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Steensma_Skagit Red #2.jpg


1941 - 1994

Skagit Red


opening reception: saturday, november 19th 4-6 pm

November 18th - December 31st

i.e. is pleased to present this rarely exhibited series of Jay Steensma's drip paintings from the last year of his life. Iconic Northwest Painter, Steensma, had a deep and abiding connection with the Skagit Valley. He lived in Seattle since 1965 but spent time in the valley visiting with Morris Graves, his teacher who became a friend. He also befriended Mark Tobey, Guy Anderson and other artists of the original Northwest School.


Shabby little house:
Eco, placed on old
Earth of the Palouse,
and the Skagit,
no resting until the
Moon becomes bright.
the Salmon of the
past, seem to be gone
in an Eco dream -
The houses remain
                               Resting on old earth.    


- Jay Steensma

Steensma suffered from manic-depressive illness, and by the mid-70s his erratic behavior had largely alienated him from the arts community. He was at times institutionalized, and didn't exhibit or produce much for almost 10 years when he was welcomed back into the art world in 1985.


I first met Jay through the Mia gallery which I managed from the late 80's to the early 90's. Jay was represented by Mia and I became a frequent visitor to his home and helped in selection of his work for the gallery. He also occasionally sold me an old lamp or tchotchke out of his home as he made extra money in antique "dealing", and he was a great salesman.


When I opened i.e. gallery 8 years ago, I was approached by Mike Hickey (Mazey Hickey Gallery) to see if I was interested in carrying these paintings on a consignment basis. Mike was a long time friend of Jay's and a Seattle Art dealer. I was stunned when I saw them and have been excited to get them out in the public eye ever since. I had seen many beautiful abstract paintings Jay had done over the years but never any that were left without any image or writing at all. He always told me that people want to see a picture of something and then it's more likely they'll buy it. The salesman talking. Thus the strange postcards or drawings in the middle of an otherwise abstract piece (which were also beautiful paintings in their own right).


So I have but 6 of these drip series paintings from 1993 - 1994. One is titled Skagit Red #2. I am calling the series Skagit Red, although I know there have been some paintings out there called Skagit Black, or Grey. These paintings are elegant and quiet. They glow with their own light,  I'm happy that Jay didn't glue a postcard to any of these. This kind minimalism and sparseness requires a master's hand, and Jay had one at that time.



"The purpose of my art is to confound the enemy"                        Jay Steensma

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