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Washington Reads (Spring 2004) - "Artists in Washington" Selections

Washington is known for being unique, and our art is reflective of the environment, the cultural mix, and the land of the Northwest. This quarter my “Washington Reads” selections focus on the theme of “Artists in Washington.” From the portraits of our landscape, and the Northwest School that emerged in the 1930s and 1940s, to Chihuly’s magnificent glass art and Hoover’s Native American art, and finally to the stories told by Jacob Lawrence’s pictures, the art of the state is varied and brilliant. We look not only at the art but also at the artists, whose personalities live through their work.


Iridescent Light: The Emergence of Northwest Art by Deloris Tarzan Ament profiles 21 artists from the Northwest School whose careers started in Washington State. Works featured in the book include murals by Mark Tobey and Kenneth Callahan. Tobey's work is currently featured at the Tacoma Art Museum. Callahan's mural is in the bill room of the Joel M. Pritchard Building on the State Capitol Campus in Olympia. This book introduces Phillip Levine, whose Woman Dancing bronze sculpture graces the East Capitol Campus. Photos by noted Washington photographer Mary Randlett capture the artists in their natural environment. Read more about some of these artists in Wes Wehr's book, The Eighth Lively Art. Wehr, who was profiled in Iridescent Light, died in mid-April of this year. (Adult)
Thomas Orton and Patricia Grieve Watkinson's book entitled Kenneth Callahan is a comprehensive collection showcasing the work of northwest artist Kenneth Callahan. The extensive catalogue includes many full-page reproductions of his artwork. The book omits Callahan's intriguing, four-paneled mural depicting the history of the state. The mural is currently in the basement of the Pritchard building on the Capitol campus in Olympia. Callahan was also an art critic, Seattle Art Museum curator, and art teacher. He is acclaimed for his contributions to the art of the Pacific Northwest and the nation. (Adult)
John Hoover: Art & Life, by Julie Decker features color reproductions of works from museum and private collections. The book was originally produced for John Hoover's retrospective show at the Anchorage Museum of History and Art in 2002. Hoover was born in Alaska, and lives in Mason County, Washington. Now in his 80s, Hoover discovered carving at the age of 41. Of Aleut-Russian and Dutch heritage, Hoover captures wonderful Indian, Eskimo, and Aleut spirits in cedar and bronze sculptures. His Seaweed People was part of the American Indian Sculpture displayed in the Jacqueline Kennedy Gardens in Washington, D.C. from 1997 to 1998. Hoover says the pinnacle of his career is the monumental bronze Raven the Creator currently on display in Anchorage at the Alaska Native Heritage Center. With his success in bridging the gap between traditional and contemporary art, Hoover contributed to the renaissance of lost arts and defined what it is to be a Native American artist. (Adult)
© 2001 by Kitty Harmon.  All rights reserved.  By permission of Sasquatch Books The Pacific Northwest Landscape: A Painted History, by Kitty Harmon is a compilation of 140 paintings. The striking landscape of the Pacific Northwest has inspired artists to record the Northwest beauty from the days of Captain Cook in 1778. This book presents the artists' views of the region. “Never before gathered in a single place, Alert Beirstadt, Sydney Laurence, Emily Carr, Mark Tobey, Kenneth Callahan, George Tsutakawa, Richard Gilkey, Alden Mason, and Michael Brophy among many others, all take account of the water, sky, mountains, air, and light of the Pacific Northwest.” The short artists' biographies are a starting point for students of all ages wanting to learn more. The spectacular color reproductions will appeal to both adults and young adults. The book's introduction includes an essay by writer Jonathan Raban. © 2001 by Kitty Harmon. All rights reserved. By permission of Sasquatch Books (Adult/Young Adult)
Dale Chihuly, Lapis Seaform Set with Yellow Orange Lip Wraps, 1994 Photo: Robert Whitworth The Essential Dale Chihuly by William Warmus, describes the life and art of Washington's well-known glass artist. Tacoma native Dale Chihuly, “turns glass into art, artists into glassmakers, children into artists, and adults into children.” Chihuly, who is considered to be the world leader of the studio glass movement, has been called “The Picasso of 20th-century glass.” Creator of much of the permanent outdoor glass sculpture at Tacoma's Museum of Glass, Chihuly is considered a pioneer in blending colorful glass sculpture with the environment. This book, in a nice sharable size, presents a sampling of Chihuly works, which are known for their exquisite colors, dramatic scale, and unique shapes. It is also biographical. The easy-to-read format, the photos of his art, and the sound bytes will appeal to the computer generation. Photograph: Dale Chihuly, Lapis Seaform Set with Yellow Orange Lip Wraps, 1994 Photo: Robert Whitworth (Young Adult)
Story Painter: The Life of Jacob Lawrence by John Duggleby, is a biography of an African American artist who grew up in Philadelphia and Harlem and became one of the most renowned painters of the life of his people. Jacob Lawrence's paintings tell stories of slavery, of freedom, of struggles, and of triumph. Lawrence moved to Washington in 1971, and taught at the University of Washington for 12 years. Lawrence's bold and colorful paintings provide a backdrop for his biography. Children ages 9 to 12 will be drawn to the colorful artwork and Lawrence's compelling life story. Lawrence's book, Harriet and the Promised Land, is also an excellent read. (Children)
Jacob Lawrence: American Scenes, American Struggles, by Nancy Shroyer Howard is a “Closer Look Activity Book” and is ideal for the classroom or parent-child work at home. The book is color coded with quick activities, further explorations, and projects, making it appealing to a variety of ages and skill levels. The book covers Lawrence's life, as well as the lives of four black heroes, compelling readers to use their imagination. (Children)

These books are available for check-out from the Washington State Library and other libraries in Washington. If your local library does not own a book, it can request an interlibrary loan. Each of the above titles is in print and available for purchase at local bookstores.