Introducing The New Foundation Seattle, New Wingman* for Local Contemporary Art
by Jen Graves
on Tue, Jul 17, 2012 at 4:59 PM
THE SPIDER THAT WILL SPIN IT ALL Shari Behnke will sell her Spider Home (2002) by Louise Bourgeois for seed money for The New Foundation Seattle. The estimate from Christie's, which will auction the work in September, is $500,000 to $700,000.
The art news just keeps coming this week. The Frye hired dealer Scott Lawrimore as curator. Reel Grrls hired Betsey Brock, long of the Henry, for outreach. Seattle Art Museum got a new director, Kim Rorschach of Duke's Nasher Museum. And just now, as I was trying to finish up interviewing Rorschach's colleagues around the country at the Getty, Art Institute of Chicago, Henry, and Tacoma Art Museum, an email arrived announcing the formation of a new local foundation to support contemporary art in Seattle.
The New Foundation Seattle will buy art from local artists and give it to museums, and it will provide educational opportunities both to artists and the larger Northwest public (through lectures, exhibitions, workshops). When the Henry has its upcoming Jeffry Mitchell exhibition, The New Foundation Seattle will buy a piece from the exhibition and gift it to the museum, leaving a work in public trust and money in the pocket of a great local artist. Another purchase: The New Foundation Seattle will buy a work by Whiting Tennis for the Tang Museum at Skidmore in upstate New York. The Tang hosted an exhibition of Tennis's works last year.
The education program of The New Foundation Seattle kicks off with a grant to the University of Washington's School of Art. No word on how large the grant is, but it "will significantly enhance our engagement in contemporary artistic research,” according to a statement by professor Jamie Walker, the School of Art’s associate director. Walker is developing new classes that will be supported by the gift.
The forces behind all this are longtime art collector and benefactor Shari Behnke, the founder and president, and Yoko Ott, the curator and educator who developed fresh programs and initiatives at Bumbershoot, the Frye, the Hedreen Gallery, and Open Satellite. A nice detail from the press release:
Initial seed money for the The New Foundation Seattle comes from the sale of a work of art by Louise Bourgeois titled, Spider Home, gifted by Shari. The work of Bourgeois has significant meaning as the artist herself shared a desire to help younger artists and demonstrated outstanding tenacity throughout her career. As an avid collector of contemporary art, Shari views this gift and its proceeds as an opportunity to make a difference through her collection.
Spider Home is a 48-by-16-by-16 inch cast bronze sculpture of a family of spiders under a web, made in an edition of six in 2002. It will be auctioned by Christie's in September.
Over the last 25 years, Behnke has founded The Neddy Awards (now at Cornish), The Child Care Fund at Cascadia Revolving Fund, Two Cupcakes Production (generating scholarship funds for apparel design students at SCCC), the Brink Award (in collaboration with the Henry Art Gallery), and the Innovation Campaign for Building Changes.
"Getting to know artists and supporting them by buying their artwork is something I love," she writes. "But when I turned 60 recently, I started to reflect on how I could really make a difference at this point in my life. Starting the foundation is a way to continue to connect with artists and work with a younger generation of talent. The challenge and excitement for me will be to continue to identify new and different ways of helping artists working in this region."
The rest of the foundation's board is Alex Allred of 826 Seattle, Portland artist and Yale Union founder Aaron Flint Jamison, and Hedreen Gallery director/TARL founding member Jessica Powers.