The Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art WSU was a member of the Washington Art Consortium (WAC), a unique cooperative of seven museums throughout Washington State that began in 1975. WAC worked with Seattle philanthropist Virginia Wright to build a collection of post-war American works on paper and photography, which was exhibited regularly throughout Washington State and nationally.
Over its lifespan, WAC accepted the donation of works from the Mary Margaret and Richard Aiken collection, facilitated the distribution of over 800 works from the Safeco Art Collection, the oldest and most renowned corporate collection of exclusively Northwest art, and loaned artworks to numerous exhibitions at home and abroad. Although WAC has disbanded as an organization, the artworks from its collections continue to be available to the public as part of the member institutions’ collections.
Works on Paper: American Art 1945–1975
“Works on Paper: American Art 1945 – 1975” is the first of the Washington Art Consortium’s four distinct and complementary collections. This selection of post-war American art was assembled in 1975 and 1976 by Consortium founder Virginia Wright and gallerist Richard Bellamy. “Works on Paper” consists of 98 works by 48 artists, including Willem de Kooning, Helen Frankenthaler, Jasper Johns, Donald Judd, Roy Lichtenstein, Agnes Martin, Robert Morris, Jackson Pollock, Robert Rauschenberg, Richard Serra, and Andy Warhol.
The inaugural exhibition of “Works on Paper” took place at the Tacoma Art Museum in January 1977, and from 1978 to 1980 the collection toured the United States under the auspices of the American Federation of the Arts. Since that time, individual works have been loaned to major national and international exhibitions.
Funding for the collection was provided by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Virginia Wright Fund.
American Photographs 1970–1980
“American Photographs: 1970 – 1980” consists of 185 photographs by 33 artists. This collection was formed in 1979 by members of the Washington Art Consortium, with a selection committee headed by curators Rod Slemmons and Terry Toedtemeier.
Diane Arbus, Robert Cumming, William Eggleston, Lee Friedlander, Ralph Gibson, Jan Groover, Robert Heinecken, Richard Misrach, and Garry Winogrand are among the photographers represented in this collection.
Funding for “American Photographs: 1970 – 1980” was provided by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Virginia Wright Fund.
Mary Margaret Aiken and Richard Aiken Collection of Late Twentieth Century Works on Paper
The Washington Art Consortium’s third collection was a gift from Richard and Margaret Aiken, facilitated by Seattle gallery director Greg Kucera.
According to Consortium founder Virginia Wright, “The Aikens, who had no specific museum allegiance, decided to give their collection to the Consortium because they were attracted to the idea of sharing works of art and they felt their collection would reach a wider audience than it would in any one museum.”
The Aiken Collection of 24 works on paper by 16 artists focuses primarily on the works of American artists from the late twentieth century.
Safeco Collection of Northwest Art on Paper
In 2010, Safeco Insurance, a member of Liberty Mutual Group, made a historic gift of over 800 works to the Washington Art Consortium from the Safeco Art Collection—the oldest and most renowned corporate collection of exclusively Northwest art.
The Consortium spread these artworks to nine museums across the state, distributing them to each institution’s permanent collection. 104 of these works by 80 artists form the Consortium’s own “Safeco Collection of Northwest Art on Paper.”
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