Mark Tobey & The Pike Place Market (1939-1947)

About the Exhibition


Thursday, May 26, 2022, 5:30 - 8:30pm


May 13, 2022 - June 23, 2022

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The association of an artist with one special place, from which the artist draws apparently inexhaustible inspiration and to which in turn the artist gives enduring life, is a recurring theme in the history of art, and for Mark Tobey this place was the “Pike Place Market”.

These artworks “show my feeling for the Seattle Market perhaps much better than anything I can say about it. And yet there seems to be a need to speak, today, when drastic changes are going on all around us. Our homes are in the path of freeways; old landmarks, many of a rare beauty, are sacrificed to the urge to get somewhere in a hurry; and when it is all over Progress reigns, queen of hollow streets shadowed by monumental towers left behind by giants to whom the intimacy of living is of no importance.

For me every day in the Market was a fiesta….the Market is still active, still varied, exciting, and terribly important in the welter of over-industrialization. There is the same magic as night approaches: the sounds fade; there is an extra rustle everywhere;…The windows are all that remain of light as the sun sets over the Olympics. A few isolated figures appear and disappear, and then the Market is quiet, awaiting another day.” — Mark Tobey, 1964, (excerpt from Mark Tobey “The World of a Market”)

In this exhibition, Mark Tobey leads us into the world of Seattle’s Public Market, an open-air market in the center of downtown Seattle overlooking the harbor which was started in 1907 by a group of local farmers selling their produce from a row of horse drawn wagons.

Frequently threatened with extinction or “modernization” in the name of progress, sanitation or efficiency, it’s stoutly defended by many citizens who feel as Tobey did, that it is “the heart of Seattle”.  This is the spot to which Tobey has returned again and again from his travels and sojourns in many countries. In these paintings, the character and the characters of the Market are preserved for all who cherish it.

This collection of exquisite and rare to the market paintings by Mark Tobey came to us from a longtime Seattle family who focused on acquiring this extraordinary collection of paintings from Mr. Tobey’s famed “Pike Place Market“ series over a period of 30 years. Their love of Seattle and the Market was the impetus for this collection. Additionally, on exhibit are 5 major paintings borrowed from private collections to augment this museum quality exhibition.

It has been nearly 60 years since the Seattle Art Museum presented an exhibition of paintings of our historic and beloved Pike Street Market by renowned artist Mark Tobey.

The Woodside/Braseth Gallery was not able to celebrate our 60th anniversary in 2021 due to the Covid pandemic.  So, we are proud to present this special exhibition of historically important artworks by Mark Tobey on the 61st Anniversary of the Woodside/Braseth Gallery.