News / Press Releases

Frye Art Museum | Artist Trust Consortium 2015 James W. Ray Awards Announced

For Immediate Release:

The Frye Art Museum | Artist Trust Consortium is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2015 James W. Ray Distinguished Artist Award and James W. Ray Venture Project Awards. These awards are made possible by the generous support of the Raynier Institute & Foundation. The Frye Art Museum | Artist Trust Consortium received a five-year, $1.1 million grant to support exceptional artists living and working in Washington state. The program is currently in its second year.

Author David Shields is the recipient of the 2015 James W. Ray Distinguished Artist Award, a grant in the amount of $50,000. This award recognizes artists in all disciplines whose work demonstrates exceptional originality and is intended to free artists to advance their creative work.

Artist Alison Bremner and interdisciplinary poet and performer Storme Webber are the recipients of 2015 James W. Ray Venture Project Awards, grants in the amount of $15,000 each. These awards supports individual and collaborative projects by artists in all disciplines whose work demonstrates artistic excellence and exceptional originality.

In conjunction with the grants, Ms. Bremner, Mr. Shields, and Ms. Webber will each have their work showcased through the Frye Art Museum.

In a joint statement on behalf of the Frye Art Museum | Artist Trust Consortium, Frye Art Museum Director Jo-Anne Birnie Danzker and Artist Trust Executive Director Shannon Halberstadt said: “We are proud to partner with this year’s James W. Ray Award winners. Especially in these times of growing income inequity, artists need the support of their communities. We hope these awards will have a positive impact on the careers of these artists and the communities of which they are a part. We are particularly pleased to be in a consortium to support and recognize excellence and innovation of exceptional Washington state artists.”


David Shields of Seattle is the internationally bestselling author of twenty books, including Reality Hunger (named one of the best books of 2010 by more than thirty publications), The Thing About Life Is That One Day You’ll Be Dead (New York Times bestseller), and Black Planet (finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award). Other People: Takes and Mistakes is forthcoming from Knopf in February 2017. The recipient of Guggenheim and NEA fellowships, Mr. Shields has published essays and stories in the New York Times Magazine, Harper’s, Esquire, Yale Review, Salon, Slate, McSweeney’s, and Believer.

Alison O. Bremner, based in Kingston, WA, is a Tlingit artist, born and raised in Southeast Alaska, who works in painting, sculpture, jewelry, and digital collage. Her project will be to carve a 10-foot totem pole in Yakutat, Alaska under the guidance of master artist and carver David Boxley in honor of her grandfather.

Storme Webber of Seattle is a Two Spirit, Alutiiq/Black/Choctaw, internationally-nurtured poet, playwright, educator, and interdisciplinary artist. Her forthcoming Noirish Lesbiana is an interdisciplinary installation that embraces noir aesthetics to tell hidden tales of Seattle’s multicultural queer past.


Artists are nominated to be eligible for the James W. Ray Distinguished Artist Award and James W. Ray Venture Project Awards. Nominations of artists representing a breadth of disciplines, art practices, and locations around Washington state were sought. Evaluation of applications and selection of recipients was performed by a multi-disciplinary panel of five arts professionals. Nominators and panelists were selected by Artist Trust.

2015 James W. Ray Award Panelists

Jo-Anne Birnie Danzker, Director, Frye Art Museum, Seattle
Jordan Hartt, Centrum Writer’s Program Manager, Port Townsend
Brooke Kiener, Theatre faculty, Whitworth University, Spokane
Tracy Rector, Executive Director and Co-founder, Longhouse Media, Seattle
Lucas Spivey, Co-Director, Tieton Arts & Humanities, Tieton

2015 James W. Ray Award Nominators

Cross-Disciplinary Arts
Erika Dalya Massaquoi, Independent Curator, Seattle
Laiwan Laiwan, Faculty, MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts, Goddard College, Port Townsend
Literary Arts
Luke Baumgarten, Co-founder, Terrain, Spokane
Paul Constant, Co-founder, The Seattle Review of Books and Staff Writer, Civic Ventures, Seattle

Media Arts
Courtney Sheehan, Artistic Director, Northwest Film Forum, Seattle
Juan Mas, Producer, Director, Writer, Purple Crayon Pictures, Spokane

Performing Arts
Bret Fetzer, Independent Entertainment Professional, Seattle
DeVon Manier, Owner and Senior Talent Manager, Sportn’ Life Music Group, Seattle

Visual Arts
Kate Elliott, Elliott Arts West, Bend, Oregon
Patti Warashina, Visual Artist, Seattle


Frye Art Museum supports and presents the work of contemporary artists from Seattle and around the globe as well as historical exhibitions celebrating the values of its Founding Collection. Admission to the Frye is always free. For more information, visit



About Artist Trust
Artist Trust is a nonprofit organization whose sole mission is to support and encourage individual artists working in all disciplines in order to enrich community life throughout Washington State. Since its founding in 1986, Artist Trust has invested over $10 million in individual artists through grant programs, and provides a comprehensive suite of professional development training and resources to help artists achieve their career goals. Learn more at