Frye Art Museum

Photo credit : Frye Art Museum

This must be one of the best kept tourist secrets in town.

Tucked in a quiet respectable street away from the hustle and bustle of the city, Frye Art Museum is open to all without entrance fees and tops it off with complimentary parking for visitors.

On one of the cold wet gloomy Seattle days, my GPS guided me to the small privately funded museum where a couple of interesting exhibitions are ongoing – Chamber Music and 36 Chambers.

Before you leave me thinking this is getting boring, please do stay. Here’s the fun part.

The museum has adopted what they referred to as “citizen curatorship” – a daring and engaging art outreach that transcends space, time and forms.

Chamber Music published in 1907, is a book of 36 love poems by Irish novelist and poet James Joyce.

Frye* used these poems as the inspiration for people working in the museum to pick a painting from its founding collection that they felt most connected with. From security officers to secretary, from café operator to art director, staff at the museum had a chance to interpret what they read and how they see art.

Collectively, the poems and paintings are exhibited as a wonderful display of old masters alongside the reflections of people from different backgrounds. That was the motive –

An exhibition about love, family, and firsts, 36 Chambers honors the legacy of Charles and Emma Frye and their example of bringing together diverse visions of the role of art and culture in everyday life.”

That’s not all.

Frye* invited 36 Seattle artists to create their own expressions of the musical adaptations of Chamber Music. The outcome is a contemporary visualization of early 20th century art. How exciting!

To think that a single subject, a love poem, can be such a strong catalyst for creative thinking and community involvement is something truly unconventional.

In this exhibition, one doesn’t just see art in paintings.

One feels the art in relation to the words of affection; imagines the people behind the scene who have read and seen them before they were put on display; listens to the music from heartfelt words; and contemplates the interpretation of the music of a poet’s love story.

What an extraordinary experience!


* The exhibition is curated by Scott Lawrimore, the Frye’s new Deputy Director, Collections and Exhibitions, Fyre Art Museum.


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