Guild Goods

Celebrating at Whatcom Art Market

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Members of the Whatcom Art Guild (WAG) know that, if it’s the second Tuesday of the month, they can find each other at the lower level meeting room at the Bellingham Public Library to discuss what’s happening in the local arts scene.

They’ve been doing so since 1964, and although the roster of artists has changed over the years, WAG’s simple mission to encourage and promote the visual arts in the Whatcom County area has remained the same.

To better help further other bullet points on their agenda—like organizing exhibits in which members have the opportunity to display and sell their art, promoting member artists, exchanging ideas and information, and providing a welcoming environment for artists of all levels—a major portion of the last decade has also featured a storefront where the public can peruse a rotating roster of offerings by Whatcom Art Guild affiliates.

With more than 45 members selling their wares at any given time, visitors to the Whatcom Art Market can expect to find everything from oil, acrylic, pastel and watercolor paintings to photography, three-dimensional works (such as wood bowls, cutting boards, glass, jewelry, metal, textiles, handwoven fabrics, clothing, etc.), household items like crochet rugs and baskets, and even a large selection of greeting cards. When it comes to creativity, it can definitely be deemed “one-stop-shopping.”

A recent press release pointed out that it’s been seven years since WAG started the successful market in Fairhaven, and nearly a year since they moved to their new locale. March has been deemed a “celebration month,” and March 10-12 has been set aside for special Anniversary Weekend activities.

During the three-day party, visitors can watch art and craft demos, meet a cross-section of the artists, enjoy refreshments and—best of all—walk away with original art made by members of the artistic community.

“The Whatcom Art Guild and the Whatcom Art Market is a ‘family’ that encourages each other’s creative endeavors,” publicity chair and maritime artist James Williamson says. “We also provide opportunities to educate, critique and assist each other with artworks. Each member brings different skill sets to the table from their different walks in life, and we highly value each member’s contribution to the organization as a whole.”

Williamson also notes WAG is open to artists of all mediums, and that members range in age from teenagers who are still in high school to 90-something seniors.

“Some artists are just beginning their trek as artists while others are internationally award winning artists and everything in between,” he says.

What’s also worth mentioning is that everything that happens concerning the Whatcom Art Guild and the Whatcom Art Market is done on a volunteer basis. Members pay $35 dollars a year to be part of the creative collective, and in doing so agree to contribute their time and energy to a variety of committees.

For example, Williamson is on the publicity and marketing committee. Other members lend their efforts to writing newsletters, organizing special events, working on the scholarship committee, helping maintain the group’s two websites, securing venues, and much more. All members take turns holding down the brick-and-mortar space.

“Being under the umbrella of the Whatcom Art Guild has provided stable leadership for a venture this size and is a large reason why the Art Market has experienced continued success,” Williamson says. “All aspects of running the co-op are done by the participating artists on a scheduled basis, which is why visitors see different faces every time they come in.”

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