A Family Exhibition: 5 Generations


Exhibition runs March 4-27

In memory of Betsy Allen and Derrick Wily. We lost you way too soon in life. Both amazing story tellers, artists and givers of love, our world has been forever changed. You filled our lives with beauty and happiness. You taught us how to love in ways we didn’t even know existed. We will carry that through our lifetimes. Your magic will live on in each and every one of us and we will hold you in our hearts until we hold you in the spirit world.

In Pacific Northwest Native cultures, stories pass from generation to generation. Children learn the ways of their ancestors through the quiet, gentle teachings of their parents, grandparents, aunties, and those actively keeping traditions alive. These children having carefully learned, appreciated, and absorbed the wisdom from their elders, in turn, pass these same customs, conventions, and practices down to their own children. It is this torch, this sharing, this perpetual giving to the next generation that keeps these rich and vital art and cultural traditions alive–built firmly upon these closely knit, familial relationships.

Stonington Gallery is honored to feature artwork in March by five generations of artists in one family. The Wilbur Peterson household was always and remains to this day the quintessential artists’ household. Skokomish artist Andy Peterson and his wife, Ruth Peterson, are both skilled and prolific artists, whose artwork has been represented at Stonington Gallery for decades and was included in the Contemporary Coast Salish Art book published by Stonington and UW Press in 2005. Early in their carving careers, Andy and Ruth hoped their work would help to revitalize the eloquent southern Salish style, which was, at that time, less identifiable than the styles of tribal neighbors farther along the northern coast. For the next 40 years they immersed themselves in creating art; and to this day the artwork still flows endlessly from their studio.

Andy’s great-grandfather was Henry Allen, a well-known carver and key figure in informing an anthropological study of the Twana (Skokomish) peoples. Henry’s grandson, Dennis Allen (Andy’s father) spent most of his life as a logger and fisherman, having learned the traditional Skokomish methods of gathering natural materials for weaving baskets and carving dugout canoes. He would eventually find that he wanted to apply these skills to being an artist. Where the knowledge of learning how to carve would typically pass from parent to child, in this case a father did not teach his son; rather, the son taught his father. Having always appreciated his son’s talents, Dennis watched Andy and Ruth create and learned traditional carving techniques from them over 20 years ago. At 85 years old, Dennis has mastered these techniques and is proud to represent in his works the myths and stories passed down to him from generations past.

Andy and Ruth, likewise, taught their children not just how to live their lives as artists; but to, more importantly, care deeply and respect the connection to culture, community, and spirit. Their daughters Andrea Wilbur-Sigo, Malynn Foster, and Bunni Peterson-Haitwas are incredibly talented artists applying their skills in various mediums including wood carving, painting, jewelry-making, basket weaving, and stone carving and getting recognized with major public commissions. These three well-established artists–along with Andy and Ruth and Dennis–are teaching their children/grandchildren/great-grandchildren the stories and art as well. We are so happy to include in this exhibit the 4th & 5th generations as well: beaded jewelry by Andrea’s daughters, Trelace (28) and Flo (17); jewelry by Bunni’s daughter, Ruth Peterson-Bluebird (18); and necklaces strung by Trelace’s daughter, Eden (7).

We hope you enjoy the artwork by this very special family–a tribute to those who came before and who handed down the stories, the legends, and the techniques. Stonington is truly honored to share the gifts and talents across this continuum.

Exhibition Dates:

February 26, 2021 - March 27, 2021

Featured Works