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News & Notes: Seattle’s new art museum

A $300 million gift of more than 200 artworks jump-starts the Seattle University Museum of Art. Plus: Maryhill Museum season begins, Asian American writers, Andrew Proctor returns, jazz at Milagro, Billie Holiday tribute night.

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Among the gifted artworks to the new Seattle University Museum of Art: Roy Lichtenstein's "Reflections on 'Painter and Model'," 1990. Acrylic, oil, graphite pencil on canvas, 78 x 96 inches. © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein
Among the gifted artworks to the new Seattle University Museum of Art: Roy Lichtenstein’s “Reflections on ‘Painter and Model’,” 1990. Acrylic, oil, graphite pencil on canvas, 78 x 96 inches. © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein

The Pacific Northwest is getting a new art museum, thanks to a gift from Seattle hotel and real estate developer Richard “Dick” Hedreen, who announced this week that he is giving his entire art collection to Seattle University to establish the new Seattle University Museum of Art. The collection of more than 200 artworks has been valued by Christie’s at $300 million, and Hedreen is also giving the university $25 million in seed money to develop the museum.

The Hedreen Collection spans the centuries with significant works from the Renaissance to 20th century and contemporary masters. Among the artists in the donated collection are Titian, Jacopo da Pontormo, Jan Lievens, Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun, Luis Melendez, Thomas Gainsborough, Willem de Kooning, Robert Rauschenberg, Roy Lichtenstein, and Robert Indiana; etchings by Lucien Freud; 20th-century photographs by artists including Berenice Abbott, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Irving Penn, Louis Stettner, and Andy Warhol; and contemporary works by artists including Cecily Brown, Rashid Johnson, Vic Muniz, Amy Sherald, and Anna Weyant.

Above left: Amy Sherald, “The Make-Believer (Monet’s Garden),” 2016. Oil on canvas, 54 x 43 inches. © Amy Sherald. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photo: Joseph Hyde. Above right: Élisabeth Louise Vigée-LeBrun, “Portrait of the Duc de Riviere,” 1828. Oil on canvas, 28 7/8 X 23 5/8 inches. Image courtesy of Richard Hedreen.

Giovanni Toscani (Italian, 1371-1430), "Adoration of the Magi," unknown year. Tempera on panel, 33.5 x 64 centimeters. Image courtesy of Richard Hedreen.
Giovanni Toscani (Italian, 1371-1430), “Adoration of the Magi,” unknown year. Tempera on panel, 33.5 x 64 centimeters. Image courtesy of Richard Hedreen.

Hedreen, 88, told Margo Vansynghel of The Seattle Times that he chose Seattle University in honor of his late wife, Elizabeth “Betty” Ann Petri Hedreen, who died in 2022, and who was a graduate of Seattle U. He also said he wanted to keep the collection whole rather than have it scattered among the collections of a larger museum.

The Hedreens have made several earlier gifts to the university, as well as to the Seattle Art Museum and others. Seattle University said that Hedreen’s current donation is the largest gift of art ever made to a U.S. university, and the largest of any kind to Seattle U. in its 133-year history.

The Jesuit university plans to build its new museum on its Capitol Hill campus, and the collection will be transferred once the new building is ready to receive it. A timeline for construction and opening hasn’t been announced.

The new Seattle University museum will join an impressive lineup of art museums in the greater Seattle area, among them the flagship Seattle Art Museum; the Seattle Asian Art Museum; the Frye Art Museum, which specializes in representational art with some contemporary forms; the Bellevue Arts Museum, which specializes in craft art and design, and which is in the midst of an emergency fund drive; the Henry Art Gallery and Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture at the University of Washington; and, in Tacoma’s Museum District, the Tacoma Art Museum and the Museum of Glass, as well as the Washington State History Museum and other more focused institutions.

Sponsor

Portland Columbia Symphony Adelante Voices of Tomorrow Beaverton and Gresham Oregon

Maryhill Museum of Art opens its ’24 Season

Erik Sandgren, "Wallula to the Sea" (polyptych), 2023, acrylic on panel, 48” x 96” (48” x 24” each).
Erik Sandgren, “Wallula to the Sea” (polyptych), 2023, acrylic on panel, 48” x 96” (48” x 24” each).

Meanwhile, another Northwest museum, the Maryhill Museum of Art, opened on Friday, March 15, for its 2024 season and will stay open until Nov. 15. The museum, sitting high on a cliff above the Columbia River Gorge on the Washington side of the river about 110 miles east of Portland, is a seasonal attraction, shutting down in the winter months because of harsh weather in the Gorge.

Maryhill reopens with a few changes, most notably a new executive director and chief executive officer, Amy Behrens, who replaces Colleen Schafroth, who retired after 37 years at the museum, including 22 as executive director. Behrens has moved north from the  Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens in San Clemente, Calif., where she was executive director.

Thomas Jefferson Kitts, "Yakama Dipnetting for Steelhead, Klickitat River," 2023, oil on panel, 18 x 14 inches.
Thomas Jefferson Kitts, “Yakama Dipnetting for Steelhead, Klickitat River,” 2023, oil on panel, 18 x 14 inches.

The museum’s main temporary attraction this season is something close to home — or as close to home as a 300-mile stretch of the Columbia River can be. The new exhibition The Columbia River: Wallula to the Sea, featuring works by Thomas Jefferson Kitts and Erik Sandgren, which will continue through the full season, features works by those two contemporary regional artists and several others — as the museum describes it, about “70 historic and contemporary paintings and photographs showing Middle and Lower Columbia River landscapes, peoples, ideas, and structures. It also contains select examples of regional material culture by Indigenous artists,” including carving, twined basketry, beadwork from the Middle Columbia River region and a commissioned carving by the Chinook artist Greg A. Robinson.

The museum’s other new exhibit, which also stays for the full season, is also about the river and its environs: King Salmon: Contemporary Relief Prints is made up of woodcuts and linocuts that have been added to the museum’s collections in the past 10 years. The two shows will join the museum’s permanent collections, an eclectic and often fascinating bunch that roams from Orthodox icons to Rodin sculptures to rare chess sets to furniture designed by Queen Marie of Romania and more.

Watch for more coverage of the Maryhill season to come.

Calling Asian American writers

The Portland chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association has put out a call for entries for its  2024 AAJA Portland Diversity and Inclusion Awards, and if that sounds like you, you have until March 31 to enter. The awards will recognize “the best journalism published during 2023 about issues that, through discrimination or structural inequity, disproportionately affect people of color or other under-resourced groups in Oregon and/or southwest Washington. AAJA Portland is particularly interested in work that focuses on antiracism and social justice.”

Journalists who’ve had work published by Oregon or Southwest Washington news organizations during the 2023 calendar year — including student journalists, freelancers, and interns — are eligible to apply, in a variety of categories including arts and cultural stories. Details on categories and the submission process are here.

Sponsor

Portland Opera Puccini in Concert Keller Auditorium Portland Oregon

Andrew Proctor is back at Literary Arts

Andrew Proctor, who took a leave of absence from his job as executive director of Literary Arts to deal with colon cancer, is back on the job. “I am happy to report I am back working at Literary Arts after taking a health leave in early January,” he wrote in an email to the organization’s followers earlier this month.

“… During my leave, this community reminded me of the profound impact stories can have on our lives—you sent me books, wrote me cards and letters, sent touching and sometimes ridiculous texts, and called me to just catch up or keep me in the loop. One does not get through the harrowing moments of life alone, but rather with the support of a community. I have much to be thankful for, am happy to report that my prognosis is good, and I am now cancer-free.”

Among many other things, Literary Arts sponsors the Oregon Book Awards, the “Everybody Reads” program, the Portland Arts & Lectures series, and the annual Portland Book Festival.

Jazz at Milagro, Lady Sings the Blues

Jessie Marquez (left) and Kerry Politzer will perform Saturday, March 15, at Milagro. Photos courtesy Milagro Theatre.
Jessie Marquez (left) and Kerry Politzer will perform Saturday, March 15, at Milagro. Photos courtesy Milagro Theatre.

Milagro Theatre is more than a theater company: It’s a Latino/a cultural center and a home for all sorts of gatherings. This evening — Saturday, March 16, at 7:30 p.m. — it hosts singers Jessie Marquez and Kelly Politzer as part of its El Mundo de las Mujeres series, paying homage to the Cuban jazz composer Marta Valdés. Ticket info here.

Speaking of jazz, there are many singers worthy of a full-scale tribute night, and surely Billie Holiday ranks very near the top of the list. Coming up soon is “Lady Sings the Blues,” Portland’s 17th Annual Billie Holiday Tribute Night, Saturday, April 6, at Alberta Rose Theatre. This year would’ve been Billie’s 109th birthday, which seems astonishing: Her music is still as fresh and clear and piercing as anything out there.

The concert, sponsored by Siren Nation, will feature singers Marcia Hocker, Nafisaria Mathews, Jessie Marquez, Shelly Rudolph, Marilyn Keller, and Lenanne Sylvester Miller. Expect a little Strange Fruit on the evening’s menu.

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Photo Joe Cantrell

Bob Hicks has been covering arts and culture in the Pacific Northwest since 1978, including 25 years at The Oregonian. Among his art books are Kazuyuki Ohtsu; James B. Thompson: Fragments in Time; and Beth Van Hoesen: Fauna and Flora. His work has appeared in American Theatre, Biblio, Professional Artist, Northwest Passage, Art Scatter, and elsewhere. He also writes the daily art-history series "Today I Am."

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