by Matthew Kangas
THE GLOBAL LANGUAGE OF HEADWEAR
Whatcom Museum, Bellingham. Feb 1 – Apr 26
Independent ethnographic curator Stacey W. Miller has organized this exhaustive touring show of 89 hats and headdresses, organized into fi ve themes: “Cultural Identity; Power, Prestige and Status; Ceremonies and Celebrations; Spiritual Beliefs; and Protection.” These will be joined by examples from the Whatcom permanent collection, including Northwest Coast cedar bark hats. Forty-two countries are represented by ravishingly beautiful, mostly 20th-century examples of wearable art. The entire exhibition suggests how functional objects attain fine art status.
GREGG LAANANEN: NIGHT ON THE SUN
Harris Harvey Gallery, Seattle. Feb 6 – 29
Gregg Laananen’s new paintings, thickly encrusted oils on wooden panels, materially echo their original subjects: earthy, darkly colored and teeming with life. For his third show at Harris Harvey, the University of Washington graduate focuses on long views and tight close-ups of natural subjects such as tree trunks, mushroom clumps and winter-blooming camellias. The American artist’s use of pointillist brushwork and flattened space brings to mind works by the Austrian symbolist Gustav Klimt.
WHY WE COLLECT: NEW ACQUISITIONS FROM THE NATIONAL NORDIC MUSEUM
National Nordic Museum, Seattle. Mar 5 – Jul 19
History museums have wider collecting purviews than art museums, but the National Nordic Museum combines fine art holdings with significant examples of material culture related to Scandinavian immigrant populations in the US. In the acclaimed new building, a wide range of objects is on view, from treaties to maps, a Stone Age flint axe and magnificent Orrefors glass from Sweden, along with other curious, fascinating treasures.
TONY ANGELL: DRAWINGS IN STONE
Foster/White Gallery, Seattle. Mar 5 – 21
In a distinct shift from his stone carvings of animals and birds, veteran wildlife artist and environmental activist Tony Angell exhibits bas-relief slate carvings of various bird species native to the Pacific Northwest. Following his retrospective last year at the Woolaroc Museum in Oklahoma City, Angell has consolidated his expertise for meticulous identification and representation into tall panels that exalt vulnerable creatures. His 2005 book on crows and ravens, coauthored with John Marzlu , won the Victoria and Albert Illustration Award.
SARAH FANSLER LAVIN
Core Gallery, Seattle. Mar 5 – 28
Like Seattle’s John Cage and California composers Harry Partch and Lou Harrison (who performed on instruments of their own design), Sarah Fansler Lavin is cross-fertilizing their visual and aural eccentricities with the late midcentury industrial designer Harry Bertoia, whose steel rods reverberated with pitched tones–qualifying as both music and art. Collaborating with sound artist and “gong percussionist” Stephanie Wood, Lavin sets up locales and sound cones for visitors to make their own music with the detritus of sculptural objects.