There is a good reason why Washington has been referred to as the Evergreen State. One of the outstanding features of our region lies in its natural beauty. Very few states can boast such a lush and exuberant landscape. Whether the trees and flowers are viewed within our rainforests, in urban parks or contrasted against the majestic mountain ranges, we are fortunate to be surrounded with such splendor.
None of this was lost on our region’s artists. From the 19th century and even through today, local artists have used floral and tree motifs in their work in various mediums.
Our exhibition begins with the work of 19th /early 20th century paintings by Tacoma’s Abby Williams Hill (1861-1943). A true pioneering spirit, Hill painted many of her canvases outdoors while keeping a close watch on her four children. Her paintings were so highly regarded that she was commissioned to paint four landscapes that were used as travel posters for the Great Northern and Northern Pacific Railway.
In the 1920’s, members of the internationally renowned Seattle Camera Club often incorporated floral imagery into their work. Ella McBride (1862-1965) was famous for her flower studies that were exhibited in major salons and illustrated in publications all over the world. A pioneering conservationist, McBride was an experienced mountain climber and was among the original group of people advocating to make Mt. Rainier a National Park in 1899.
Paul Morgan Gustin (1886-1974), one of the region’s earliest successful artists was also an avid outdoorsman. Over several decades, he created a series of watercolors depicting the natural wildflowers surrounding Mt. Rainier. We are showing a major collection of this series for the first time.
Two extraordinary artists from Bellingham, WA, Elizabeth Colborne (1885-1948) and Helen Loggie (1895-1976) chronicled in exquisite detail, the trees of Whatcom County. Loggie’s etchings and Colborne’s crayon drawings reveal their intense fidelity to nature and passion for their home state.
Some artist’s, like Margaret Camfferman (1881-1964) and husband Peter Camfferman (1890-1957) were among the early settlers at Langley, Whidbey Island. They were both avid gardeners and incorporated this passion into their paintings. They had magnificent fruit and vegetable gardens and orchards overlooking the Sound where they often drew inspiration for their art as well as sustenance. Camfferman’s vivid expressionistic paintings are in sharp contrast to the meditative and stark works of Morris Graves (1910-2001). Whether he was scrutinizing a grouping of flowers or focusing on a simple leaf, his highly unique style is immediately recognizable.
Yvonne Twining Humber (1907-2004) was also a passionate gardener and member of the Seattle Garden Club for many years. Although she is known for her highly detailed urban scenes, Humber also produced amazing floral still-life’s that are rarely seen today. From the beginning of her career until the later days of her life when she was confined to a wheelchair, she continuously indulged in the beauty of flowers as subject matter.
Other artists in this exhibition include a rare still life by Yasushi Tanaka (1886-1941); photographic floral studies by Frank Asakichi Kunishige (1878-1960) and a stunning modernist watercolor of irises by Z. Vanessa Helder (1904-1968).