Cascadia art exhibit features Northwest’s botanical beauty

Cascadia Art Museum curator David Martin maintains there are two good reasons Washington is called The Evergreen State.

Native trees and flowers.

Martin’s current knockout exhibition — Botanical Exuberance: Trees and Flowers in Northwest Art — runs through June 25. Since spring thus far has been rainy, it might be a good time to spend an afternoon at the Edmonds museum enjoying the energy of sunny paintings or equally moody photographs.

The show includes some not-to-be-missed pieces: Yasushi Tanaka’s “Le Bouquet Japonaise,” an oil on board from 1918, which Martin recently found in Paris; Morris Graves’ “Study of a Leaf,” a brush and ink on paper from 1944, on loan from the University of Oregon; and Abby Williams Hill’s “Hemlock and Redwoods with Pool,” a 1931 oil on loan from the University of Puget Sound.

Tanaka (1886-1941) was Seattle’s earliest modernist painter. He moved to Paris in the 1920s, so many of his pieces are difficult to find.

Graves (1910-2001) is one of the best known of the modernist Northwest artists, and his later body of work also includes flowers. Be sure also to see his gouache on paper of lily-of-the-valley plants from 1954.

Hill (1861-1943) was a student of the renowned American impressionist William Merritt Chase in New York before moving to Tacoma. She was the first woman to paint travel posters on contract for the railroads.

Some of Martin’s favorite oils in the show are the colorful bouquets by Seattle Garden Club member Yvonne Twinning Humber (1907-2004).

“They are why the exhibit has exuberance in its name,” Martin said.

Equally colorful are the more abstract florals by Margaret Gove Camfferman (1881-1964), who also studied art in New York before moving to Whidbey Island in 1915.

An entire wall is devoted to mountain wildflowers as depicted by Paul Morgan Gustin (1886-1974), whose work is in the permanent collections of the Seattle Art Museum, the Frye Art Museum and the Henry Art Gallery.

Situated between paintings are photo portraits of some of the artists, including the beautiful Mabel Lisle Ducasse (1895-1976). She was active in Seattle’s modern art scene, and was friends with photographer Imogen Cunningham and journalist Anna Louise Strong.

Be sure to take note of the intricate crayon drawings of trees by Bellingham artist Elizabeth Aline Colborne (1885-1948). Look close at these works, which are on loan from the Whatcom Museum.

“The detail is mind-boggling,” Martin said.

Favorite photos in the show include those by Ella McBride (1862-1965), who managed the studio for the famous photographer Edward S. Curtis in Seattle. Her chloride prints from the 1920s are especially beautiful and moody. Her flower studies were exhibited in major salons and illustrated in publications all over the world.

Cascadia Art Museum is dedicated to late 19th and early 20th century works by artists of the Pacific Northwest. Botanical Exuberance is a delightful example of florals from regional gardens and of the natural beauty of our region.

If you go

Botanical Exuberance: Trees and Flowers in Northwest Art, through June 25 at Cascadia Art Museum, 190 Sunset Ave., Edmonds. The museum is open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. On third Thursdays, the museum is open until 8 p.m. and is free during Edmonds Art Walk hours, 5 to 8 p.m. Regular admission is $10, with discounts for seniors and students. Call 425-336-4809 or go to www.cascadiaartmuseum.org.

Original article: Cascadia art exhibit features Northwest’s botanical beauty