Visual ArtCurrently Hanging: The Wonderful World of Mr. Washington's House (A Photo Essay)
by Jen Graves
on Fri, Mar 19, 2010 at 11:04 AM
Last night I visited the most amazing museum in Seattle you've never heard of.
This is the house where James and Janie Washington lived for decades. It's less a house and more a maze-like campus. He was an artist, mostly a stone carver. She was a nurse. He made art and worked against racism all his life.
The living room has been converted into a museum display.
The museum's always free and open by appointment (web site with full info), but there's a special occasion this weekend: It's free and open today and tomorrow noon to 7 pm.
During Washington's life (1909-2000), this 1904 lithograph depicting a slave auction—the selling of an older gentleman dressed in the suit of a butler—hung in the artist's studio next to the proud African art he collected. Now it hangs the same way in the living room.
Not everything is so organized. You run across things like this everywhere.
Found in the basement on top of a stack of boxes.
This dilapidated cart is chained to a gnarled tree in the yard.
As they restore the place, the Washington Foundation workers are discovering little, unfinished sculptures everywhere—like this one. Just digging them up.
In the backyard are piles of granite Washington intended to carve.
The Foundation hosts artists in residence, and these are by the current artist, Charles Parrish.
This ain't no New England artist colony: The artists in residence work in Washington's former studio, an unheated shed/garage full of antique tools.
Nature is growing into the studio!
Tim Detweiler is the Foundation's first full-time, permanent director. He's standing in the basement, showing a newly installed slide cabinet showing Washington's work.
Another part of the basement in the main house is an incredible library of books about black life, politics, and history.
Archives include Washington's unpublished autobiography.
The Foundation needs money, which is part of why it's open this weekend: There's a sale going on, of locally made (and totally affordable) art. This piece (I wish I'd written down the artist's name), a print on a map of Green Lake, is for sale with lots others like it. Half the proceeds go to the artists and half to the Foundation.