Last week, the mysteriously amazing Raynier Institute & Foundation announced an out-of-the-blue $1.1 million boost to support a new program with the Artist Trust and First Hill’s Frye Art Museum. Here’s what the Stranger’s arts writer Jen Graves had to say about the $1.1 Million for Local Artists from a Local Foundation Nobody’s Ever Heard Of:
Yep, it’s big: The Raynier Institute & Foundation is giving $1.1 million to Artist Trust and the Frye Art Museum, and the money will be used to form a whole ecosystem for local artists lasting the next five years.
Artists will receive enough money so that they can focus on their work while also paying their bills, and this work, once made, will be presented publicly.
It will work like this: Each year, Artist Trust will give two awards of $15,000 and one award of $50,000—$50,000!
All those artists will then be exhibited at the Frye.
In 2010, CHS wrote about the foundation as it began to put its $80-million financial clout to work and Jim Ray, the Capitol Hill character who put his fortune behind the organization.
Ray died at the age of 52 in 2005 — the Raynier website details his life including his arrival on Capitol Hill.
In the early 1980s, Jim moved to Seattle. Around Capitol Hill, Jim became known as quite a character. He socialized with folks in coffee shops and in pubs, visited with friends at his favorite haunts including metaphysical and tarot card shops, and enjoyed the outdoors. He lived in a house he purchased on E. Howe Street on Capitol Hill, walking his Cardigan Welsh Corgi, Jupiter McPooch, on Broadway and in Volunteer Park. While he was living in Seattle his mother passed away and Jim inherited 38 million dollars.
In 1992, Jim finally realized his lifelong dream to own an art gallery. He opened the Eagle Eye Gallery & Emporium, Ltd., in the Loveless Building on Capitol Hill. The gallery provided a space for new and budding artists along with his own works. A talented photographer and artist himself, Jim featured his found-object collages and airbrush paintings, including one he titled Thoughts are Larks Like Us. Jim loved the fact that he was a gallery owner and patron of the arts supporting local artists; for him, it had been a long-time dream. It was more important to help other people than to make money.
To that end, the gallery transitioned into the Raynier Institute & Foundation , which Jim founded in 1994. He endowed the foundation with $52,000 from his personal estate to start. Through Jim’s recommendations, the foundation made a total of $25,000 in grants the first year, in focus areas including Arts and Culture, Education, Health and Human Services, Civic and Community, the Environment and Animal Welfare. As the foundation grew in size and assets, it developed a style of grantmaking that allowed Jim the opportunity to involve himself in projects that mattered to him.
The site also shows where and how the foundation has distributed its giving — if only James Ray had been a big news reader! ;-)