By Conner Celli
On a cold and snowy Friday night, Bellingham community members gathered downtown for the monthly art walk. The weather did not scare away those who shared an enthusiasm for local art.
The art walk consists of 31 places where residents can view the work of artists in the community. Maps are provided and show which galleries and shops are open during the event.
One of the more interesting aspects of the walk are the art exhibits. Many of the local restaurants and breweries open their doors for artists to display their work.
Some of these places include Aslan Brewing Company and Gruff Brewing. This allows for customers to enjoy a meal or a drink while viewing the art.
Sheri Ten Eyck, who works at the Wandering Oaks Fine Arts & Glass Studio, said the art walk is a chance for the Bellingham community to learn what is happening and discover new artists on the rise. “A lot of people aren’t aware there are so many local artists in their community, and here we are only Washington based artist,” Ten Eyck said.
One of the goals of the art walk is to explore different areas of downtown that are showing art. By only allowing Washington-based artists it allows for many more local artists to display their work.
“We have made a point of not bringing artists from outside of Washington so the general public can see artists that are local,” Ten Eyck said.
A major benefit of displaying local art is giving those a platform who may not otherwise have it.
“The only opportunity they have to get their artwork out to show and to have it available for sale is during art walk,” Ten Eyck said.
This event can often get people out of their element and let them explore the downtown area. Paul Oleniacz explained people can be afraid to come downtown and it gives them a reason to get out. “People like to go downtown, go to dinner, and go to maybe a handful of places and see what different business are doing,” Oleniacz said.
Junior Shane Bedard was at the downtown shop, Ideal, part of ReMade. ReMade is a project that allows industrial design majors to present their projects to the Bellingham community, Bedard said.
“We do this every year. It’s a big thing for us, especially for Western to bring sustainability with design, because a lot of product design is: make it, have it and throw it out within a couple months,” Bedard said. “This year our big emphasis was on nature, so really using raw materials, not just recycled materials.”
The industrial design department has been partnered with Ideal for 10 years now and Bedard said he is thankful to have a place like Ideal.
“Having it in Bellingham, and being a Western student, is really key for people here to see what we are doing, locally, a mile down the road,” Bedard said.
The local aspect is something the art walk puts a major emphasis on and Bedard appreciates that compared to going to a larger city, such as Seattle, to present his project.
“In Seattle, you’re showing off your products, but it’s just from a school that people may or may not have heard of,” Bedard said. “Whereas Western is synonymous with Bellingham and I think having the sustainability, Bellingham people really appreciate that, and having it in our art walk fits a lot better than having it in Seattle.”
For others, the art walk is a chance to get their names out there as well as their businesses. Nick Welch lives in Bellingham and recently started a woodworking business.
“For me, it’s a big part of what makes Bellingham, Bellingham,” Welch said. “Having all of these different craftspeople and different artists constantly producing and having a community that supports them is really unique to this area.”
Having only Bellingham artists and craftsmen not only benefits the community, it often inspires others who show off their work.
“It’s great because we all get together and we see each other’s stuff and get ideas from each other. Everyone is super willing to collaborate and it helps when those people are your neighbors,” Welch said.
Ten Eyck of Wandering Oaks is a big supporter of getting people into downtown and allowing people to explore art in places they have otherwise not thought about.
“I would like people to know there is a lot of art out there and it’s a way to get people to explore downtown,” Ten Eyck said. “A lot of the times we hear people say ‘I drive by all the time and I’m never walking.’ Art walk gets people out and walking around downtown and getting familiar with what there is to see.”
Like Ten Eyck, Oleniacz said it gives community members the chance to get familiar with local business and what they are offering to the community.
“Support the community and buy products from the community as opposed to spending your money on the internet. Spend money on small businesses and hopefully help them grow and survive,” Oleniacz said.