Visual

Date Night

A Valentine’s Day primer

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

My Valentine can be a stubborn cuss.

Last Friday, after agreeing to join me for an Art Walk date night, he tried to back out of our assignation. It was dumping rain and he was having difficulty finding a place to park, and he took these calamities as signs we should just head home and hole up already.

Instead of capitulating, I pointed to a spot near the Redlight that had just opened up on State Street.

“All right, you win,” he muttered, pulling the car in and securing his fate.

Since the art collection at the Redlight was on the list of exhibits I wanted to check out in advance of the day of love, I suggested we start there with a happy hour drink and see where the night led. He smiled and nodded his assent.

After securing a primo table in the middle of the small-but-sparkly space and ordering house-infused cocktails and pork wontons to share, we turned our attention to the exhibit, Taylor Rae VonDoom’s “My Trashy Valentine.” The particulars on the Art Walk map noted the show was a “surprise collection of new, Valentine’s-colorful, super-graphic, alley-centric landscapes from downtown Bellingham,” and I was intrigued.

At the center of the exhibit is “My Trashy Valentine Throws Up in the Alley” ($350)—a title that sounds iffy, but in reality is pretty amazing. Featuring an iconic alley in the urban core—I’d tell you where it is, but I want you to come to the realization on your own—the spare, vomit-free image reveals colorful trash bins, street lights, a bit of sky and the sense that the side street leads to eternity. The two paintings on the side of it focus on alleys near the downtown Parkade and the Depot Market Square, and will be instantly recognizable to those who visit the city on a regular basis.

After leaving the Redlight, we popped into the Western Center on the first floor of the Herald Building, where Western Washington University alumnus Jennifer Bowman’s dynamic paintings of flora, fauna, hummingbirds, beaches and rusty old trucks were filling the walls of the large space.

I noted that any one of the eye-catching works by the award-winning artist would make a great Valentine’s Day gift, and my date agreed. (If he’s reading this, I hope he knows I’m talking about the painting of the wild-eyed rooster. )

I’d like to report that we spent the next couple of hours visiting all of the other exhibits I’d marked on my itinerary, but my date was still hungry and insisted on taking me out for dinner.

Over sushi and ramen, I removed the map from my purse and pointed out places people could go for Valentine’s Day viewing or to purchase art for their loved ones.

The list included Laura Kristine’s “Bicycle Love” photographs at Cafe Velo, the “LOVE FOR SALE” Valentine/art exhibit at Social Fabric—featuring art that could easily double as a token of your affection for that special someone—and “In the Bedroom: An Exploration of Queer Identity” at WinkWink.

“These are just the exhibits with some sort of Valentine’s Day theme,” I posited, “but I bet you could go to the most of the venues on the Art Walk list and find something amazing to look at or purchase. Art is a gift that keeps on giving, after all.”

For a full listing of February’s Art Walk participants, go to http://www.downtownbellingham.com

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