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

June 11 – September 10, 2017, Lightcatcher

Juror: Catharina Manchanda, Jon and Mary Shirley Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seattle Art Museum

This exhibition is supported by the Whatcom Museum Advocates, the Whatcom Museum Foundation, and the City of Bellingham.

The Whatcom Museum is hosting the second Bellingham National Juried Art Exhibition and Awards. Featuring more than 60 artworks by 29 artists from around the country, the artwork represents interpretations on the theme of “drawing practice” in a variety of media. The top three artists, chosen by the juror, received cash awards, and the exhibition includes a popular choice award. The artwork selected features modern ideas of language, writing, notation, mapping, movement, dance, performance, as well as connections to space and architecture.

Juror’s Choice Award Winners:
1st Place, Dawn Cerny, Seattle, WA
2nd Place, Lou Watson, Portland, OR

3rd Place, Ann Leda Shapiro, Vashon, WA

Popular Choice Award Winner:
Jenna Lynch, Mahopac, NY

The flood of images disseminated on the internet, and with it the attendant information overload, invite renewed attention to drawing as a comparably “slow” medium. Traditionally tied to the conception and development of ideas, drawing remained the stepchild to the more durable mediums of painting and sculpture well into the 1960s. The subsequent interest in process and fragment rather than the finished product allowed drawing to assume a far more influential position. In our contemporary moment, drawing practices warrant particular attention as they open new avenues for artistic thought and expression, especially vis-à-vis digital modes of communication and information sharing.  Read more


March 18 – May 31, 2017, Old City Hall

From the beginning of its 50-year history, Whatcom Community College (WCC) has been recognized as an innovator. Talk to people who worked at the College in the early days (when the college offered classes at a hodgepodge of buildings throughout the county) and you’ll hear some unbelievable stories. But the College, and its graduates, thrived. Today, Whatcom is regarded as one of the nation’s top two-year colleges. This exhibition will engage visitors with “groovy” WCC memorabilia, recorded memories and opportunities for guests to share their own Whatcom stories. Join us as we showcase how WCC helps graduates to transform their lives and our community to thrive. Learn more at


Alfredo Arreguin; La Alameda, 2011; Oil on canvas, 58 x 42 in. Courtesy of the artist.

February 4 – May 28, 2017, Lightcatcher Building

Curated by Patricia Leach, Executive Director

Sponsored by Heritage Bank

Images of Resilience: Chicana/o Art and its Mexican Roots is an exhibition that explores the development of Chicana/o art, from its beginnings in Mexican art of the early 1900s, to the Chicana/o movement of the 1960s and ’70s, to its relevance today. Images of Resilience reflects how Chicana/o art has been a part of community building, history making, and cultural citizenship for Mexican-Americans and Chicana/os. The exhibition will feature artwork focusing on Mexican art trends in the early twentieth century, as well as artworks that arose from the Chicana/o civil rights movement of the 1960s and ’70s. Post-revolution Mexican art is typified by a shift from European academic styles to what we consider traditional Mexican art today, including illustrations of skeletons, or calaveras.

The exhibition features work from Los Tres Grandes—Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siquieros, and Jose Clemente Orozco, three internationally prominent artists originally hired by the Mexican government in the 1920s to create identifiably Mexican art. This new style emphasized their cultural roots with a respect for non-Spanish traditions and instilled a patriotic pride in the Mexican people. The Chicana/o movement of the ’60s and ’70s grew from a cultural reclamation and struggle for social justice. Drawing on styles created post-revolution, this era of Chicana/o art deals with rural themes—agriculture, religious holidays, folk heritage—and the new urbanized lives that the Mexican-Americans were living, shown through pop culture, cars,  and Hollywood iconography.

PARTY > Members see it first at the member reception! Friday, February 3, 5 – 7 PM at the Lightcatcher building.

ARTIST LECTURE > Featuring Seattle-based artists Cecilia Concepción Alvarez and Alfredo Arreguín, Saturday, February 4, 2pm at Old City Hall.

DOCENT TOURS > Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, 1:30 PM at the Lightcatcher building, beginning February 12, 2017.

FILM SCREENING > The Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival presents Chicano Legacy: 40 Años, Sunday, February 19, 2pm at Old City Hall.

LECTURE > Featuring artist and scholar Amalia Mesa-Bains, Wednesday, March 22, 12:30pm at Old City Hall.




David G. Spielman; Central City, 2012 from The Katrina Decade: Images of an Altered City. Courtesy of The Historic New Orleans Collection 2015.

David G. Spielman; Central City, 2012 from The Katrina Decade: Images of an Altered City. Courtesy of The Historic New Orleans Collection 2015.

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.




Riding the Octopus on Cornwall Avenue, July 1964; 35mm Kodachrome slide. Whatcom Museum #2002.36.125

Riding the Octopus on Cornwall Avenue, July 1964; 35mm Kodachrome slide. Whatcom Museum #2002.36.125

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

Fairhaven High School gym class display their new exercise "suits" purchased in 1919 with funds they raised through candy sales. Photo by J.W. Sandison, Whatcom Museum #3254

Fairhaven High School gym class display their new exercise “suits” purchased in 1919 with funds they raised through candy sales. Photo by J.W. Sandison, Whatcom Museum #3254

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.


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.

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

Susan Middleton; Pacific Giant Octopus (juvenile), Enteroctopus dofleini; Archival pigment print, 24 x 36 in. Friday Harbor Marine Laboratories, University of Washington.

Susan Middleton; Pacific Giant Octopus (juvenile), Enteroctopus dofleini; Archival pigment print, 24 x 36 in. Friday Harbor Marine Laboratories, University of Washington.

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 LifeRead more


Installations by Damien Gilley, Katy Stone and Ashley V. Blalock in the Lightcatcher Markiewicz Gallery. Photo by Amy Chaloupka

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


Leah Sheves (b. 1947); Essence of an Ornament, 2006; Hand-built stoneware, under glazes. Whatcom Museum, Gift of the artist.

Leah Sheves; Essence of an Ornament, 2006; Hand-built stoneware. Whatcom Museum, gift of the artist.

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.