For media inquiries, to arrange interviews, or to obtain images, please contact:
Christina Claassen, Marketing & Public Relations Manager, 360-778-8936.
Contemporary Wildlife Exhibition “Un/Natural Selections” Travels to the Museum this Fall
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bellingham, WA, July 26, 2022—This fall, the Whatcom Museum is excited to present Un/Natural Selections: Wildlife in Contemporary Art, a powerhouse exhibition of works by 42 contemporary artists, organized by the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson, Wyoming, and comprised exclusively from their permanent collection. Un/Natural Selections delves into the various ways that today’s artists employ animal imagery to address humanity’s interconnectedness and ever-changing relationship with the natural world. The exhibition’s showing at the Whatcom Museum is made possible through generous support from the Art Bridges foundation and will be on display Sept. 10, 2022 through Jan. 8, 2023 in the Lightcatcher building.
Receiving its designation as the National Museum of Wildlife Art of the United States by Congress in 2008, the striking stone structure of the NMWA is built into the hillside in Jackson and overlooks the National Elk Refuge. Just two miles away is the gateway to Grand Teton National Park.
“With similar close proximities to national parks and forests, and easy access to the natural beauty of our county, the Whatcom Museum was motivated to host this phenomenal exhibition that will surely resonate with nature-loving audiences here in Bellingham,” says Curator of Art Amy Chaloupka.
Though most of NMWA’s collection is centered around the work of American and European artists from the 19th and 20th centuries who feature wildlife in their works, Un/Natural Selections highlights recently acquired contemporary artworks created in the last 20 years. Through both media and content these contemporary artists are challenging, whether consciously or not, the definition of what constitutes wildlife art today.
Since the early 1900s wildlife art as a genre has been grouped together with art of the American West. Based in nostalgia and presented as an idealized version of American history, the wild animals commonly depicted during this time included bison, elk, moose and grizzly bears within wide expanses of natural habitats.
Through the exhibition’s four thematic sections—Politics, Science, Tradition and Aesthetics—the artists explore creative ways to negotiate the new terrain of our current Anthropocene epoch, an era defined by human influence on the environment. The artworks present ideas on human impact on and relationships with wildlife in an ever-changing world.
In connection with the themes in Un/Natural Selections, the Museum will host a multidisciplinary outreach program for college students titled “Passport to the Natural World.” Partnering with three local college campuses—Western Washington University, Whatcom Community College and Northwest Indian College—the “Passport” programs aim to increase access to art and nature while providing opportunities for mindfulness and relaxation. Activities such as animal-pose yoga, artist workshops, movie screenings, book discussions and geocaching seek to connect students to the broader Bellingham community while creating new social networks. This unique series of events provides opportunities for students to engage with the exhibition in a variety of ways. Generous support for “Passport to the Natural World” is provided by Art Bridges.
About Art Bridges
Art Bridges is the vision of philanthropist and arts patron Alice Walton. The mission of Art Bridges is to expand access to American art in all regions across the United States. Since 2017, Art Bridges has been creating and supporting programs that bring outstanding works of American art out of storage and into communities. Art Bridges partners with a growing network of more than 190 museums of all sizes and locations to provide financial and strategic support for exhibition development, loans from the Art Bridges collection, and programs designed to educate, inspire, and deepen engagement with local audiences. The Art Bridges Collection represents an expanding vision of American art from the 19th century to present day and encompasses multiple media and voices. To learn more about Art Bridges, follow the hashtag #ArtBridges on social media and visit www.artbridgesfoundation.org.
“Museum in Mind” Memory Care Program Returns
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bellingham, WA, July 14, 2022—The Whatcom Museum is excited to bring back its memory care program, Museum in Mind, after almost two years on hold due to the pandemic. Designed for individuals with early-stage memory loss or dementia and their caregivers, Museum in Mind includes an artwork discussion and art-making activity related to the current exhibition, “Many Wests: Artists Shape an American Idea.” The first program takes place Thurs., Aug. 9, 2 – 4 p.m. at the Museum’s Lightcatcher building.
The program focuses on the theme of identity, and participants, together with their caregivers, will be led through the gallery by a Museum educator to discuss artworks by artists such as Wendy Red Star, Christina Fernandez, Ka’ila Farrell-Smith and Angel Rodríguez-Díaz. After the gallery tour, participants will create identity collages in the art studio for a hands-on experience.
“The Museum is excited to bring back Museum in Mind in person this August,” says Museum educator Bridget Girnus. “We hope that through discussions around the artwork and a hands-on art making activity, participants will be able to share their own unique life experiences and can learn from each other’s personal perspectives. Museum in Mind is about increasing community and connectedness with each other through art.”
Registration to the program is $10 for Museum members and $15 for non-members and includes both the participant and their caregiver. Eight spots are available with a maximum of 16 people with caregivers. A snack will be provided to participants. This program is supported, in part, by a grant from the Washington State Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as the Fund Three Pines Foundation and KBF Canada.
For more information visit https://www.whatcommuseum.org/event/museum-in-mind-many-wests/ or contact Bridget Girnus by email. Registration for the Aug. 9th program is available at Eventbrite.com. Museum in Mind will be offered again on Tues., Nov. 8. More information will be posted on the website this fall.
Tickets on Sale for History Sunset Cruises
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bellingham, WA, June 1, 2022—The Whatcom Museum is excited to host its annual History Sunset Cruises this summer. Partnering with San Juan Cruises for tour operation, the weekly cruises will take place Tuesdays, June 28 – August 30, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. Tickets go on sale Wednesday, June 1.
The Museum’s popular summer cruises 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 historian Brian Griffin serving as the tour guide. Griffin ties his knowledge of local history with up-to-date facts about bayside activities.
The Victoria Star leaves from the Bellingham Cruise Terminal in Fairhaven, boarding at 6:15 p.m., with a prompt 6:30 p.m. sailing, and an 8:30 p.m. return. 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 for purchase. Restrooms are available on board. Guests are welcome to bring dinner, snacks and non-alcoholic beverages onboard.
Tickets are $35 for Museum members and $40 for non-members. Children ages 5 and younger are free but must be pre-registered. Purchase tickets through Eventbrite.com or in-person at the Museum Store, located at 250 Flora St., Bellingham, WA 98225. Ticket sales end 12 hours prior on the day of sailing. Tickets are non-refundable and not transferable between dates. Proceeds from the History Sunset Cruises benefit Whatcom Museum exhibitions and educational programs. Learn more about the history cruises HERE.
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 https://Whales.com.
Summer of Sound at the Whatcom Museum
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 27, 2022; Bellingham, WA—This summer, the Whatcom Museum is hosting a variety of exhibits and programs that celebrate music and sound. The public is invited to see two historic music exhibits at Old City Hall, attend a free chamber music concert with musicians from the Bellingham Festival of Music, and bring kids to the Family Interactive Gallery for Saturdays with the Symphony.
At Old City Hall, two music exhibitions showcase the art of music, as well as Bellingham’s local music history. Not One of the Boys: The Psychedelic Posters of Bonnie MacLean, and The Scene: A Journey Through Bellingham’s Musical Past are on exhibit through November 20.
The Scene presents a timeline of the styles, musicians and venues that helped put Bellingham on the “music map” between Seattle and Vancouver, B.C. Photographs, instruments, concert posters and other items from the Museum’s collection are on display.
“Bellingham was the perfect place if you wanted to be inventive because it’s so supportive, the people who want to do their own thing and not have to worry about what people think…a perfect little microcosm of so many elements coming together,” said Jon Auer, co-founder of The Posies, in a 2022 interview.
The Museum is also featuring a selection of colorful, historic concert posters from the collection in Not One of the Boys, created by Bonnie MacLean in San Francisco during the mid-1960s. Her psychedelic art borrowed from Art Nouveau styles, but she also created her own designs with elaborate plumes, curving letters and stoic faces. While she wasn’t recognized among male poster artists during her time, she stood out as one of the only women in the field.
In addition to these music exhibits, the Museum is excited to present a new summer series, Saturdays with the Symphony, in collaboration with the Bellingham Symphony Orchestra and the Bellingham Festival of Music. This series focuses on kid-friendly performances the first Saturday of each month at the Family Interactive Gallery inside the Lightcatcher building. Participants will meet a musician, hear them play, and participate in a related art activity.
“It is a fabulous and fun way to introduce kids to the instruments that make up an orchestra,” said Gail Ridenour, Executive Director of the Bellingham Symphony Orchestra.
The program will feature Bellingham Symphony Orchestra guitarist Daniel Bolshoy on June 4, Bellingham Festival of Music cellist Anne McCafferty on July 2, and Bellingham Symphony Orchestra concertmaster and violinist Dawn Posey on August 6. The programs take place from 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. and are included with admission and free to Museum members.
The Museum is also partnering with the Bellingham Festival of Music to offer a free chamber concert in the Rotunda Room of Old City Hall on Friday, July 22, 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. The Festival of Music is the only summer festival in the region built around a virtuoso orchestra. Composed of outstanding musicians from major symphonies of North America, its mission is to make exceptional classical music accessible to everyone in the community.
The Scene: A Journey Through Bellingham’s Musical Past, which opened May 21 and Not One of the Boys: The Psychedelic Posters of Bonnie MacLean, which opened May 14 are both on exhibit through November 20, 2022 at Old City Hall. For a schedule of related events visit our Summer of Sound page.
New Exhibits at the Whatcom Museum Highlight Indigenous Communities, Local Music History
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 29, 2022; Bellingham, WA—Four new exhibits are opening this month at the Whatcom Museum. At the Lightcatcher building, the Museum will bring awareness to Native issues. The REDress Project will honor Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and People through an installation in the Courtyard, on display May 5 – 15. Additionally, a photo installation by Duwamish artist Jac Trautman, Doorways, will be on display in the Lightcatcher entryway beginning May 7.
At Old City Hall, two music exhibitions will showcase the art of music, as well as Bellingham’s local music history. Not One of the Boys: The Psychedelic Posters of Bonnie MacLean, opens May 14, and The Scene: A Journey Through Bellingham’s Musical Past opens May 21, with both on exhibit through November 20.
Honoring Indigenous People
The REDress Project, co-presented with Whatcom Community College Native staff and sponsored by Jair Furnas, will feature red dresses on display in the Lightcatcher Courtyard, representing the thousands of Native women, men, children and non-binary people who go missing or are murdered each year. The original REDress Project by artist and Métis Nation member Jaime Black began in Winnipeg in 2011 to draw attention to crime against Aboriginal women in Canada. The project has since spread to the U.S. and calls attention to the lack of reporting, data and justice for Native American women.
According to a study by the Urban Indian Health Institute, Washington State has the second highest number of murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls, and a study by We R Native shows that Native women face murder rates 10 times above the national average. The Museum hopes to bring attention to this issue and is offering free visitation into the lobby and Courtyard to see the installation and watch videos related to the topic.
The Museum also brings back the unique artistic work of Duwamish photographer Jac Trautman with a new display called Doorways. In 2021, Trautman presented a series of seven photographs taken as a single exposure with multiple projected images contained within. The works drew attention to the concepts of splitting and projection and their role in the history of interactions with the colonizer and the colonized. This spring Trautman will exhibit four new large-scale photographs in the Museum’s Lightcatcher entry hall.
Music History at the Museum
From string bands on steamboats in the 1890s to alternative/indie rock bands today, for more than 100 years Bellingham’s music scene has embraced genres ranging from folk to classical to rock and roll and beyond. The Museum’s upcoming exhibition, The Scene: A Journey Through Bellingham’s Musical Past, will present a timeline of the styles, musicians and venues that helped put Bellingham on the “music map” between Seattle and Vancouver, B.C. Photos, instruments, concert posters and other items from the Museum’s collection will be displayed at Old City Hall.
While keeping in tune to the music theme, the Museum will also feature a selection of colorful, historic concert posters from the collection in Not One of the Boys: The Psychedelic Posters of Bonnie MacLean. MacLean created psychedelic art posters in San Francisco during the mid-1960s, borrowing from Art Nouveau styles, but also creating her own designs with elaborate plumes, curving letters and stoic faces. While she wasn’t recognized among male poster artists during her time, she stood out as one of the only women in the field.
Visiting the Exhibitions
The REDress Project will be on display May 5 – 15, 2022 in the Lightcatcher Courtyard during the Museum’s open hours and will be free to view. Doorways: Photographs by Jac Trautman will be on display in the Museum’s Lightcatcher entry hall May 5 – August 21, 2022.
The Scene: A Journey Through Bellingham’s Musical Past will be on exhibit May 21 – November 20, 2022 and Not One of the Boys: The Psychedelic Posters of Bonnie MacLean will be on exhibit May 14 – November 20, 2022, both at Old City Hall.
Nationally Touring Exhibition “Many Wests” Re-Examines the American West Through Modern and Contemporary Art
Opening at the Whatcom Museum Lightcatcher building March 19
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bellingham, WA, February 14, 2022—The exhibition Many Wests: Artists Shape an American Idea examines the perspectives of 48 modern and contemporary artists who offer a broader and more inclusive view of the West beyond how it is often narrowly represented in popular culture and through dominant historical narratives. The traveling exhibition, organized jointly by the Smithsonian American Art Museum and four nationally accredited art museums located in the West, opens March 19 at the Whatcom Museum Lightcatcher building.
This exhibition presents opportunities to examine previous misconceptions, question racist clichés and draw attention to the multiple communities and histories that continue to form this iconic region of the United States. Working in various media, from painting and sculpture to photography and mixed media, the artists featured bring a nuanced and multifaceted history into view. Many Wests highlights many voices, including artists who identify as Black, Indigenous, Asian American, Latinx, and LGBTQ+, who stake a claim in the American West.
The exhibition is presented in both English and Spanish, and organized around three central themes, Caretakers, Memory Makers and Boundary Breakers. “Caretakers” examines how artists can redefine what it means to take care of themselves, their communities and their futures. Featured artists include Ka’ila Farrell-Smith (Klamath Modoc), Awa Tsireh/Alfonso Roybal (San Ildefonso Pueblo), Patrick Nagatani and Marie Watt (Seneca).
“Memory Makers” explores how artists act as transmitters of cultural memory as they bring forth neglected histories of the West through their work, and includes artists Jacob Lawrence, Roger Shimomura, Christina Fernandez and others.
“Boundary Breakers” includes artists whose representations break away from myths of the West and assert their continued presence despite centuries of omission and erasure by mainstream culture. Featured artists include Angela Ellsworth, Raphael Montañez Ortiz (Apsáalooke/Crow) and Angel Rodríguez-Díaz.
Through the artists’ varied inquiries into cultural experiences as well as material expressions, we see that there are wide-ranging visions of this region. The late artist Hung Liu spoke to this plurality when she said that by including the voices of those so often excluded from dominant histories, “The American Wests are much richer in the telling.”
Related programming enhances exhibition themes
A variety of programs and activities aim to engage people from different age groups and cultural backgrounds. On opening day, a drop-in print-making activity inspired by the work of Seattle artist Barbara Earl Thomas will be offered. Curator of Art, Amy Chaloupka, will lead monthly gallery tours. Guided docent tours will be led in English and Spanish. Additionally, the Museum will launch a youth docent program involving high-school students who will participate in training to build skills and confidence in discussing art, culture and current events.
Auburn-based artist Marita Dingus will initiate a new art piece related to the exhibition for a community art experience called, “Rip, Write, Reflect.” Using found and repurposed materials, Dingus will construct a mixed-media wall tapestry. Visitors will be invited to add their thoughts through words or drawings on torn map pieces, responding to a prompt about the West.
Many Wests: Artists Shape an American Idea is organized and drawn from the collections of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Boise Art Museum, the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, the Utah Museum of Fine Arts and the Whatcom Museum. This is one in a series of American art exhibitions created through a multi-year, multi-institutional partnership formed by the Smithsonian American Art Museum as part of the Art Bridges Initiative.
Many Wests will be on exhibit March 19 – Aug. 21, 2022 at the Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher building. The exhibition tour began at the Boise Art Museum (July 31 to Feb. 13, 2022), and after the Whatcom Museum will travel to the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art (Sept. 26 to Dec. 31, 2022), the Utah Museum of Fine Arts (Feb. 4 to June 11, 2023) and the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., July 28, 2023, to Jan. 14, 2024.
Generous support for the youth docent program and Marita Dingus’ art piece and community installation is provided by Art Bridges.
The Whatcom Museum presentation of “Many Wests” is sponsored by Peoples Bank and Rafeeka and Neal Kloke and supported in part by a Pandemic Relief Grant from ArtsWA (sub-granted from the National Endowment for the Arts).
Decorated Trees and Holiday Art Activities Return for Deck the Old City Hall
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bellingham, WA, November 1, 2021—After missing out on last year’s holiday festivities due to the pandemic, the Whatcom Museum is thrilled to offer its beloved Deck the Old City Hall to the community. This holiday celebration features more than a dozen themed, holiday trees decorated by community volunteers in the Rotunda Room and throughout Old City Hall. The building will be decked with garlands, wreath, and other festive décor. Visitors can see the trees Thursdays through Sundays from Nov. 26 to Jan. 2, 2022, noon-5:00 p.m.
“We at the Whatcom Museum are especially excited this year to be able to bring back our Deck the Old City Hall holiday decorations and free admission for all in our beloved 1892 Old City Hall building,” said executive director Patricia Leach. “We will continue to practice COVID-19 safety protocols as we once again welcome you back to this program!”
Visitors are also invited to visit on Saturdays in December for “Handmade Holidays,” which are a series of drop-in holiday activities for all ages. Led by a museum educator, supplies will be provided, and participation is by donation. Visitors can take a family portrait with props and make a card on Dec. 4, create origami trees on Dec. 11, or make a paper wreath on Dec. 18. All activities are drop-in from noon-4:00 p.m. and suitable for all ages. Check out the events calendar for more details about the Handmade Holiday activities HERE.
“After missing the festivities last year, being able to welcome our community back for Deck Old City Hall fills me with holiday cheer,” said education manager Drew Whatley. “It’s twice as exciting that we can continue our free Saturday drop-in programs to help spread that cheer to anyone who comes by.”
Admission to Deck the Old City Hall is by donation, including holiday craft activities. Proceeds help support the Museum’s exhibitions and programs throughout the year.
Deck the Old City Hall
Thursdays–Sundays, Noon–4pm; Admission by donation
Old City Hall | 121 Prospect St.
(Closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day)
Handmade Holidays at Deck the Old City Hall
Saturdays, Dec. 4, 11, & 18, Noon–4pm; Admission by donation
Old City Hall | 121 Prospect St.
Join us to celebrate the holidays in style at Old City Hall. In addition to the beautiful trees and décor adorning the building, each Saturday in December we’ll be making a different holiday craft, providing fun for the whole family. On Dec. 4, visit our “polar post office.” We’ll have card making supplies along with a special post box for sending mail to Santa. We’ll also have props and framing pieces to take the perfect holiday photo to send to loved ones near and far. Join us Dec. 11 and learn how to make origami trees either to take home or to add to our growing forest. On Dec. 18, make a handmade paper wreath to add more festive cheer to your home. Activities are suitable for all ages and all supplies are provided.
“Up Close & Personal” Exhibition Portrays the Body in Contemporary Art
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bellingham, WA, September 7, 2021—The exhibition Up Close & Personal: The Body in Contemporary Art examines the human body through the expressive lens of nearly 60 artists. Curated by the Museum’s Curator of Art, Amy Chaloupka, and generously lent from the collection of Boise-based art collectors Driek and Michael Zirinsky, the exhibition opens Oct. 30, 2021 at the Lightcatcher building.
This exhibition is timely in its portrayal of the body and its vulnerabilities, especially after the extended isolation of the pandemic and its effects on the collective consciousness. As people learn to navigate and to celebrate life “in person,” this is also a cultural moment of self-reflection. Up Close & Personal offers viewers the opportunity to consider how they wish to move forward, within their own bodies, as well as in caring for and considering the bodies of others.
The artists featured in Up Close & Personal explore the many ways we communicate through facial expression, body language, self-presentation or performance. Some of the artists boldly envision narratives and representations of the self, using their own bodies in their work. Others are acutely aware that all bodies reside at the dynamic intersection of gender, class, race, sexuality, age and ability.
Chaloupka states, “In researching the artworks in this incredible collection, I am struck by the depth of empathy conjured by these artists, which is a unique tie that binds the work in this show. Centering the theme on and about the body naturally makes for deeply personal conversations, and I am excited to see how people connect with each work as they consider bodies outside their own.”
Having collaborated in 2009 with the Zirinskys on the Lightcatcher building’s inaugural exhibition Out of Bounds, the Whatcom Museum joins forces once again with these intrepid collectors to share wide-ranging works from regional, national and international artists. Lifelong educators and students of history, literature and culture, their interests are reflected in their collection. Their intent to share their artworks with public institutions has enriched communities across the country and globe for decades.
“Amy Chaloupka has chosen a provocative slice of art from our collection, works related by imagery of the body,” Driek Zirinsky said. “These works have never before been shown as a group, and we can’t wait to see them together at the Lightcatcher. It is a joy and an honor to have our art shown in this wonderful institution again.”
Up Close & Personal includes the work of nearly 60 artists including Magdalena Abakanowicz, David Airhart, Paolo Arao, Natalie Ball, Algis Balsys, Joe F. Brubaker, Lordan Bunch, Mark Calderon, Phillip John Charette, Long-Bin Chen, Drew Daly, Noah Davis, Lesley Dill, Jane Dixon, Olafur Eliasson, Vernon Fisher, Till Freiwald, John Grade, Lee M. Hale, Jane Hammond, Markus Hansen, Judy Hill, Susan Hiller, Hosup Hwang, Titus Kaphar, William Kentridge, Käthe Kollwitz, Marianne Kolb, Cynthia Lahti, Isaac Layman, Dinh Q. Lê, Susie J. Lee, Kalup Linzy, Hung Liu, Beth Lo, Robert Longo, Benoît Lorent, Marilyn Lysohir, Robert Ernst Marx, Steven Miller, Brian Murphy, Scott Myles, Ronna Neuenschwander, Bertjan Pot, Julia Randall, Wendy Red Star, Jena Scott, Paul Shambroom, Roger Shimomura, Lucy Skaer, Kiki Smith, Akio Takamori, Josephine Taylor, Storm Tharp, Terry Turrell, Friese Undine, Samantha Wall, Kumi Yamashita and Wanxin Zhang.
To complement the exhibition, the Museum will host a companion exhibit at Old City Hall, drawn from the Museum’s permanent collection. Artists x Artists explores intimate portraits of artists created by artists. Some artists turn the camera on themselves or depict dear friends, lovers and colleagues in their work. Many are situated within their creative spaces or appear with the familiar tools of their craft. The exhibition presents a variety of expressive gazes, each one giving hints toward the ways artists convey and construct the creative persona of “the artist.”
Up Close & Personal: The Body in Contemporary Art will be on exhibit Oct. 30, 2021 – Feb. 27, 2022 at the Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher building. Artists x Artists will be on exhibit Nov. 20, 2021 – April 10, 2022 at Old City Hall.
In-Person Docent-Led Tours Return to the Museum
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bellingham, WA, July 7, 2021—After a year and a half of closures or limited in-person capacity due to COVID-19, the Whatcom Museum is excited to bring back in-person docent-led tours of the exhibitions in the Lightcatcher building. Beginning July 11, visitors can participate in an English or Spanish language tour of the exhibition, El Zodíaco Familiar or a tour of Fluid Formations: The Legacy of Glass in the Pacific Northwest.
The Museum’s docents are a group of trained volunteers who work with the curator of art to gain insight into the themes, works and artists in an exhibition. They contribute many hours of their time to research and plan the focus and content of their individual tours.
Although the Museum is open at full capacity, safety measures are in place to limit group size and create an enjoyable but safe tour environment. Each tour can accommodate up to six people and pre-registration is strongly recommended. Walk-in visitors will be accommodated as space allows. The tours begin in the lobby of the Lightcatcher building, last 45 minutes to an hour and are free to members or included with admission for non-members.
Summer tours of El Zodíaco Familiar, an exhibition by George Rodriguez, take place Sundays, July 11, Aug. 15, Sept. 5 and Oct. 24, and Fridays, July 16, Aug. 27, Sept. 10 and Oct. 8 with English language tours at 1 p.m. and Spanish language tours at 2 p.m. Registration for El Zodíaco Familiar is online at https://v2.waitwhile.com/welcome/elzodiacofamiliardoc. Tours of Fluid Formations: The Legacy of Glass in the Pacific Northwest take place Thursdays, July 29, and Aug. 5, 12 and 19 at 1 p.m. Registration for Fluid Formations is online at https://v2.waitwhile.com/welcome/fluidformationsdocen.
About Fluid Formations: The Legacy of Glass in the Pacific Northwest
Celebrating a rich legacy unique to our region, Fluid Formations features the art of 57 contemporary artists working in glass. Drawing from the Museum’s permanent collection, loans from artists, and working in close partnership with Museum of Glass (Tacoma, Wash.), the exhibition celebrates the innovation and striking range of processes and ideas that come from decades of generous exchange and shared passion for the material of glass. In addition to docent-led tours of this exhibition, Curator of Art Amy Chaloupka will lead curator tours in the gallery July 22, Aug. 26, Sept. 16 and Oct. 7, 12:15 p.m. and 2 p.m. Registration is online at https://v2.waitwhile.com/welcome/fluidformationscurat.
Fluid Formations: The Legacy of Glass in the Pacific Northwest will be on exhibit through Oct. 10, 2021 at the Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher building, 250 Flora St. This exhibition is organized in partnership with Museum of Glass and supported in part by Peoples Bank, the Whatcom Museum Foundation, the City of Bellingham and the National Endowment for the Arts with media support from Cascade Public Media KCTS9. Learn more.
About El Zodíaco Familiar
Championed by Seattle-based ceramic artist George Rodriguez, the exhibition features new works by Rodriguez and 13 Mexican and ChicanX/Chicane collaborating artists. Rodriguez embarked on a collaborative iteration of the Chinese Zodiac, reimagining the classic zodiac animals as analogous creatures of Mexican origin, bridging cultures and creating new narratives. Each artist has imbued their collaboratively-imagined sculpture—corresponding to the zodiac animal of their birth year—with personal perspective, folk tradition and an intimate feeling of celebration. While each sculpture is as distinct as its maker, taken together, the twelve pieces vibrate with deep resonances of the familiar.
El Zodíaco Familiar will be on exhibit through Oct. 24, 2021 at the Lightcatcher building. This exhibition is supported in part by the Whatcom Museum Foundation, the City of Bellingham and the National Endowment for the Arts with media support from Cascade Public Media KCTS9. Learn more.
New Exhibition Combines Traditional Folk and Contemporary Art in Reimagined “Mexican” Zodiac
“El Zodíaco Familiar” features sculptural works by George Rodriguez in collaboration with thirteen Mexican and ChicanX/Chicane artists.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bellingham, WA, June 15, 2021—The Whatcom Museum presents the opening of the exhibition El Zodíaco Familiar. Championed by Seattle-based ceramic artist George Rodriguez, the exhibition features new works by Rodriguez and thirteen collaborating artists and opens June 19 at the Museum’s Lightcatcher building. It will be on view through October 24, 2021.
Rodriguez’s large scale ceramic sculptures are a blend of traditional folk art and contemporary fine art and craft. Hand built and often at human scale, he enhances his figures with various surface patterns, colors and glazes.
For this exhibition, Rodriguez embarks on a collaborative iteration of the Chinese Zodiac. In an homage to its origins in Chinese folklore, Rodriguez has reimagined the classic zodiac animals as analogous creatures of Mexican origin, bridging cultures and creating new narratives. El Zodíaco Familiar—the fifth iteration of Rodriguez’s Mexican Zodiac series—invites 13 Mexican and ChicanX/Chicane artists of various artistic disciplines to respond to his animal sculptures with the forms, tools and aesthetics of their own artistic practices. Each artist has imbued their collaboratively-imagined sculpture—corresponding to the zodiac animal of their birth year—with personal perspective, folk tradition and an intimate feeling of celebration. While each sculpture is as distinct as its maker, taken together, the twelve pieces vibrate with deep resonances of the familiar.
“The Whatcom Museum is thrilled to have the opportunity to share this new body of work for the first time with our visitors,” says Amy Chaloupka, Curator of Art. “All twelve of the zodiac sculptures are joyful personal expressions and I’m sure people will have fun discovering the materials and thoughts behind each piece, as well as identifying the zodiac creature of their birth year.”
Over the last year, Rodriguez sent his ceramic base forms to artists in Arizona, California, Illinois, Minnesota, New York, Texas, Washington State and Jalisco, Mexico. The artistic disciplines of each artist vary as widely as their geographic locations and include animation, ceramics, illustration, jewelry-making, photography, poetry, printmaking and weaving.
Gabriela Ramírez Michel, a jeweler-sculptor from Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, utilizes different kinds of modelling wax in her hand-crafted stone and metal jewelry. For her contributions to the piece La Peyotera (Mono), she has embellished Rodriguez’s ceramic monkey form with wax-coated string in a detailed and brightly colored pattern. Ramirez Michel adapts a traditional technique of the Indigenous Wixarika people called “tablas de estambre,” which was used for many hundreds of years in sacred ritual offerings.
Minneapolis-based artist Eric J. Garcia blends history, contemporary themes and a graphic style in his work to create politically charged art that reaches beyond aesthetics. For his Iguana zodiac, Garcia worked closely with Rodriguez on defining the shape and texture of the clay animal head to maximize the “canvas” to illustrate on. The artists also purposefully carved the waddle on the Iguana’s neck to the outline of the U.S./Mexico border to depict the geographic location where Garcia is from.
Of working closely with each artist on this project Rodriguez states, “Community is a strong force that influences my artwork and life. I value the communities that I have formed and am continuing to expand on. My artwork aims to bring people closer and act as markers for people to congregate around.” He adds, “The goal of this project and collaboration is to showcase the breadth of artistic expressions within the Mexican and ChicanX/Chicane community, to give these artists a platform to express their voice and vision, and to use a familiar tale to comment on the need for human connection and community.”
Artists who worked in collaboration with Rodriguez on “El Zodíaco Familiar” include Javier Barboza, Alejandra Carrillo-Estrada, Eric J. Garcia, Jon Gómez, Carolina Jiménez, Gabriel Marquez, Gustavo Martinez, Marilyn Montufar, Gabriela Ramírez Michel, Yosimar Reyes, Moises Salazar, Samirah Steinmeyer and Christie Tirado.
El Zodíaco Familiar will be on exhibit June 19 – October 24, 2021 at the Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher building, 250 Flora St. This exhibition is supported in part by the Whatcom Museum Foundation, the City of Bellingham and the National Endowment for the Arts. Media sponsorship provided by Cascade Public Media KCTS9. Learn more at www.whatcommuseum.org/exhibition/el-zodiaco-familiar/.