The mystery is solved: Charismatic curator Scott Lawrimore's next move is to UW's Jacob Lawrence Gallery. He's director of the sleepy Jake starting July 1. People congratulate him, then ask, "Where is it?"
"We're going to blow the roof off this place," Lawrimore said.
Also on July 1, the UW School of Art + Art History + Design gets a new director: Jamie Walker. Walker, an energetic artist and professor, is a blast of fresh air after more than a decade of undistinguished school leadership. Walker called the hiring of Lawrimore a "turning point" in the Jake's history. Walker's appointment could be a turning point for the school.
Lawrimore has a list of goals for the new job. One is, "to relieve the Jake of aesthetic convention." Lawrimore stretches. The degreed art history buff who was raised in a California trailer park hid quietly behind Seattle gallery desks until 2006, when he struck out on his own. His gallery, Lawrimore Project, took risks, championed Seattle artists, didn't sell enough to survive.
In 2012, he jumped to become curator at the Frye Art Museum, but he seemed restrained. When he announced he was leaving for a mystery job, rumors flew. The best was that he was going to work for Paul Allen's new Seattle art biennial. No such thing exists. I think.
The Jake is named after late, great artist Jacob Lawrence but operates on a shoestring and is in a crummy corner room in the art building. Lawrimore is charged with raising the endowment, and there's talk of relocating and expanding. Lawrimore will also oversee the school's 1,000-strong art collection. I've never seen it and never heard of it; what's hiding in there? (The Frye, for a comparison, has about 1,300 objects, so UW's little-known cache is at least quantitatively significant.)
"The whole notion of what the Jacob Lawrence Gallery has been, we want to reevaluate all of that," Walker said in a phone conversation. Across Seattle, Cornish is overhauling its art department, too.
What will Seattle art schools look like in five years?