Northwest Design at Mid-Century

January 18 – March 25, 2018

This exhibition will present a variety of works and objects that define the Northwest aesthetic at mid-century covering the period 1948-1966.

“I had my very first work in silkscreen printing with Ruth Penington. I learned the rudiments in this only formal education I ever had in silkscreen, which has become so important to my career. Her personality too—easy, sisterly rather than stern—helped me to grow in confidence and to take things less tensely and perhaps, as important, I learned so much from her about lifestyle and the enjoyment of life. I was going through a temporary idealism in which I wanted no possessions. Ruth began to wear new dresses, simple white jewelry—all this setting off a new suntan—such freshness. I realized that this was not vanity, but her gift to us—to come on wonderfully and I began to think of possessions as a way of sharing, and family and friends were all the more grateful for it.”
               – JACK LENOR LARSEN, designer

Jack Lenor Larsen, one of the most important designers in the world, began his career at the University of Washington in the 1940’s. His is one of only two design houses to have been the subject of an exhibition at the Palais du Louvre, Paris. Larson and several other important American designers such as George Nakashima began their careers studying with influential artist instructors at the UW, many of whom will be featured in this show.

Our exhibition includes a sofa designed by Hope Foote for the William Hixson House in the mid-1950’s. The Hixson sofa is covered with Lenor Larsen’s Northwest Native American inspired fabric and is being shown publicly for the first time.
Other original furniture by Evert Sodergren, George Tsutakawa, Margaret Tomkins/James FitzGerald, and Gideon Kramer will also be featured along with several rare, early pieces by George Nakashima.

Paintings will include works by William Hixson, Guy Anderson and Katherine Westphal, who along with her husband, Ed Rossbach, became leading forces in the fiber arts movement.

Before the Northwest had built a strong reputation as the center for glass arts in America, the region was known for an outstanding number of innovative and successful studio ceramists. Major regional figures featured in this exhibition include Ivarose Bovindon, Ngaire Hixson Robert Sperry and Virginia Weisel.

Of special interest will be a selection of original Frederick & Nelson advertisements created by Bob Cram. These original illustrations will be familiar to many Northwest natives and will evoke pleasant memories of everyday life in the Northwest.

Other special objects include fabrics, jewelry, fashion and other relevant pieces by James E. Peck, Ruth Penington, Klee Wyk Studios, Danny Pierce, John Eaton and others.

Image Credit: Katherine Westphal, Self Portrait with husband Ed Rossbach, circa 1949. Egg tempera on panel, Private Collection

  • January 18, 2018 - March 25, 2018