Drawing Practice: Bellingham National Juried Art Exhibition and Awards

Kelly Bjork; Tiger Overhead, 2016; Gouache and pencil on paper, 19 x 15 in. Courtesy of the artist.

Bellingham National article reposted from June 20, 2017, Seattle Art Museum Blog

Bellingham National

Catharina Manchanda, the Seattle Art Museum’s (SAM) Jon and Mary Shirley Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, juried this year’s Bellingham National Juried Art Exhibition and Awards, on view in the Lightcatcher building. Barbara Matilsky, Curator of Art at the Whatcom Museum, describes the biennial art exhibition and award as relatively new. “The Whatcom Museum’s first biennial was inaugurated in 2015.

Patricia Leach, the Museum’s director, envisioned Bellingham National as a way to bring the rich variety of art created around the country to our region. Although the Museum is committed to supporting Pacific Northwest art, it has increasingly embraced a wider, cultural scope,” says Matilsky. “Bellingham National has attracted the attention of Washington artists, which means that their work is well represented here.

Community reaction has been as varied as the works of art on display. One thing that I have noticed: The exhibition challenges people to think about art in new ways, which is ultimately a good thing. It also offers the invited curator a unique opportunity to explore ideas related to a particular theme or medium of her/his choice.”

A focus on drawing

This year’s call for submissions focused on drawing, an activity and mode of expression that seems overdue in light of our ever-increasing attachment to electronic devices. Catharina Manchanda’s interest in exploring how contemporary artists are approaching the medium is at once a reaction to new media art forms and an acceptance of drawing that utilizes new media.

“As we are clicking and tapping away, drawing and writing are becoming increasingly rare. Drawing has an immediacy and material quality that registers differently under these digital conditions. Its very ‘slowness’ becomes significant at a time when a flood of imagery and information keeps shortening our attention spans. From a more linguistic and conceptual vantage point, drawing connections, drawing on memory and history, and drawing understood as notation and trace, opens distinct possibilities for artists,” Manchanda states. “Not surprisingly, artists submitted work in a variety of mediums—from pencil drawings to annotated collages, videos, and sound recordings.”

Matilsky embraced what visitors may find a somewhat unorthodox perspective on drawing. “I share Catharina’s expansive view of drawing and was delighted that she was able to identify artworks that further pushed the boundaries of the medium. The sound and video pieces that she selected surprised me and added to the complexity of the exhibition.”

Featuring more than 60 works from 29 artists around the country, below Catharina Manchanda offers a glimpse into a selection of the works on view. Get yourself to the Museum and see this spectrum of artistic positions with, and about, drawing.

Margie Livingston, Seattle, WA; Dragged Blue Drawing, 2016; Watercolor and mixed media on paper, string. Courtesy of the artist.

Margie Livingston, Seattle, WA

The artist arrives at these lyrical compositions with controlled chance operations. Heavy sheets of paper are tinged with color and then dragged on the studio floor or the street where the movement creates a chance image. Embedded in the surfaces are dust and dirt, portions are rubbed and worn and yet the overall drawings have a quiet lyricism.


Kelly Bjork, Seattle, WA; Splayed Produce, 2016; Gouache and pencil. Courtesy of the artist.

Kelly Bjork, Seattle, WA

Kelly Bjork’s quiet interiors are beautifully rendered with an eye for crisp color and form. Embedded in her compositions and titles is a sparkling sense of humor—Tiger Overhead and Splayed Produce project an element of danger and adventure that’s there for you to discover.


Lou Watson, Portland, OR

The artist takes the most ordinary traffic patterns and movements as occasion for artistic intervention. For Bellingham National, she chose a spot along I-5 and ascribed a musical note to each of the lanes. Every time a car went past a traffic sign, it triggered a tone—a little car a short note, a long truck a longer one. With this, she composed a minimalist score from the monotonous back and forth of highway traffic. The movement of the cars along the road is linear like a drawing and her paper prints give insights into her process.


Masha Sha, Boulder, CO; New Now, 2017; Colored pencil on tracing paper. Courtesy of the artist.

Masha Sha, Boulder, CO

Sha’s vivid, large-scale pencil or crayon drawings spell out phrases that invite free association. Whether you see her bright red  “New Now” today, tomorrow, or in ten years, it will always be the now of the moment. Drawn with intensity, we may interpret that now in personal, communal, social, or political terms and it will mean different things to each of us.


Kirk Yamahira, Seattle, WA; Untitled (stretched); 2017. Acrylic, pencil, unweaved, deconstructed on canvas, 67 x 67 in. Courtesy of the artist.

Kirk Yamahira, Seattle, WA

Kirk Yamahira deconstructs the fabric of a canvas—he carefully lifts individual threads—to arrive at abstract lines and patterns that read like three-dimensional drawings. In some instances an additional tilt of the stretcher results in objects that are utterly transformed.


Jenna Lynch, Mahopac, NY; Traveling Within, Feeling Through, Dreaming Beyond; The Lines. Watercolor on paper. Courtesy of the artist.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 6, 2017, Bellingham, WA—-The Whatcom Museum is pleased to announce the popular choice winner for the exhibition Bellingham National 2017 Juried Art Exhibition and Awards. Artist Jenna Lynch, Mahopac, NY, was chosen as the winning artist for her installation, Traveling Within, Feeling Through, Dreaming Beyond: The Lines. Lynch will receive a $500 cash award.

Lynch’s artist statement says, “To create my drawing series, Traveling Between, Feeling Through, Dreaming Beyond: The Lines, I became a cartographer. I mapped my travels to various locations using colorful lines. Numerous watercolor tags document the places I have explored since 1999 including several states, and numerous European, Middle Eastern, and African countries. A few years ago, I began creating new linear systems for places I hope to visit, from Iceland to Iran. My drawing series also includes places I will never experience, from the surface of the moon and Venus to a landscape painted by Renoir, because when I imagine them, I feel restored.”

Bellingham National celebrates drawing in a wide variety of media and forms. Guest curator/juror, Catharina Manchanda, the Jon and Mary Shirley Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at Seattle Art Museum, proposed the thematic idea for this exhibition and selected work that expanded the boundaries of traditional drawing. While the artists in this exhibition work in a variety of media, the pieces selected represent a range of approaches to drawing, including narrative and representational modes, notation, transcription, mapping, and deconstruction.


Artwork selected represents a variety of mediums interpreting the theme of drawing

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 17, 2016; Bellingham, WA—The Whatcom Museum is hosting the second Bellingham National Juried Art Exhibition and Awards, June 11 – September 10, 2017 at the Lightcatcher building. More than 300 artists from around the country submitted artworks for consideration for this exhibition, which centers on drawing practices. Representing more than 25 artists from six states, including Washington, the artists are based in cities such as New York, Portland, and San Francisco, as well as two artists from Bellingham.

Juried by Catharina Manchanda, Jon and Mary Shirley Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at Seattle Art Museum, the artwork selected will represent a range of approaches to drawing, from narrative and representational modes, to notation, transcription mapping, and deconstruction. Artists in the exhibition work in a variety of media. In recognition of their achievements, three artists will be honored with modest financial awards, in addition, members of the public will bestow a popular choice award.

The flood of images disseminated on the internet and social media invite renewed attention to drawing as a comparatively “slow” medium. Traditionally tied to the development of compositions and ideas, drawing remained the stepchild of painting and sculpture into the 1960s. Subsequent interest in artistic processes has elevated drawing to a more influential position. In light of the ever-expanding digital media stream that is in equal parts overwhelming and yet immaterial, contemporary drawing practices take on renewed significance and urgency.

“In light of the great technological shift that has profoundly changed our everyday interactions, this is an important moment to consider the conceptual possibilities and aesthetic capacities of drawing practices,” said juror Catharina Manchanda.

This juried exhibition will award prizes of $2,000, $1,000, and $500 to three of the participating artists during the opening celebration. The popular choice award of $500 offers the community an opportunity to have their voices heard, and will be announced September 6, 2017.

About the Juror: Catharina Manchanda joined the Seattle Art Museum in 2011 as the Jon and Mary Shirley Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art. A native of Germany, Manchanda received her undergraduate degree from the University of Stuttgart and her PhD from the City University Graduate Center in New York. Recent exhibitions at the Seattle Art Museum include Pop Departures, Miró: the Experience of Seeing, and Big Picture: Art after 1945. She also mounted a series of contemporary projects and site-specific installations by John Luther Adams, Moyra Davey, Harun Farocki, Victoria Haven, Martha Rosler, Guido van der Werve, and others. Previously, Manchanda worked at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum in St. Louis, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.