Between the Frames explores the evolution of the Frye Art Museum
's collection, presenting forty works contextualized on a historical timeline, representing sixty-five years of acquisitions in chronological sequence. The exhibition charts the Museum's transformation from a personal selection of late-nineteenth and early-twentieth-century art, cultivated by First Hill residents Charles and Emma Frye, to a museum of the twenty-first century dedicated to regional and international creative practice in its myriad forms. The exhibition is organized by the Frye Art Museum and curated by Sarah Margolis-Pineo, Assistant Curator of the Frye Art Museum.
The Frye Art Museum was founded in 1952, over a decade after Charles (18581940) and Emma Frye (18601934) bequeathed more than two hundred oil paintings that today comprise the Founding Collection. The Museum's creation can be credited to the unwavering determination of Walser Sly Greathouse, executor of the Frye estate and founding director of the Museum, who retained the Fryes' vision for a free, public art museum for the people of Seattlewith special consideration for the community of First Hill.
Greathouse was the first of six directors who, from 1952, expanded the Museum's collection, acquiring new works to enliven and contemporize the paintings bequeathed by the Fryes. Subsequent leaders sought to do the same: ensure the continuity of the Museum's legacy while exploring emerging trends. Between the Frames is a story not only of the Museum's evolution but a narrative of its leadershipportraits of each director encapsulated within suites of artworks.
The works on view speak to the Museum's continuous engagement in a dialogue surrounding the merits and constraints of representational art, beginning with Charles and Emma Frye's founding gift, and reinforced by the dedication to realism embodied by founding director Walser Sly Greathouse (Director 195266). Greathouse brought in recognized artists from the Ashcan School and related group The Eight, such as Robert Henri, Arthur Bowen Davies, and Maurice Prendergast, and initiated the Frye's enduring support of local contemporary artists, including Rosalyn Gale Powell and Gerald Grace, who also served as the Museum's first Director of Education.
Greathouse was succeeded by his wife, Ida Kay Greathouse (Director 196793), whose support of regional cultural practice during her twenty-six-year directorship emphasized artists living and working in Alaska, including Fred Machetanz and Rie Muñoz. She also increased the number of works in the collection by the iconic realist painter Andrew Wyeth and his family. Ida Kay Greathouse's tenure is notable for her support of female artists, particularly emerging artists from the Pacific Northwest. Nearly half of the Museum's solo exhibitions featured women during the 1970s and '80s, such as local "outsider artist" Helmi Juvonen.
Richard V. West served as the third director of the Frye Art Museum (Director 19942003), acquiring works by leading national and international contemporary artists influencing the field of representational art, including Philip Perlstein, Doug Safranek, and Jamie Wyeth.
Yale-trained art historian Elsa "Midge" Bowman (Director 200409), succeeded West and hired curator Robin Held (Deputy Director, Exhibitions and Collections 200412) to reinvent the exhibitions program at the Frye. Acquisitions and exhibitions during Bowman's tenure embraced a less restrictive definition of representational art, and reinforced the Frye's commitment to contemporary artists from the Pacific Northwest such as the Portland-based "Pop Surrealist" painter Mark Ryden.
Works acquired during the directorship of Jo-Anne Birnie Danzker (Director 200916) were, in large part, a result of the ambitious exhibition program she oversaw with Held and Scott Lawrimore (Deputy Director, Exhibitions and Collections 2012-14), which expanded the Museum's holdings in mediums such as photography, video, sound art, sculptural installations, and text-based works. Representing this period are the intricate, hand-carved works of Seattle-based artist Matt Browning.
"I am inspired by the Frye's sixty-five-year historyfrom its formative years to the past decade of experimentation and community engagement," says current Director/CEO Joseph Rosa, who assumed his role in October 2016. "I want to look at the progressive sensibility of the original Founding Collection, the art that was relevant for that time, and use that lens to focus on contemporary art todayinternational, national, and Pacific Northwest artists who are pushing the discourse forward."