Jeffry Mitchell, Petite Nature Morte (bunnies), 1989-1990, purchased by the Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs.
  • Courtesy Seattle OACA
  • Jeffry Mitchell, Petite Nature Morte (bunnies), 1989-1990, purchased by the Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs.
On page 28 of the new catalog about Jeffry Mitchell put out by the Henry Art Gallery, there is an important lesson.

People have often asked me, How did Jeffry get that show at the New Museum back in the '90s?

In other words, how did a relatively young Seattle artist get a solo show at New York's most exciting museum for contemporary art during its glory days (when it was still run by founder/visionary Marcia Tucker). It turns out the City of Seattle was behind the whole thing. Here's what happened, from page 28:

Through a Seattle Arts Commission grant program, the city of Seattle acquired Petite Nature Morte [at left] for its collection. Diane Shamash, who went on to establish the art foundation Minetta Brook in New York, managed the city's public art program from 1987 to 1993. During Shamash's tenure, Mitchell was awarded a Seattle Artists Program Grant and a Major Works Purchase Award. Shamash spearheaded an initiative that brought three outside experts to the studios of each Artists Program grant recipient. Through this opportunity, Mitchell met Marcia Tucker, then director of the New Museum in New York City. Calling it a "terrific byproduct" of her studio visit with Mitchell in 1989, Tucker offered Mitchell a solo show at her institution.

To all the granting institutions out there wondering what would most benefit Seattle artists? This story is a place to (re)start.