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Western Gallery to host concert series

José Carrillo, Stuart Jackson, Paul Rhoads and Drew Perrin of Distance Runner. Photo by Stephen Kellar
José Carrillo, Stuart Jackson, Paul Rhoads and Drew Perrin of Distance Runner. Photo by Stephen Kellar

The Western Gallery will raise its noise levels more than a few decibels, from whispers to rock bands, in its upcoming concert series.

Tom Nook, Couch and Distance Runner are three local bands booked to perform. Each band includes current students at Western.

The series aims to welcome a broader student audience to the art gallery. The first show will be on Wednesday, Jan. 13, at 6 p.m. in the Western Gallery located in the Fine Arts building.

Paul Rhoads, Distance Runner’s drummer, is working alongside Sam Wells as the student organizer for the concert series. Finding bands for future shows, equipping the stage and designing the gallery are just a few tasks on their to-do list.

Rhoads and Wells said they hope to host a show every two weeks.  Each concert will feature a different genre of music performed by Western students.

“We’re not always going to stick to rock shows or [electronic dance music], it’ll be different,” Rhoads said.

Rhoads and Wells are not only working to in organize the show, but are also trying to incorporate an audience of Western students into the mix of professional artists who frequent the gallery.

“I think it will be an audience that doesn’t typically go out of their way to see the gallery, but if they know there’s going to be music here, they will come for the music and stay for the art,” Rhoads said.

Tom Nook and Couch have played together before but this will be Distance Runner’s first performance that isn’t a house show, Rhoads said.

Tom Nook and Couch are familiar to the expected student audience and will bring a lot of new people to the gallery, student organizer Sam Wells said.   The two bands have played shows around Bellingham together and are likely to attract people who have seen them play before.

In Western student Maggie Carr’s point of view, if the series is planned and carried out well, it will increase access for all students. “It’s not that the Western Gallery only allows niche ideas, but they did have a show only about chairs,” she said. “I think this will be a cool thing that’ll bring in more people from campus instead of just art students.”

The backdrop for the concert will be an exhibition by Claude Zervas titled “Glacier Time.” The exhibition features a large, computer-generated projection of a forest landscape that transforms into an abstract reality, titled “Forest 3.5” along with a sculptural drawing of the Skagit River that was created using fluorescent lights and electrical components, according to the gallery’s website.

Gallery Director Hafþór Yngvason said it is important to have student-organized concert events in the gallery because art and music go together well.

Yngvason started at Western last September after spending 10 years as the director of the Reykjavik Art Museum in Iceland. He said he has been developing ideas to welcome a broader audience into the gallery. Yngvason said he is surprised by the gallery’s many visitors, but also acknowledges that there are many students around campus who don’t know about the gallery or that they’re welcome to go inside.

“A science major may not know there’s anything of interest to them in the gallery, but it could be work that really speaks to them,” he said.

Yngvason hopes to organize future exhibit to attract students from a variety of backgrounds and majors to make connections with the art, he said.

The concert series is an opportunity to bring new artists on campus and provides a space that accommodates louder bands, said Rhoades.

“I’m excited to show everyone original songs that my band has been writing for the past year,” he said. “We’ve all been anxious to show our friends what we’ve been working on.”

The concert series is open to all ages. Organizers suggest a $5 donation for entry.

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