Bellingham emphasizes a commitment to local business and a flourishing arts culture, and they go hand-in-hand on the first Friday of every month.
Restaurants and shops downtown feature artists from Bellingham and surrounding areas for Art Walk, where attendees get a map of participating businesses and can enjoy free wine, snacks and other refreshments and admire artwork at their leisure.
Make.Shift Art Space, a gallery and music venue that houses artists’ studios, uses the event to introduce their featured art exhibits for the month, Executive Director Tyson Ballew said.
“What I love about Art Walk in regard to Make.Shift is it’s this one time of the month where we have all these different community members who don’t normally come and access the space for shows or music,” Ballew said.
This month, Make.Shift is featuring “Capturing Community on the Road,” a photo essay by Seattle photographer Marilyn Montufar.
Montufar took a road trip from Los Angeles to Juárez, Mexico, driving through the Southwest and taking pictures.
She said she was inspired by her grandparents who met in El Paso, Texas, and wanted to focus her photography on the Mexico-Texas border.
“I think that’s the main key for this project, to really go to these outskirts and make these human connections with people and try to share their stories,” Montufar said.
Montufar said she wants to push for more equal representation in the arts by telling the stories of marginalized people.
Seniors David Vogel and Jessica Bloom are both in the Bachelor’s of Fine Arts program for photography at Western, and their work was shown at the Dakota Gallery in an exhibit called “Image.error.”
“I think now people are becoming desensitized to images because we see so many all the time, and then we’re so exposed to them,” Bloom said.
Bloom takes Polaroid photos and manipulates them while they’re being processed, to change the way people think about pictures and images, she said.
Vogel said he is interested in architecture and overdeveloped areas.
He photographs buildings, then, using computer software, he uses them to create an image of a new building.
“Buildings I end up constructing look a lot like buildings that we see, but they’re kind of sublime and bizarre because they’ve been constructed and aren’t technically real,” he said.
While some of the businesses displaying artwork were galleries or other art spaces; restaurants, bars and retail stores participated as well.
Will Davis owns local gift shop The Lucky Monkey, featuring gifts from around the world, and said he has been participating in Art Walk for more than eight years.
“I like the energy, I like the connectedness with other local businesses,” Davis said. “It celebrates local, it celebrates Bellingham and it’s fun.”
This month the shop is featuring oil paintings by Western alumna Kathryn Hackney.
“This show is a little bit of a departure actually, because it’s so objective,” Hackney said. “Normally I don’t have context in my work; it’s totally abstract.”
Hackney graduated from Western in 2007 and was in the studio art painting program.
“There’s a lot of crossover with art and painting, visual art, music and language,” Hackney said. “It’s all emotional-based.”