At places such as the Whatcom Museum of History and Art and Western Washington University’s Western Gallery, there’s often an overflow of permanent art the entities have been gifted or purchased that they must keep careful track of—whether it’s via climate-controlled storage or simply finding a place to keep it safe—being as there’s never enough space to show all of it at once.
Thanks to a donation of $250,000 from Seattle art patron Virginia Wright to WWU last spring, the university’s expanding collection of Northwest art has found a new home in the school’s Performing Arts Center.
One new gallery would be something to get excited about, but Wright’s cash infusion means there are now three new places to see works of art—and better yet, they’re in a building where there’s already a healthy appreciation of the arts via the study and performance of music, theater and a variety of other creative explorations.
According to a recent press release, the monies allowed the university to create new gallery spaces in the Mainstage and Concert Hall lobbies to display select pieces from its recently expanded collection of Northwest art, as well as renovating a third existing gallery, which is currently housing a rare collection of tapestries by Alexander Calder.
In addition to Calder’s rare tapestries—which, thanks again to Wright’s funding, were carefully restored in advance of their debut at the new space—the new PAC Galleries highlight approximately 75 of the 208 paintings, sculpture and works on paper that were gifted to the Western Gallery in 2010 as part of a joint gift of the Safeco Insurance Co. and the Washington Arts Consortium. They include pieces by noted Northwest artists including Guy Anderson, Morris Graves, Richard Gilkey, William Ivey, Lee Kelly, John Koenig, Alden Mason, Nancy Mee, Carl Morris, and Frank Okada.
“It’s a common conundrum, but the Western Gallery has more art than it has space to display,” Daniel Guyette, dean of WWU’s College of Fine and Performing Arts, said last March when the gift from the Wright Family Foundation became available. “Improving larger, public spaces like these lobbies will help us share our wonderful collection of Northwest art with the community.”
At a Dec. 14 ceremony, Western President Bruce Shephard and Guyette were on hand to cut ribbons and host a brief program honoring Wright, who, without a doubt, made the new PAC Galleries possible. Members of the Safeco Insurance Co. and the Washington Arts Consortium were also on hand, and were recognized for their generous contributions as well.
Thanks to these gifts that will keep on giving, those who’d like to view pieces by some of the Northwest’s most recognized artists have only to step into WWU’s Performing Arts Center to do so. After all, expanding the arts is always a good thing, and so is sharing them.
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