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Contemporary Art

Loosely defined as the art of today or the art of our lifetime, the term “contemporary art” is usually used more specifically to describe artworks created since the 1980s or 1990s. For collection purposes, the Frye Art Museum currently delineates the scope as 1990 to the present. In the more general sense, the Frye has collected and exhibited contemporary—or contemporaneous—art since its opening in 1952. This commitment to the art and culture of the present was catalyzed by Museum founders Charles and Emma Frye, who amassed a collection of paintings made within their own lifetimes and often purchased works directly from living artists. Over the last seven decades, directors of the Museum have each brought their own interests and interpretations to bear on the Frye’s engagement with contemporary art and thereby shaped a distinctive collection. Prior to the tenure of Elsa “Midge” Bowman (Director, 2004–09), and often counter to dominant trends in art of the time, the Frye’s leadership focused exclusively on exhibiting and collecting representational art, citing Charles and Emma Frye’s preferences for figurative and landscape painting. Under Bowman’s direction, the exhibitions program at the Frye expanded into areas like video art and performance that questioned and upended the definition of representational art. In 2008, the Museum’s mission was revised to embrace art in its myriad forms. The Frye’s contemporary art collection has grown significantly since that time, reflecting the diversity of the institution’s engagement with local, national, and international artists working today.

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Title Artist Medium Date
Engine 55, East Broome Street   Brosen, Frederick   Watercolor on paper  1998 
Large Red Poppies I   Bukovnik, Gary   Watercolor on paper  2002 
Cloud Reflections on Puget Sound   Connell, Robert   Sumi ink and gouache on paper  1993 
Persian Peace   Hertner, Connie   Watercolor on paper  1991 
Wild Rose Lard   Hulburt, Lucille   Watercolor on paper  1990 
For Fun   Johnson-Ricks, Khari   Watercolor on paper with acetate  2021 
Four Workers   McIver, John   Acrylic on paper  1991 
Clayoquot Dugouts   Michel, Jean-Claude   Watercolor on paper  ca. 1994 
Withered Lotus Cast in Iron   Pan Gongkai   Ink on paper  2014 
Halibut Cove   Rand, Ted   Watercolor on paper  1990 
Love Cyclamen   Schutzky, Marilyn   Watercolor on paper  1990 
Windy Day   Sculthorpe, Peter   Watercolor on paper  1990 
Night Forest   Shapiro, Ann Leda   Watercolor and watercolor pencil on archival paper  2022 

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