1997: HAG Gets a Face-Lift

So, not only does 2007 mark the year the HAG turns 80, it’s also the 10th anniversary of her big ol’ 1997 face-lift. For the young’ns out there, before ’97, what we know now as the North Gallery was the HAG. A 10,000 square foot Gothic revival brick box that housed the museum since 1927. Now, we’re not knocking the brick box, we love the brick box, but for a growing girl revered for her new and innovative exhibitions, it just wasn’t going to cut it.

And when architect Carl Gould built the museum in 1927, he didn’t expect it to. He originally hoped the 1927 building would be “part of a great museum group” that included a large theater complex. Richard Andrews, director of the HAG in 1997 said “the Henry got left as an unfinished fragment.” So think of 1997 as just cashing in on a 70-year-old I.O.U.

The gallery closed for two years in 1995 for the renovation. Charles Gwathmey a New York architect who previously designed additions to the Guggenheim in NYC and the Busch-Reisinger Museum at Harvard, was assigned to the project with one condition: don’t build anything taller than what’s already there. “What’s already there” was a big grassy embankment. So he built down instead.

The $17.5 million expansion, dubbed an “architectural collage” by Gwathmey, quadrupled the museum’s size to 46,000 square feet, adding an auditorium, study center, loading dock and 14,000 extra square feet of exhibition space. When it opened its doors in April of 2007, nearly 6,000 people came to visit in the first two days; at one point, a line of 700+ people snaked around the building from the front door.

The pictures tell the story best:
John Stamets; 1995; University of Washington Campus Photographs Farshid Assassi; Gwathmey, Siegel & Associates Architects LLC; 1997

John Stamets; 1995; University of Washington Campus PhotographsFarshid Assassi; Gwathmey, Siegel & Associates Architects LLC; 1997

John Stamets; 1995; University of Washington Campus Photographs Farshid Assassi; Gwathmey, Siegel & Associates Architects LLC; 1997

John Stamets; 1995; University of Washington Campus Photographs Farshid Assassi; Gwathmey, Siegel & Associates Architects LLC; 1997

General Idea Editions 1967-1995

General Idea Editions 1967-1995
East Gallery
June 2 – August 5, 2007

Artist Lecture w/ AA Bronson TONIGHT, 7PM
Members FREE/$10 General/$6 Students & Seniors

Those of us who grew up watching Health Ed. videos of dancing t-cells teaching us about the many different ways you can’t get AIDS (toilet seats, straws, hugs, etc.) know General Idea as the guys behind

General Idea 1998 silkscreen poster, Hart House collection, University of Toronto

The group’s self-proclaimed “AIDS era” is all Seattle has seen of the group too. Since GI formed in 1967, their only piece to be placed on a gallery wall in Seattle is that logo. And only twice. And to scathing reviews.

When the City of Seattle’s “In Public” program plastered it on the sides of Metro buses in 1991, the Seattle P.I. slammed the move as an “inherently confused, slippery piece of public discourse, a timid, tepid, graphic arts parasite riding on the back of a plague.” Ouch.

Seattle 1991 - Image Virus: Aids Logo,

When the same image joined the “From Media to Metaphor: Art About AIDS” exhibition at COCA in 1992, the Seattle Times said, “This isn’t art, it’s just resume-writing — or advertising.”

So the fact that General Idea has such a negative standing in Seattle’s collective memory is a bummer, because the truth is, while the “AIDS era” was a major portion of GI’s work (…not to mention that two of its three members died in 1994 of AIDS-related causes), these guys have twenty-years worth of non-AIDS-related work. And it is weird and hysterical and smart.

P is for Poodle, 1983 Nazi Milk, 1979

So the HAG is reintroducing General Idea to Seattle, starting  June 2 through August 5, and this time giving GI its full props, as the kids say.

HAG in the ’70s and ’80s: Just as pretty as anyone else …

If you look at what was going on at the HAG in the ’70s and ’80s, you’ll find yourself saying “whoa” more than you’re probably comfortable with. [note: I’m not talking about one of those “cute” little Blossom-era Joey Lawrence gutless “whoas,” these are full-bodied, baritone homeless-dude-just-sat-on-your-lap-on-the-bus kind of “whoooooaaas.”] Exhibitions grew, collections grew and the HAG was pushing its boundaries.

No, seriously.

In 1985 as part of a Dada exhibition, Chris Burden installed “Samson” in HAG’s entryway. “Samson” equaled two giant beams sandwiched between the gallery walls and a 100-ton jack, attached to a gearbox, attached to a turnstile. Every time a visitor entered the gallery via the turnstile, the gears would turn, adding pressure to the jack, which would ever-so-slightly push the beams harder against the wall. Engineers feared the gallery could literally fall apart. Burden said “Nah.”

© Chris Burden, Samson, turnstile, winch, worm gear, leather strap, jack, timbers, steel, steel plates, dimensions variable, 1985, courtesy of the artist and Zwirner & Wirth

It didn’t. Whew. And now we’ll back up a little.

By the mid-70s, HAG got the moxie to start exporting her own exhibitions. A 1974 Frank Stella exhibition was the first to travel; 1980’s “American Impressionism” exhibition saw 29,000 visitors in two weeks at home before shipping out; and the “William Merritt Chase Retrospective Exhibition” hit the big time, scoring a spot at the Met in 1983.

And the exhibits that stayed at the Henry were phenomenal. There was a huge Dada retrospective in 1985 that produced the an extensive two-volume catalogue. And the West Coast’s first complete profile of Louise Bourgeois in 1988.

And we can’t forget Joseph and Elaine Monsen. In 1979 they began ceding their extensive collection of 19th and 20th century photographs to HAG. If you have seen any portion of the Monsen Photography Collection, you know this was an enoooooormous gift. As collectors, the Monsens scouted the rarest of 19th century printe and bought a Cindy Sherman at her very first show, before she was “CINDY SHERMAN!!!!!” (or so that’s how it sounds in my head). Joseph has said that they were collecting “ahead of the curve” for 37 years. Understatement? Yeah.

In 1986 HAG shared the Monsen Collection with the world, exhibiting the most complete history of photography at the time with “The History of Photography: A Collector’s View.” 19th century Egyptian landscapes in a room next to Diane Arbus, next to Gustave LeGray, next to Tina Barney.

In 1984, HAG’s then-director Harvey West travelled to China in hopes of snagging a ceramics exhibit. He left with the Minister of Culture’s blessing for the “Son of Heaven: Imperial Arts of China” exhibition, the largest exhibition of Chinese art in the U.S. to that date and the blockbuster exhibition of the decade. The show wasn’t housed at the HAG in the end (it was enormous), but West’s statement to the Seattle Times in 1987 was a perfect swan song for the up-and-coming gallery: “We’re just as pretty and run as fast as anyone else.”

Next Week: “General Idea Editions 1967 – 1995” is opening, and guess who’s going to write about it?

TONIGHT! Big Bang Birthday Bash! Be there!

If you woke up this morning with a hankering for a little jump rope, a little glam rock and a whole lot of people dressed up like rocket scientists and space explorers, you are in luck my friend!

It’s finally here!

Big Bang Birthday Bash!
8pm – Midnight!

What can you expect? Well, hankblog’s own Betsey Brock is running the whole dang show, and she says LOTS.

Everything this year is better than ever, including the sound system, a must when you have a lineup as killer as this: “Riz Rollins DJ-ing, On the Double doing their new [double dutch!] space routine, the Vis-a-Vis Society dropping science all over the place, and Sarah Rudinoff, Nick Garrison and Sissyfist!”

Ellen Forney will be there creating personalized napkin art, which Betsey admits she already has two of … on her mantel at home. “They’re now family heirlooms,” she says.

And she certainly hasn’t skimped on decor. Test tube-holding ice sculptures? Check. Space plants? Check. “I can’t wait to see how the sculpture garden turns out,” Betsey says “A few members and I got up at 6am and went to the wholesale flower market and picked up some alien landscape foliage.”

Oh yeah, and that whole super mega Astral Art Sale I blogged about last week, featuring Seattle auction icon Laura Michalek.

If you still need a ticket, read Betsey’s post from earlier this week.

You have T minus 5 hours …

… hopefully this will help get you motivated
[rockyou id=69320528&w=426&h=152]

The 1950s and 60s: HAG Feels the Love

Put those history hats back on kiddos cause today we’re revisiting the eras of KitchenAid and hot pants.

Seattle in the 50s and 60s: things were happening! Seafair, Northgate Mall, the viaduct, Dick’s Drive-In, Space Needle, I-5, the Sonics, the Boeing 747! All of those quintessential Seattle things we love (and hate).

And in the middle of it all, our dear HAG was getting her act together, for real.

50s and 60s America was so unabashedly American. By the 50s, the U.S. government was even sending exhibitions of American art on diplomatic missions throughout Europe. Pollocks, Rothkos and de Koonings were flying all over the world to extend their hand and say “Sorry we bombed your church, but isn’t our art better than the Commies’?” One of those exhibitions, the American Vanguard for Paris organized by Sidney Janis, landed on the Henry’s doorstep in 1952.

Other than that, though, the HAG kept things local through much of the 50s and 60s. Crafts, printmaking and regional art dominated exhibitions. Annual shows from the Northwest Craftsmen, Seattle Weaver’s Club and Seattle Clay Club were hits. UW’s art students and professors were even getting wall space in the galleries.

And Seattleites were eating it up. Donations flew in: paintings by Tobey, Graves and other NW artists, Japanese ceramics, Indian textiles. By the late 60s, private groups like the Friends of the Henry Gallery and the Henry Gallery Association were fundraising for their local museum and the HAG was rejoicing that she didn’t have to rely solely on University funds any longer. Girl even went and got herself an acquisitions policy! Damn!

One of the biggest draws during this time was the “Films in Your Gallery” series, which started in the 50s and lasted through 1973. It famously provided an open forum for all sorts of experimental films of the time, including work by Charles Eames and Norman McLaren. Over the course of a year between 1967-1968, 15,000 people came to HAG just to watch the movies!

I got a little preoccupied watching McLaren’s shorts on Gootube (there are worse ways to waste a work day) and am leaving you with this one and a wink.

1952’s “Neighbours.”

Cause that rings just as true now as it did when our fellow HAG-goers saw it 50 years ago.

Next week: It’s the Big Bang Birthday Bash and I’m ready to inundate you with propaganda. If you haven’t bought a ticket by then, prepare to be bullied!

201 reasons to buy a ticket to the Big Bang Birthday Bash



So there are at least one million reasons you need to go to the Henry’s Big Bang Birthday Bash next Friday, including, but not limited to, space rock and napkin art.

Let’s focus on one: the Astral Art Sale. 200 pieces of art for $300, $200, $100. You can’t pass that up, right? RIGHT.

$65 ($50 for members!) and you get to join the auction.

$150 and we’ll let you buy some art an hour before the rest of ’em. And there will be cocktails.

$1927 and we’ll deem you “Officially Awesome” and give you one artwork of your choice. Which you get to pick out before everyone else. Plus the cocktails. And a general feeling of dogoodeyness.

I can blab on and on, but once you see the art you won’t need me! So here’s a little amuse-bouche … Most of the 200 artists have their work represented in some way online and I’ve linked to their sites for you below. I can guarantee you’ll find something you can’t live without. Ohhh there’s good stuff there …

Victoria AdamsCarol AdelmanAllison Agostinelli – David R. Andersen
Denise Anderson – Amber Ray Anderson – Susan ArthurVincent Bachmann
Holly Ballard Martz
– Reid Bannecker – Jacqueline Barnett – Theresa Batty
Debra Baxter – Shawn Beesley – Jean Behnke – Deanne Belinoff
Gretchen Bennett
Leo BerkMargi BeyersCynthia Bittenfield
Peter BonnellClare J. BowersJames J. BrownTatyana Brown
Lisa BuchananTram Bui – D.W. Burnam – Matt Calcavecchia
Robert Campbell
Jenny Zoe CaseybummerbunnyJuan Carlos Castellanos
Dawn Cerny
– Henry Chamberlain – Jaq ChartierDonald Cole – Sue Cook
Claire CowieSeth DammLinda Davidson – Mindi Davis – Carol Rose Dean
Tom DeGrootDon DelevaMark DelongKristin DelugaStephanie Dickie
Jessica Disman
– John Dlouhy – Garek J. Druss – Ryan Dunleavy – Diana Falchuk
Geoffrey FarmerDon FelsJessica FigueroaJohn Figueroa
Betty Jo FitzgeraldDaniel FlahiffRob Folendorf – Gael Foord – Helen Gamble
Susan Gans – Christopher Gay – Terri T. Gibbs – Chris C. Gibbs – Kathryn Glowen
Ron Glowen – Neil GoldbergAlison Golder – Aaron Green – Kate Greiner
Lauren GrossmanBetty Hageman – Brett Hamil – Annie Han & Daniel Mihalyo
Melinda HanniganStephanie HargraveAlfred HarrisAdam Harrison
Mike Hascall – Lisa Hasegawa – Victoria HavenJesse Higman – John Hilton
Heide Hinrichs – Ben HirschkoffChristie HoustonRichard Hutter
Etsuko IchikawaEva Isaksen – Ellen Ito – Elizabeth Jameson – Kate Jessup
Thom Johnson – Amy Johnson – Matthew M. Johnson – Lorna Jordan
Caroline Kapp
Sarah Kavage – Garret Keith – Ken KellyDaniel Kencke
Doug Keyes – Deborah Kirsner – Amanda Knowles – Linda Kokanovich
I.H. KuniyukiDiane KurzynaIngrid Lahti – Kat Larson – John Lavin
Nan Leaman – Amahra Leaman – Tina Belle Lee – Axel LieberJulie Lindell
Joan LoekenNancy LoughlinStephen MacFarlaneJanet Marcavage
Anne Mathern – Dorothy Mayhew – Jason McLeanChris McMullen
Jennifer McNeelyJonathan Middleton – Julia Miller – Jeffry Mitchell
Matthew Mitros – Luara Moore – Saya MoriyasuLisa Mundorff
Maggie Murphy – Brian MurphyYuki NakamuraEdward Ancher Nelson
Jennifer Nerad – Jim Nicholls – Nelleke NixBarbara Noah – Greg Oaksen
Heather Dew OaksenNatalie OswaldVirginia PaquetteJoe Park
Linda PeschongLisa J. Pettit – Christopher Pfeifle – Jim Pirie – Riley Raker
Kristen RamirezSusan RobbJeff Ross – Marjorie Rubin – Paul Rucker
Ariana Page RussellSirke SalminenSarah SavidgeLynn Schirmer
Sally Schuh – Jena Scott – Erin Shafkind – Christine Sharp – David W. Simpson
Catherine E. SkinnerKathy SladeT. Ellen Sollod – Dana Squires – Paula Stokes
Katy StoneSharon SwansonLara Swimmer – Megan Sykes – Akio Takamori
Jon TaylorWhiting TennisNancy Thompson – Tim Tinker – Liz Tran
Lun-Yi TsaiSylwia TurKen Turner – Annie Van Engelen – Frances Velling
Joey VeltkampBernadette VielbigAriel VikRobert WadeLaura Ward
Roger Waterhouse – Chad WentzelSheryl WestergreenEva Skold Westerlind
Blair Wilson – Rickie Wolfe – W.M. Wong – Joan Wortis – V. Yamakoshi
Cynthia Yatchman – Jaime Zaretsky – Brandon ZeboldClaude Zervas
Ellen ZieglerSusan ZoccolaJennifer ZwickDion Pickering Zwirner

Ticket sale info is here so hop to it! The HAG only holds 1200 space beasts at once … and last year’s Bashville sold 1197 tickets! Astrophysicists worldwide have (probably) already predicted that this year’s Bash will be a much bigger deal. We agree!

Buy your tickets now, and we’ll talk more about the Bash in next Friday’s post …

(Did you notice that I made it through that entire thing without an “out of this world” joke? It was diff-i-cult.)


Horace, TGIF, and the Deal of the Century

My fault that Katie’s TGIF post didn’t actually make it to you on your F. I was visiting with the out-of-towners here for the new SAM.   Here’s the Katie installment you’ve been waiting for. – Betsey

T. G. I. F. Seriously. You want to blow off that last hour of work by learning some more about your good friend Henry, right? Right. Good.

Picking up where we left off last week … we’ve made it to 1927. The Henry has just opened its doors. What is on its walls?


There was no weaning period, no gentle introduction. The HAG opened no holds barred, and filled two galleries with “German Expressionist Paintings in Oil and Watercolor” and the “Blue Four Exhibition,” featuring the works of Alexei Jawlensky, Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky and Lyonel Feininger. When you consider that visitors to Horace Henry’s private collection were accustomed to seeing scenes like this

and were now coming to the HAG and finding something like this:

…it must have been mind boggling.

The Blue Four exhibition had travelled to Manhattan in 1925, and of the audience’s reaction, a writer for Time wrote, “They saw a picture which, so it seemed to them, could be nothing but a pathologist’s graph of a difficult neurosis (The Ray—Kandinsky) ; a lithograph of the wedding of debauched parallels (The Cloud— Feininger) ; a diagram of the unfortunate encounter of a cloud of locusts and a windmill (Abstraction—Jawlensky) ; the furious attempt of a carburetor to become a French horn (Mathematic Vision—Klee). Some of the curious, appalled, then took themselves off, hand to head; others marshaled their faculties.”

At the time of its opening, the Henry was under the guidance of curator Halley Savery and director Walter F. Issacs. Savery was a scholar of Indian, Persian and East Asian art and Issacs was an artist and director of the University’s School of Art who was cosidered “Seattle’s leading exponent of international Modernism.” In 1929, a representative from the Association of Industrial Arts wrote to Savery and referred to her as the “‘key’ person and the leader in the Contemporary Art Movement in Seattle.” These two were a contemporary art powerhouse.

Until 1928, the original Henry Collection was featured in four of the museum’s six galleries. That year, Henry and the museum’s director both agreed that the museum’s audience would be better served if it concentrated on housing travelling exhibitions: a HAG trademark that still exists today.

The University’s budget was already under tight watch by the governor when the Depression hit in 1929. And because times haven’t changed, the first thing to go when funds dropped was the school’s art budget. In 1933-1934, the Henry received zilch from the University.

Somehow Savery managed to keep showing. Between 1930 and 1933, there were four exhibitions: “Daumier Lithographs,” “Selections from the Charles Joseph Rider Collection of Synchromist Paintings,” “17th and 18th-Century Persian Costumes” and Italian paintings from the Samuel H. Kress Collection. By 1937, the HAG was back to work, showing drawings from MOMA and de Chirico, Dali and Miro one year later.

The Northwest art scene was exploding. The Portland Art Museum moved into it’s current location in 1931; SAM opened in 1933, with Richard & Eugene Fuller’s collection of Asian art at its center. International artists travelled to the area to teach and Seattle and its surrounding areas were exposed to art from home and abroad in their own backyards. Painters like Ambrose Patterson and Walter Issacs who travelled and studied in Paris, settled in Seattle. People wrote and talked about art in the city, art colonies formed, and Seattle seemed primed for a unique art explosion … when the world went and got itself into another war.

Economic boom, bust, rinse, repeat.

Morris Graves. Untitled (Bird and Snake) 1945 But what started before the war, picked up where it left off in 1945. Finally a style evocative of the Northwest emerged, thanks to a few guys you’ve probably heard of. All spent significant portions of their careers in the Northwest and created art that reflected the area’s landscape, it’s tone, it’s color, and it’s Asian influence. Mark Tobey, Morris Graves, Kenneth Callahan and Guy Anderson formed the Northwest School and the area finally had its own “official art movement” to write home about. The war also brought G.I. Bills and by 1948, the University’s School of Art had doubled it’s enrollment to 16,650.

By the late 40s there was so much art coming and going in the Henry that five of six galleries were designated to travelling exhibitions. Savery resigned as curator and New York import Elizabeth Bayley took over in 1946. Furniture design and decorative arts exhibitions dominated the rest of the decade: Charles Eames in 1947, Alvaar Aalto and Ruth Pennington jewelry in 1948, and “Folk Arts of the Far East” in 1948-1949.

HAG wasn’t too concerned with expanding its collection during the 30s and 40s, but no one in their right mind would pass this up:

In 1946 the Department of State bought a whole slew of contemporary American paintings to tour through Europe and Latin America, but before it had a chance to travel, Congress decided the art was too scandalous, so onto the auction block it went. After much bidding, the Henry won six paintings: Ben-Zion, Perpetual Destruction; Stuart Davis Trees and El; Werner Drewes, Balcony; Marsden Hartley, Whale’s Jaw, Dogtown; Robert Motherwell, Figuration; and Max Weber, Discussion.

For $269.

And suddenly I no longer think my $2 breakfast qualifies as the “Deal of the Century.”

Next Up: We’ll take a history break for a week and focus on a much bigger deal: The Henry is throwing a party on May 18th and you’re invited!