We hope you have marked your calendar to attend one of Bellingham’s best parties of the year, Puttin’ on the Ritz. This fabulous auction and dinner is the Festival’s major fundraising event of the year, and because of our generous sponsors and supporters, I know it is going to be a great success. Auction items will be as varied as an adventuresome stay in a charming Italian Farmhouse, tickets to a Washington Huskies vs. Utah Utes game, relaxing spa treatments, fine dining, “owning” a beautiful Mercedes for the weekend, and much, much more.
Adding to the success of the evening will be beautifully curated art items donated by local artists. These will include: oil paintings on linen, canvas and board; jewelry of handmade beads lined in silver; evocative black and white photography of powerlines and clouds; and garden sculptures – over twenty fascinating items to excite and delight our guests during the auction‘s evening of bidding, dining and supporting the Festival.
If you have not already made your reservation, select Puttin’ on the Ritz. We look forward to seeing you at the auction!
Karen Berry, Chair
Thank You, Auction Artists!
Artists donating their art make a very special gift, because the works are so personal—an extension of themselves. We are so fortunate that these talented artists selected the Festival as one of the community organizations they support. Their art can be viewed, along with the many other exciting auction items, by selecting Auction Offerings.
The following artist statements have been offered by this year’s participating donors and serve as a tantalizing introduction to their works:
Susan Bennerstrom, painter: Windsor Chair/Oil on linen.
“This is a hallway in a friend’s studio in Seattle; a chair in shadow. I like to paint mysteries. I want to know what that red cloth hanging over the doorway is about, but know I never will.”
Gini Bunnell, painter: Peonies from the Farmer’s Market/Oil on board.
“I am always excited when the peonies start to bloom. It’s a combination of childhood memories of my grandmother’s house and the present opportunity to paint them. When I saw these blossoms, illuminated by the Bellingham summer sun, I couldn’t resist. It was fun!”
Stephanie Burgess, wood art worker: Painted Peace Birdhouse Garden Pole/Wood burning and paint.
“A simple message of peace, community and family is at the heart of Stephanie Burgess’ style. Her pieces are carefully handcrafted onto wood, using the grain and knots as part of the canvas. Each image is as unique as the wood it came from.“
Candice Buethorn, painter: Untitled/Watercolor.
"Using the medium of watercolor, Candice places on paper the beauty she sees in Bellingham and the surrounding Northwest. Candice has won plein air competitions and is continually found searching for new subjects."
Jeni Cottrell, jewelry worker: Vivaldi’s Dance/Copper and glass.
“Working with wire has inspired me to continue exploring jewelry making for over 30 years. All wire beads and findings are handmade with techniques I have developed over the years. I like the way these silver lined glass beads ‘glow’ and reflect light, making them dance.”
Cheryl Crooks, photographer: Family Photographic Sitting/Color photograph.
“Photography is an essential part of my life. My goal is to create in my portraits, a very subjective image, one that agrees with what my eye saw in the viewfinder. While my photographs originate as digital images, I use digital manipulation to bring my images into alignment to achieve that subjective feeling.”
Marie-Clair Dole, Jeweler: Sterling Silver Necklace/Silver, Chinese Writing Stone, Amethyst, Kyanite Beads.
“The joy and excitement of creating a new piece is priceless. I have let my imagination take me wherever it likes without limitations. The beautiful cabochons often dictate the direction of the creation, and simplicity is always an important part as is beauty of shapes, variety of textures and sometimes a message.”
Shirley Erickson, sculptor: Plant Stake/Glass and steel.
“My sculptures are metaphors for life. Events and the world around me are my motivation. My art is an opened dialogue. Each sculpture is a piece in a puzzle that is my life: my fantasies, desires, fears and revelations. Imagination is the answer. My work helps me continue to ask the questions.”
Brian Griffin, wood worker and turner: The Champion Platter/Catalpa tree wood.
“Wood is an infinitely fascinating substance. This platter is made from wood with a personal history. The huge Catalpa tree, which grew on the front lawn of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity house in Walla Walla, was the largest of its species in the USA. It blew down in 2007 and Whitman College saved its lumber for projects just like this.”
Makiko Ichiura, ceramist: Sleeping Rabbit/Clay.
“Creating animals in clay has provided me with deeper appreciation of their lives and how they relate to my own. This rabbit is one of the twelve animals I created in clay.”
Michael Jacobsen, sculptural and functional artwork: Black and White Vase/Black and White Lace Marble, Alaska.
“Please consider my small functional stone vases as quick sculptural portraits of the mineral world. I approach each stone with the desire to reveal the stone’s intrinsic beauty – the natural form, the surface texture, a weathered patina or the brilliance offered when a stone’s polished window is revealed.“
Chelsea Jepson, jewelry worker: Earrings/14K gold fill wire and quartz stone.
“While studying Art History, I was particularly taken with and influenced by Japanese art. There is a sense of clear intention and strength of aesthetic quality that moves me to a feeling of serenity as well as meaning. It is my ultimate hope that my jewelry carries these same qualities forward through the assembly of elements, form and composition.”
Cooper Lanza, painter: Beach Babes/Oil on canvas.
“Whether you’re painting, singing, or washing dishes – my interest lies in that feeling that space no longer exists. You are no longer doing, you are it. You have become what you are creating.”
Maren Larson, painter: Still Dreaming/Mixed media.
“I enjoy the challenge. Working intuitively and experimentally. I combine many layers of paint, fabric, and hand-painted papers. The writing ‘over and over’ refers to the unending pleasure of creating new work. I am still dreaming of more collages.”
Lisa McShane, painter: Edge of the Sea/Oil on linen panel.
“I layer oil paints over linen to capture light and its movement across the land. I paint the places that hold my history: the fields, hills and roads of Eastern Washington and the deep, cold waters of Western Washington. “
Kenni Merritt, photographer: Powerlines/Black and White photograph.
“Black and white photography is an evocative art form with a classic, timeless feel. Perspective, tonal contrast, texture and context create a mood and tell the story. In Powerlines, I used billowing clouds and powerlines to communicate feelings of triumph and power.”
Brian O’Neill, ceramic artist: Ceramic Vessel/clay.
“I find great satisfaction working with basic raw materials that can be coaxed and nurtured into objects that have shape and balance–a rhythm in their proportion and surface texture.”
Arunas Oslapas, industrial designer: Basket/Raw materials and reclaimed steel.
“Industrial ‘raw’ materials are discarded daily around us and often in large volumes. Finding a steady source of reusable waste and creatively incorporating it into my art brings me great satisfaction. My mind and hands are heavily exercised as I search for new materials to reclaim and experiment with new applications and methods of fabrication.”
Niel Pfundt, folk artist: Boat Yard/acrylic.
“As a commercial fisherman (ret.), I paint what I know…the places in Alaska, work boats old and newer…even derelicts. Rustic stuff with an old house or twisted tree for a change.”
Anne Poulson, jewelry maker: Necklace and earrings/Sterling silver and Heishi pearls.
“My inspiration comes from the materials themselves—the pearls, gems and metal. I love taking these things that come from the earth and sea and transforming them into a piece of wearable art.”
David Scherrer, photographer: Palouse/archival digital photographic print.
“While traveling through the Palouse I came across this distant scene. Focusing the camera on both man-made and natural forms, I integrated compositional balance and a sense of light. Gathering all together in the neat package of a photograph, I strive to produce a personal visual poem.”
Phyllis Self, painter: Surfs Up/Pastel.
“It seems to me the magic of a big surf is that it calls attention to all of a person’s senses. The surging breakers pound against the rocks with a roar, sending a salty spray across your skin, emitting the ocean’s scent and providing a taste of the sea. Glorious nature.”
Barbara Sternberger, painter: Intuit/Oil on linen panel.
“This abstract painting Intuit shares the unique experience of being created with the hand held oil paint that I produce in my studio. My paintings are not planned, nor are they arbitrary. With each painting, I begin a new relationship whose content is revealed during the process of its making.”
Works of art shown in this article, from left to right, are by:
Barbara Sternberger, Intuit
Lisa McShane, Edge of The Sea
Kenni Merritt, Powerlines
Get To Know Your Board –
Sally Chapman is an educational consultant with over 30 years’ experience in program and professional development. She is currently the president of a consulting firm focused on designing programs for practicing educators. Formerly, she was the executive director of an education company, a director of new product development for the nation’s largest education association, a curriculum director for a public school district, and a teacher with 10 years’ experience in elementary and middle school classrooms.
She holds a certificate in nonprofit management from Georgetown University, a master’s degree in educational policy and administration from the University of Kansas, and a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa.
A Minnesotan by birth, Sally moved from the “other Washington” to Bellingham in 2005 and got involved with the Festival shortly after. She has been a board member since 2009 and is co-chair of our annual auction and dinner which is the largest fund-raiser for the Festival. Each summer you’ll find her singing in the alto section of the Festival Chorus. She has also sung with other choral groups including the Bellingham Chamber Chorale and the Whatcom Choral.
The Viano Quartet Takes Whatcom County Schools by Storm during March 10-18 Play It Forward Residency
“The Viano Quartet, with Lucy, Hao, Tate and Johanna, arrived late Friday night, March 10th. On Saturday, we kicked off their weeklong residency with a lovely reception in the Encore Room of our historic Mt. Baker Theater. The quartet played two movements of different pieces, and between performances, engaged the audience in lively conversation. It was so much fun and the foursome were totally charming. With their dramatic performance and sweet young personalities, they easily won the hearts of all present.
The following Monday, we hit the road, logging over 250 miles during the quartet’s week of outreach in our schools. This included 15 middle school and high school classroom visits, one all-school assembly for 420 middle schoolers, and several masterclasses. The week ended with a formal performance on Friday night at Bellingham High School. All told, it was an incredible week for the 1,100 participating students as well as the quartet members, who learned so much about teaching, outreach and our beautiful community.”