Spring Sights

From greenhouse to gallery

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Nestled in a verdant valley between wooded hills, the River Gallery looks like it’s been around since pioneer days. But only a few years back, artist-owner Sylvia Strong remodeled the former greenhouse into a well-lit, sizable gallery. 

The annual “Spring Show” consists of work by 38 artists. Visitors will find an abundance of lovely studies of meadows and hills, rivers, marshes, trees, flowers and birds. Cynthia Richardson, Margaret C. Arnett, Christine Troyer, and Suzanne Powers offer fine landscape studies. Birds feature in the art of Sallie Lynn Davis, Dedrian Clark, and Jennifer Bowman. Terry MacDonald’s favorite ravens now appear more fierce and individual, and expressionism is creeping into her portraits of chickadees.

Maggi Mason depicts birds as well, but look closer and you’ll find not painting, but collage, genuinely pictorial and compelling—especially “Exuberance” and “the Dance of the Scarecrows.”

Another representational artist “paints” with pastel. Coizie Bettinger’s nature studies are cloying, dreamlike—“modern impressionism.”

Straddling representation and abstraction is the colorful and fascinating work of Jacqui Beck, containing recognizable elements from the natural world (including cats) arranged in strongly abstract compositions.

Yvette Newman, Charlotte Decker, and Brooke Borcherding adhere primarily to abstraction. After a successful run of brightly colored work in her idiosyncratic “cubistic” style, Borcherding appears to be staking out new territory with heavily impastic canvases. 

Decker presents a grand sweep of color in “Callejero II” and “Street Jam.” I’ve enjoyed seeing her work in many locations, including Café Rumba in Bellingham and the classroom at “Ode to Learning.”

Newman’s work is also widely seen—at Scott Milo Gallery in Anacortes, the Community Food Co-op in Bellingham, and a large display in Bellis Fair Mall. Her “Palouse” might be termed a colorfield study or a highly abstracted landscape. “Keeping Time” suggests a clockwork pendulum on a bright field of blue.

She believes, “as Einstein did, that imagination is more important than knowledge.” This wise remark recalls the world’s first abstractionist painter, a woman—Hilma af Klint (Sweden, 1906)— who maintained that creating her art was fundamentally a spiritual exercise. 

Maria Wickwire, a newcomer to River Gallery this year, would agree; she creates her fascinating and evocative sculpture by “going into the deep where you’re lost and [then] find yourself.”

Three of the men in the show are also sculptors, including Peter Welty, Robert Gigliotti, and Gerald Johnson, who make powerful showings in metal and stone. Gary Giovane combines fine woodworking with painting onto his cedar panels and screens.

Giovane’s birds and plants echo traditions of Japan and China, the British Arts & Crafts movement, and the “formline” design of Northwest indigenous tribes. These days, our Native American neighbors remind us they don’t always appreciate cultural appropriation. Alas, for better or worse, nations have always done it—South Asians and Romans imitating Hellenic sculpture, Europeans adopting the shapes of African art and the style of Japanese screen prints and the list goes on.

Feel free to discuss that topic, among others, while viewing the “Spring Show,” which closes April 30. Catch it now while the tulips are in bloom.

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Cascade Games Convention

9:00am|Bellingham Cruise Terminal

Wild Things

9:30am|Lake Padden Park

Garage Sale and Health Fair

12:00pm|Settlemyer Hall

Books and Bites

2:00pm|Blaine Library

Post-Holiday Detox

2:00pm|Cordata Community Food Co-op

Coffee Tasting

3:00pm|Camber Cafe

Food Not Bombs

4:00pm|Downtown Bellingham

Bellingham Folk Festival

4:30pm|Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship

Art Auction Gala

5:30pm|Whatcom Museum's Lightcatcher Building

Anacortes Women's March

6:00pm|Depot Arts Center

Family Story Night

6:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Sierra Club Winter Member Party

6:30pm|Boundary Bay Brewery


7:00pm|Bellingham Arts Academy for Youth

Opera Scenes

7:30pm|Performing Arts Center

The Flick

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Tropical Heat Wave Dance


Five for Fighting

8:00pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Space Trek, Backyard Brawl

8:00pm|Upfront Theatre

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Cascade Games Convention

9:00am|Bellingham Cruise Terminal

Garage Sale and Health Fair

12:00pm|Settlemyer Hall

Bellingham Folk Festival

4:30pm|Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship


7:00pm|Bellingham Arts Academy for Youth

The Flick

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Space Trek, Backyard Brawl

8:00pm|Upfront Theatre

Pancake Breakfast

8:00am|Ferndale Senior Center

VFW Breakfast

8:00am|VFW Hall

Mason Bee Management

9:00am|Garden Spot Nursery

Smoking Crow Opening

9:00am|Smoking Crow

Plant Society Field Trip

10:00am|Birch Bay State Park

Nordic Ski Ambassadors

10:00am|SnoPark at Salmon Ridge

Skagit Eagle Festival

10:00am|Howard Miller Steelhead Park

March on Bellingham

10:00am|Bellingham City Hall

Winter Farmers Market

10:00am|Depot Market Square

Of marching and mending


Travel to Cuzco and Machu PIcchu

1:00pm|Blaine Library

Cedar Weaving Workshop

2:00pm|Lynden Library

Teddy Bear Biographies

2:00pm|Ferndale Library

Learn to Grow a Vegetable Garden

2:00pm|Sumas Library

Mona Openings

2:00pm|Museum of Northwest Art

Mysticism in Art

2:00pm|Skagit County Historical Museum

Exploring Port

2:00pm|Seifert & Jones Wine Merchants

The Fight Against Human Trafficking

3:00pm|Everson Library

Kindgom Quest

4:00pm|Village Books

Music and Memories

5:00pm|Swinomish Casino & Lodge

Robert Burns Supper

5:30pm|Littlefield Celtic Center

Ensemble Electra

7:30pm|Jansen Art Center

The Good Lovelies

7:30pm|Lincoln Theatre

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

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Cascade Games Convention

9:00am|Bellingham Cruise Terminal

Bellingham Folk Festival

4:30pm|Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship


7:00pm|Bellingham Arts Academy for Youth

Skagit Eagle Festival

10:00am|Howard Miller Steelhead Park

Community Breakfast

8:00am|American Legion Post #43

Rabbit Ride

8:00am|Fairhaven Bicycle

Rabbit Ride

8:30am|Fairhaven Bicycle

Bellingham Chamber Music Society

3:00pm|First Congregational Church

Nonfiction and Memoir Writing Group

3:00pm|Village Books

Southside Community Meal

5:00pm|Our Saviour's Lutheran Church

Way North Comedy

7:00pm|Farmstrong Brewing Co.

see our complete calendar »

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