Artist Spotlight: Delbert J. McBride

For today’s Virtual Visit during Cascadia’s temporary closure, curator David Martin gives an introduction to the life and select works of artist Delbert “Del” McBride (1920-1998).

Born in Olympia, Washington, Delbert J. McBride is known as an important Northwest historian. He was Curator of Art at The Cheney Cowles Museum in Spokane (now Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture) and curator at the Washington State Capital Museum in Olympia for many years. Lesser known – for reasons David explains in today’s video – is the fact that McBride also produced original works of art in several mediums. As a painter, McBride exhibited in local museums and institutions such as the Seattle Art Museum, Tacoma Art Museum, and the University of Puget Sound.

In the design field, McBride founded Klee Wyk Studios along with cousin Oliver Tiedeman and brother Bud McBride. They were later joined by Bud’s life partner Richard Schneider. The studio was located in the Nisqually Flats, north of Olympia, beginning in the early 1950s. For ten years, Klee Wyk Studios produced architectural and decorative tile murals as well as utilitarian objects that were among the finest mid-century designs. The artists’ use of Northwest Native American motifs reflects the McBrides’ Quinault and Cowlitz heritage.

McBride and Klee Wyk Studios were the subjects of several retrospectives at the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma. Their reputations were established and preserved largely through the efforts of Northwest art historian Maria Pascualy.

Delbert McBride is one of the artists featured in The Lavender Palette: Excerpts, which is a selection of works from our original exhibition The Lavender Palette: Gay Culture and the Art of Washington State. We will extend this exhibition so that you can come and see McBride’s and other artists’ works in person when it’s safe for Cascadia to reopen.

We hope you enjoyed today’s Virtual Visit, and thank you for being part of our Cascadia community.