SJIMA presents photos from the deep

  • Sun Sep 1st, 2019 1:30am
  • Life

Submitted by San Juan Islands Museum of Art

Scientist and underwater photographer Bruce Kerwin says of his grand prize-winning photo, “Spiraling Octopus,” “I am drawn to the free-flowing form of invertebrates beneath the Salish Sea.” He had been shooting a Hooded Nudibranch toward the end of a dive day when a friend waved at him madly. A Giant Pacific octopus was hunting just five feet away.

This is one of the many stories that the photographers in the “DEEP DIVE” exhibition at the San Juan Islands Museum of Art can tell. Winners of SeaDoc’s “Salish Sea In Focus” contest are on display including the grand prize winner.

Several of the photographers are marine scientists or fisheries experts. They are motivated to bring the amazing beauty below the surface along with the visual pandemonium and joy of discovery to those of us who will never dive as they do.

Each photograph tells a story and captures otherwise unseen moments. Some photos memorialize members of our beloved Southern resident orcas.

Jim Maya’s “Affection” captures a moment between a mother orca and her calf off our islands. In a classic Pacific NW shot, Katie Jones inspires the viewers with a Humpback Whale trio with Mt. Baker in the frame.

Danielle Deans’ large “Untitled (Salish Sea)” is an irresistible seascape with tin boats at the base symbolizing our endangered orcas. Others capture the critical habitat of the whales and other species. Cy Scammell’s “Kelp Cathedral” instills wonder, while Kendrick Moholt’s “Otter and Algae” charms the viewer.

Local wildlife photographer Ken Rea’s “Spirit of Orcas” subject appears to float above the ocean waters and “Steller Curiosity” by Peter Naylor captures a playful sea lion while on a SeaDoc Society survey trip.

For most, such as Nirupam Nigam “light is their paintbrush.” His “San Juan Rose” anemone graces the wall and the banner in front of SJIMA.

In “DEEP DIVE” the finest Pacific NW artists render the abundant underwater life of our Salish Sea and illuminate the threats to our various and iconic endangered species. The exhibition is open until Sept. 16.

In addition to photography, works include glass, prints, painting, ceramics, sculpture, jewelry and artists such as Raven Skyriver, Kait Rhodes, Dan Friday, David Eisenhour, Frank Samuelson, Carla Stehr and Marvin Oliver.

Surrounding the museum is the magical sound of “Deep” from the renowned composer Alex Shapiro’s collection “Notes From the Kelp.”

A mesmerizing film, “Beneath the Surface-An Aerial Perspective” by The Center for Whale Research and the University of Exeter, playing in the Nichols Gallery shows a mother Southern Resident Killer Whale and her calf hunting. Upstairs, “Apex,” by producer and director Heather Nicholson shows a moving, human ballet of the story of Tahlequah, a Southern resident in the news last year.

“Waterline” by Andrew Shewman fills the atrium with a dynamic installation of whale and human interaction.

The exhibitions are sponsored by the Honeywell Charitable Fund, Gary and Susan Sterner, Peg Gerlock and Phil Johnson, Stan and Susan Matthews, Kenmore Air, Western Prince Whale and Wildlife Tours, Islanders Bank, Browne’s Home Center, Printonyx and Harbor Rentals.

Hours are Friday-Monday 11 a.m.-5p.m. Admission is $10 with museum members and those 18 and under entering free. Mondays are Pay As You Can Days.

For more information, visit