"}
Visual

By the Artist, for the Artist

An afternoon with Clayton James

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Years ago, when Maggie Wilder lost her studio, the renowned Northwest artist Clayton James offered up one of his out-buildings for her to use as she saw fit for her own creative endeavors. And, although she stayed for months, he refused to take a penny in return.

James’ penchant for generosity is one of the many reasons Wilder—who now owns and operates Gallery Cygnus in La Conner—is more than happy to host occasional shows and sales for the longtime Skagit Valley resident, who’ll turn 95 in February.

Wilder says she first met the painter and sculptor in 1977, when a friend who’d purchased one of James’ huge pots brought her to his studio to pick it up.

“When we arrived, she asked him what he thought she should do with it,” Wilder says. “She meant, ‘Where should I put it?’ He said, ‘Dig a hole in the earth and bury it. Then dig it up in 100 years.’ I knew we would be friends! We’ve shown together in many group shows over the years. He’s been a tremendous presence in the Northwest art scene, but remained a very humble and community-based artist. He almost seems unaware of his stature.”

Those who come to see the show Sat., Jan. 26 won’t go away disappointed. Although James likely won’t be on hand to greet visitors and make the gallery circuit (he’s not fond of crowds, and his hearing’s not what it used to be), approximately 20 paintings from past decades—some of which have never been shown publicly before—and one bronze sculpture will be on display and for sale.

And although the event continues throughout the afternoon, Wilder says that those who are hoping to see the works of the master will want to show up as close to noon as possible. Once a piece has been purchased, you see, the buyer is free to take it with them, meaning the one-day sale could turn out to be “more like a 30-minute show.”

It’s also worth pointing out that Wilder isn’t pocketing a dime from the results of the exhibit. In a karmic move that likely hearkens back to the days James welcomed her into his community of artists, Wilder says he’ll be getting all the funds from the day’s proceeds. This is the second time she’s hosted a sale like this for James, and, if it’s anything like the first event, most of the pieces will be gone by day’s end.

“The mission of Gallery Cygnus includes events like these,” Wilder says, noting it is indeed unique for a gallery to forgo commission on sales in order to support an artist.

Wilder also points out that James is still a working artist—albeit one who moves a little more slowly than he used to. She also says he loves to discuss what makes a good painting, and remains involved with his art.

“The more intimately acquainted I become with both the man and his work, it’s apparent there’s a seamless quality there,” Wilder says. “He is one of the most forgiving people I’ve ever met. And his paintings, sculptures too, have this quality of peace about them. There’s a glow and a tranquility that many of us aim for, and he delivers it. 

“His life and his work are a real testimony to the power of living thoughtfully, simply and elegantly.”

SVCR Don McLean
More Visual...
Winter Wonders
Warming up at Jansen Art Center

If you haven’t visited Lynden recently, get ready for a surprise.

Some of the finest attractions of Fairhaven have opened branches there, including Village Books, two cafes—Drizzle and Avenue Bread—and a brand-new, 35-room hotel in the completely remodeled Mercantile Building on…

more »
Erotica
Your body is a wonderland

Before leaving my house to trudge through the snow and razor-sharp wind to the downtown bus station, I double-checked Tillie Lace Gallery’s Facebook page to make sure the Sunday night reception planned for “Erotica: Nudes and Interpretations” hadn’t been cancelled due to inclement weather.…

more »
After the Storm
Inside the Katrina Decade

The kid who was standing near me during a recent perusal of “The Katrina Decade: Images of An Altered City” at Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher Building had a pertinent question to ask regarding the black-and-white photograph of a narrow, two-story structure that appeared to be leaning in two…

more »
Events
Today
KMRE broadcaster receives citizen journalism award

5:00pm

17th annual Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival

10:00am|Whatcom County

New documentary focuses human rights film festival

7:52pm

Farm-to-Table Trade Meeting

8:30am|Bellingham Technical College

Community Preparedness

2:00pm|Bellingham Public Library

Baker Backcountry Basics

6:00pm|REI

All-Paces Run

6:00pm|Fairhaven Runners

Putting the kick in cross-country

6:00pm

Dressings, Sauces and Stocks

6:30pm|Ciao Thyme Commons

Prawn Particulars

6:30pm|Community Food Co-op

Tides

7:00pm|Village Books

Books on Tap

7:00pm|North Fork Brewery

IGN Cascadia Bellingham Technical College
Tomorrow
KMRE broadcaster receives citizen journalism award

5:00pm

17th annual Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival

10:00am|Whatcom County

New documentary focuses human rights film festival

7:52pm

Community Coffee and Tea

9:00am|East Whatcom Regional Resource Center

Ukulele for Everyone

4:00pm|Everson Library

Garden Design Class

4:00pm|Blaine Library

Handmade Pasta Class

5:30pm|Semiahmoo Resort

Group Run

6:00pm|Skagit Running Company

Kombucha and Kefir

6:30pm|Cordata Community Food Co-op

Frankie Gavin

6:30pm|Leopold Crystal Ballroom

Unsettlers

7:00pm|Village Books

Nothing simple about it

7:00pm

Mike Allen Quartet

7:00pm|Unity Spiritual Center

Panty Hoes

9:00pm|Rumors Cabaret

Village Books Bellingham Farmer’s Market
Thursday
KMRE broadcaster receives citizen journalism award

5:00pm

17th annual Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival

10:00am|Whatcom County

New documentary focuses human rights film festival

7:52pm

Incognito

6:00pm|Ciao Thyme

Pasta Faves

6:30pm|Community Food Co-op

Arsenic and Old Lace

7:00pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

Ubu Roi

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Between Two Worlds

7:30pm|Make.Shift Art Space

Into the Woods

7:30pm|Whidbey Playhouse

Up the Down Staircase

7:30pm|Squalicum High School

see our complete calendar »

IGN Cascadia Village Books Bellingham Technical College Trove Northwood Steak and Crab Bellingham Farmer’s Market Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1