For media inquiries, to arrange interviews, or to obtain images, please contact:
Christina Claassen, Marketing & Public Relations Manager, 360-778-8936.

MAJOR TRAVELING EXHIBITION, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC’S 50 GREATEST PHOTOGRAPHS, COMING THIS FALL

Steve McCurry; Afghan Border, Pakistan 1984. Haunting eyes and a tattered garment tell the plight of a girl who fled Afghanistan for a refugee camp in Pakistan.

Steve McCurry; Afghan Border, Pakistan 1984. Haunting eyes and a tattered garment tell the plight of a girl who fled Afghanistan for a refugee camp in Pakistan. Courtesy of National Geographic.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bellingham, WA, September 1, 2016—On Saturday, October 1, 2016, the Whatcom Museum will open a major traveling exhibition National Geographic’s 50 Greatest Photographs, in the Lightcatcher building. The exhibition, which showcases some of National Geographic’s most compelling photographs, runs through January 15, 2017. From Steve McCurry’s unforgettable Afghan girl to Nick Nichols’ iconic image of Jane Goodall with a chimpanzee to Thomas Abercrombie’s never-before-seen view of Mecca, the exhibition includes some of National Geographic magazine’s most-remembered and celebrated photographs from its more-than-120-year history. The Whatcom Museum will be this traveling exhibition’s only West Coast stop of the national tour.

In addition to seeing the photographs as they appeared in the magazine, visitors to the exhibition will learn the stories behind the photos through text panels and video interviews with the photographers. For some images, visitors will be able to see the “near frames” taken by the photographer: the sequence of images made in the field before and after the perfect shot. The exhibition is based on the popular iPad app released by National Geographic in 2011 and featured by iTunes as an iPad “App of the Week.”

“Many people learned about the world from the stunning photographs featured in National Geographic. They vicariously experienced the elation of mountain climbing in the Himalayas, looked in awe at Mayan ruins in the Yucatan, felt the pain of animal poaching in Africa, or the horror of burning oilfields in Kuwait during war,” said Barbara Matilsky, Curator of Art at the Whatcom Museum. “The photographers, who often put their lives on the line to capture these images, continue to contribute to the legacy of National Geographic through the magazine, internet site, television channel, and films. This exhibition is a must-see for both young and old, from all walks of life, as it raises important questions about humanity’s future on Earth.”

About National Geographic Traveling Exhibitions
The National Geographic Society is one of the world’s largest nonprofit scientific and educational organizations and one of the world’s leading organizers of large-scale, traveling exhibitions. Since it launched Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs in 2004, National Geographic has organized two more Egyptian-themed exhibitions, Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs and Cleopatra: The Search for the Last Queen of Egypt. Other exhibitions National Geographic has organized include the four-city US tour of Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul. National Geographic also offers a broad selection of stunning photography exhibitions to museums and venues around the world. For more information, visit www.nationalgeographic.com.

The member preview reception, which will also highlight the exhibition Spineless: Portraits of Marine Invertebrates by Susan Middleton, takes place Friday, September 30, 5 – 7pm in the Lightcatcher, 250 Flora Street.



NEW EXHIBITION, SPINELESS: PORTRAITS OF MARINE INVERTEBRATES, FEATURES UNIQUE PHOTOGRAPHS BY SUSAN MIDDLETON

Puget Sound King Crab, Susan Middleton, 2014.

Puget Sound King Crab, Susan Middleton, 2014.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bellingham, WA, August 24, 2016—Marine invertebrates make up more than ninety-eight percent of the known animal species in the ocean, yet they remain elusive to most of us. This fall, the Whatcom Museum presents a photography exhibition that offers a rare glimpse into their mysterious world, Spineless: Portraits of Marine Invertebrates, by pioneering nature photographer Susan Middleton. The exhibition, and accompanying book, with a foreword by renowned marine biologist Sylvia Earle, will be showing at the Lightcatcher building Sept. 17 – Dec. 31, 2016.

Middleton blends science and art to reveal the hidden beauty and remarkable biodiversity of sea creatures without backbones. The result of several years of fieldwork across the Pacific Ocean, and showcasing the photographic techniques Middleton has developed over the past three decades, this exhibition shows rarely or never-before-seen ocean dwellers. Many of the creatures inhabit northwest waters and were photographed at Friday Harbor Marine Lab on San Juan Island. Middleton visually isolates each creature she photographs against a white background, creating a stunning image.

“I try to convey that sense of intimacy through the photograph,” writes Middleton in her artist statement. “Since I can only hint at the complexity, intricacy, and mystery of what I photograph, I concentrate only on the creature by removing all visual distractions and any trace of context. I attempt to reveal what is implicit through the explicit while inspiring curiosity and reverence for the unseen.”

Susan Middleton is an acclaimed photographer, author, and lecturer specializing in portraiture of rare and endangered animals, plants, sites, and cultures. The recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship in 2009, for many years she was the chair of the Department of Photography at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, where she currently serves as research associate. Her photographs have been exhibited worldwide in fine art and natural history contexts and are represented in the permanent collections of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Gallery of Art. The author of Evidence of Evolution (Abrams) and co-author of several other books, Susan Middleton lives in San Francisco.

Spineless: Portraits of Marine Invertebrates will be on exhibition in conjunction with National Geographic’s 50 Greatest Photographs, which opens October 1, 2016 in the Lightcatcher building, 250 Flora Street. One of Middleton’s photographs is included in the National Geographic traveling exhibition. The member preview reception for both photography exhibitions takes place Friday, September 30, 5 – 7pm in the Lightcatcher. Susan Middleton will attend the opening reception. She will also give a lecture about her work and process on Saturday, October 1, 2pm in the Rotunda Room of Old City Hall. The presentation is a $5 suggested donation/Museum members free.



WORLD RENOWNED CELLIST, COLIN CARR, TO PERFORM AT 75TH ANNIVERSARY CONCERT

Colin Carr FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bellingham, WA, August 1, 2016—Celebrate the Whatcom Museum’s 75th anniversary year with a special cello concert performance by internationally-renowned English cellist Colin Carr, Monday, September 19, 7-9pm in the Rotunda Room of Old City Hall. One of the premier cellists in the world, Carr performs in cello festivals all over the globe (Amsterdam, Los Angeles, Winnipeg), as well as concertizing in Europe, Asia, Canada, and the US. He teaches at Stony Brook University and teaches master classes at Banff, among many other places. This will be his first performance in Bellingham—a wonderful opportunity to experience world-class music in our own backyard!

Carr will perform solo cello suites by Johann Sebastian Bach and Benjamin Britten. The Bach suites are the pinnacle of music composed for cello, and Carr’s performances are regarded by critics as superb. The Britten suites were composed as political and artistic gifts of cross-border friendship at a time of dangerous political hardship for musicians in Russia. They are technically challenging and soul-wrenchingly deep.

The Whatcom Museum is presenting the concert in partnership with the Bellingham Festival of Music, presenting sponsor, as well as generous members of the community, and the Bellingham Music Club. Tickets for this concert are $20 and are available on BrownPaperTickets.com. The concert will be held in the Rotunda Room of Old City Hall, 121 Prospect Street. Doors open at 6pm and the concert begins promptly at 7pm.



WHATCOM MUSEUM CELEBRATES 75 YEARS OF ART, NATURE, AND HISTORY AT FREE CELEBRATION AND OPEN HOUSE EVENT

For Immediate Release: Bellingham, WA, Wednesday, July 13, 2016—The Whatcom Museum celebrates 75 years of bringing art, nature, and history to Bellingham with an open house celebration on Thursday, August 11, 2016. All three buildings on the Museum’s campus—the Lightcatcher Building, Old City Hall, and Syre Education Center—will be open, free of charge, noon-8pm. The celebration, sponsored by Peoples Bank, will include a variety of activities, including exhibition and building tours, art activities for adults and children, live music in the Lightcatcher and Old City Hall, a sidewalk chalk art contest, food trucks, cake, and more! Mayor Kelli Linville will make welcoming remarks at the Lightcatcher courtyard at 3pm. The Museum invites the community to celebrate its history, and welcome the next 75 years of community engagement together.

“The Whatcom Museum is proud to celebrate this milestone anniversary,” said Executive Director Patricia Leach. “We are committed to continuing the legacy of providing art and history to the community.”

The Museum will also highlight newly designed history exhibits in Old City Hall. Using items from the Museum’s collection and extensive photographic archives, these exhibits will tell the stories of Bellingham. Old City Hall will come alive through an orientation theater that will take visitors on an audio-visual journey spanning the building’s 124-year history, as well as the city’s early civic and political evolution. A new maritime history gallery featuring Bellingham’s waterfront will give an overview of Bellingham Bay’s history, from early steam ships, to fisheries, to notable schooners that sailed the bay.

“We’ve been working hard with a team of staff to prepare stories and items from our collection for these new history exhibits,” Leach said, “which we look forward to debuting at our celebration event.”

The Whatcom Museum began as a way of saving Bellingham’s vacant and decaying Old City Hall building, built in 1892. It first opened its doors as the Bellingham Public Museum on Jan. 23, 1941. The first exhibits consisted of historical items and curios on loan from community members. John M. Edson, the Museum’s founder, was an eminent ornithologist. The hundreds of taxidermy birds that Edson collected were part of the Museum’s original displays in 1941, which can still be seen today in the Syre Education Center.

Attendance that first year was 5,166, but the Museum had to close for most of the next two years due to a lack of funds during World War II. In 1944, a public vote made the Bellingham Public Museum a City department.

On December 10, 1962, an electrical fire in Old City Hall destroyed the clock tower and much of the roof. This led to a twelve-year effort to fully restore the museum building that was crowned by replacement of the tower in 1974.

Through the years, the Whatcom Museum has grown and evolved to meet the interests of a changing community. From the opening of the Lightcatcher building in 2009 to the ongoing expansion of collections and programs, the Museum has continued to provide innovative and interactive educational programs and exhibitions to the community.

More than 5,000 visitors signed the first museum guestbook in 1941. Now, 75 years and a few name changes later, the Whatcom Museum has grown into the cultural center of downtown Bellingham. Its iconic buildings, first-class exhibitions, extensive collection, and varied educational programs serve more than 70,000 people each year.

For more information about the Whatcom Museum’s 75th Anniversary Open House Celebration, including a schedule of events, visit www.whatcommuseum.org/75ann.

The Whatcom Museum’s three building campus includes the Lightcatcher Building, 250 Flora Street, Old City Hall, 121 Prospect Street, and the Syre Education Center, 201 Prospect Street. For additional information about the Museum’s hours, admission, membership, and offerings, visit whatcommuseum.org.



JUST WOMEN FOCUSES ON WOMEN’S CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE ARTS

Louise Dahl-Wolfe; Untitled,  Gelatin silver print; 10.5 x 9.5 in. Gift of George and Pearl Yewell.

Louise Dahl-Wolfe; Untitled, Gelatin silver print; 10.5 x 9.5 in. Gift of George and Pearl Yewell.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bellingham, WA, May 23, 2016—In 2010, the Whatcom Museum presented the pioneering exhibition, Show of Hands: Northwest Women Artists, 1800-2010, which marked the centennial of woman’s suffrage in Washington State. Six years later, Just Women focuses once again on women’s contributions to the arts and highlights work created by a diverse group of national and international artists. The exhibition will be displayed in the Lightcatcher building, June 18 through September 4, 2016.

Drawn from the Whatcom Museum’s extensive collection of work by female artists, Just Women will explore a wide range of subjects—portraiture, abstraction, landscape, social commentary—in a variety of media, including painting, drawing, printmaking, photography, sculpture, and video. Although some of the artists hail from the Pacific Northwest, many established their careers outside the region: London, New York City, Paris, San Francisco, and Tel Aviv.

According to Curator of Art Barbara Matilsky, “The Whatcom Museum has established a reputation for organizing exhibitions of under-recognized women artists. This exhibition affirms the museum’s commitment to collecting and presenting work by extraordinary women whose visions continue to inspire and delight.”

The installation of Just Women will feature unexpected, thought-provoking juxtapositions, such as Louise Dahl-Wolfe’s (1895-1989) glamourous photographic portrait that reflects her work for Harper’s Bazaar, and Lesley Dill’s (b. 1950) Eye Drop, a visionary mixed-media work on paper. The exhibition also draws relationships between international styles and West Coast interpretations, including Op Art pieces by British artist Bridget Riley (b. 1931), and Mary Henry (1913-2009; born in Sonoma, CA and a long-time resident of Whidbey Island). Just Women provides visitors an opportunity to consider the history and future of women in art both close to home, as well as globally.

Just Women will be on exhibition June 18 – September 4, 2016 in the Lightcatcher building, 250 Flora Street, Bellingham, WA 98225. For more information about the exhibition visit www.whatcommuseum.org.



SITE-SPECIFIC ART INSTALLATIONS BRING SPLASHES OF COLOR TO THE LIGHTCATCHER BUILDING

 

Elizabeth R. Gahan; artwork proposal image. Courtesy of the artist.

Elizabeth R. Gahan; artwork proposal image. Courtesy of the artist.

Exhibition Colorfast: Vivid Installations Make Their Mark Opens June 5, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bellingham, WA, April 13, 2016—This summer, the Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher building will feature an exhibition that will bring bright colors, texture, and three-dimensional site-specific artwork to the space. In the exhibition Colorfast: Vivid Installations Make Their Mark, guest-curated by Amy Chaloupka, artists Ashley V. Blalock (Calif.), Elizabeth Gahan (Wash.), Damien Gilley (Ore.), and Katy Stone (Wash.), respond to the unique configuration of the museum with dazzling patterns of  color. The exhibition will be showing June 5 through September 18, 2016.

Using a wide range of media and processes, the four artists in this exhibition will express how color and improvisation fuse with intuitive response and space in a comingling of movement, light, shadow, and striking hue. Viewers will be able to walk through, around, over, and under active fields of color.

During the past year, the artists visited the Lightcatcher building to develop their design concepts in relationship to the architectural spaces. Each artist has selected an area in which to work, including the first floor Markiewicz Gallery, the end of the Lightcatcher passageway, and the exterior entrance to the building. Colorfast marks the first time that site-specific installations fill the Lightcatcher’s entire gallery space and spill out into prominent non-gallery areas. Visitors will be able to experience the artists’ varied processes of creating their work during open hours prior to June 5 from the second floor gallery, passageway, and entrance.

Originally from the Pacific Northwest, and having curated exhibitions for nearly a decade with the Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, Chaloupka relishes the opportunity to work closely with artists from this region for Colorfast.

“One of the most exciting aspects of curation for me is working directly with artists as they envision new artworks,” she says. “With site-specific installation this often leads artists to take risks with their work and seek out new pathways and concepts as they problem solve in response to the space.”

Chaloupka adds, “For the four artists in this exhibition, color, with all its emotional punch, is front and center in their work, but another commonality is the use of materials and processes of familiar or humble means which they all employ with surprising results. Whether walking under an archway of 16-foot crocheted, blood-red doilies, or meandering through a room-sized architectural diagram composed of neon green string that morphs with one’s shifting perspective, visitors will have ample opportunity for discovery as they explore each installation.”

The artists in this exhibition understand the elemental impact of color and wield it in their work with striking effect. Color does not always behave. It amplifies, it spills, and it stains. Foundationally, color field painters of the 1940s through 1960s came to view the expressive power of color as a primary mode of communication in their work. Artists like Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman, and later Helen Frankenthaler, Morris Louis, and Frank Stella, among others, abandoned figuration in their painting in favor of employing large swaths of color in harmonious combination and electric contrast in attempts to achieve the sublime. Color became both the subject and the object in their work.

The contemporary artists gathered here continue in this vein, likewise seeing color as elemental to their work, expanding the conversation to include painting, as well as, sculptural form, light, movement, texture, and shadow to amplify and transform the space.

Colorfast: Vivid Installations Make Their Mark will be on exhibition June 5 – September 18, 2016 in the Lightcatcher building, 250 Flora Street. The member preview reception takes place Saturday, June 4, 5 – 7pm in the Lightcatcher. Guest curator Amy Chaloupka will lead an exhibition tour on Sun., June 5, 12:30pm in the Lightcatcher building. The tour is a $3 suggested donation/Museum members free. Amy will also present slides and discuss the exhibition concepts at the Museum’s brown bag program on Thurs., July 21, 12:30pm in Old City Hall. For more information about the exhibition, related events, and a schedule of installation viewing opportunities visit www.whatcommuseum.org.

 

 



WHATCOM MUSEUM REPATRIATES CHILKAT BLANKET TO TLINGIT AND HAIDA TRIBES OF ALASKA

Tlingit Chilkat Blanket. Photo by David Scherrer.

Tlingit Chilkat Blanket. Photo by David Scherrer.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bellingham, WA, February 29, 2016—After 40 years in the Whatcom Museum’s collection, a Tlingit Chilkat blanket has been returned to the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska (CCTHITA). The blanket was returned on Friday, February 19 in a closed ceremony held in the Rotunda Room of Old City Hall, with representatives from the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes, including elders, tribal members, and dancers from the Haida Laas and Haandei I Jin groups from the Seattle area.

The Brown Bear Chilkat blanket was returned to the tribes after a formal request for repatriation was made under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990 (NAGPRA). The blanket was most recently on display in the Museum’s Syre Education Center where it was part of the Pacific Coast exhibit. Throughout the years, countless school children viewed and learned about the blanket during school tours. Now, with the blanket returning to Alaska, the Museum plans to incorporate information about the repatriation process into the Pacific Coast exhibit, and may also include a video of the ceremony.

“Whatcom Museum does believe in the appropriate repatriation of objects and believes it’s an important part of our goal [to be good] stewards or caretakers for our collection,” said Rebecca Hutchins, Curator of Collections at the Whatcom Museum, at the repatriation ceremony.

The ceremony, which included speeches by delegates of both the Juneau and Seattle Chapters of CCTHITA, as well as traditional dances, was a joyful celebration of the return of the blanket.  A shared sentiment of gratitude for the return of this cultural object, as well as its good care while under the Museum’s stewardship, were expressed.

Richard Peterson, President of CCTHITA said, “One of the exciting things that I enjoy [about] being president of Central Council is seeing the return of our sacred items like this blanket. You’ll notice in SE [Southeast Alaska] there has been a real cultural revitalization, almost a reawakening… I think our people have suffered for many times, for a long time because our objects, our language, our very culture was being pulled from us, but you can’t pull it completely away, and when we’re able to return these items, we reawaken and get to know who we are again.”

Chilkat blankets are unique in their design and require special weaving knowledge passed down from generation to generation. They could take a year or longer to create and were generally used by tribal leaders, both male and female, in dances or feasts, worn either over the shoulders or wrapped around the body. Known for their stylized abstract deign motifs, each blanket design incorporated clan symbols of the wearer and other natural forms.

A formal NAGPRA repatriation claim was presented to the Museum for the Chilkat blanket in early 2015 by the CCTHITA. After a review of the documentation and additional research, Whatcom Museum determined the NAGPRA claim was appropriate. After a public notification period through the National Park Service’s Federal Register expired uncontested, the Museum proceeded with the repatriation.

According to the Department of Interior, NAGPRA addresses the rights of lineal descendants, Indian tribes, and Native Hawaiian organizations to request the return of cultural items, including human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony, from organizations such as museums which have received Federal funding in any form.

“Repatriation can help to build a bridge and heal relationships between our institution and cultural groups who have long held the view that many museums have misappropriated important aspects of their culture,” said Hutchins. “The Whatcom Museum wants to work with tribal groups to best care for their objects, and to represent their history with accuracy and respect. Sometimes that includes the return of an item.”

As president emeritus Edward Thomas of the CCTHITA said, “We are very appreciative of the Repatriation Act. It does allow us to bring home to our people, bring back to the rightful owners the [object] so that they can once again be made whole by the return of their blanket, and it is going to be very well appreciated by the people.”



NORTHWEST SCULPTOR’S WORK INSPIRED BY NATURE AND THOREAU

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bellingham, WA, January 27, 2016— Faith in a Seed: Philip McCracken’s Sculpture and Mixed-Media Painting surveys nature’s inspiration on one of the Pacific Northwest’s most distinguished artists. It will be on view at the Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher building from February 27 through June 5, 2016.

Philip McCracken, born 1928 in Bellingham, studied with British sculptor Henry Moore (1898-1986) in Hertfordshire and created diverse works that embrace both realism and abstraction, time-honored materials such as wood and bronze, and newer media such as resin and epoxy.

From animal sculptures to witty interpretations of contemporary life, McCracken has forged his own path, inspired by the writings of the nineteenth century philosopher Henry David Thoreau whose posthumous book, Faith in a Seed (1993), suggested the title for this show. Like Thoreau, McCracken celebrates the wonders of nature and captures its beauty in his work. This exhibition presents a wide spectrum of the artist’s sculpture and mixed-media painting, dating from 1952 through 2013, and underscores the duality of tradition and innovation at the heart of his career.

“If Thoreau had been an artist, his work would likely have looked much like that of Philip McCracken,” writes Deloris Tarzan Ament in the book 600 Moons: Fifty Years of Philip McCracken’s Art. “It celebrates the natural world—animal, vegetable, mineral, and the stuff of stars. He has put into sculpture bird song, poetry, and the motion of gasses. No theme is too daunting.”

Studying in the ceramics department at the University of Washington in the early 1950s under French potter Paul Bonifas, McCracken met and was inspired by many Northwest artists such as Mark Tobey, Morris Graves and Guy Anderson. After spending a summer assisting Henry Moore in England, McCracken moved back to the Northwest and settled down with his wife Anne in Guemes Island, Washington. It was from the forms of nature and the wildlife that surrounded him that McCracken drew inspiration for his artwork in the coming decades.

McCracken explores complex subjects, such as space, geology, mechanics, and poetry, and gives them form and feeling. Throughout his career, the artist has experimented with a wide variety of materials, including wood, metal, stone, bone, owl down, plaster, and artificial amber, among others. While many of his sculptures are clearly identifiable, his abstract compositions convey metaphor and meaning.

McCracken was the first artist to receive the Washington State Governor’s Award honoring an outstanding Washington State artist in 1964. He also garnered the Governor’s Arts Award in 1994 and the Cornish College of the Arts presented him with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999. He has exhibited work both nationally and internationally and has created many commissioned sculptures throughout the Northwest. His bronze sculpture, Heron, is perched at the back of the Whatcom Museum’s Old City Hall for all to enjoy.

Faith in a Seed: Philip McCracken’s Sculpture and Mixed-Media Painting will be on exhibition in the Lightcatcher building, 250 Flora Street, February 27 – June 5, 2016. The member preview reception takes place Friday, February 26, 5 – 7 PM. The Whatcom Museum will host two community programs related to the exhibition:

Having Faith in a Seed: Poetry in the Gallery
Thursday, May 12, 6:30 PM in the Lightcatcher; Free with $5 Thursday Admission

Like the art of Philip McCracken, the poetry of Paul Hansen, James Bertolino and Anita K. Boyle embraces the natural world. Join us in a conversation about art and poetry followed by a performance in the gallery surrounded by McCracken’s art.

AHA! After Hours Art: Animal Essences: Sculpture Inspired by Philip McCracken
Thursday, May 26, 5:30 – 7:30 PM in the Lightcatcher Building; $18 General/$15 members

Join Whatcom Museum educator and artist Emily Dieleman for an evening of creative sculpting. Participants will use modeling clay and natural materials to capture the essence of their favorite animal. For registration contact Emily by email or call 360.778.8960.



BRINGING HOME THE WORK OF IRA YEAGER: SIX DECADES OF ART

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bellingham, WA, January 5, 2016— Returning Home: Six Decades of Art by Ira Yeager surveys the artist’s multifaceted approach to art where figures and landscapes, vibrant colors, and abstract lines harmoniously mingle. Highlighting more than 50 works of art, ranging from intimate en plein air studies to large oil and acrylic canvases, the exhibition provides viewers an opportunity to appreciate Yeager’s stylistic development over 60 years.

Opening at the Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher building on February 6, 2016 and running through May 15, 2016, the exhibition marks the first Washington museum retrospective of the artist, who left Bellingham, where he was born and raised, for art school in San Francisco.

Ira Yeager has traveled the world and created a unique body of work that illuminates the characters and landscapes that he encountered while abroad. The exhibition reflects the ways that he reinvented himself as an artist while exploring the many places he called home: Florence, Corfu, Tangiers, Santa Fe, New York City, San Francisco, and Calistoga.

Born in Bellingham, WA in 1938, and exploring drawing from the age of eight, the region exerted a formidable influence on the budding artist. His father, Ira Yeager senior, the founder of the sporting goods store of the same name, outfitted and led fishing and hunting expeditions in the Pacific Northwest. But Ira, born of a sensitive nature, rejected this machismo culture and found refuge in the world of art.

“I longed to be on the shore painting when I was a child,” said Ira Yeager. “Painting was one of the things that helped me—that was my passion.”

His father’s store 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. He eventually looked outside of Whatcom County for a cultural center with an established art school. After graduating high school, he moved to California and attended the California College of Arts and Crafts where he studied with renowned painters Elmer Bischoff (1916-1991), Richard Diebenkorn (1922-1993), and Nathan Oliveira (1928-2010).

Yeager’s artwork reflects his love of travel, which began in the 1960s. He lived in Italy, Morocco and Greece, explored France and Spain, and has traveled extensively to other countries where he interpreted landscapes and culture. After living in New York City, Yeager returned to San Francisco in the early 1980s and has lived in the Napa Valley since 1990, where wine country landscapes have influenced his work.

Returning Home includes 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. From the verdant valleys of Napa where California’s finest winery grapes are grown to the eighteenth century French courtly painters, Yeager draws inspiration from both reality and fantasy. Add to this mixture the artist’s unceasing wanderlust and a touch of the exotic, and the result is a prolific body of work composed of many chapters in the artist’s stylistic evolution.

Returning Home: Six Decades of Art by Ira Yeager runs February 6 – May 15, 2016 in the Lightcatcher building, 250 Flora Street. The artist will lead a gallery tour of his exhibition on Sat., Feb. 6 at 2pm in the Lightcatcher building. The tour is free with admission/Museum members free. For more information about the exhibition or gallery tour visit www.whatcommuseum.org.



WHATCOM MUSEUM EXHIBITION TO FEATURE COLOR PRINTS OF NORMA BASSETT HALL

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bellingham, WA, September 30, 2015—Opening at the Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher building on October 24, 2015, is the traveling exhibition, Chipping the Block, Painting the Silk: The Color Prints of Norma Bassett Hall. Guest curated by Joby Patterson, scholar and author of Norma Bassett Hall: Catalogue Raisonné of the Block Prints and Serigraphs, the exhibition presents a spectrum of the Oregon-born Hall’s twenty-five year career as a printmaker. The exhibition will be showing through February 14, 2016.

Hall, who was born in Halsey, Oregon, in 1888, was a watercolorist and oil painter, but her greatest love was color printmaking. After studying at the Portland Art Association School and graduating from the Art Institute of Chicago, she spent two years in Europe, where she learned the skills of block printmaking. She returned to live in Kansas, where she was a charter member of the Prairie Print Makers, and later New Mexico, where she became part of the pioneer movement in the development of serigraphy.

Hall was educated in early twentieth century America, when the Arts and Crafts movement was all the rage. This training is revealed not only in the carving of woodblocks as a form of craft, but in the Japanese-influenced style and interpretation of her subjects. As was typical of an Arts and Crafts artist, Hall found inspiration in the diverse landscapes that she encountered in her extensive travels through Oregon, New Mexico, France, and England.

This is the first solo exhibition of Hall’s artwork since her death in 1957, the first time that more than sixty of her prints have been gathered for exhibition, and likely the first time prints by the artist have been exhibited in the Pacific Northwest since a 1930 group retrospective at the Portland Art Association. Exhibited for the first time will be a cherry woodblock and a portfolio of color block prints depicting the Oregon coast, jointly made by Hall and her husband, artist Arthur William Hall (American, 1889-1981), on the occasion of their marriage in 1922.

Guest curator Joby Patterson has been involved with fine prints for more than thirty years. After research in black and white intaglio prints for the book Bertha E. Jaques and the Chicago Society of Etchers, Dr. Patterson’s new interests turned to color. Her most recent book, Norma Bassett Hall: Catalogue Raisonné of the Block Prints and Serigraphs, traces the adventurous and creative life of Hall and her spouse.

Patterson says she “hopes that visitors who enjoyed the Museum’s Elizabeth Colborne exhibition, [which showed at the Lightcatcher in 2011], will also enjoy Hall’s work, and that the exhibition will contribute to the appreciation and knowledge of color block print artists, especially from the Pacific Northwest.”

Patterson will share her adventures in uncovering Hall’s life and work during a tour of the exhibition on Sat., Oct. 24, 2pm. A book signing will follow the gallery tour. Museum members can attend a preview reception on Fri., Oct. 23, 5-7pm. All events will take place in the Lightcatcher building, 250 Flora Street.