Birch bark seems to be a theme in my life in the last couple of months--from finding out that my biological family may have blood ties to the Ojibway (Chippewa) in Wisconsin, and learning about an Ojibway friend's culture through her traditional birch bark bitings, which she has transferred into jewelry designs. Earlier in the month, I found a birch bark rattle at the local Goodwill and picked up a sweet Ojibway birch bark box at a Seattle antique mall. During the Bellingham First Friday ArtWalk that I attended on Friday evening in Bellingham, Washington, I met a woman who was photographing paintings of birch bark trees. After I told her about my recent infatuation with birch bark, she told me she has an antique "picker" friend in Portland, Oregon, who just found a really beautiful birch bark box. Coincidence? I don't think so! I love that art and beauty is all around us and things are interconnected if we open our eyes.
Back to the First Friday ArtWalk in Bellingham...This sleepy burg was named an "Art Town USA" a few years ago, because the arts thrive there, but in a very quiet way. Only second to Santa Fe for the number of registered artists, the quality of Bellingham's visual art is very high and the price points are amazingly low for original art.
Highlights of the Bellingham First Friday ArtWalk were hanging out with the dynamic Trish Harding at her studio in downtown Bellingham and meeting local whimsical printmaker Scott Rickey, who is showing his work at local home design retailer Digs, through the month of January. I especially enjoyed his print "My DARE Officer was a Dick". Blue Horse Gallery has new owners, and they have added a quaint new cafe, an area for live musical performances and readings and some terrific new artists like Kiki Cardarelli, who paints her original photographic works with stunning results. There is also fine jewelry, sculpture and more to be found at Blue Horse Gallery. At Jinx Art Space, an artist cooperative, which I found to be cavernous, I discovered the work of collaborators Genevieve Gonska and Tammy Findlay in an exhibit of works entitled "Winter Sleep". The two have created the aforementioned marvelously pensive depictions of birch bark trees in chalk on natural wood. It's definitely an exhibit not to be missed.
In the basement at Jinx, I met a lovely and delightful painter by the name of Sheana Sisselman. She uses motor oil, collected by her mechanic husband, to create incredible black on white canvas paintings. She also creates works on paper that she artfully places in shadow boxes. At Jinx, you can also find high-quality copper patina and wood jewelry by Marcus.
As a lover of Native American and First Nations art, I was thrilled to discover the Cedar Works Gallery, an art cooperative run by Lummi Nation carver Mike Thomas. Located at 217 W. Holly Street in downtown Bellingham, Cedar Works Gallery features the art of Lummi tribal members as well as others. Collectors can find cedar masks, cedar flowers bone carvings and more.
I documented the whole evening for my blog. Watch the video HERE: