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To: Seattle | Subject: Personal

Frye Art Museum
Seattle WA – Oct 1, 2016-Jan 8, 2017

Inye Wokoma, Our Blood Is In These Stones

Inye Wokoma, Our Blood Is In These Stones (2016), digital photograph [Frye Art Museum, Seattle WA, Oct 1-Jan 8] Photo courtesy of the artist

Buster Simpson, Tree Guard

Buster Simpson, Tree Guard (1978-2013), powder-coated cast iron [Frye Art Museum, Seattle WA, Oct 1-Jan 8] Photo courtesy of the Frye Art Museum

Outgoing director Jo-Anne Birnie Danzker’s swan song, To: Seattle | Subject: Personal spotlights 22 artists whom she and former contemporary art curators Robin Held and Scott Lawrimore gave exhibitions to, commissioned work from, and acquired the pieces on view for the permanent collection.

A privately funded museum that began with a collection of 19th-century German, Central European and Scandinavian art, the Frye has, under Birnie Danzker, arrived in the 21st century with programming that combines historical overviews related to the Europeans with contemporary local artists who share many of the same viewpoints: the interrelationships between all the arts; concern with the environment; and an interest in architecture and design.

Unlike in Canada, US artists are not automatically given honorariums for public museum exhibitions, but Birnie Danzker advanced fees for them to design exhibitions and for the Frye to acquire artworks. Buster Simpson, a leading environmental public artist who once showed at The Western Front, made several pieces for the Frye, as did another public artist, Cris Bruch. Set-up photographs by Rodrigo Valenzuela fill an entire gallery along with numerous other examples that make the Frye the beating heart of contemporary art in Seattle—for the time being.

Matthew Kangas

 Sun, Nov 6, 2016