• Saturday, May 02, 2020 9:20 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

    Dear Governor Inslee,

    In your emergency proclamation of March 16th, when you closed business such as bars and recreational facilities while prohibiting gatherings of 50+ people, you also included art museums and art galleries. Other non-essential businesses were closed a week later. We are writing to ask that you do not categorize art galleries with art museums or regular retail as you develop your plan to allow small businesses to re-open.

    We believe that commercial art galleries are in the lowest risk category for re-opening. Our daily traffic flow is very low compared to shops or bookstores. Like museums, the public is not allowed to touch the art so the only surface contact would be doorknobs and restrooms, which are easily sanitized. Art galleries can support social distancing far more easily as we have open floor plans, allowing plenty of space for the few visitors we may have at any moment. We could also allow one party through at a time. Masks could be required and, of course, there would not be openings or gatherings until permitted.

    To ensure the safety and health of our employees and patrons, we propose that galleries will:

    • Keep minimal staffing of the physical gallery spaces to minimize exposure, and ensure appropriate separation of workspaces.

    • Allow visitors in groups of two or fewer, per gallery space, following mandates and guidance issued State and City officials.

    • Establish a guest per square foot ratio based on the size of exhibition spaces.

    • Post signage asking that guests self-regulate by asking them to stay away if they present elevated temperatures, coughing, or other COVID symptoms.

    • Increase daily cleaning regimens, and ensure frequent sanitization of high-touch surfaces such as countertops, pens, door handles, and shared office equipment. Our commercial gallery businesses are low-touch by nature. Clients are discouraged from touching artworks.

    • Request that visitors wear masks when visiting, and require the use of hand sanitizer (provided by business) upon entry and exit.

    • Enforce six-foot social distancing of people. Artworks are viewable by clients with gallerists outside of the six-foot radius.

    • Provide low-touch delivery or pick-up of artworks. Galleries will clean and sanitize artwork and packaging.

    • Cancel all community gatherings and opening events until State and City governments lift bans on social gatherings.

      Art galleries are already struggling to stay open, particularly in Seattle where the cost of rent is prohibitive. We have seen a huge decline in commercial galleries in Seattle over the last 5 years. This leads not only to a great loss of culture for the general public but also diminished support for all our local artists. Each gallery not only employs its own staff but is also sending support money to all our artists through its sales.

      We appreciate your consideration for the state of the arts here in Washington and your efforts to help us hang on to that richness that still remains.

      With Appreciation,

    Click here for downloadable version of letter.

  • Saturday, May 02, 2020 4:52 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

    “Not Done Yet” is an apt title for an exhibition featuring an artist like Anne Hirondelle. As renowned Seattle gallerist Francine Seders describes in the exhibition catalogue, Hirondelle is an artist who continued to evolve even when some may have thought her work was perfected. It is challenging to imagine changing your artistic style so drastically, especially when the artworks are so popular. In the early 2000s Hirondelle took a risk, but it is not accurate to say that she completely changed direction. Her goals evolved and shifted, but she was not done yet examining and dissecting her forms. “Not Done Yet” is a continuation of the series of discoveries that Hirondelle made in her career and continues to make to this day.  

    Hirondelle’s exhibition is divided into two galleries and traces her exploration of form. The main exhibition space includes artworks from 2002 to the present, while her earlier artworks are installed in the smaller gallery downstairs. Hirondelle began her artistic career creating functional objects and trained with Robert Sperry in the University of Washington ceramics department. But in 2002, her focus shifted from a vessel that contains to an open sculptural form. Her continuing examination of form and line is the thesis of the show, “Not Done Yet,” as Hirondellle focuses more on works on paper. These artworks create a wonderful dichotomy between the vessel as a 3-dimentional object versus a 2-dimenstional plane. 

    Anne Hirondelle was born in Vancouver, Washington and grew up in Oregon. She has a Bachlor of Arts in English, an Masters of Art in Counseling, and studied Law at the University of Washington in the early 1970s. Thankfully, Hirondelle shifted her attention to sculpture and studied ceramics at the University of Washington. She received a Visual Artist Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1988, was a finalist for the Seattle Art Museum Betty Bowen Award in 2004, and was acknowledge as a Creating a Living Legacy Artist by the Joan Mitchell Foundation in 2014. She has exhibited her work in countless galleries and many prominent museums in the Northwest, and her artworks are a staple in the homes of many art collectors in the region and beyond. 

    Since the museum is currently closed due to COVID-19, a written description of the exhibition has to suffice until the public can once again visit. A bright yellow wall greets visitors and educates about Ann Hirondelle’s life as an artist. There is also a quote by Hirondelle which sums up her artistic explorations beautifully: “I think one of the challenges of being a really good artist is not more and more, but less and less; really stretching what you know and what you can do. That is where you find your own self: in the limitations, not the additions.”

    The exhibit includes a large installation, “Staccatos,” of 18 black stoneware sculptures and it’s one of the first artworks on view. The main gallery consists of wall-mounted sculptures, drawings, and many artworks on pedestals. The room is striking, and it seems to glow as the brightly painted sculptures are highlighted against white walls. Hirondelle’s round forms are soft yet crisp, both organic and exact. Teal, royal blue, orange, purple, and red are visual pops that create a real visual delight. But there are many black and white vessels and drawings as well. In one view, the visitor can see a two-dimensional drawing of a circular form that is then deconstructed and expanded into the sculpture on the pedestal below. 

    There is a series of three installations that include nine objects each. The sculptures are reminiscent of a larger installation from 2012, “Sixteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.” These sculptures are an excellent example of Hirondelle’s examination of the circular form and there is a long artistic lineage in the search to capture the complete view of an object. Hirondelle’s sculptures appear to be the same object just rotated over and over again until the viewer can see on one visual picture frame the complete object. Similar to Cézanne, she is seeking to create a complex view of a three-dimensional object. 

    A smaller gallery contains earlier works by Hirondelle when she was creating functional objects, as well as a few pieces of archival material. The vessels are displayed side-by-side and range from small teacups to large pitchers. All have one key similarity: graceful use of line. Hirondelle created these objects to be functional, but the origins of her later work is evident. It is incredible to see so many artworks by one artist in a single exhibition, and even more enlightening to see how their work evolved over the decades. The message is truly inspiring: Hirondelle isn’t done yet, and we must all keep moving forward because there is more to discover. 


    Chloé Dye Sherpe

    Chloé Dye Sherpe is a curator and art professional based in Washington State.

    The Jefferson Museum of Art & History, located at 540 Water Street in Port Townsend, Washington, plans to extend the exhibition through the summer once it is safe to reopen. Until then, visit www.jchsmuseum.orgfor more information and to find out about online programming. 

  • Saturday, May 02, 2020 4:25 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

    Meggan Joy grew up in Puyallup in the 1990s, the daughter of a truck driver and a homemaker. Today, she lives, gardens, and creates complex digital collage work in Seattle. Her solo show, “Battle Cry,” runs at J. Rinehart Gallery from June 13th through July 25th and features new imagery that teems with flowers, birds, insects, and more.

    These aren’t just exquisite pictures. Rich with allegory and art history references, the work testifies to the resilience of women and nature’s plenitude. The few non-living objects in the images are items that Joy has repurposed from thrift shops and the like. As a stalwart recycler who aims to tread lightly, she doesn’t buy anything new other than printing supplies to create her work. 

    Joy grows many of the plants seen in her work in her Interbay neighborhood P-Patch. She also raises some of the insects in her home. “If you have to hurt another living being to make your artwork, then what’s the point of making artwork?,” she asks. “I’m not going to harm another animal for the sake of making art. When I find an insect, I will photograph them usually in place. I won’t take them out of their environment, if possible. If I can do that safely, then I will take them home really quickly and then put them right back in their same spot. But I do have a rule that I’m not gonna hold onto an insect that I found for longer than 12 hours.” 

    Below are excerpts from a wide ranging Zoom conversation with Joy (who has auto-immune issues) during the COVID-19 stay-at-home period; they have been edited for clarity and concision.

    A Modern Lucretia

    When I started planning the show a year ago, I was thinking, “Oh, election year.” This was when Christine Blasey Ford was in the news and all of those things. And I was thinking, “Oh, ‘Battle Cry’ will be about winners, losers, and aristocratic-type portraits.” And now we’re in this entirely different battle (the COVID-19 crisis) that nobody could have predicted.

    For my “Lucretia”* piece, I pulled part of the Christine Blasey Ford “I pledge” hand from that really famous image. So that’s part of her. I just kept on thinking of Lucretia when I was watching her at that time. It struck me as like, “Oh that’s a modern Lucretia—that’s who that is.” And that’s really what inspired the show.

    *Lucretia has been the subject of many revered Old Master paintings. She was a virtuous noblewoman who was raped by the son of a tyrannical ruler in the sixth century B.C. Her resulting suicide caused a revolt that led to the overthrow of monarchical tyranny and the creation of the Roman Republic.

    Under the Magnifying Glass

    We always put magnifying glasses next to my work so that people can get really into it. I have to put glass over the front because there’s always—every night—fingerprints that we have to clean off, because people can’t help it...they’ll spend a really long time getting so close that they’re not even really seeing the human shape anymore. They’re just finding the little snails or the butterfly or the flower that they’ve never seen before. The teeny tiny strawberries, which are like my favorite to hide into things.

    I think that’s why people like having the work around them…and why thankfully people are buying it because they know that they can look at it for a year or so before they can even get close to seeing everything that’s in there. 

    Breaking Cycles

    I wasn’t even willing to consider or call myself an artist until fairly recently. I had won awards for being an artist before I felt comfortable being called an artist. I had this block that, “This isn’t for people like me, that’s for rich people. That’s not for people that grew up in trailers.”

    Now that I’m a little bit on the inside (of the art world), I’m so thankful that I’m working with (gallery owner) Judith who works really hard to make an open environment that feels like a living room.

    I fully intend on breaking a lot of these cycles of needing to have money to be an artist. One of the things I really want to work on is making a frame library so that artists that have an opportunity to show but can’t afford to frame the work can just rent frames for free. 

    Art should be democratized. I hope that from growing up very poor as a truck driver’s daughter, coming at this from a very outside perspective, that I can bring something different to it. I think that’s actually a responsibility of mine as somebody that’s in this space, to be’s part of my job to make sure that other people get seen equally. 

    Two Shout-Outs

    My husband is basically my assistant that I don’t have to pay. We were on a hike, and was like, “Ooh, I found a lizard. Can you just hold onto him for a second?” And I look over and the lizard is hanging off his beard while I’m trying to set up my camera. He used to be an Army Ranger, so he’s gotten into worse situations than I could ever get him into. 

    I am the person everyone is staying home to protect. I would be risking my life to go out and print right now because of my auto-immune issues. I don’t know how we could have done this show without the Photo Center and Sandy King. She’s the digital lab lead there and I call her my hero—she’s been doing all the printing for the show. She knows how picky I am and she holds the same standards I do. The execution has to be spot-on because it’s on a black background. 

    Flower Anarchy

    If we’re able to have an opening, I’m giving everybody little May Day baskets with flowers or flower seeds. Hopefully people will be planting flowers all around the city. It’s a total experiment of like, can I get this to happen? Is planting wild flowers the same thing as graffiti? Is it considered a nuisance or is it considered artwork? Let’s see…

    Clare McLean

    Clare McLean is a writer, photographer,  and horticulture student in Snohomish County.

    The opening reception is on Saturday, June 13th, from 3-6 P.M. and First Thursday, July 2nd, from 5-8 P.M. J. Rinehart Gallery is located at 319 Third Avenue South in Seattle, Washington. For information, visit

  • Saturday, May 02, 2020 4:17 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

    After René Magritte’s 1928 painting, The Lovers

    A portrait of a couple posed side by side. The painting cropped at the chest, the landscape behind them a meadow, bushy trees, the sky is a solemn blue with clouds. She in a dress and he in a suit and tie. Their heads tilt toward each other. White cloth is draped over their heads and necks. Just the hint of features under the cloths—point of a nose, a chin, the cloth is close to the face. They have only their bodies to give each other in their senseless love. Two lovers without a harsh word for one another. Words that stench and stink and sting cannot fester in the mouth (a cauldron of venom) nor the ears (a rancid pit). Without eyes to criticize, to close when they should be open, remain open when they should be otherwise. They press their heads together and grin for the artist.

    Janée J. Baugher

    Janée J. Baugher is the author of two ekphrastic poetry collections, The Body’s Physics and Coördinates of Yes. Her poetry and prose have been published in Tin House, The Writer’s Chronicle, Boulevard, NANO Fiction,Nimrod, and The Southern Review, among other places, and she teaches at Richard Hugo House. In autumn 2020, McFarland is to publish her academic book, The Ekphrastic Writer: Creating Art-Influenced Poetry, Fiction and Nonfiction.

  • Wednesday, March 04, 2020 12:00 AM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

    Seattle Asian Art Museum: Reimagined. Reinstalled. Reopened.

    Visit the dazzling new installations at the Seattle Asian Art Museum as soon as possible! In a striking departure from tradition, the museum is now organized thematically rather than by geography, the only Asian Museum in the country to take this bold step. It is a huge success. 

    Themes enable us to see familiar works with new eyes, and to enjoy never before seen masterpieces. Each theme includes many countries, and each object often is the result of crossing boundaries, such as a Chinese robe made with Russian silk. 

    As you explore the twelve themes, enjoy the cultural intersections. In fact, the theme of the entire museum is the intersections of culture.

    Architectural firm LMN restored the stunning 1933 Art Deco building. As you approach the entrance, you at once notice that it glows a subtle pink color as a result of the restoration of the exterior. The reglazing of the doors now allow views out to the park and beyond. Restored windows throughout the museum allow frequent views of Volunteer Park and its magnificent trees. 

    The new gallery of over 2600 square feet is scaled to the rest of the building. In addition there are newly imagined education spaces and a state-of-the-art lab for restoring the mounting of Asian painting, the only one west of the Mississippi. Even the auditorium has new seats (made by the original firm) and better lines of sight.

    First look up at the delicate canopy in the Fuller Garden Court by Kenzan Tsutakawa, the grandson of our famous George Tsutakawa. Composed of LED lights in a pattern based on Asian textiles, it swoops toward the front door and the outside world.

    Many works have never been shown before such as a Filipino “Fichu” or shawl, made of pineapple fiber in the first gallery off the Fuller Garden Court titled “Are We What We Wear?”  In another radical act, the curators added contemporary work in most of the galleries, amplifying their themes. So in this gallery we see jewelry and ceremonial clothing, along with contemporary Korean photographer Jung Yeondoo’s “Bewitched” project. The two photographs pair a young woman dressed for her humble job with the same woman outfitted for her fantasy life to explore the Arctic. 

    “Writing Images” includes painting, calligraphy, and poetry. Don’t miss the small horizontal book made of stacked palm fronds, then enjoy the larger masterpieces. These fragile light sensitive works most likely are to be on display for only six months.

    The narrow gallery, “Color in Clay,” faces the park with a long display ranging from white to polychrome. It has no labels which encourages simply looking at the colors as they change according to the light. A video display includes all the information about each piece if we want to pursue the detail.

    Just to the right of the front entrance, “Kamadeva, God of Desire” greets us in “Spiritual Journeys.” Highlighted here as an outstanding 12th century masterpiece of the South Asian Collection, it was formerly lost in the many works in the Fuller Garden Court. After exploring the images of gods of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam, pause in the next gallery, “Awakened Ones,” and listen to chants: these three Buddhas are from Japan, China, and Thailand.

    “Divine Bodies” emphasizes the human body, accompanied by a video that outlines “mudras,” the complex blessing gestures of Buddhism. We can see a teaching gesture in the early 9th century bronze of Buddha Shakyamuni. This bronze is so sensitive to oxygen that it required a special case and has never been displayed before. Anita Dube’s photographs “Offering” of ceramic eyes on hands creating mudras hangs above a riveting thousand armed eleven headed Guanyin. Dube’s work is one of many contemporary works loaned by our generous local collectors Sanjay Parthasarathy and Malini Balakrishnan.

    Finally the new gallery has a separate contemporary art exhibit, “Belonging,” centered around the enormous and familiar Do Ho Suh’s “Some/One,” made of hundreds of military dog tags. In addition to international superstars, be sure to find the work of our own Akio Takamori. His group of poignant ceramic figures depict villagers he remembered from his childhood in Japan. 

    As you leave the large new space, pause with Kim Soja’s “Mandala: Zone of Zero,” three “mandalas” made from juke boxes, each reciting a different chant from Gregorian, Islamic, and Buddhism, an example of ecumenism so crucial in today’s world.

    Perfect. Hats off to the curators and the staff. 

    Susan Noyes Platt

    Susan Noyes Platt writes a blog and for local, national, and international publications.

    The Seattle Asian Art Museum, located at 1400 E. Prospect Street in Seattle, is open Wednesday from 10 A.M. to 5 P.M., Thursday from 10 A.M. to 9 P.M., Friday from 10 A.M. to 5 P.M., Saturday from 9 A.M. to 5 P.M., and Sunday from 10 A.M. to 5 P.M. For info, visit

  • Tuesday, March 03, 2020 1:00 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

  • Tuesday, March 03, 2020 12:19 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

    After Alberto Giacometti’s sculptures

    Start with a metal skeleton of what serves your pleasure: a house, a mug, a human figure. Then, take clay and obliterate the metal with it, rendering it inexhaustible of air and mind and any wayward form that disagrees with this surface. You may add mounds of clay or as little as possible. In this manner, you will sculpt Everyman, and how you depict him here people will remark on: Did you make him portly, disheveled, mute? Is he capable of doing anything? Have you captured motion, devolution, mutation? This figure remains lean. Scarcely clay beset the metal, the bones of which poke out of him—he with his elongated, attenuated, atrophied limbs. His head looks straight on, his features are cast in bronze, yet I cannot tell his eyes from nose. Does he feign movement of thought and promise—that solitude starves from ourselves? Merely alone, we are left in the skeleton of our daily skin, the way the bronze catches the light and absorbs it into itself—that color, that light that spreads around a room only hibernates there inside Giacometti’s thin figure. I imagine him falling off the edge.

    Janée J. Baugher

    Janée J. Baugher is the author of two ekphrastic poetry collections, The Body’s Physics and Coördinates of Yes. Her poetry and prose have been published in Tin House, The Writer’s Chronicle, Boulevard, NANO Fiction, Nimrod, and The Southern Review, among other places, and she teaches at Richard Hugo House. In autumn 2020, McFarland  is to publish her academic book, The Ekphrastic Writer: Creating Art-Influenced Poetry, Fiction and Nonfiction.

  • Thursday, January 02, 2020 12:52 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

    Fifty coffins by Ebony G. Patterson, decorated with fabric flowers, fringe, glitter, lace, rhinestones, ribbon, and tassels stand in a dense cluster in the center of the Henry Art Gallery. Glorious to look at, “Invisible Presence: Bling Memories,” celebrates as well as mourns. The coffins bear witness to the lives of youths killed in violence during only four weeks. At the same time, in the tradition of Carnival, they suggest a celebration. Patterson amplifies that with three almost mural scaled collages that celebrate with a dense pattern of toys and, on the floor, paper-mâché balloons, the hopes and joys of youth who die young with titles like “…they were filled with hope, desire and beauty (…when they grow up…).” 

    Nearby we mount a large platform with several bookcases, part of Oscar Tuazon’s installation based on his continuing “Water School” project adapted to each locale where he shows it. For this installation, he included large maps of the rivers of the Olympic Peninsula and Lake Washington, highlighting the native names of rivers and omitting roads. His work, both visionary and historical, encourages us to think about water on indigenous land and the colonialism of dams, pipelines and other abuses.

    These two impressive works are part of “In Plain Sight,” the first large exhibition by Senior Curator Shamim M. Momin. The exhibit features fourteen national and international artists whom we have not seen in Seattle. It fills the entire Henry Art Gallery with artists who address topics, communities, and stories not usually visible in public spaces. The exhibition gives us the opportunity to see artists with a sharp critical edge as they expose untold narratives.

    For example, Sadie Barnette’s moving installation “Room to Live” features the story of her father, Rodney Barnette, who was an active, but little-known, Black Panther, under extensive FBI surveillance. She juxtaposes redacted pages of his FBI file with a living room setting from the sixties, suggesting his personal life. Sanford Biggers’ combination of sculpture and textile mixed media wall pieces also forces us to rethink racial clichés and news bites. The bronze sculpture “BAM (for Michael)” confronted us in the stately museum medium, here pockmarked and damaged, with the reality of police violence.

    Tom Burr’s installations throughout the exhibition, quietly written in corners, list the names of locations he cut out of “Spartacus,” an International Gay Guide, for gay men to meet up. The piece originally conceived in 1989 and recreated for this show is all the more affecting for its subtlety.

    Hayv Kahraman’s dramatically scaled paintings would seem more straightforward than Burr’s lists of street names, but in fact they are equally layered with meanings that are hard to immediately grasp. Kahraman fled her native Iraq as a child in 1991 to escape Saddam Hussein’s brutal policies toward Kurds. But her paintings feature ironic statements on international entertainment fundraisers that stereotype victims as they raise money. She “orientalizes” the women she depicts, rendering them all alike as “other” as seen by Westerners.

    Beatriz Cortez of El Salvador created an intense steel portal honoring the 1000 men, women and children in El Mozote, brutally massacred in 1981 during the Civil War. In a corner of the gallery, she spoke the names of each victim layered over one another. We cannot understand the names, just as we cannot grasp the tragedy.

    Alison O’Daniel addresses hearing loss and alternative means of communication through a series of videos called “The Tuba Thieves.” Based on an actual event in which tubas were stolen from a South Los Angeles marching band, stealing a crucial sound, she creatively conveys the difficulty of communication for the hard of hearing.

    “In Plain Sight” requires time to experience, particularly for the video works. It is easy to miss Mika Rottenberg’s “Cosmic Generator” at the end of the exhibition in a very dark room, too dark to read the explanation. Rottenberg swerves between surrealism and narrative, documentary and pop to explore artificially created boundaries. Filmed in a Chinese restaurant in Mexico and a kitsch souvenir shop in China, the larger theme is the corruption of capitalism. Amusing scenes underscore that in wildly unpredictable imagery like a taco with men in suits lying inside.

    The exhibition provides an opportunity to see a provocative range of very current artists who address the difficult topic of hidden stories for the ironically titled “In Plain Sight.” Thanks to Shamim M. Momin for bringing these challenging artists to Seattle. 

    Susan Noyes Platt

    Susan Noyes Platt writes a blog and for local, national, and international publications.

    “In Plain Sight” is on view at the University of Washington’s Henry Art Gallery, located at 5th Avenue NE & NE 41st Street in Seattle, Washington. The hours are Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 11 A.M. to 4 P.M. and Thursday 11 A.M. to 9 P.M. For more information, visit

  • Thursday, January 02, 2020 11:28 AM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

    “The Lavender Palette: Gay Culture and the Art of Washington State” at Cascadia Art Museum is the first of its kind. Curator David Martin seeks to document and illustrate the influence of gay artists in Washington state and outline their regional, national, and international importance. The public and private artworks and writings of these artists are on display for the first time together in this exhibition. Martin describes significance of this in his introductory statement, “While certain aspects of their creative output exist in public collections, art with subject matter illustrating their personal lives was often destroyed or weeded out in museum collections in order to preserve a sanitized version of their lives.” The show touches on many aspects, including stylistic contribution,international acclaim, the risk of persecution and imprisonment, aesthetic influences, and documentation of gay culture. However, I believe that the core strength of the exhibition is that it shares the stories and significance of these artists, and in many cases these personal narratives are being shared with the public for the first time.

    There are four artists whose work is synonymous with Northwest art. Kenneth Callahan, Mark Tobey, Morris Graves, and Guy Anderson are the “big four” artists who make up the core of the Northwest School. Three of those artists, Tobey, Graves, and Anderson, are included in this exhibition. Tobey’s paintings show his experimentation with white lines, which would become his signature style. Several of Graves’ paintings from the 1930s are included and they are wonderful examples of the social realistic style. A later painting, “Preening Sparrow” from 1952, is also included. I was particularly thrilled to see Guy Anderson’s “Fisherman Dreaming of Home” from 1964 which is oil and metal collage on wood. His paintings and prints are staples in the both private and public art collections in the Northwest, but I think his mixed media pieces are especially personal because would often use materials in his immediate surroundings.

    It is vital that Tobey, Graves, and Anderson be included in this exhibition, but there another dozen artists featured that will likely not be familiar to even the most devoted Northwest art connoisseur. Once the visitor has entered the galleries, the first images that the viewer sees when entering the space is a series 54 mugshots of men arrested for sodomy between 1893-1913. On a perpendicular wall, portraits of many of the artists are also installed. I was so grateful to be able to put faces to the names of artists that I was learning about for the first time. I am very familiar with portraits of Morris Graves, for example, but other artists like Thomas Handforth, Sarah Spurgeon, and Richard Bennett were completely new to me. Rediscovery has become a theme for the exhibitions at Cascadia Art Museum and it is a real benefit for the artistic community.

    The galleries that hold the exhibition feel intimate and the visitor can easily stand in a position so that they can see the majority of the room. As I stood at the entrance of the largest room, I was amazed at the number and variety of artworks. Since the works are arranged by artist, it can be a wonderful visual exercised for the visitor to try to note some of the thematic through-lines as they move from artist to artist. Many themes are revealed, including interior mid-century scenes, fashion illustrations, labor scenes in social realist style, Northwest School style paintings, and more. However, the artworks most interesting to me focused on intimate subject matter and portraits. The thesis of the show is to bring the private lives of these artists to the forefront; lives that they often had to hide to varying degrees. These intimate writings and  images tell many stories including the “wedding” of Jackie Starr (“a top female impersonator at the Garden of Allah Club in Seattle” according to the exhibition text) and Bill Scott, the long-lasting professional and personal relationship between Del McBride and Clark Brott, Orre Nobles’ diary in which he describes “chats” (code for sexual experiences), and photographs of naked men in a variety of poses and displayed in the “mature content” section of the exhibition.

    As stated in the introductory text, this exhibition is groundbreaking. The time and knowledge required to gather all the artworks and primary sources together in this show is staggering. I was told by the docent that there a catalog is forthcoming, but its release date is unknown at this time. There are three Coffee with the Curator events throughout the run of the exhibition and the last event is on January 5. If you want to discover artists who will likely be new to you and learn more about their concealed personal relationships and artworks, this is the exhibition for you.

    Chloé Dye Sherpe

    Chloé Dye Sherpe is a curator and art professional based in Washington State.

    “The Lavender Palette” is on view through January 26 at the Cascadia Art Museum, located 190 Sunset Avenue in Edmonds, Washington. Museum hours are Wednesday through Sunday from 11 A.M. to 6 P.M. and on 3rd Thursdays Art Walk Edmonds from 11 A.M. to 8 P.M. For more information, visit

2023 © Art Access 
Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software