Taking Flight

Welcome to the birdhouse

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Nestled between the North Cascades and the Salish Sea, the Skagit Valley has long been a haven for birds. In the doughty village of Edison, where the Samish River dwindles to the bay, local residents liven up February’s gloom with a cheerful bird festival.

The Cascadia Weekly previously wrote about the frolic of chicken races and educational programs that took place in early February, but, after viewing the Edison Bird Festival Invitational, I thought it was worth pointing out that the feathery fun continues through the month at the town’s Smith & Vallee Gallery. 

Kathleen Faulkner’s iconic work beckons you into an exhibit of bird-inspired works by three dozen artists that explore the bird experience from egg to extinction. Her oil pastel, “A Gulp of Cormorants” is a restful study of a social gathering; in laudable understatement, it’s a quiet piece in a show dominated by some pretty loud ones.

You will know how it feels to be a mouse, facing a gallery of oversize portraits of predatory roosters, owls and herons. My favorite in this “loud” category would be a playful rendering of a swan and two Jurassic dragonflies done in splashy green, blue and red by Amy Armitage.

Offering the feel of feathers and flight are two monotypes by Kris Ekstrand Molesworth, in careful shades of yellow and blue. 

On the west wall, some 30 small works jostle for space, among which stand out a nice three-color serigraph, “Heron,” by Kristen Loffer Theiss; “Mother,” a semi-abstract, cartoonish but fetching linoprint of nestlings by Jessica Gigot; and a lovely woodcut by Natalie Niblack, “Bittern.”

A stately linocut print by Nicolette Harrington, “With Peace on their Wings,” anchors the center hall with monochrome, patterny outlines of geese, reminiscent of an Escher print.

Don’t overlook the most evocative piece in the exhibition: a delicate chiaroscuro by Ann Reid. “Will we save the Western Snowy Plover?” powerfully and darkly suggests the bird could be walking toward extinction.

Tucked away in a back room I found another treasure: David Hall’s digital print, “Hummingbird Nest in the Kiwi,” a sensitive, harmonious composition—and one of the first to have sold.

Todd Horton, an Edison favorite son, shows two paintings in his trademark style of a realistic figure in negative space, smeared or dripped upon. His “Selflessness” assembles a crow and two nicely drawn chickadees in a pleasing rain of paint drops.

For sheer fun, there are the works of two preeminent pranksters: John Robbins’ large, whimsical abstract, “To Be, a Bird” and that of RR Clark (also known as FishBoy), “The Boys,” constructed of wood, canvas, paint and colored pencil—already sold at a bargain price.

And beyond category is Pieter Vanzanden’s hilarious and scary scupture, a tyrannosaurus-size egg on wooden articulated feet, entitled “GM—OH!” Impending doom. On its own it brings us back to evolutionary beginning and suggests a terrible apotheosis.

But hey! What about the five, hand-felted and painted, soft sculptured hats by Penny Berck?  You could wear them at Halloween—or at the next Edison Bird Festival parade. Be a rooster, a woodpecker or a bluejay!

More Visual...
Indelible Images
Worlds of wonder at Whatcom Museum

Thanks to a recent viewing of the exhibit “Spineless: Portraits of Marine Invertebrates,”  I’m now convinced that an underwater denizen dubbed the “stubby squid” (Rossia pacifica) is my new spirit animal.

Like the dozens of other up-close-and-personal photographs taken by marine biologist…

more »
Story Paintings
David Kane’s tall tales

“Where does one go after reaching the pinnacle of artistic achievement—a solo retrospective at the Frye Museum?” asks the promo flyer for David C. Kane’s exhibit of his paintings at i.e. gallery in Edison.

Kane, a lifelong teacher of art, is a master of technique. His touch is light,…

more »
Skagit Scene
River Gallery’s seasonal visions

Twice a year, Sylvia Strong pulls together some of the best painting, sculpture, glass and jewelry from the Skagit region to show in her gallery, a well-lit former greenhouse. It affords plenty of space to display a selection of small, affordable pieces by 38 invited artists.


more »
Handling the truth


The Music Man

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

Family Game Night

7:30pm|DUG Theater

Lynden Book Sale

10:00am|Lynden Library

Komo Kulshan Ski and Snowboard Swap

4:00pm|Bloedel Donovan Gymnasium

Gore and Lore Tours

6:00pm|Historic Fairhaven and downtown Bellingham

Arsenic and Old Lace

7:00pm|Ferndale High School

Skagit Community Band

7:30pm|Maple Hall and Brodniak Hal

Top of the food chain


12 Minutes Max Fall Showcase

7:30pm|Firehouse Performing Arts Center


8:00pm|Old Main Theater


8:00pm|Upfront Theatre

Phenomenal Woman Cabaret

8:00pm|Cirque Lab

Pancake Breakfast

8:00am|American Legion Hall

Anacortes Farmers Market

9:00am|Depot Arts Center

Make It & Take It

9:00am|Garden Spot Nursery

Twin Sisters Farmers Market

9:00am|Nugent's Corner

Cherry Point Forum

9:00am|Bellingham Technical College

Work Party

9:00am|Squalicum Creek

Scottish Highland Reel Competition

9:00am|Syre Center

Make a Difference Day

9:00am|Whatcom County

Fall Family Fun

10:00am|Glen Echo Garden

98221 Artists Studio Tour

10:00am|Anacortes and Guemes Island

Correspondence Club

10:00am|Mindport Exhibits

Blaine Gardeners Market

10:00am|Peace Portal Drive

Bellingham Comicon

10:00am|Ferndale Event Center

Bellingham Farmers Market

10:00am|Depot Market Square

Harvest Happens

10:00am|Bellewood Acres

Community Meal

10:00am|United Church of Ferndale

Celebrating Vicky Marshall

10:00am|Bellingham Public Library

Holiday Gifts from the Kitchen

11:00am|Community Food Co-op

Cornhole Tournament

2:00pm|Boys & Girls Club of Whatcom County

Writing the Living Memoir

2:00pm|Ferndale Library


4:00pm|Bellingham Sportsplex

Wild & Scenic Film Festival

6:30pm|Lincoln Theatre

Warfel Award Ceremony

7:00pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Contra Dance

7:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Skagit Symphony Gala Concert

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

Whose Live Anyway?

7:30pm|Performing Arts Center

Just another hardcore troubadour


MBT Ben Folds Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1
Handling the truth


Lynden Book Sale

10:00am|Lynden Library

Skagit Community Band

7:30pm|Maple Hall and Brodniak Hal

98221 Artists Studio Tour

10:00am|Anacortes and Guemes Island

Harvest Happens

10:00am|Bellewood Acres

Rabbit Ride

8:00am|Fairhaven Bicycle

The Fungus Among Us

10:00am|North Lake Whatcom Park

Lynden Book Club

12:30pm|Lynden Library

Sunday Market

1:00pm|Alger Community Hall

Praise the Salmon

1:00pm|Fairhaven Village Green

Living Proof

4:00pm|Village Books

Benefit Variety Show

6:00pm|BAAY Theatre

Greg Proops

8:00pm|Upfront Theatre

Lydia Place Swinomish 2016
Handling the truth


Word Sprints

6:00pm|Bellingham Public Library

October Chores in the Garden

6:30pm|Skagit Valley Food Co-op

Crossing Zion

7:00pm|Deming Library


8:00pm|Bellingham Public Library


9:30pm|Green Frog

see our complete calendar »

MBT Once Bellingham Farmer’s Market Artifacts Wine Bar Everybody’s Store Northwood Steak and Crab MBT Ben Folds Village Books Swinomish 2016 Andrew Subin Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Lydia Place