Two artists, separated by a century, celebrate Vashon
By ELIZABETH SHEPHERD
Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber Arts Editor
August 4, 2009 · 2:21 PM
The connection between two women artists, born almost a century apart yet bound together by temperament, talent and a shared love of Vashon, will be celebrated in joint exhibitions slated to open this weekend.
Vashon-Maury Island Heritage Museum will open “Long in the Memory: Abby Williams Hill on Vashon Island,” with a reception scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 7.
The show will feature plein air paintings and drawings by Williams, a pioneer Western and landscape artist who had a summer home on the Island between 1895 and 1903. All of the work in the show will depict Vashon scenes and landscapes.
On the same night, “Dear Abby,” a show featuring 30 new paintings by Island artist Pam Ingalls — all inspired by Williams Hill’s life and work — will have an opening reception at The Hardware Store Restaurant.
Both exhibitions were the brainchild of Islander Bruce Haulman, a Heritage Museum trustee, Vashon College instructor and a history professor at Green River Community College.
Haulman first saw Williams Hill’s work in 2007, at an exhibition of her work presented by White River Valley Museum in Auburn.
Digging deeper to find out more about the artist, Haulman learned that Williams Hill was an ardent champion of progressive social causes who had painted from a studio in Burton for eight years.
“She was very much a Vashon woman, but from 100 years ago,” Haulman said. “I thought, ‘man, that’s something we have to bring to the Island.’”
Haulman worked with Andrea Moody, a curator who maintains a collection of Williams Hill’s paintings and drawings at the University of Puget Sound, to arrange the Vashon exhibition.
During the planning process, Haulman had another idea — to ask Ingalls to create new paintings inspired by Williams Hill’s life.
For Ingalls, a willowy redhead who does meticulous, light and shadow-filled oil paintings in the Russian impressionist tradition, the project has been an inspiration.
“She’s a kindred spirit,” Ingalls said, describing how she’d come to feel close to Williams Hill during the course of reading the artist’s journals.
“It felt like I was reading letters from a person of today,” Ingalls said. “She was deeply into social justice, serious about painting and completely fearless.”
Ingalls, with a bright smile, summed up her admiration by saying, “She lit the way for women artists.”
“Long in the Memory” will be on view through Sept. 27 at the Heritage Museum, 10105 S.W. Bank Rd. For hours and a complete list of events connected to the exhibit, visit www.vashonhistory.org or call 463-7808.
At 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 13, the museum will host a gallery talk by Bruce Haulman and Andrea Moody, “Abby Williams Hill and Vashon.”Contact Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber Arts Editor Elizabeth Shepherd at firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-463-9195.