McCracken - sproutIn addition to the Sue Boynton Poetry Contest awards this evening, there’s also Having Faith in a Seed at the Whatcom Museum Lightcatcher: a conversation about art and poetry with Paul Hansen, James Bertolino and Anita K. Boyle, plus a poetry performance in the gallery surrounded by the artwork of Philip McCracken. 6:30pm.


transforming a book

November 13, 2015

donated books

In connection with the “Unhinged” exhibit at the Whatcom Museum, Carly and Kevin James of Bison Bookbinding & Letterpress will lead a two-hour workshop to transform a discarded book into a sculptural object. Bring your own book or select one donated by the Friends of the Bellingham Public Library.

AHA! After Hours Art: Salvaged Book Event
Thursday, November 19, 2015 – 5:30 – 7:30pm
Bison Bookbinding & Letterpress, 112 Grand Ave., Suite 101, Bellingham
$18 General/$15 Museum Members
Class size is limited; register by contacting Mary Jo Maute at 360-778-8961 or
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make book

October 26, 2015

Altered State One (Cressy)

In connection with the inspiring Whatcom Museum exhibit, Unhinged, book artist Elsi Vassdal Ellis will offer a workshop, Soft Cover Hand-Bound Bookmaking, on Saturday, November 7, 2015, 10:00am – 4:00pm, in the Lightcatcher Studio (Bellingham, WA). Participants will learn an easy, aesthetically pleasing technique to create a journal or sketchbook, constructing a simple wraparound soft cover, reinforcing the spine with decorative paper, and sewing the sections directly to the cover with a simple pamphlet stitch.

Elsi Vassdal Ellis has been making books since 1983. Her work is included in many public collections, including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, National Museum of Women in the Arts, and the Brooklyn Museum. She teaches digital pre-press, offset and letterpress printing, graphic design history, materials and finishing, and book arts at Western Washington University.

The workshop, $70 General/$65 Museum members (includes some supplies), is suitable for ages 15+. Class size is limited and registration is required. Registration deadline is Monday, November 2. Register by phone at 360-778-7000 or in person at the Bellingham Parks and Recreation office, 3424 Meridian Street. Supply list available at registration. Bring your lunch.
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image: Elsi Vassdal Ellis – Altered State One (Cressy)

Reminder: get Unhinged

October 5, 2015


Unhinged: Book Art on the Cutting Edge is now open at the Whatcom Museum (Lightcatcher) in Bellingham. The exhibit explores book art through the work of 60 prominent artists from the U.S., Great Britain and Australia, and will remain on view through January 3, 2016. The museum offers 55-minute docent tours of the exhibit, free with admission, beginning at 1:30pm on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Regular museum hours: Wednesday-Sunday, Noon – 5pm, Thursdays open until 8pm, Saturday open at 10am. The museum will be closed Wednesday, November 11, Thursday, November 26, December 24-25 and January 1.

See it. Your idea of book may never be the same.

one for the calendar…

August 11, 2015

Whatcom Museum - Unhinged

This should be good: Unhinged: Book Art on the Cutting Edge is an upcoming exhibition focusing on the limitless potential of books for artistic inspiration. It opens at the Whatcom Museum Lightcatcher Building on Sunday, September 27, 2015, and continues through January 3, 2016.

The show surveys recent directions in book art through the diverse work of 60 prominent artists in the field from the U.S., Australia, Canada and Great Britain. Curated by Barbara Matilsky, Unhinged highlights a myriad of styles and processes. Some artists carve old volumes or twist their pages into unique, sculptural configurations. Others make their own books and experiment with a multitude of different formats: accordion, concertina, pop-up, tunnel, among others. Some artists reconfigure ancient book forms, such as the scroll or codex, to create unique artworks. Books, which may be intimately-scaled or large installations, are often combined with other materials, both manufactured and natural, such as plastic, crystals, and twigs, to astonishing effects.

The exhibition also presents artists’ personal experiences, including messages about identity, human justice issues, and environmental concerns. From political statements to metaphysical ideas, book artists interpret their medium through expressive and sometimes humorous constructions.

The exhibition features artists who revolutionized the field, including Doug Beube, Julie Chen, Timothy Ely, Ann Hamilton, Buzz Spector, and Richard Minsky, as well as younger artists who have become internationally renowned, such as Long-Bin Chen, Brian Dettmer, Andrea Deszö, and Guy Laramée. Unhinged also includes many artists from Washington State: Casey Curran, Donald Glaister, Morse Clary, Marie Eckstein Gower, Deborah Greenwood, James Koss, Jessica Spring, Elsi Vasdall Ellis, Thomas Wood, Suze Woolf, and Ellen Ziegler.

Mark your calendar and find additional information on the Whatcom Museum site.

bookish inspiration

June 4, 2015


If you’re looking for art resources in print to inspire your writing or fuel your research, here are a couple of suggestions:

The Whatcom Museum, in Bellingham, Washington, has announced the opening of the Joyce Morse Reference Library. Located in the Lightcatcher building and open by appointment on Wednesdays and Thursdays, the library “contains more than 500 titles about art and artists from the Pacific Northwest, Whatcom County history, and the history and art of Indians of the Pacific Northwest.” To view the catalog of titles, visit the Bellingham Public Library online catalog.

If you’d rather browse online, visit the The Metropolitan Museum of Art site, MetPublications. With some 1,500 titles (and growing), the collection includes books, online publications, and Met Bulletins and Journals published since 1964. Except for in-print publications, everything is downloadable, free, as PDFs. Browse all 1,534 titles here.

As a side note, if you’re looking for prompts to inspire ekphrastic poetry, visit the Met’s Collection page and subscribe to Artwork of the Day.

finding Ella Higginson…

November 6, 2014

words by Ella Higginson

This is a guest post by Laura Laffrado.

Though Ella Rhoads Higginson is little known today, over a century ago she was the most influential Pacific Northwest literary writer in the United States. People across the nation and around the world were first introduced to the Pacific Northwest when they read Higginson’s award-winning poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Higginson’s descriptions of the majestic mountains, vast forests, and scenic waters of the Puget Sound presented the then-remote, unfamiliar Pacific Northwest to eager readers. Her celebrated writings were the very first to prominently place the Pacific Northwest on the literary map of the United States.

In addition to works of fiction and nonfiction, Higginson was the author of four books of poetry (which contained over three hundred poems). Her poems appeared regularly in leading periodicals of the day alongside works by other renowned authors. Many of her poems were set to music and performed internationally by celebrated dramatic singers such as Enrico Caruso. And in 1931, Higginson was chosen to be the first Poet Laureate of Washington State.

In her day, Higginson and her writing attracted international literary attention to the Pacific Northwest. However, by the time she died, in 1940, both she and her work were almost completely forgotten. They remain virtually forgotten today. It is my project to reintroduce Higginson’s engaging writings to a new audience of appreciative readers and to begin to reestablish her once-celebrated literary reputation.

To whet your poetry appetite, I offer a sonnet by Higginson that pays homage to our corner of the world:

Semiahmoo Spit

     One long, low, narrow strip of glistening sands
     Flung out into the Georgian Gulf; one wide,
     Blue sweep of sunlit waves on every side.
     Around it reach the hills, like emerald bands,
     And farther, higher, more majestic, stands
     Mount Baker, chaste and white—the ocean’s bride.
     With noiseless feet the pearl-topped waters glide,
     Pushing each other up the black tide-lands;
     Here wild, sweet roses, like an amethyst cloud,
     Make pink the air and scent the languorous breeze
     That wantons over these far western seas;
     And when the sun drops downward, flaming, proud,
     This stretch of water, petaled fold on fold,
     Seems one great crimson poppy, fleck’d with gold.

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To learn more, read Dean Kahn’s article, WWU professor hopes to resurrect Ella Higginson’s legacy, in the Bellingham Herald, visit The Ella Higginson Project and watch this C-SPAN Interview with Dr. Laura Laffrado about The Ella Higginson Recovery Project.

On Thursday, November 13, 2014, 10:00am-Noon, in Old City Hall (Bellingham, WA), the Whatcom Museum will present Laura Laffrado discussing Ella Higginson’s rise to international acclaim and championship of literacy in her home of Bellingham in the early 20th century. The talk is free to the public.

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Laura LaffradoLaura Laffrado, award-winning Professor of English at Western Washington University, has published widely on American literature. Her latest book, Selected Writings of Ella Higginson, will be published in spring 2015.

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