Sunday, February 1, 2009

Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA July 2008

Expectation vs. Reality

When I first learned about earthworks in Cheryl Shurtleff's Contemporary Art History summer crash course, I remember her referring to Western Washington University in Bellingham. It was known for commissioning earthworks artists to create pieces for the campus that were smaller scale representations of what they would "show" in remote places (at least in the case of Nancy Holt). My friend Cass and I traveled there in July 2008 and what we found was ultimately disappointing. A new building under construction left the Nauman and Holt pieces inaccessible (two of the top three I wanted to see). The above photographs show the closest I could get without trespassing (not that that's been an issue in the past - ahem).

I most wanted to see Robert Morris's Untitled (Steam Work for Bellingham) but it was far too warm a day for that. Wishing I could see the artworks as they were depicted in the Sculpture Collection guide (as viewed above) became the common theme.

I'm always interested in viewing Richard Serra's site specific sculptures including the early, far less monumental works like the one of Anita Powell featured below at Kentuck Knob in Chalk Hill, Pennsylvania. Blatantly touching them is not something I normally do but when they are presented outdoors in a public setting, knowing full well that a myriad of other people leave their oils and graffiti all over them, manhandling them became irresistible.

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