Helmi Juvonen: Dispatches to You (R.S.V.P.)
September 22, 2012 – January 27, 2013
Helmi Juvonen (1903–1985), recognized most simply as Helmi, was a contemporary of the Northwest Mystics—Mark Tobey, Morris Graves, Guy Anderson and Kenneth Callahan—and stands historically as one of the few women associated with the community of artists working in Seattle at that time. Although her career parallels the rise to prominence of the Northwest Mystics, Helmi worked in quasi-obscurity, was committed to a psychiatric hospital in 1959, and only gained full recognition in the last decade of her life. The Frye Art Museum gave Helmi her first museum exhibition when then Director Ida Kay Greathouse commissioned artist and close friend of Helmi, Wesley Wehr, to curate a retrospective in 1976. In 1978 and again in 1983, prior to her death, Wehr further honored that legacy by arranging a donation of a number of Helmi’s drawings and prints to the Museum. This current exhibition is drawn from those gifts, other donations, and Museum purchases. Helmi’s letters and post cards to the Museum are also dispatched here to RSVP to the universal correspondences of unrequited love, and desire for response and recognition. Helmi Juvonen – Dispatches to You (R.S.V.P.) is a love letter back to an exceptional artist devoted to her art and correspondence with friends and loves. It is also a response from a museum committed to finding fresh perspectives and contemporary relevance in its historical collection.