It could be a misnomer to call Sculpture Northwest a sculpture gallery. Yes, they certainly have one in downtown Bellingham on Prospect Avenue, but they are more than that. Under the leadership of George Drake and Deanna Lane — with significant energy and time from a dedicated board— Sculpture Northwest is a hub, a resource center, a community asset unique to our area. “We are the only gallery completely devoted to sculpture from Vancouver, B.C. to Seattle,” said President and C.E.O. George Drake. Drake also donated land to create the Big Rock Garden Park in Bellingham, and has been a community leader for many years. He and his board have an ambitious goal — to create a sculpture presence that draws national and international tourists. In other words, not only is the Sculpture Northwest gallery a part of their vision, but the entire four-county region is the greater gallery, the bigger venue. “Our vision is to promote the four counties as an international destination for outdoor sculpture.”
The team at Sculpture Northwest is definitely onto something — venues for outdoor sculpture are Ann Morris’s Sculpture Woods on Lummi Island, Wescott Bay sculpture garden on San Juan Island, Big Rock Garden Park and Western Washington University’s campus in Bellingham, the Matzke Fine Art Gallery and Sculpture Garden on Camano Island, and the Howe Art Sculpture Park on Orcas. With a growing market and a burgeoning interest in outdoor sculpture, the time is right for venues to work together and share resources. “Things like the Anacortes Art Walk uplift the communities that art is in as well as shares ours with the greater world — this work is vital,” said Lane. “It’s such a wonderfully ambitious project, and it is completely within reach,” Drake added.
Not only are the board and leadership of Sculpture Northwest interested in highlighting local and regional artists, they also have a plan to bring more international voices into the Bellingham art scene. Cuba. Iran. Places that we don’t think of as having vibrant sculptural traditions, but that certainly do. These are also places where cultural dialogue is both needed and appreciated.
Sculpture Northwest will begin its second show on September 4 at their new space on Prospect. The theme is Emerge: An exploration of Northwest sculpture. And Emerge seems like the perfect word for Sculpture Northwest as they unveil their bold new plans to make our region a major sculpture destination.