January 14 – May 14, 2017, Lightcatcher building
The Historic New Orleans Collection marked the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina with the release of the book and exhibition The Katrina Decade: Images of an Altered City. Traveling to the Whatcom Museum, courtesy of The Historic New Orleans Collection, this photo exhibition features the haunting black-and-white images of New Orleans-based photographer David G. Spielman. His photographs chronicle the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina and the arrested processes of rebuilding and recovery that persist in many neighborhoods. Spielman and his camera have canvassed the city since Katrina’s landfall, marking the passage of time through a slow decay of architecture and a rapid growth of plant life.
His confrontation with his subjects is unflinching, and from his photographs emerge stories of neglect, renewal, and perseverance within an altered cityscape. Spielman captured the essence of hope and despair in his powerful pictures of Katrina’s devastation, and even after ten years, the recovery of the city is both amazing and incomplete. The result is this poignant portrait of rebirth and blight, perfect for an artist who’s a master of black and white.
Although these photographs document a part of America that is far from the Pacific Northwest, it is a reminder that we are all affected by natural disasters. The effects of earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanoes are a concern to us in the Northwest and we hope this exhibition will help people consider the importance of disaster preparedness.
July 2, 2016 – March 5, 2017, Old City Hall
Curated by Jeff Jewell, Photo Archives Historian
History isn’t all in black and white. This exhibition features photographs from a not-so-distant past as captured by Ektachrome®, Kodachrome® and Technicolor slide film, as well as 4 x 5 inch color transparencies. Focused on the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s, Nostalgic Saturation highlights a Bellingham that isn’t beyond present memory, yet at the same time has recently become within the range of history.
February 2016 – March 2017, 2nd floor passageway of the Lightcatcher Building
Featuring fifteen historical sports images from Bellingham’s past, these black and white photos from the Museum’s Archives include team portraits, action shots of playground champs, gym class tumblers, track & field high-hurdlers, lacrosse pioneers, and field hockey icons, among others. The ephemeral “glory days” of amateur athletes, fodder for embellishment later in life, were captured by gifted photographers J.W. Sandison, Jack Carver, Dobbs & Fleming, Ray Clift and Tore Ofteness.
October 1, 2016 – January 15, 2017, Lightcatcher Building
The Whatcom Museum will open a major traveling exhibition this fall, National Geographic’s 50 Greatest Photographs, in the Lightcatcher building, the only West Coast stop of the national tour. 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.
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.” Read more
Photographs by Susan Middleton
September 17 – December 31, 2016, Lightcatcher Building
The result of seven years of fieldwork across the Pacific Ocean, and showcasing the photographic techniques Susan Middleton has developed over the past three decades, this exhibition presents 50 portraits of rarely or never-before-seen ocean dwellers. Middleton visually isolates each creature she photographs to best capture its individual character and to spotlight the dazzling natural blueprints inherent in the marine invertebrate realm of life. From a juvenile Pacific Giant Octopus, to the Widehand Hermit Crab, Middleton’s images open our eyes to both the fragility and the resiliency of these species.
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. She is the author of Evidence of Evolution and Spineless: Portraits of Marine Invertebrates, The Backbone of Life. Read more
June 5 – September 18, 2016, Lightcatcher Building
Guest-Curated by Amy Chaloupka
“Color stimulates certain moods in us. It awakens joy or fear in accordance with its configuration. In fact, the whole world, as we experience it visually, comes to us through the mystic realm of color. Our entire being is nourished by it. This mystic quality of color should likewise find expression in a work of art.” – Hans Hofmann
When it comes to the topic of color, everybody has an opinion. Typically the first question a child asks after “what is your name” is “what is your favorite color?” This is a critical question of identity for a child. Perhaps this is because before a child even comprehends or learns language, she is engaged in a world of color that speaks to her, loud and clear, with sensorial delight. For adults, color choices permeate every facet of daily life. Color belongs to the world of marketing and consumerism, science and optics, art and literature, psychology and nature. Home Depot does not own orange, nor does Coca-Cola claim rights to red, and we are not really “green with envy,” yet culture most certainly influences opinions and perceptions of color. 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 stains.
Contemporary artists Ashley V. Blalock (Calif.), Elizabeth Gahan (Wash.), Damien Gilley (Ore.), and Katy Stone (Wash.), create site-specific installations fueled by vivid color for the Lightcatcher this summer. With varied media and processes, color meets improvisation, and intuitive response meets open space in a co-mingling of movement, light, shadow, and striking hues. Viewers walk through, around, over, and under active fields of color. Much the way color is tied to memory, perception, and identity, we are enveloped by it. Color cannot be contained as installations escape the gallery, spilling into the hall and exterior spaces of the museum. Read more
June 18 – September 4, 2016, Lightcatcher Building
Curated by Barbara Matilsky
In 2010, the Whatcom Museum presented the pioneering exhibition, Show of Hands: Northwest Women Artists, 1800-2010, which marked the centennial of women’s suffrage in Washington State. Six years later, with the possibility of a woman becoming president of the United States, Just Women will once again focus on women’s contributions to the arts.
Drawn from the Whatcom Museum’s extensive collection of artwork by female artists, this exhibition explores a wide range of subjects—portraiture, abstraction, landscape, social commentary—in a variety of media, including painting, drawing, printmaking, photography, sculpture, and video. Although most of the featured artists hail from the Pacific Northwest, many established their careers outside the region: London, New York City, Paris, and Tel Aviv. Artists such as Anne Appleby, Doris Chase, Elizabeth Colborne, Louise Dahl-Wolfe, Sonia Delaunay, Lesley Dill, Mary Henry, Helmi Juvonen, Helen Loggie, Mary Randlett, Bridget Riley, and Leah Sheves are featured in this exhibition.
The installation of Just Women reveals unexpected, thought-provoking juxtapositions, and provides visitors with an opportunity to consider the history and future of women in art, both close to home, and globally.
March – June 19, 2016, Old City Hall
Back by popular demand and displayed in the Old City Hall galleries, this exhibition highlights the rich legacy of landscape painting in the Pacific Northwest. All of the artworks, drawn from the collection of the Whatcom Museum, reflect the artists’ search for a spiritual experience that was often described as sublime in nineteenth-century Romantic art and literature. At the same time, the twentieth-century artists featured here interpret nature and express their emotional response to the landscape through modernist styles.
February 27 – June 5, 2016, Lightcatcher Building
Opening Reception: Fri., Feb. 26, 2016, 5 – 7 PM, Lightcatcher Building
Curated by Barbara Matilsky
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. McCracken, born in Bellingham in 1928, 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. Read more
February 6 – May 15, 2016, Lightcatcher Building
Curated by Barbara Matilsky
Born in Bellingham in 1938, Ira Yeager has traveled the world and created a unique body of work that illuminates the characters and landscapes that he encountered while living in Florence, Corfu, Tangiers, Santa Fe, New York City, San Francisco, and Calistoga. Returning Home: Six Decades of Art by Ira Yeager marks the first Washington museum retrospective of the artist, who left Bellingham for San Francisco, where he studied with renowned painters Elmer Bischoff (1916-1991), Richard Diebenkorn (1922-1993), and Nathan Oliveira (1928-2010).
This exhibition highlights Yeager’s multifaceted approach to art where figures and landscapes, vibrant colors and abstract lines harmoniously mingle. Highlights include 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. With 50 works of art, ranging from intimate plein air studies to large oil and acrylic canvases, Returning Homeprovides viewers an opportunity to appreciate Yeager’s stylistic development over 60 years.
Bellingham exerted a formidable influence on the budding artist. His father, Ira Yeager senior, the founder of a sporting goods store that bears his name, outfitted and led fishing and hunting expeditions in the majestic Pacific Northwest. But Ira, born of a sensitive nature, rejected this machismo culture. He found refuge in the world of art and began drawing at eight years old.
His father’s store, however, 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. For the cultivation of his career, Yeager looked outside of Whatcom County to a cultural center with an established art school. He studied in San Francisco at the California College of Arts and Crafts San Francisco, and later found his own way in the world of art through his life-long love of travel, which has influenced his work throughout the years.
Docent Tours: Take a 55-minute docent-led tour of the exhibition on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 1:30pm. Tours begin in the Lightcatcher lobby and are free with admission.