Supporter Spotlight: MaryBeth Blackburn (She/Her/Hers)

Supporter Spotlight is a feature where we shine a light on our members and donors to learn about their connections to the Frye and why they support the Museum.

From Left to Right: Mary Jane Knecht, Julia Blackburn, MaryBeth Blackburn
Left to Right: Mary Jane Knecht, Julia Blackburn, MaryBeth Blackburn


An ardent supporter and member of the Frye for over a decade, MaryBeth Blackburn’s story with the Frye began in 2010 when she and her sister Julia participated in the pilot program for here:now—an arts-engagement program for adults living with dementia and their care partners. “We loved being part of this process, experimenting with [different] formats as the program took shape,” she explains. “And we just kept coming back, expanding our visits to other Creative Aging programs: gallery tours, Meet Me at the Movies, and the Alzheimer’s Café.”

The Frye’s Creative Aging programs gave MaryBeth and Julia valued time together, which MaryBeth coined ‘Frye Time’. “All these programs gave us the gift of sisterhood. In ‘Frye Time,’ we were no longer care partners, but back to just being sisters, enjoying our time together,” she recalls. “The impact on Julia’s dementia and related vision problems was also direct: it loosened the reins, and allowed her to get lost, in a good way, in the present moment. Even the low vision issues were altered in the process of making art.”


Julia and Mary Beth Blackburn, here:now Pilot, 2010
Julia and MaryBeth Blackburn, here:now Pilot, 2010; Photo: Jill Hardy


When asked about her most memorable experiences at the Frye, MaryBeth says, “So many! Julia’s unique, low-vision interpretations of an art piece, and the joy of others tilting their heads, and then seeing it her way too. Laughing at Meet Me at the Movies. Sing-alongs at the Alzheimer’s Café. And who doesn’t get both an education and a kick out of Rebecca Albiani?”

MaryBeth sums up her feelings about the Frye, saying, “I consider the Frye to be the most forward-leaning cultural institution in Seattle. They both honor and challenge their core collection, while bringing in the best of the new. And for the dementia community, we are absolutely blessed that the Frye stepped in so early in the new dementia movement to establish Creative Aging programs. I’m proud and pleased with the Frye’s support and partnership with The Memory Hub. A great new resource for Seattle’s dementia community. Kudos all the way around.”

For MaryBeth, being a member is a way to give back and ensure that programs that have enriched her own life continue to be accessible for others now and in the future: “Being a member means all this can be paid forward to the next generation.”