Master Works by the “Northwest Mystics”

Guy Anderson, Kenneth Callahan, Morris Graves, & Mark Tobey

About the Exhibition


May 10, 2012 - June 6, 2012

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This is the last major exhibition of a yearlong series, “Looking Forward : Looking Back”, celebrating the Golden Anniversary of the Woodside/Braseth Gallery. It is only fitting to end our 50th Anniversary with an exhibit celebrating and paying homage to the “Golden Era of Northwest Art” by the “Big Four”, Guy Anderson, Kenneth Callahan, Morris Graves, & Mark Tobey.

These artists were the movement’s early participants, and its defining artists, have become known as the “Big Four” and/or the “Northwest Mystics“. Their work became recognized nationally when LIFE magazine published a 1953 feature article on them. It was the first such broad recognition of artists from this corner of the world beyond traditional Northwest Native American art forms, which had been long recognized as “Northwest Art”.

These artists combined natural elements of the Puget Sound area with traditional Asian aesthetics to create a novel and distinct regional style, particularly in painting and sculpture, with some drawing, printmaking and photography. Tobey, Callahan, Graves and Anderson were all immersed in and greatly influenced by the atmosphere of the Pacific Northwest’s environment.

Seattle was a common locale, which they all shared at points in their lives, and some of them were closely associated for a time with the Seattle Art Museum in Volunteer Park. Over time, the influence of the natural setting of Western Washington, especially the flat lands, meandering river channels, and wide-open skies of the Skagit Valley, became a unifying aspect of their art.

Included in this highly curated exhibition is Mark Tobey’s “Head of a Young Woman“ 1957, which was included in the 1961 “Mark Tobey Retrospective” at the Musee des Arts Decoratifs, Palais du Louvre, Paris and at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Additionally, Morris Graves’ 1944 “Young Pine“ and “Vessel As A Self-Portrait“ as well as the iconic large scale work from 1944 “Vessel in a Drift of Diamond Light in the Sky of the Mind”.

Also on view, are early and rare to the market works like Guy Anderson’s 1940 “Three Spears of Wheat“ and Kenneth Callahan’s 1940 “Granite Falls“ and Callahan’s 1970, 15 foot long master work “Wind Song I“. There are so many rare and important early works on display at the Woodside/Braseth Gallery. We hope you will all take the opportunity to see this important exhibition.