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The Frye Art Museum Celebrates Fifty Years


The Frye Art Museum opened its doors to the public for the first time on February 8, 1952. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Frye, the museum is mounting three installations drawn from the permanent collections: The Frye at Fifty: Five Decades of Collecting, Where Land Meets Water: Selections from the Charles and Emma Frye Collections, and The Character of the Northwest: Prints and Paintings by Eustace P. Ziegler. Many of the works of art to be on view have not been displayed for a number of years. These exhibitions will provide a rare opportunity to glimpse the breadth and range of the Frye collections. In addition to exhibiting Frye collections, the museum is planning a series of lectures, workshops, and concerts around the anniversary.

The three installations have a unique history. The Frye at Fifty will display works acquired after the museum opened in 1952. Originally founded solely to house the art collection of Charles and Emma Frye, the museum soon began acquiring additional works of art through purchase and gift. The museum's first director, Walser S. Greathouse, who led until 1966, began by acquiring American and European painting from the late 18th century through the 19th centuries.

The museum's second director, Ida Kay Greathouse, was director from 1966 - 1994 and continued acquiring American works, including Harnett, Eakins, and Sargent, as well as creating sizable collections of Alaskan artists, such as Sidney Laurence, Eustace Ziegler, and Fred Machetanz. She also acquired examples of all the artists who comprised "the Eight" (the Ashcan School): Robert Henri, John Sloan, William Glackens, Everett Shinn, Arthur B. Davies, Maurice Prendergast, George Luks, and Edward Lawson. (left: Maurice Prendergast, Beach Scene, Marblehead, 1921, watercolor, 23.5 x 30.25 inches, The Frye Art Museum)

Since the reopening in 1997, the museum collections have continued to grow under the direction of Richard V. West. Important examples by modern figurative and realist artists include Odd Nerdrum, Alfred Leslie, Jamie Wyeth, William Beckman, Graham Nickson, and Alice Neel. More traditional acquisitions include works by John White Alexander, Albert Bierstadt, Winslow Homer, and George Bellows. The special anniversary installation will be organized by decades, so that the visitor can literally walk through the collection and see it grow and develop over a fifty-year time span.

As the Frye Art Museum celebrates its fiftieth anniversary, it is fitting to display the prints and paintings of Eustace Paul Ziegler -- an artist intimately associated with the museum from its earliest days and renowned for creating works capturing the character of the Northwest. A rarely-seen collection of Ziegler's drypoints will be displayed From Febraury 1 to May 19, 2002`in The Character of the Northwest. As one of Seattle's foremost artists, Ziegler (1881-1969) often dropped by the home of Charles M. Frye to visit. Frye later specified in his will that Ziegler oversee the original museum installation of the Frye Collection. (right: Eustace Paul Ziegler, Cobb Building, 1934, drypoint on Christmas card, 7.75 x 6.75 inches, Collection of Jo and Len Braarud)

Ziegler was one of the first artists to show at the Frye, with a solo exhibition held shortly after the institution opened its doors in 1952. Walser Greathouse, the first director of the Frye, commissioned Ziegler to paint My Studio, Mt. McKinley (1953). This work became the first painting in the museum's extensive Alaskan collection.

Ziegler's intimate knowledge of the Northwest enabled him to execute enduring images of the region's majestic landscapes, architecture, and native people. As the result of much original research, the Frye curatorial staff will produce the first comprehensive catalogue of Ziegler's drypoints. This exhibition includes works from the Frye collection and three private collections.

Where Land Meets Water is the theme drawn from the museum's founding collection, the Charles and Emma Frye Collection. When water meets land, the variety of moods and images created are limitless: places of commerce, of celebration, of transport, of incomparable and shifting beauty can be found in these land and seascapes. Some works will be familiar, but this installation will also reintroduce paintings that have not been seen in a great while. A number of works have been cleaned and refurbished, along with their frames, as part of the museum's continuing and comprehensive conservation program.

rev. 2/1/02

Read more articles and essays concerning this institutional source by visiting the sub-index page for the Frye Art Museum in Resource Library Magazine.

For further biographical information on selected artists cited above please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

This page was originally published in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 11/28/11

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