn’t get published, however. In 2004 he took the piece to the Paleo Art Show at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and the piece was awarded Best 2D Artwork.

Quetzalcoatlus isn’t Miller’s only painting depicting a dinosaur. In fact, much of his career as a professional artist has been centered around creating scientifically-accurate depictions of prehistoric animals. Read more

Madeline von Foerster: Painting Humanity’s Role in Species Destruction

Madeline von Foerster stands next to her painting, Carnival Insectivora, during the opening ceremony of Endangered Species: Artists on the Front Line of Biodiversity.

By Colton Redtfeldt, Marketing Assistant

 

In fourth grade, Madeline von Foerster was asked to do a report on an animal for class. She opted to do her report on an extinct animal. At the time she was also developing a passion for art. With those two facts in mind, it’s no surprise that many years later she would be creating art that highlights the plight of endangered and extinct animals.

Von Foerster has built a career out of commenting on the role humanity plays in the destruction of animal species through her paintings. Two of her paintings, Carnival Insectivora and Reliquary for Rabb’s Frog, can be found in the Museum’s exhibition Endangered Species: Artists on the Front Line of Biodiversity, now showing at the Lightcatcher building.

Carnival Insectivora highlights endangerment of the infamous Venus flytrap, and Reliquary for Rabb’s Frog highlights the extinction of the Rabbs’ fringe-limbed treefrog.

“In both cases, I wanted to create a tribute or a shrine to threatened or extinct species, and also address humanity’s role in their fate,” von Foerster said in an interview with the Museum. Read more

Local History with a Waterfront View

Learn about Bellingham’s history from the waterfront perspective.

By Christina Claassen and Colton Redtfeldt

This summer hundreds of people will be boarding the 100-foot Victoria Star boat for the Whatcom Museum’s 35th annual History Sunset Cruises. Everyone aboard will learn about the history of Bellingham from a waterfront perspective, courtesy of two local historians who weave stories and serve as hosts extraordinaire—Doug Starcher and Brian Griffin.

During the cruises, participants get great close-up views of parks, businesses, industry, and neighborhoods from Bellingham Bay. Starcher and Griffin will tie their knowledge of local history with up-to-date facts about bay side 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. Read more

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.

Read more

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/

 

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