'Local Ties' acquisition of contemporary works by Seattle artists announced

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'Local Ties' acquisition of contemporary works by Seattle artists announced
Wynne Greenwood. Tracy + the Plastics (still), Frye, 2006/2014. Video (color, sound); 10:52 min. Courtesy of the artist.

SEATTLE, WA.- The Frye Art Museum announced the acquisition initiative Local Ties, intended to underscore the museum’s identity as an ‘artist’s art museum’ and a commitment to collecting work made by artists who live in or hold deep ties to the city of Seattle. Chief Curator and Director of Exhibitions Amanda Donnan has selected six works for the museum’s permanent collection by artists not yet represented in the Frye’s holdings: Gretchen Frances Bennett, Dawn Cerny, Marita Dingus, Wynne Greenwood, and Hanako O’Leary. The works were purchased directly from the artists’ studios and from Seattle’s Traver Gallery; piloting support for this initiative is provided by Lucy and Stuart Williams, who is the new President of the Board of Trustees for the Frye.

“I’m proud to mark the start of my first full year at the Frye with this meaningful investment in Seattle’s creative economy,” says Executive Director Jamilee Lacy. “I believe it’s critical that the Frye finds diverse and impactful ways to support the talented artists of our city beyond presenting their work in special exhibitions. With Local Ties, we continue the museum’s tradition of championing local artists and further enrich our collection with a group of artworks that will help the Frye document and promote our city’s ongoing contributions to the history of art.”

“The leadership at the Frye Art Museum has yet again demonstrated their commitment to supporting the art community of the Pacific Northwest,” says Sarah Traver, Director of Traver Gallery. “With their direct purchase from a regional gallery, the Frye confirms their dedication to the local galleries that exhibit, support, and sustain the exceptional artists of the Pacific Northwest. Our region's arts are defined, celebrated, and upheld through such partnerships. We are thrilled to work with the Frye on this important acquisition and are delighted that Marita Dingus's work will be in the permanent collection of this essential Seattle museum.”

The Local Ties acquisition speaks to the Frye’s objective to support local artists from the emerging through established phases of their careers. While the five selected artists take an experimental approach to a wide range of mediums—from video and performance to drawing, assemblage, and ceramics—all artists display a sustained commitment to their individual throughlines of research.

“This is a very intentional grouping of artists and works,” shares Donnan. “Video and sculpture are especially underrepresented in the Frye’s holdings yet are critical to telling the full story of contemporary art. This is also an opportunity for the museum to add to its collection the work of several artists who have been the subject of presentations at the Frye, but who we missed acquiring work from at the time.” Greenwood and Bennett were the subject of solo exhibitions at the Frye in 2006 and 2019, respectively, and O’Leary’s first museum solo show closes at the Frye on January 28.

The Local Ties acquisition joins recent gifts to the collection that have also bolstered the Frye’s representation of local and regional contemporary artists. In late 2023, collectors Dennis Braddock and Janice Niemi donated seven works to the museum, including sculptures by Chiloquin, Oregon artist Natalie Ball and Vancouver-based Liz Magor. In January 2024, collectors Michael and Cathy Casteel gifted six works by Pacific Northwest artists Jessica Jackson Hutchins, Ellen Lesperance, Margie Livingston, Jeffry Mitchell, and Dan Webb. The museum’s holdings of Pacific Northwest artists now comprise approximately 40% of its collection. Since opening in 1952, the Frye has remained steadfast in exhibiting and collecting artworks by contemporary artists, especially those living and practicing in the city of Seattle and surrounding region. Read more about Recent Acquisitions to the collection.

The Frye Art Museum continues to strategically build its collection through purchases and gifts, both deepening existing areas of strength and diversifying holdings to reflect the museum’s expansive curatorial program and Seattle’s globalized present.

Acquisitions of the last five years demonstrate the Museum’s commitment to growing and contextualizing its distinctive historical collections of late nineteenth and twentieth-century European and American art while broadening its holdings of contemporary works to embrace previously underrepresented identities, perspectives, and forms of expression. To some extent, acquisitions mirror the Museum’s exhibition history, creating a material record of the institution’s engagement with local, national, and international artists and commemorating the special audience connection formed through temporary presentations. Contemporary artworks chosen for the collection often respond to or complicate the narratives around mediums and genres traditionally associated with the Frye, like painting, landscape, and portraiture.

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