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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.

by Artist
To a Flame

Anthony White
PLA (plastic) on panel


Ko Kirk Yamahira
Acrylic and graphite on partially unwoven canvas with wood

Untitled (Badlands)

Juventino Aranda
Oil stick on Pendleton blanket

Snowflake Drawing #5 (Double Lotus Pod)

Jeffry Mitchell
Graphite, ink, carbon transfer, and watercolor on paper

Dress for Success

Rose Nestler
Leather, thread, batting, grommets, hooks

Chemically Tanned

Alison Bremner
Latex paint on deer hide with horsehair

Waves Floater

Romero Britto
Acrylic paint and oil pen on canvas

Strange Business

Rose Nestler
Two-channel digital video (color, silent): 20 min.

Alice™ (you don’t have to think about it)

Kahlil Joseph
Digital video (color, sound); 18:41 min.

Dawn in Luxor

Kahlil Joseph
16mm film transferred to two-channel digital video (color, sound); 4:1 min.

This Is Who We Are

Inye Wokoma
Two-channel digital video (color, sound): 16:13 min.

Specular Reflections

Leo Berk
Glass spheres, black pond dye

Wind Jangle

Leo Berk
Aluminum, fishing line, weights


Cris Bruch
Aluminum composite


Ishmael Butler
Audio, 24:51 min.

Eclipse Tower 1

Web Crowell and Stacey Levine
Digital video of stop-motion animation (color, sound); 3:43 min.

Be the First To Review The B83

Steve Fisk
Four-channel audio installation

Avatar: Fanon & Decca

C. Davida Ingram
Digital video (color, sound); 19:23 min.

Tsunami Capable Tide Stations > West Coast

DK Pan
Digital video (color, sound); 38:58 min.


Cauleen Smith
Archival pigment print