Bellingham National

The luck of the draw

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

With the digital world at our fingertips, it’s easy to forget it wasn’t too long ago that humans required little more than writing implements and paper to communicate with each other.

“Bellingham National,” an exhibit currently on display in the main gallery at Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher Building, aims to lend attention to the art of drawing, another practice that has taken a backseat to technology in modern times.

“What makes drawing an especially rich topic today is the profound transformation of our everyday lives by digital media,” guest curator Catharina Manchanda explains in a missive near the beginning of the show, which features works by more than 25 artists from across the country who entered their works for consideration in the juried exhibit.  “As the handwritten memo, the written diary, and letter writing have dwindled or vanished, and our day-to-day communication and information sharing conducted largely in front of screens, we are witnessing a profound material shift.

“In it most direct physical form, drawing has an immediacy and material quality that registers differently under these new conditions,” Manchanda adds. “Its very ‘slowness’ becomes significant at a time when the flood of digital imagery and information keeps shortening our attention spans. From a more linguistic and conceptual vantage point, drawing connections, drawing on memory and history, and drawing understood as notation and trace, open distinct possibilities for artists working across a range of mediums.”

Those who won the luck of the draw and were chosen from among the more than 300 artists who applied for a spot in “Bellingham National” represent a fascinating cross-section of creativity. From the literal to the abstract, the pieces help show viewers how individual artists create their works—and how “drawing connections” comes into play.

For example, Seattle artist Dawn Cemy’s “Body sketches for furniture,”  drawn in 2016, turned into life-sized, cartoon-looking sculptures in 2017—and the tangible result of her imaginings garnered her a first-prize cash award from the exhibit’s jurors.

And in addition to detailed drawings by the likes of Kelly Bjork (formerly of Bellingham), Colorado’s Marsha Sha, Brooklyn’s Bert Bergen, Seattle’s Klara Glosova and Whiting Tennis, and Vashon’s Ann Leda Shapiro, the exhibit also contains videos, a neighborhood-length knitted hose on a reel by Bellingham’s Christen Mattix and, in a dark room off the main part of the display, the clear sounds of a pen or pencil being used to draw on paper.

“I could have listened to it for hours,” my gallery date said when reflecting about the exhibit. “There was a music to it I hadn’t considered before. In fact, I’ll probably hear it when I draw or write from now on. To me, that was one of the most enticing parts of that exhibit—and it was in an otherwise empty room.”

If, upon perusal, a particular piece in “Bellingham National” speaks to you, keep in mind that anyone viewing the show can vote for a “popular choice” winner through Sept. 3. By Sept. 6, the results will be tallied and the artist with the most votes will receive a $500 prize. Naturally, you’ll choose your own winner by voting with a pencil and a piece of paper.

More Visual...
Pioneer Museum
Bringing history into sharp focus

If there’s one museum I love to get lost in, it’s the Lynden Pioneer Museum on the city’s Front Street.

The 28,000-square-foot space has an amazing series of exhibits that take visitors back in time and give them a glimpse of city life, the agricultural history of Lynden, modes of…

more »
River's Edge
Seasonal sights in Mount Vernon

The River Gallery on Landing Road near the lower Skagit River, once a commercial greenhouse, is a natural home for art. The light is perfect and it’s roomy enough to show off works by 38 artists—more than most museums.  I always look forward to the harmony and balance of the exhibition…

more »
Studio Stats
An abundance of art

As the Whatcom Artist Studio Tour has grown near, organizers of the event that sees dozens of area artists opening their creative spaces for public perusal for two weekends every October have been highlighting on their Facebook page the various painters, sculptors, journal-makers, jewelers,…

more »
MVHS Fall Concert

4:00pm|McIntyre Hall

Book Group Mixers

5:30pm|Village Books

Group Run

6:00pm|Skagit Running Company

Life of the Arctic Polar Bear

6:30pm|Community Food Co-op

Creekside Open Mic

6:30pm|South Whatcom Library

Anyone for Stew?

6:30pm|Gretchen's Kitchen

Seasonal Beers

6:30pm|Cordata Community Food Co-op

Birds and Plants

7:00pm|RE Store

Thriving in the Middle

7:00pm|Village Books

Jeremy Kahn Quartet

7:00pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Scottish Dancing

7:30pm|Fairhaven Library

Book Group Mixers

5:30pm|Village Books

Bringing history into sharp focus


Fall Craft & Antique Show

10:00am|Northwest Washington Fairgrounds

U.S. Citizenship Class

6:00pm|Lynden Library


7:00pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

The Women of Lockerbie

7:00pm|Lynden Christian High School

Balkan Folk Dance

7:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Summer Bike Stories

7:00pm|Cafe Velo

Young Frankenstein

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Village Books
Fall Craft & Antique Show

10:00am|Northwest Washington Fairgrounds


7:00pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

The Women of Lockerbie

7:00pm|Lynden Christian High School

Young Frankenstein

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

Wild Things

9:30am|Stimpson Family Nature Reserve

Book and Bake Sale

10:00am|Lynden Library

Grand Opening and Open House

11:00am|Social Fabric

Books and Bites

1:00pm|Blaine Library

Clean Eating

2:00pm|Cordata Community Food Co-op

Coffee Tasting

3:00pm|Camber Cafe

Food Not Bombs

4:00pm|downtown Bellingham

Art Night

5:00pm|SpringHill Suites by Marriott

12 Minutes Max Auditions

5:00pm|Firehouse Performing Arts Center

Amber Sky CD Release Party

6:00pm|Presence Studio

Gore & Lore Tours

6:00pm|Historic Fairhaven, downtown Bellingham

Falliday Vintage Market

6:00pm|Port Transit Event Center

Family Story Night

6:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Wild & Scenic Film Festival

6:30pm|Lincoln Theatre

Poetry Party

7:00pm|Mount Baker Theatre


7:00pm|Village Books

USA Dance


Thriller Dance Class

7:00pm|Moles Farewell Tributes

Halloween Movie Night

7:00pm|BHS Performing Arts Center

Friday Night Flicks

7:30pm|Van Zandt Community Hall

Sanford-Hill Piano Series

7:30pm|Performing Arts Center


8:00pm|Upfront Theatre

Holding the Light

8:00pm|Honey Moon

see our complete calendar »

Village Books Bellingham Farmer’s Market CWWarrenMiller Trove Mt. Baker Theatre Undersea Bubble Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1