Art by Women Flourishes Around Town

Fourth Corner Frames, 311 W. Holly St., is extending its exhibit through Jan. 12 to allow visitors to view the art on the first Downtown Art Walk of 2019, on Friday, Jan. 4. “Rising” features the work of Amy Armitage, Anita Boyle, Jeni Cottrell, Marcia Culver, Lynn Dee, Shirley Erickson, Linda R Hughes, Beverly Larson, Mary Jo Maute, Debbie McCunn, Laurie Potter, Renee Sherrer, and Denise Snyder. Gallery owner Sheri Wright says “their works range from the traditional to the avant-garde, from fiber to clay and all mediums in between. Like the oceans these women are “Rising.”
Longtime Bellingham artist Mary Jo Maute says her work is “a visual dance between observation and abstraction, control and accident, expressing the lush yet transitory nature of life. I work improvisationally, allowing fragments of plants, animals, figures and memories to surface and guide the process.”
She says that for this exhibit she’s highlighted paintings that include female figures. They hint at memories and experiences from my youth or playful interpretations of the female spirit.
Her companions in the women’s art group, she says, are a constant source of inspiration and support.
“We juggle all kinds of personal and community commitments and still find time for creativity and camaraderie. It’s fun to see our work together in one room — each artist’s work unique but with some intriguing parallels.”
Renee Sherrer, owner of Social Fabric, 1302 Commercial St., has a white silk scarf in the show, chosen, she says,  because “it felt so much like fabric made into ‘wings’ and she adds that she’s been in an “angel-making” theme for a while at Social Fabric.
“Because it’s silk, it feels to me as if when wearing it, one ‘rises’ to whatever occasion is called for. I just feel like the reflective and rich quality of the silk and the white color enhances the experience of wearing an art garment — it takes it ‘higher’ than just tossing on a less fancy scarf.”
Sculptor Shirley Erickson says that the thing that has impressed her about this group of very talented people is how willing they all are to support each other and share their talents with the group.
Anita K. Boyle says the group of women artists has been together for maybe a decade, give or take a year or two.
“We get together once a month, share a potluck dinner, and then discuss our latest artist adventures. The potluck meal we share is more than just a dinner. It gives us the time to chat about all sorts of things, so much so that our hearts, minds, AND stomachs are nurtured. Our artworks vary considerably in technique and content, but this monthly meeting is a great opportunity to receive supportive critiques and encouragement many solitary artists tend to crave from a sincere and talented group of women who ardently focus on their craft.”
She contributed three assemblages and a mobile to the “Rising” show; all of them use handmade paper pulp in one form or another. The mobile is not something she normally does, she says, but focussing in on the “Rising” theme gave her an idea involving the latest group of papers she’d made.  
“These were calm, easy-going two-tone papers I made by running one hundred percent cotton rug yarns through my Hollander beater, and then double-dipping the pulp onto the screens so that I ended up with a soft orange on one end, and a mute taupe color on the other. I love to collaborate in many ways, and so was happy to use the yarn remnants from True North Textiles, a rug-weaving business near Sunset Pond where my daughter Angela works part-time among a group of other women.”
“The mobile also collaborated with this summer’s unlucky barn owls by collecting and utilizing the feathers left behind by a territorial dispute between a couple of barn owls and a bard owl. (Anita collects natural items of all sorts for use in her artworks from the acreage where she lives on Noon Road, which she sees as a collaboration with place.)
“The three other assemblages,” she says, “are from a series of six nest-basket artworks that feature iris leaf pulp and other details both manmade and natural, that tend to tell a story. Two of them have tiny books inserted in them, one collaged with mourning dove feathers, and the other with wish phrases. Each of them tell a kind of visual story, full of symbolism, nature, and possible fabrications made up by the viewer. Of the other three in the series, one is currently at the Washington State Convention Center (in Seattle) as part of a large show by the Northwest Designer Craftsmen (along with an artwork by Bellingham’s Denise Snyder), one was at the Jansen Art Center when this show went up, and the third was sold and I hear is now on a cabin wall somewhere in Ireland.
Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. More information  at, or call at 360-734-1340.

Also on the January Art Walk, Allied Arts of Whatcom County, 1418 Cornwall Ave., opens its 2019 Gallery Series, “Women Empowering Women.” Erin Libby, Francie Allen, LaVera Langeman, Mary Davis and Patti Fairbanks display works that represent women’s issues, portraits of women, and women’s empowerment, particularly through the arts.
Other events happening at the Allied Arts Gallery during this exhibit:
Feminist Poetry Reading, 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 6, with poets Leslie Wharton, Rainbow Medicine-Walker, Dayna Patterson, Carla Shafer, Nancy Canyon, Jessica Lee, Kami Westhoff, Lois Holub and Maria Mcleod.
Cascadia International Women’s Film Festival Fundraiser, 8 p.m. Jan. 17, Gallery reception following the Film Festival happening at Pickford Film Center’s Limelight Cinema, across the hall from Allied Arts.
Women’s March Tea Party in Honor of the National Women’s March, 2 p.m. Jan. 19, with tea and thoughtful entertainment including short presentations by each of the artists.  The wearing of “pussy” hats is encouraged.
Gallery hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays. For more details, call 360-676-8548.

In addition, at 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 6, at Mount Baker Theatre, 104 N. Commercial St., Cascadia’s “Visions & Voices” series features a screening of the feature-length 1923 film “Salomé” by Alla Nazimova and the 1912 film, “Algie, the Miner” by director Alice Guy Blaché. Tickets must be purchased at Audience members are invited to participate in a Q&A event after each film with Whatcom Community College film studies professor Susan Lonac.

And nearby, at the Pickford Film Center, 1318 Bay St., Francie Allen’s amazing nearly life-size drawing and sculpture remain  at the foot of the stairs to the theaters. Here’s what’s going on (from her artist statement, edited):
I fashion life-size figures of dancers and acrobats in wire netting and shine light through them to create environments of shadows. They are reminiscent of the digital methods employed by graphic artists to create three dimensional-looking figures on a flat surface. Digital designers use an armature or scaffolding of cross-contour lines – “netting ” – with which they build their figures.
In a similar way but going in the opposite direction, using light, I allow my transparent wire netting sculptures to cast shadows on a flat surface – a wall or large sheet of drawing paper. The projected shadow shows the contours and dimensionality of the sculpture, perhaps even more than the sculpture itself.
At the Pickford, I will work with one of my lit dance figures to do a “drawing performance,” working from a 2/3rds life-size acrobat sculpted of wire netting and suspended from the ceiling. I will light it so that its shadow falls upon a large 5’x9’ sheet of drawing paper and draw the shadow in graphite. Graphite replicates both the exact value of a cast shadow and the metallic patina of the wire sculpture. Making all the virtual and actual forms within the environment the same value and patina heightens the installation’s visual impact.
After drawing the first shadow, I will move the figure to create a new shadow and draw it, so continuing on until I have built up a large complex, layered drawing of shadows. These drawn forms enhance and more deeply describe the wire sculpture they are derived from.
A viewer in the presence of the installation will be confronted with the sculpture and its shadow gently moving across a visual field of graphite-drawn shadow forms. This can be refreshingly disorienting, altering the viewer’s normal way of perceiving. It can offer the viewer a visceral awareness of his/her own body in relation to the sculpted and drawn environment. In the computer age, humans are faced with the ubiquitous two-dimensionality forced upon us by our digital world. So this sculpture/drawing installation can potentially offer viewers a deeper sense of the relationship of two- and three-dimensional reality, animated by light.