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Fifty-eighth Annual Exhibition of Northwest Artists, 1972 - Gallery Reception - Photo 4

Public reception for the 58th Annual Exhibition of Northwest Artists, held in the Modern Art Pavillion at Seattle Center, 1972. Photo courtesy of Tore Hoven.

The Northwest Annual Exhibition (NWA) was a yearly exhibition of work by artists from the Pacific Northwest, held first by the Seattle Fine Arts Society, then the Art Institute of Seattle, and finally the Seattle Art Museum.1 Its first recorded exhibition was in 1914, and it continued for over sixty years until its final show in 1977. Its intention was to exhibit high quality works in a wide variety of artistic expressions, with a focus on painting and sculpture, and to give recognition to new talent in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana.

Predating the Seattle Art Museum as it is known today, the NWA spanned decades of change in the art world, particularly in the Northwest. First held in the exhibition rooms of the Washington State Arts Association, it eventually found a permanent home in the Volunteer Park museum in 1933, the same year in which Florence Harrison Nesbit2 (co-founder of the Northwest Watercolor Society), Peter Camfferman3 (one of the earliest Modernist painters in the Northwest, along with his wife Margaret Camfferman4), and Morris Graves (internationally acclaimed painter) won prizes in the Nineteenth Annual Exhibition of Northwest Artists. Over the decades the NWA, under the direction of Dr. Richard Fuller, helped recognize the unique work being produced in the region, launching the careers of countless artists.

In the mid-twentieth century there was considerable interest in Northwest art as a result of the infamous Life Magazine article published in 1953 “Mystic Painters of the Northwest”5 featuring Mark Tobey6, Morris Graves7, Kenneth Callahan8, and Guy Anderson.9 The fascination with the Northwest School and Tobey’s style of “white writing” brought international attention to the region, and increased local participation in the NWA. After the Seattle World’s Fair in 1962, SAM took over the United Kingdom Pavilion at Seattle Center and remodelled it to become the Seattle Art Museum Pavilion, where the majority of the final exhibitions for the NWA were held. The traditional form of NWA continued until 1975, after which it evolved into Northwest Art(ists) Today, a three-part exhibition series held from 1975-1976. It eventually had its final show as Seattle Art Museum Northwest ‘77.


1 The Seattle Fine Arts Society and the Art Institute of Seattle were predecessor organizations to the Seattle Art Museum.  https://samlibraries.omeka.net/exhibits/show/sfas_ais

Harrison Nesbit exhibited in the NWA the years of ‘33 (First prize in watercolor), ‘34, ‘35, and ‘39. 

3 Peter Camfferman exhibited in the NWA in the years of ‘20, ‘21, ‘22, ‘23, ‘28, ‘29, ‘30, ‘32, ‘33 (Second prize in watercolor), ‘34,’35 (Second prize in oil), ‘36, ‘37 (Second honorable mention in watercolor), ‘38, ‘39, ‘40, ‘41 (Purchase prize winner), ‘42, ‘43, ‘44, ‘45, ‘46, ‘47, ‘48, ‘49, ‘50, ‘51, ‘52, ‘53, ‘54, and ‘56.

4 Margaret Camfferman exhibited in the NWA in the years of ‘20, ‘21, ‘22, ‘23, ‘29, ‘30, ‘32, ‘34 (Second honorable mention in oil), ‘35, ‘36, ‘37, ‘38, ‘39, ‘40 (Exhibited and was a juror), ‘41, ‘42, ‘43, ‘44, ‘45, ‘46, ‘47, ‘48, ‘49, ‘50, ‘51, ‘53, ‘52, ‘54, ‘56, and ‘58.

5 Deloris Tarzan Ament, with photographs by Mary Randlett, Iridescent Light: The Emergence of Northwest Art (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2002), 99.

6 Tobey exhibited in the NWA in the years of ‘28 (Exhibited and was a juror), ‘30, ‘31, ‘38, ‘39 (Exhibited and was a juror), ‘40 (Purchase prize winner), ‘41 (Second prize in oil), ‘43 (Purchase prize winner), ‘42, ‘44, ‘45 (Exhibited and was a juror), ‘46 (Honorable mention in tempera), ‘47, ‘49, ‘51, ‘52 (Exhibited and was a juror), ‘53, ‘55, ‘58, and ‘62.

7 Graves exhibited in the NWA in the years of ‘33 (Purchase prize winner), ‘34, ‘35 (Second honorable mention in oil), ‘36, ‘37, ‘40 (Honorable mention in watercolor), ‘41 (Honorable mention in oil), ‘43, ‘44, ‘47, ‘51, ‘52, ‘53 (Honorable mention in oil), and ‘56.

Callahan exhibited in the NWA the years of ‘25, ‘28, ‘29, ‘30 (Second in watercolor), ‘31, ‘32, ‘33 (Honorable mention in watercolor), ‘34, ’35, ‘36, ’37, ‘39, ‘40, ‘41, ‘42, ‘43, ‘44, ‘45, ‘46, ‘47, ‘48, ‘49, ‘50, ‘51, ‘52, ‘53 (Recommended for purchase), ‘54, ‘55 (Honorable mention in painting), ‘56 (Recommended for purchase), ‘58 (Exhibited and was a juror), ‘59, ‘60, ‘62 (Recommended for purchase), ‘63, ‘65, ‘70 (Juror), Northwest Art Today: Part 1, and Northwest ‘77.

9 Anderson exhibited in the NWA the years of ‘26, ‘27, ‘28, ‘29, ‘30, ‘31, ‘32, ‘35 (Purchase prize winner), ‘37, ‘38, ‘39 (Third honorable mention in oil), ‘36, ‘40, ’41 (Honorable mention in oil), ‘43 (Honorable mention in oil), ’44 (Purchase prize winner), ‘47 (Exhibited and was a juror), ‘49 (Honorable mention in oil), ‘54 (Juror), ‘56, ‘58, ‘59, ‘60, ‘61, ‘62, ‘63 (Exhibited and was a juror), ‘65, ‘67 (Recommended for purchase), ‘68 (Juror), ‘68 (Juror), ‘69 (Recommended for purchase), Northwest Art Today: Part 1, and Northwest ‘77.

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