Winter Commission

Time heals all

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

I know you’re tired of winter. I know this because I hear your complaints. I know this because I see the weariness in your faces as you don your scarves and coats. I know this because when it snowed/hailed/sleeted on the first day of spring this year, I could hear your collective groan about the fact that Mother Nature clearly did not get the memo with regard to the change of seasons.

Mostly, I know you are tired of winter because I am tired of it too.

It was this sense of seasonal ennui that caused a group of like- and art-minded people to get together five years ago and decide to do something to combat it. They wanted to pull together a large, multimedia, open-to-the-public event that would help people get a grip on their winter-weary doldrums and turn their sights toward the possibility that spring would indeed come. After all, it always does. Eventually.

These people called their effort the Winter Commission, and as happenings go, this is unique to the people who created it and the region that spawned it.

While there are few rules governing this yearly event, past Winter Commissions have revolved around a particular theme. One year, that theme was “Art and Science”—which was fitting, as that was the year the season-busting soiree moved from its original home at the now-defunct Ground Floor Gallery to the Spark Museum of Radio and Electricity. The year after that, “Storytelling” was chosen as the creative catalyst, while “Disaster!” did duty at last year’s event.

This year, Winter Commission is on the move again, this time to Make.Shift, where the artists and organizers will labor mightily to get everything set up and ready for its 7pm March, 30 start time.

Speaking of “Time,” it just happens to be the theme for Winter Commission 5, which should make for some interesting artistic interpretations. As the story goes, all of the art shown during the single night that is Winter Commission is supposed to be dreamed up and executed during Bellingham’s seemingly endless months of winter—although no one is dropping in on participating artists in the weeks and days leading up to the happening to make certain everyone was feeling winter’s wrath when they conceived of their “Time”-themed pieces.

While past Winter Commissions have been all-singing, all-dancing, art-steeped affairs, things are a bit toned down this year. As always, artists—the likes of Brittany Beug, Kelly Bjork, Jessica Lynn Bonin, Aaron Brick, Libby Chenault, Erin Clancy, Jen Dranttel, Jess Flegel, Steeb Russell, Toby Stanger, and more—are plentiful and their works will adorn Make.Shift’s walls wherever your eyes come to rest. As well, you can expect to find installation-type art (and the one-night-only installations tend to be some of the show’s most interesting features) and short film screenings.

Although every Winter Commission to date has involved a healthy musical component (as do most events around these parts), this time organizers have opted to compile a time-themed mix tape that will provide the soundtrack for the evening’s artistic output. However, as several of the artists involved also do double duty as musicians, that influence will no doubt be reflected in some of the pieces on display.

So, is Winter Commission the cure for your winter-related ailments? Probably not, but after all that time spent cooped up and complaining about the weather, we could all use a reason to get out and live a little.

SVCR Don McLean
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