Creating The New Northwest: Tacoma Art Museum exhibit showcases key regional collectors, artists

The Tacoma Art Museum will present its newest exhibit this weekend when it unveils Creating the New Northwest: Selections from the Herb and Lucy Pruzan Collection. The exhibition includes more than 100 works in all media by some of the region’s most beloved artists, such as William Cumming, Gaylen Hansen, Paul Havas, William Ivey, Fay Jones, James Martin, Alden Mason, Ginny Ruffner, Preston Singletary, Akio Takamori, and more.

The art collection began in 1958 with the purchase of one oil painting that Herb and Lucy Pruzan selected to help make their first apartment feel more like a home. In the years that have followed, the Pruzans have built a distinguished art collection that reflects the advancement of artistic excellence in the Pacific Northwest. Creating the New Northwest shares the story of how Northwest artists have shaped new perceptions and a new sense of artistic identity. The Pruzans continue to support artists who live and work in the Northwest with an eagerness to embrace new opportunities that artists signal through innovative approaches.

“Art brings you out of yourself and into something else that has meaning,” said Herb Pruzan. “We’re interested in the artist and the work that they produce, regardless of the style or fashion.”

Many of the artworks in the exhibition are early works and in some instances are the first works sold by the artists. These foundational works give an insight into the artists’ career and influences. The Pruzans have followed the work of some artists since the beginning of their careers, allowing us to see the transformation and growth of such artists as Joseph Park, Jeffry Mitchell, Akio Takamori, and Whiting Tennis.

“They came to understand that artists were finding materials to help express the experience of the Northwest: water, forests, and earth were literally being formed into a new sense of identity,” wrote Rock Hushka, Curator of Contemporary and Northwest Art at the Tacoma Art Museum, for the exhibition’s catalogue.

Although the Pruzans never set out to specifically form a collection or “accumulation” (as Lucy calls it), it stands as a testament to their passions and reflects their belief in the essential contributions of art and artists that strengthen our communities and improve the human condition.

“Even today, the Pruzans remain constant in their support of our region’s artists, galleries, and museums,” said Tacoma Art Museum Director Stephanie A. Stebich. “Their commitment to new trends and ideas strengthens the Northwest artist community.”

Creating the New Northwest marks an auspicious moment in the growth of Tacoma Art Museum’s permanent collection. Herb and Lucy Pruzan have promised nine iconic works of Northwest art to the museum, in addition to five gifts already in the permanent collection.

The exhibition catalogue, Creating the New Northwest: Selections from the Herb and Lucy Pruzan Collection, featuring photos of the artwork and essays by Curator Rock Hushka and Art Critic Matthew Kangas is available for purchase in the Museum Store for $29.95.

The Tacoma Art Museum will host two events this month to highlight the new exhibit:

  • Curatorial Talk: Creating the New Northwest | Weds., June 12, 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. | Learn about Creating the New Northwest: Selections from the Herb and Lucy Pruzan Collection exhibition before it opens with a lecture from Rock Hushka, Director of Curatorial Administration and Curator of Contemporary and Northwest Art. The lecture is free with museum admission;
  • Art+Sci Salon: Art, Ecology, and Community | Thurs., June 20, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. | Join the Tacoma Art Museum during Third Thursday as it views Creating the New Northwest with a focus on art, ecology, and the community. Art+Sci is a collaboration with University of Puget Sound that aims to bring scientists, artists, and interdisciplinary thinkers together through conversations and the emergent collaborations. The Art+Sci Salon panel will include Amy McBride, Tacoma Art Administrator; Elizabeth Connor, Artist and Adjunct Instructor at University of Washington Tacoma; and Vaughn Bell, Artist and Adjunct Instructor at University of Washington Tacoma.

More information is available online at

"Big Fish—Small Pond" by Northwest artist Fay Jones is one of more than 100 works included in a new Tacoma Art Museum exhibit entitled Creating the New Northwest: Selections from the Herb and Lucy Pruzan Collection. (IMAGE COURTESY TACOMA ART MUSEUM)