Originally published on myedmondsnews.com December 13th, 2017, written by James Spangler
Author Alain de Botton once said that writing a book is like telling a joke and having to wait two years to know whether or not it was funny.
Cascadia Art Museum’s curator, David F. Martin, has written somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 books, all of which have been well-received. Martin’s books are snapped up not just because they are so well crafted, but also because the subject matter he chooses to write about strikes a chord with an audience hungry to know more about the art of our region.
His latest, Territorial Hues – The Color Print and Washington State 1920 – 1960, a gorgeous, graphic rich, 157-page history of our region’s mid-century contribution to the art of color printmaking, is no exception.
So how is Territorial Hues different? It serves as the first volume in what will be an annual series that Cascadia will publish concurrently with selected exhibits.
“There’s only occasional publication in the Northwest art field, in the last 30 or 40 years not much new ground has been plowed,” says Cascadia Museum founder and board president Lindsey Echelbarger. “It’s always been part of our mission to publish. Ten years from now, there will be a body of work that will allow us to see Northwest regional art in a holistic way.”
Echelbarger presented a copy of the book to the City of Edmonds during the City Council’s Dec. 5 meeting.
Martin, who is currently in Paris, was kind enough to exchange emails. Apparently, he’s been waiting a lot more than two years to gauge the reception of Territorial Hues:
“I had the idea for this book for many years and started researching it around 25 years ago. Many of my sources have passed away since, and I was lucky to start so long ago, as the information would have died with them. Over the years, I had a few local museums interested in the book and the exhibition but they never materialized. When Lindsey [Echelbarger] organized the museum, I had it in mind that I would finally be able to do the project. The idea came mostly from my close friendship with two of the artists, Glen Alps and Danny Pierce. They were frustrated at the lack of recognition they were receiving locally while at the same time, enjoying great reputations outside the area.
The Northwest has an incredible history of printmaking, some of the artists being internationally known and making contributions to various mediums. However, there has never been a print curator at any of the major museums in Western Washington and so prints have not been promoted as they should have been.”
If you’ve been following the progress of Cascadia, you’ve seen a steady increase in awareness and appreciation for what their trying to accomplish there. Membership numbers have doubled from 400 to 800 in just the last year. “It’s nice to witness the enthusiasm. It’s really gratifying — it validates the decision to create the museum with the help of so many people. I’m very happy that the idea resonates,” Echelbarger said.
But even a little over two years after Cascadia opened its doors, many people are just discovering it. It occupies 11,000 square feet of prime commercial real estate, roughly the size of half a grocery store. When people encounter it for the first time, they often exclaim — “Wow! It’s a real museum!” The same thing has happened with the publication — “It’s a real book!”
Yes it is. I purchased a copy opening night, opened it the next day and found myself reading it from cover to cover. It’s largely a chronological account that features a large section wedged in the middle about the Chase brothers; two highly productive and fascinating printmakers whose work is currently on display in one of the three main viewing areas of the museum. It’s suffused with hundreds photographs and high-quality reproductions of the prints you’ll see currently on display at the museum.
Hues is truly a valuable and important contribution to the Northwest art world. Its existence ensures that the work of many remarkable printmakers, some of whom have very nearly faded into obscurity, will be remembered and appreciated for generations to come.
Looking for a gift idea for the art lover in your family? Hues is available at the Edmonds Bookshop, the University of Washington bookstore, and the Cascadia Museum gift shop, which is open to the public (without admission to the museum) and has scads of cool stuff. Hues retails for $29.95, with a 10 percent discount for museum members at the gift shop. Martin’s out-of-print work on artist Elizabeth Colborne is currently fetching close to $300 for a used copy, so don’t wait!
The exhibit Territorial Hues ends Jan. 7 — see it if you can. Admission is free during 3rdThursday Artwalk 5-8 p.m.