Whiting Tennis, Bull (head), 2016, collage on paper, 14 x 11 inches. Image courtesy of the artist and Greg Kucera Gallery, Seattle.
Whiting Tennis, Bull (head), 2016, collage on paper, 14 x 11 inches. Image courtesy of the artist and Greg Kucera Gallery, Seattle.

La Conner, WA.


This summer the Museum of Northwest Art exhibits the divergent works of three prominent regional artists: Whiting Tennis, Kelly O’Dell and Clayton James.


In his first solo exhibition with the museum, 2016 MoNA Luminary Artist Award Recipient Whiting Tennis displays a series of paintings, drawings and sculptures that aim to understand the driving forces of creation. In Tennis’ exhibit, viewers will see abstraction and examples of “automatic” drawing in which the artist attempts to allow the viewer to experience raw creation devoid of prescribed shape and form.


In an effort to return to a time when images and statues were more powerful than language, Tennis presents a modern interpretation of totems and reimagines representations of plants, animals and the planet. Tennis’ work is at its core an exploration of the creative process. As Tennis notes, “Shapes and objects bloom from a line that seems to know where it's going, and it's only when I start to recognize something and exert control that it loses its way.”


Showing in the Benaroya Gallery, Hawaiian native and Stanwood transplant Kelly O’Dell uses the fragility of glass to explore the concept of Memento Mori, a Latin term reminding one that they too will die. Expanding from this theme to explore the death and rebirth inherent in the planet’s seasons, extinction and climate change, O’Dell’s creations in transient (h)ours confront the viewer with the delicate balance the planet and its inhabitants’ function within.


In her piece, Ammonite, O’Dell looks for lessons that can be learned from past mass extinctions to inform our future. Similarly, critically endangered species are presented in Critical Masse as ghost-like trophies of their former selves. Tattooed orange skins shrink and wither distorting and morphing the images they once supported in their vibrancy.


In our upstairs gallery this summer, the Museum of Northwest Art honors the life and works of Clayton James through his paintings, sculpture, photographs and writings. The exhibition draws from the museum’s permanent collection and archives of James’ work and also includes the art and writings of Barbara Straker James - artist, writer, MoNA’s first curator and Clayton’s wife.

Clayton’s abstract and landscape paintings will be featured along with sculptural works in clay, bronze and wood. Supplemental materials will include notes, letters, exhibition announcements and reviews in what will be an extensive exploration of the 60-plus year artistic career of this local legend.


Important Dates

Exhibition Runs: July 1 – September 24

Opening Reception: July 1, 2 to 5pm


Whiting Tennis Artist Talk: July 1, 1pm

Clayton James Curator Talk: July 22, 1pm

Kelly O’Dell Artist Talk: July 30, 1pm


Museum of Northwest Art


The Museum of Northwest Art connects people with the art, diverse cultures and environments of the Northwest. 



MoNA collects and exhibits contemporary art from across the Northwest, including Alaska, British Columbia, California, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington.