The Frye Trunk’s Journey Across America

What are museums for? What are we supposed to do with the works we find in them? The Frye’s upcoming exhibition THE THIRD, MEANING: ESTAR(SER) Installs the Frye Collection invites visitors to ask these questions — and to experiment with answers. This artist-curated installation features an eclectic range of works: some much-beloved paintings from the Frye’s Founding Collection, some rarely seen pieces brought up from long spells in storage, and some peculiar objects that may or may not be what they seem.

Wooden trunk that is open to display many small objects including a wooden piano, a suitcase, and an Apple II computer

Image: The Frye Trunk, from the ESTAR(SER) Collections. Photo: John Berens

This exhibition is the work of ESTAR(SER), a collective that has a long-standing interest in the problem of ATTENTION. Members of ESTAR(SER) use various forms of storytelling, dreams, games, and conjurations to “draw attention to attention.” One of the objects that will be on view this year at the Frye is a strange artifact ESTAR(SER) uncovered during their own search for answers: a large trunk containing a baffling array of documents, toys, viewing devices, and sundry tidbits — supposedly belonging to a Seattle-based group devoted to the same mysteries of the “Third Bird” around which ESTAR(SER) base much of their inquiry. Here is a note from the researchers of ESTAR(SER) on the Frye Trunk’s journey to the museum, which is captured in the diary that follows. We hope you will follow along on Instagram for more scenes from the Trunk’s trip across America and that you will join us on Friday, October 28, 2022, to celebrate the opening of THE THIRD, MEANING, where the Trunk will be shown alongside other works from the museum’s collection.

“ESTAR(SER) undertook to ‘translate’ the Trunk back West this past summer, as part of the preparation for the new exhibition, and to return it to what the researchers have decided is its rightful and original home:  the Frye Museum itself.  Rather than contract with professional art-handlers or a bespoke moving company, the Trustees of the Milcom Memorial Reading Room secured the helpful collaboration of a small group of ESTAR(SER) affiliates who were willing to undertake the mission as part of a larger program of trans-national research into the history of radical practices of attention across the United States (focusing, of course, on "Birdish" history wherever possible).  Those volunteers compiled a valuable diary of their expedition, as they drove the Trunk from New York City to Seattle this past August, and we thought you might find this of interest.”—ESTAR(SER)