When I asked a friend what one of her favorite places in Seattle was, she replied “Frye Art Museum.” It took me a couple seconds to place it in my mental map of the city. Although I moved here in the late 90’s, I’d never visited. Never. If you’ve been to the Frye, you’re probably wide-eyed, can’t-believe-it stunned that my recent trip there was my first.
One of the visiting exhibits right now is by Cris Bruch. He’s created spare, modest shapes that evoke a vague sense of usefulness, even if you don’t know for what use they’re intended. In exhibit notes, Bruch himself says the objects he’s created don’t have a specific use, but rather the materials and shapes are suggestive of farming and ranching work in the Great Plains. His pieces are an organic fit for the Frye, which seems built for thoughtful, 3-dimensional works like Bruch’s.
The most surprising part of my visit was serendipitously walking into a large room in back of the Frye. It’s four walls are full of 18th-, 19th-, and early 20th-century portraits and landscapes. They’re part of the permanent collection. They fill up the walls, with only tiny gaps between frames, which are fitted together like puzzle pieces.
None of them have accompanying descriptions, which was weird. The effect of having so many paintings so closely juxtaposed was good, but I always like to know about the artists. A few of the paintings are truly masterpieces. Some are sweet and amateurish. Such an odd-fish collection, but I love it. But please, Frye, add names and info about artists!
In an increasingly expensive city, the Frye is free. Parking is free, and plentiful, in a lot right across the street.