Cascadia Art Museum Curator David F. Martin honored with PNW History Award

L-R: Lindsey Echelbarger, president of the Cascadia Art Museum Board; Jim Rupp, Pacific Northwest Historians Guild president; David Martin and Sally Ralston, Cascadia’s executive director. (Photo courtesy Cascadia Art Museum)

The Pacific Northwest Historians Guild has awarded its 2023 Pacific Northwest History Award to art historian David F. Martin, curator for Edmonds’ Cascadia Art Museum.

The award presented during a Nov. 30 guild meeting at the Cascadia Art Museum, where Martin has served as curator since 2015. First presented in 1986 to Murray Morgan, the award recognizes those who have made significant contributions in writing, preserving and promoting Pacific Northwest history.

According to a Cascadia news release, the award to Martin recognizes “his lifetime of efforts to document and preserve, and help draw public attention to, the reputations and works of so many forgotten, unrecognized and under-represented Pacific Northwest artists, including his numerous scholarly writings and books, his many years as a principal of Martin-Zambito Fine Arts and his significant work as curator of the Cascadia Art Museum.” The award also includes a lifetime Guild membership.

Martin is an independent arts researcher, writer, curator and historian who has documented the art history of Seattle and the Pacific Northwest since 1986. He is a leading authority on early Washington state art and artists and has drawn long-awaited attention to Asian Americans, gay and lesbian, and other minorities who had established national and international reputations in the arts during the period 1890-1970.

Many of them have been forgotten until Martin brought them back to the public eye through Martin-Zambito Fine Arts in Seattle (with his longtime partner Dominic Zambito) and his significant work as curator of Cascadia Art Museum.

Martin is former program director for the American Art Council at the Seattle Art Museum. For three years, he served as regional president of the Northwest chapter of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C. In 2017, he received an honorary doctorate in fine arts from Cornish College of the Arts. He is also is an honorary member of Women Painters of Washington, the only man to have received this honor.

He is the author of award-winning books and catalogues and contributes essays and catalogue entries for national and international publications on painting, printmaking, and photography.

Cascadia Art Museum has published six books that Martin has written to accompany important exhibition,s including Kenjiro Nomura, American Modernist, Invocation of Beauty: The Life and Photography of Soichi Sunami, and Chao-Chen Yang: Full Light and Perfect Shadow.

A Seattle Times article written by Gayle Clemans (published Nov. 2) reviews a current exhibit at Cascadia: “Edmonds’ Cascadia art museum has organized the first solo exhibition of this Chinese-born, Seattle-based photographer whose name has been largely forgotten through time. And yet Yang was a nationally recognized and influential photographer for decades, with his images seen widely in exhibitions and on the pages of magazines.”

Two facts that are reported in the article are typical examples of Martin’s efforts, the Cascadia news release said. Chao-Chen Yang’s son, Edgar Yang, has donated a collection of several hundred works to the Cascadia Art Museum. In addition, Martin has placed dozens of pieces representing Pacific Northwest artists with other major institutions in Europe and the U.S., including the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Also in attendance at the Nov. 30 ceremony were previous History Award winners Bill Woodward, Judy Bentley, Paul Spitzer, Carla Rickerson, Karen Blair and Lawrence Kreisman.

  1. Congratulations, David for a well deserved honor. And, a tip of the hat to Lindsey, Sally and the rest of the crew – Cascadia Art Museum is a real gem, right in our own backyard!

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