Home Close-Up: Phen Huang, Director of Seattle’s Foster/White Gallery, Reveals Passion for Art

Close-Up: Phen Huang, Director of Seattle’s Foster/White Gallery, Reveals Passion for Art

by Meredith Areskoug
Phen Huang

FOSTER/WHITE GALLERY, 100 – 220 3rd Ave S, Seattle, WA

by Matthew Kangas

After founder Donald I. Foster sold one of Seattle’s oldest galleries, Foster/White, to Canada’sBau-Xi Gallery, the acquiring Huang family appointed their daughter, Phen, to take care of matters in Seattle in 2002. After working at the Vancouver and Toronto galleries of Bau-Xifor two decades, Huang said, “I was looking for a change … and now I care deeplyfor the artists and for the people I work with – they’re my family.” 

Alden Mason, Spirit Bird Landscape, 1996, acrylic on canvas

Asked about the current state of Pioneer Square, Seattle’s premier gallery precinct, she noted, “We in Seattle need to take this quieter time of year to come together in a different way. First Thursday [the monthly show changeover] is forty years old now! There might be other ways we could become stronger together … We’ve got some real gifts here, but working together is harder. What about First Thursday as a jumping-off point for something else – but I don’t know what that might be!” 

As to her favorite kinds of art, Huang laughed and said, “I can’t help it. I like a sense of humor, like James Martin and Alden Mason.” About prospective artists for the gallery, she added, “I consult with the people I work with. If they have the same enthusiasm, then we will show them next …We have realistic roots, but also conceptual or abstract and figurative art.”

Chase Langford, Mara Camp, 2015, oil on canvas

“I’m seeking new talent constantly. I respect the gallery stable, but I am also most keen on technically proficient art that’s not trying to be political … You can have a career and some are more able to handle self-promotion … They’ve got to get on with making art, not just talking about it. And then, challenging themselves to grow by looking and pushing what they know. Then they can have the opportunityto have a revelation.”

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