EDMONDS — If you dig mid-century modern design, you won’t want to miss the new exhibit at Cascadia Art Museum. And if you go this evening during ArtWalk Edmonds, you can see it for free.
Northwest Design at Mid-Century opens today and is on exhibit through March 25. Curated by Northwest art scholar David Martin, this is probably the most complicated and engrossing of his shows since the museum opened in 2015.
Martin has drawn on his friendships with artists and their families, the University of Washington, the Tacoma Art Museum and the Museum of History and Industry to gather together an exhibition of ceramics, furniture, clothing, jewelry, weavings, paintings, photography, sculpture, fused glass and prints made in our region from about 1948 to 1966. Some of what is displayed has not been seen anywhere else.
The art pieces include two (from Glen Alps and George Tsutakawa) that were displayed in 1962 at the Century 21 Exposition, the Seattle World’s Fair.
After the Depression and World War II, the 1950s and ’60s in the Puget Sound region were an exciting, heady and vibrant time of innovative design. Boeing helped bring on the “jet set,” the economy boomed and artistic endeavors, especially at the University of Washington, flourished. The region’s ties to Scandinavia and Japan led a variety of artists to embrace the “spare, lean, natural and environmental ethos that have since become pronounced regional characteristics,” Martin said.
Be sure to take note of the beautiful and rare furniture designed by George Nakashima, Evert Sodergren, George Tsutakawa, Margaret Tomkins, James Fitzgerald and Gideon Kramer, whose famous ergonomic ION chair is an landmark of American design.
Arguably one of the greatest industrial designers of the 20th century, Kramer landed in Seattle in about 1940 and spent the last year of his life, 2012, in Mukilteo. His ION chairs were designed for the Space Needle and displayed at the Seattle World’s Fair. The largest collection of the chairs were at the World Trade Center in New York City when it was destroyed Sept. 11, 2001.
Fans of former Everett Community College art instructor Russell Day (after whom the EvCC gallery is named) will be thrilled to see the collection of Day’s jewelry on display, as well as a dress he made for his wife, Marjorie.
Other longtime Puget Sound area residents should enjoy seeing commercial artwork and funny illustrations from the late 1960s done for the Frederick & Nelson department store by Bob Cram, who was perhaps best known for his days as KING TV’s illustrative weatherman.
Before the Pilchuck Art School was established near Stanwood and the Northwest built a strong reputation for art glass, our region was known for innovative ceramists such as Ivarose Bovindon, Ngarie Hixson, Robert Sperry and Virginia Weisel, who operated The Kiln in Bellevue and died last year. Take special note of Weisel’s beautiful and colorful pots, as well as her sculpture and wood carvings.
Enjoy the clay studio door painting done by Ralph and Lorene Spencer. Other paintings include those by Kenneth Callahan, Guy Anderson and Paul Horiuchi.
Klee Wyk Studios, which included Del McBride and three of his family members, produced beautiful tile murals, fabrics, hand-printed cards and furniture. Descended from the Cowlitz and Quinalt tribes, McBride produced some of the finest mid-century designs using Coast Salish Indian motifs.
Other artists represented in the exhibition include Everett DuPen, Hans Jorgensen, Elaine Jorgensen, James E. Peck, Ruth Penington and Danny Pierce. Don’t miss the clothing Pierce printed for his wife Julia Ann. Ties by Priscilla and Fay Chong and hats by John Eaton also are works of art.
Once again a show at Cascadia will be a revelation for many viewers. Martin and Cascadia Art Museum founder Lindsey Echelbarger have brought to light the talents of our region during the mid-20th century.
“We always knew that this regional work was really good,” Martin said. “The word is getting out.”
If you go
ArtWalk Edmonds, 5 to 8 p.m., Jan. 18 in downtown Edmonds. Free admission at Cascadia Art Museum. The museum is located at 190 Sunset and is usually open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Admission is $7 for seniors and children, $10 for general admission and free for members.
For information about having coffee with curator David Martin, go to www.cascadiaartmuseum.org.
Cascadia will host a classical string quartet for January’s Music in the Museum concert series at 6 p.m., Jan. 20. The quartet includes Cascade Symphony Orchestra members Amy Crenshaw, Luis Alcantara-Nenninger, Veronica Ho and Norma Dermond.