Cascadia Art Museum launches ambitious exhibit | Art & Appetite

By James Spangler | Oct 22, 2017

I've always considered printmaking to be an almost magical process. I’ve watched artists painstakingly carving away at wood blocks or scratching away on copper plates, carefully considering the choice of inks or dyes to use. It's a process requiring great precision and patience.

You can get a vague idea of what they're hoping to achieve by looking at their plate, but the magic comes when the print is finally pulled from the press. It's only then that the artist really sees the product of their labors.

I'll just say it: Many of the talented Northwest printmakers of the recent past have been neglected and almost forgotten, and that's a shame.

But thanks to the vision of Carolyn and Lindsey Echelbarger and the multitude that has risen up to support that vision, Cascadia Art Museum in Edmonds continues to draw attention to the extraordinary artists of our region’s past with its most ambitious and impressive exhibit to date:

“Territorial Hues: The Color Print and Washington State, 1920-1960.”

The size and scope of the show itself is significant, with over 150 prints on display. The permanent exhibit has been taken down to provide needed space. Prints produced by the Chase brothers, two important and colorful printmakers of our region, have taken up temporary residence there. The easternmost wall of the museum alone contains 27 prints in what is reminiscent of an almost salon style of exhibition.

The task of hanging this behemoth fell largely to operations manager Nate Hegerberg, although he’s quick to acknowledge the help of registrar Cameron Overturf and volunteer Lauren Carroll.

“So much goes into the process of hanging a show that the viewer doesn't see,” Hegerberg said. “Each piece has to stand on its own. Light design alone is tricky. The LED lighting and light levels we use protect the prints as much as possible.”

In a welcome addition, Cascadia has introduced audio handsets with this show. Viewers can access 28 one- to three-minute recordings providing context on subjects such as the printmaking processes, biographical information of the artists on display, and even title and light level selection.

When I asked curator David Martin when he began his preparation for “Territorial Hues,” he chuckled. In a sense, this show’s preparation began when David moved to Seattle in 1986. Over the last 30 years, he has connected with artists and their families, collected catalogs and developed an encyclopedic knowledge of this region's art.

Among his many concerns with this show was finding a way to display some of the actual blocks and plates used in the printmaking process with their respective prints.

He was gratified to receive so much support from the families of many of the artists. Most of the pieces shown are from private collections, where they’ve been maintained in pristine condition.

Also notable with this exhibition is Cascadia’s first book. Written by Martin and printed by University of Washington Press, it’s a 160-page tribute to the region’s printmakers – a gorgeous, enlightening and reasonably priced companion to the show.

Art lovers, this is an exhibit you won't want to miss.


“Territorial Hues: The Color Print and Washington State, 1920-1960”

Where: Cascadia Art Museum, 190 Sunset Ave., Edmonds
When: Through Jan. 7
Admission: $10, free 5-8 p.m. during Art Walk Edmonds the third Thursday of the month
Information: 425-336-4809

 

 

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