September 30, 2017 – January 7, 2018, Lightcatcher
This fall, the Whatcom Museum will feature a selection of artwork on loan from the Tacoma Art Museum, featuring works of Western American Art. The Haub Family Collection of Western American Art is unrivaled in its scope in the Pacific Northwest. The collection includes prominent nineteenth-century artists who influenced our views of Native Americans, mountain men, cowboys, and pristine American landscapes, including Henry Inman, Paul Kane, John Mix Stanley, and Charles M. Russell.
From the twentieth century, the exhibition includes artists who brought modern art movements west and who explored western history and American identity, such as E. Martin Hennings, Maynard Dixon, Robert Henri, and Georgia O’Keeffe. The collection also includes many artists who are active and working today. Contemporary Native American artists John Nieto and Kevin Red Star take a fresh approach and portray Native American culture in a modern light, and pop artist Bill Schenck uses humor and satire to challenge long-held assumptions about the American West.
The artworks in the exhibition examine ideas of American identity over time, delve into storytelling and myth-making, and explore the vast American landscape. Visitors will see how concepts of the West, both real and imagined, have continually changed and evolved, and still influence people today. Learn more about this collection from the Tacoma Art Museum.
Art of the American West: Highlights of the Haub Family Collection from the Tacoma Art Museum was organized by Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, Washington. This exhibition is supported by Mary Summerfield & Mike O’Neal, Patti & Frank Imhof, Sue Lobland, the Whatcom Museum Advocates, the Whatcom Museum Foundation, and the City of Bellingham.
February 3 – May 6, 2018, Lightcatcher
Rooted, Revived, Reinvented: Basketry in America chronicles a history of American basketry from its origins in Native American, immigrant, and slave communities to its presence within the contemporary fine art world. Baskets convey meaning through the artists’ selection of materials; the techniques they use; and the colors, designs, patterns, and textures they employ.
Historical baskets were rooted in local landscapes and shaped by cultural traditions. The rise of the industrial revolution and mass production at the end of the nineteenth century led basket makers to create works for new audiences and markets, including tourists, collectors and fine art museums. Today the story continues. Some contemporary artists seek to maintain and revive traditions practiced for centuries. Others combine age-old techniques with nontraditional materials to generate cultural commentary. Still others challenge viewers’ expectations by experimenting with form, materials, and scale. Divided into five sections—Cultural Origins, New Basketry, Living Traditions, Basket as Vessel, and Beyond the Basket—this exhibition of approximately 95 objects has two primary goals: to model how to look at, talk about, and analyze baskets aesthetically, critically and historically; and to contextualize American basketry within art and craft history specifically and American culture generally.
This traveling exhibition is organized by the National Basketry Organization in partnership with the University of Missouri. For more information visit americanbasketry.missouri.edu.
February 10 – May 6, 2018, Lightcatcher
This exhibit features rarely seen items from the vaults of the Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History. Each of the pieces in this exhibit demonstrates the skill and ingenuity of various artists in transforming simple materials into striking treasures. Originally curated by Cynthia Duval, who was then Chief Curator of the Florida International Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, this exhibit creates a sense of awe at the vision required to take the rough to polished, the mundane to exceptional, and the simple to complex.
Whether it is a faceted quartz crystal egg, a gold sardine can, a gem-encrusted ivory camel, or a jeweled mailbox, each of these creations irresistibly attracts our attention and appeals to our imagination, encouraging us to think about why and how each piece was made. Let these rarely seen objects inspire you as you explore this exhibit.
Read about artist Sidney Mobell in this Smithsonian article.