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Friday, May 16, 2014

Scott Lawrimore and the Legacy of Jacob Lawrence (Art at UW Could Be Changing in a Big Way)

Posted by on Fri, May 16, 2014 at 1:40 PM

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?


Comments (12) RSS

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AirBuddy 1
Is the UW's collection distinct from the Henry Art Gallery's?
Posted by AirBuddy on May 16, 2014 at 2:19 PM · Report this
AirBuddy 2
Exciting news, regardless!
Posted by AirBuddy on May 16, 2014 at 2:26 PM · Report this
Yes, what AirBuddy asked... UW has two galleries? (Why? Or, at least, how?)
Posted by curious cat is curious on May 16, 2014 at 7:42 PM · Report this
I find it hard to believe that Scott Lawrimore willingly left the Frye after a year and a half to go to the Jacob Lawrence. It is an obvious step down, a demotion, a backwards leap. What is the real story here? Was he fired? Asked to leave? The timing is questionable. There is more here than meets the eye.
Posted by Mr. Curious on May 17, 2014 at 12:57 AM · Report this
alpha unicorn 5
Posted by alpha unicorn on May 17, 2014 at 10:23 AM · Report this
@4: 99% sure Scott wasn't fired, in the same way Robin wasn't fired.

"Forced out" is another question?

Seems like he gave away the 'real story' pretty clearly when he dodged Jen's earlier question about working for Joanne Danzker?

The Jake is definitely a 'demotion' in it's current form. Time will tell if he can somehow turn it into a defacto promotion. He talks a good game, but we'll see. Still, its a big loss for the Frye and UW is lucky to have him. But for how long!?

(Really wish the Paul Allen Biennial was a real thing, btw)
Posted by MsLessCuriousthanMrCurious on May 17, 2014 at 10:28 AM · Report this
jacques-boot 7
Does anyone remember all of the claims made by Scott and on his behalf regarding his plans for the Frye? I didn’t think so.
Posted by jacques-boot on May 17, 2014 at 10:32 AM · Report this
@7: Feel better Bill? Get back to your irrelevant, pedestrian plein air ptgs and karate, you old grump, and stop shi##ing on things you're too crotchety to appreciate. Anybody ever heard of this artist? Didn't think so.
Posted by williamelstondotcom on May 17, 2014 at 2:13 PM · Report this
Paul Kuniholm Pauper 9
Scott Lawrimore is a formidable scholar of Art, I'll go out on a limb here and say the brightest scholar in Seattle. I like his sense of humor, and his French is perfect. When he first joined the Frye, my son I and were viewing "Chamber Music", as my son and I were both exhibiting in a corollary capacity in that exhibition. I introduced my son to Scott, and Scott invited me to have lunch with the then-Frye curator. I was very honored. At the lunch in the Frye Cafe, Scott spent a cordial hour during his impossibly busy schedule learning of my art, asking practical questions and giving me advice for my career. I will never forget this act of kindness, professionalism and camaraderie Scott generously gave me by that gesture. The Jake will experience Scott Lawrimore's expertise in the most favorable sense, and as a lifetime member of the University Of Washington Alumni Association, I welcome him warmly.
Posted by Paul Kuniholm Pauper on May 18, 2014 at 10:21 AM · Report this
Does anyone really care at this juncture is the real point? Whether this is a downgrade, an opportunity, or fall from grace, who cares? He seems to have played his hand out-used up all his poker chips-lost the bank. Going to what is a mere minor venue in academia to puff himself up in self important spin and rhetoric with no real influence nor power is boring and well, boring . Mr Lawrimore's condescension and elitist snobbery towards the NW art scene and it's artists have little place here these days.
Posted by Hibrowgorilla on May 18, 2014 at 2:26 PM · Report this
Super curious about your snobbery claims Hibrow. Like Paul said, Larimore was generous with his time in speaking with me about my art, both in person and at the Klatch. I also attended his NW art history lecture series at the frye and thought that his including people like Anne Fock, Nori Sato, Reese Neemi, Francene Seders, Barbara Johns, and others was anything but condescending. Those talks, that show with 36 Seattle artists, Mark Mitchell's and Buster's shows seemed pretty inclusive and the exact opposite of what his gallery was (which I agree was totally elitist). To paraphrase Richard Sherman, "You mad Sis?" Did he snub you personally, or your friends? You're also right that the UW gig is a BIG step down and a little pathetic, but I trust it will be anything but boring (at least for the students).
Posted by sandyfields on May 20, 2014 at 11:33 AM · Report this
What's in the collection? Loads of great work for Lawrimore to add to:…
Posted by suzannebbeal on June 2, 2014 at 9:00 PM · Report this

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