New sculptures in downtown Bellingham explore climate change


BELLINGHAM - Four new sculptures that represent the artists' take on climate change were installed last week along Bay Street in the downtown, where they'll stay until August 2014.

The sculptures are grouped within one block between West Holly and West Champion streets. They make up a small show hosted by the Bellingham Arts Commission occurring in conjunction with two exhibits at the Whatcom Museum's Lightcatcher building:

• "Nature in the Balance: Artists Interpreting Climate Change," which runs through Sept. 22 and features work from 150 artists in Bellingham and the region.

• "Vanishing Ice: Alpine and Polar Landscapes in Art, 1775-2012," which opens Nov. 3.

The small outdoor sculpture show is called "Nature in the Balance: Artists Interpreting Climate Change and the Environment Through Sculpture."

The arts commission had hoped to have more participants but seem to have been hampered by the fact that the sculptors weren't paid.

Still, the commission wanted to offer spaces for the area's sculptors.

"They look at the show as an opportunity to support our local sculptors any way they can by having an opportunity to show art to the public," said Shannon Taysi, a program specialist with the city of Bellingham who works with the Arts Commission.

Bellingham artist Shirley Erickson has pieces in both "Nature in the Balance" shows.

Her sculpture along Bay Street is near The Woods Coffee. It is made with recycled material.

Called "The Canary," it features a bright yellow bird perched on glass that resembles an iceberg framed by a large, old-fashioned ice tong.

"It's about vanishing ice. Vanishing ice is like the canary in the coal mine," Erickson said. "It's a warning that we need to stop doing what we're doing to the planet. It's not about saving the Earth. It's about saving the humans."

Aaron Loveitt's "Shift" is inspired by the 105-year-old Flatiron Building, including its triangular shape.

Located at a corner of the building and across the street from Mount Bakery Café, the Bellingham sculptor's piece resembles pieces of metal - dull-colored and rusted in spots - that have been trained into a triangle left empty.

Loveitt said his piece is about a specific place, and the transformation of culture and environment.

"Everything is in the process of transition and we are caught in this current moment where things inevitably change," he said.

The other two sculptures in the show are titled "Spherilous," by Jeremy Hughes and "Our Forest and the Hungry Beetles," by Denise Snyder.

Reach Kie Relyea at 360-715-2234 or

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