Seattle has always had a rich artistic tradition. At times, artists have been inspired by the physical characteristics of our region such as the rugged landscape and our unique, albeit drizzly, Pacific Northwest climate. At other times, they drew inspiration from sources such as Pacific Northwest Indian culture and art, the Asian printmaking tradition, and Eastern spirituality. The artwork that has come from this particular confluence of elements has always been of unsurpassed originality.
Over the past 100 years, The Seattle Public Library has amassed a collection of art from a variety of important Northwest artists like Mark Tobey, Kenneth Callahan, Helmi Juvonen, Robert Cranston Lee, and Guy Anderson, as well as many others. The Seattle Public Library Northwest Art Collection is a digitized selection of prints, drawings, and paintings from the collection.
Many of the pieces on view were created during the Public Works of Art Project in 1934, which was a successful experiment in government patronage that put many Northwest artists back to work during tough times. Other pieces in the collection are interesting examples of an artist's particular style. Still others were created in or inspired directly by the library itself, such as Mark Tobey's "Illustrations for lecture, Feb 26 1948" and Stuart Morris' line drawings of people using the library in different ways.