Originally published by MyEdmondsNews on January 17, 2018, written by James Spangler
Every time I go to see a new exhibit at the Cascadia Art Museum I’m impressed. I find myself saying — Wow! That was amazing!
I always wonder how they’re going to top that last show. Yet, each time I feel like they do. I’m not sure how that’s possible. Somehow, with Northwest Design at Midcentury, which is running now through March 25, they’ve done it again.
In the hours before a Cascadia Art Museum opening, there are typically a few loose ends to tie up. Operations director Nate Hegerberg is in the thick of it. “I’m generally completely swamped right up until the doors open –- editing, generating and mounting labels, and fine-tuning the light design. But this show is going to be great. It’s unlike anything we’ve done before. This has been the biggest installation thus far, but it was actually easier than our last show. We had a subcontractor manufacture our platforms and it all came together really well.”
At 6 p.m., a crowd of about 75 files into the museum exhibition area and begins to fan out. Some linger around hors d’oeuvres and wine. Many members will return another time to really view the art; there are just too many familiar faces to concentrate. There’s even a no-host bar that Cascadia’s neighbor, Scratch Distillery, has provided. Northwest hooch seems to pair very nicely with Northwest art. The atmosphere is celebratory.
RSVPs number in the range of 400. By 6:30, at least 200 are mixing and viewing art. There’s talk of breaking the opening into a two-night event, just to relieve the congestion a little. Everyone seems to be taking it in stride.
Patrons gravitate toward the Glen Alps sculptures and marvel at the Ruth Pennington jewelry. There is an incredible array of fine art, furniture, ceramics, sculpture, jewelry and fabric art of the era.
There are some other familiar artists from previous shows — Kenneth Callahan, Danny Pierce and Ebba Rapp come to mind.
Registrar Cameron Overturf along with a small army of volunteers have the unenviable job of protecting the art. As he is explaining that a big part of his job is arranging the loan of pieces used in each exhibit; handling the pickups and ensuring the safe return of cherished works, he excuses himself to head off someone wandering into one of the halls with a glass of wine.
Mid-century design is red hot, as any realtor, furniture salesman, gallery owner or jeweler can tell you.
It’s interesting to hear what Cascadia founder Lindsey Echelbarger has to say about it. “ A lot of people don’t realize that at this time, the Northwest was a leader in design — in ceramics, in furniture, in fine art, in sculpture and jewelry. From about 1948 to 1966, our area was taking off — both literally and figuratively. Boeing was producing airplanes, and the economy was experiencing a post-war boom.
“Ceramic artists like Sperry and Weisel were famous throughout the world. Alps and Tsutakawa were well known and highly influential in sculpture and fine art. Pennington’s jewelry is highly collectible and the pieces we have on display are eye-opening. George Nakashima was one of the top three or four furniture designers of the time, he started on Bainbridge Island. You can see today the strong Scandinavian and Japanese influences which are so much a part of the early heritage of the Pacific Northwest.”
Cascadia outshines itself once again. I can’t figure out how they do it