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Today is Friday, September 29, 2023 at 10:28 AM.

Bronson Collection comes to Reed

In August 1990 Northwest artist Bonnie Bronson died in a climbing accident. Bronson, whose accomplishments included painting, fabric design, welded and painted steel collages, and enamel on steel wall sculptures, as well as video production and gardening as an art form, had been a powerful force in the Northwest art community. The Bonnie Bronson Fellowship was founded in 1991 by friends who wished to honor her memory with an award furthering the development of an artist living in Oregon or Washington. The fellowship gives special emphasis to sculptors and women artists. The fellowship has considerable grassroots support, as the majority of its donors continue to be artists. Recipients selected yearly--Christine Bourdette in 1992, Judy Cooke in 1993, Ronna Neuenschwander in 1994, Fernanda D'Agostino in 1995, and Carolyn King in 1996--have become vital presences in the region with influential gallery and museum exhibitions and outdoor sculpture projects. This year's Bronson Fellow, painter Lucinda Parker '66, whose work was seen in a 1995 retrospective at the Portland Art Museum, has produced numerous public art projects; among recent works are the TriMet West Side Light Rail Fences Project and a mural series for the Midland Library.

The Bronson Collection Fund for the purchase of art by Bronson Fellows complements the Bronson Fellowship. In 1996, after two years of planning, the Bronson Collection was placed on long-term loan to Reed College to be exhibited informally throughout the campus. Joan Shipley, Bronson Fund Board chair, noted that "Reed offers an intellectual environment that will use the collection both academically and publicly in a responsible manner."

Bronson Fellows, from left to right, include Carolyn King, 1966; Fernanda D'Agostino, 1995; Ronna Neuenschwander, 1994 with her daughter; Lucinda Parker '66, 1997; and Christine Bourdette, 1992. Not pictured is the 1993 winnder, Judy Cooke.
"The purpose of the collection," Shipley states, "is to document the fellowship through the acquisition each year of a work of art from the newly named fellow, thus building a collection based on the best work by the finest Northwest women artists." In its cumulative acquisitions, the collection will record a history of regional art. In keeping with the Bronson Fellowship's vision of respect for the dignity of artistic endeavor and with the scholarly mission of the college, funds will also cover thorough archival documentation of each work in the collection.

The works will arrive at Reed during the spring of 1997. Plans are under way to designate appropriate locations, and selected works will be on view by the end of 1997. Last summer, Susan Fillin-Yeh, Douglas F. Cooley director and curator, and Silas B. Cook, assistant curator, worked with members of the Bronson Foundation board, including Scott Sonniksen, Lee Kelly, and Shipley, making studio visits to choose works by Bronson Fellows for the collection. Selections of new art for the collection will continue to be made in consultation with representatives from the Cooley Gallery staff members and art department faculty members of Reed College. In addition to work by Bronson Fellows, Lee Kelly has donated a wall sculpture by Bonnie Bronson to the collection.