Three exhibition spaces in the Performing Art Center showcase work from the Western Gallery art collection. The spaces are located by the entrances to the Concert Hall and the Mainstage Theatre.
One of the Concert Hall spaces presents a series of 13 colorful tapestries designed by the American sculptor Alexander Calder (1898 -1976). In his tapestries, Calder delights in some of his favorite subjects: Circus, Sun, Moon, Star, Balloons, Floating Circle, Pyramid, Swirl, Turquoise, Zebra, Snake, Doll. Artisans in Nicaragua and Guatemala executed Calder’s designs in 1974-75 from gouache drawings that Calder provided. Using a centuries-old technique, the tapestries were made from braided and dyed maguey fibers that were spun into strong, coarse threads. They were sold to benefit victims of the devastating 1972 earthquake in Nicaragua, which killed 5,000 people and left 250,000 destitute.
The Sarah Clark-Langager Gallery (by the other Concert Hall entrance) presents paintings by renowned Pacific Northwest artists. The exhibition, entitled Nature as Muse: Voices from the Pacific Northwest, includes such artists as Guy Anderson, Sonja Blomdahl, Morris Graves, Frank Okada, Mary Iverson, and Jeffry Mitchell. The featured works embody visual narratives derived from experiences of the Pacific Northwest. Utilizing Western’s extensive collection, artworks were chosen that draw inspiration from environmental, spiritual, and cultural histories of the area, in an effort to bring a contemporary lens to these often hybrid perspectives. The installation is designed to respond to the actual environment seen through the gallery’s ocean view windows, bringing the outside in. The exhibition was organized in 2017 by students in the Department of Art’s Exhibitions Theory and Practice Seminar.
The third exhibition space, at the entrance to the Mainstage Theatre, showcases paintings of Northwest artists from a collection that was donated by Safeco Insurance to the Western Gallery.
In the lobby of the Performing Art Center is a permanent four-channel video installation by Seattle based artist Claude Zervas. The work, Nooksack Middle Fork shows aerial views of four bends in the middle fork of the river, with monitors arranged so that the sections form a rough circle. Zervas used a drone to fly his video equipment so he could capture the peaceful images of a river running through a forest.
The three galleries were funded through a generous support from the art patrons Virginia and Bagley Wright.