Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) recently purchased 12 artworks by eight Native American artists for its Portable Works Collection. The recent purchase, along with eight other artworks by six Native American from a previous purchase, will be on view at the Seattle Municipal Tower in the exhibition Native American Artwork in Seattle Public Utilities’ Collection, April 3 to July 8. The show is in the gallery on the third floor of the building.
SPU purchased three masks by Daniel Morsett, Jr., a young Coast Salish artist in his 20s who has been carving since the age of 16. His alder, acrylic, abalone and horse-hair Bear Shaman Mask is stylistically carved and adorned. This mask depicts the moment the shaman is transforming into a bear. Coast Salish artist Ruth Peterson’s Salish Serpents Comb is a meticulously carved panel giving homage to ancient Salish weaving traditions. The double comb depicted in the artwork was historically used to push the warp and weft threads on loomed blankets. The serpent was used on weaving tools to prevent tangles in the yarn. Also on view is the serigraph print Symphony of Butterflies by Susan Point. This print is uniquely contemporary with its flourish of butterfly wings. However, Susan still incorporates her ancestral design elements into her work to keep it distinctively Salish.
“This exhibition features both traditional and contemporary artwork by some of the most influential Native American artists in the region,” states Curator and Collections Manager Deborah Paine. Artists in the exhibition are: Lawrence “Ulaaq” R. Ahvakana, Dennis Allen, Trevor Angus, Rande Cook, Allie High, Maynard Johnny Jr., James Lavadour, Daniel Morsette Jr., Andy Peterson, Ruth Peterson, Shaun Peterson, Susan Point, Mark Preston and Thomas Stream.
SPU’s collection is exhibited throughout the utility’s offices, engaging its employees and visitors by helping to create an interesting and diverse work environment. The purchase was made possible with Seattle Public Utilities 1% for Art funds.
Susan Point, Symphony of Butterflies, 2006, serigraph print, 33” x 27”. Photo by Bob Mathieson.
Daniel Morsette, Jr.; Bear Shaman Mask; 2012; alder acrylic, abalone, horse hair; 31”h x 11”w x 5.5”d. Photo courtesy of Stonington Gallery
Ruth Peterson, Salish Serpents Comb, 2012, carved panel, 25” x 9”. Photo courtesy of the Steinbrueck Gallery.