The Yakima Valley Museum reveals that it has been bequeathed Dick and Jane’s Spot, the unique and ever-evolving art installation and home of Ellensburg artist Jane Orleman.
YAKIMA — Dick and Jane’s Spot, the ever-evolving art installation and home of Ellensburg artist Jane Orleman, will be left to the Yakima Valley Museum as part of a will Orleman and her late husband, artist Dick Elliott, drew up nearly 20 years ago, the museum announced last week.
The gift will include their entire art collection and “whatever money is left,” Orleman said. She and Elliott, who died in 2008, drew up the agreement in 1998 with the museum’s then-executive director, John Baule. But the promised gift wasn’t made public until last week at the museum’s annual Red Into Black fundraiser auction.
“It wasn’t really a secret,” Orleman said. “But I don’t even think anybody on the board knew about it.”
That’s typical of such bequests, Baule said.
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“It’s a long way down the road,” he said. “And we never really promote these things until they, as they say in the world of bequests, mature.”
Orleman is 75 and in good health, but she and museum interim executive director David Burton decided to go public with the bequest now to allow the museum to begin conversations with its donors and with potential partners such as Central Washington University and Gallery One in Ellensburg about just what to do with the house. She would like it to house artists in residence, and the museum officials support that idea, Baule and Burton said. But the particulars such as who lives there, how and when it might be open to the public and who maintains and oversees the house will need to be worked out.
The museum, which in 2009 hosted the posthumous retrospective “Into the Infinite: The Art of Richard C. Elliott,” has over the past decade increasingly emphasized the value of art to the cultural history of the Yakima Valley.
Elliott, in particular, is generally viewed as among Central Washington’s most accomplished artists ever. His trademark reflector art can be seen atop the Yakima Valley SunDome and has been used for public art projects in St. Louis, Seattle, Denver, Minneapolis, New York and Charlotte, North Carolina, among other locations.
Orleman, whose paintings straddle the line between whimsical and confrontational, has had dozens of solo exhibitions and was named the 2015 Ellensburg Arts Treasure by that city’s arts commission.
Their house on the corner of First Avenue and Pearl Street, which they bought in 1978, is itself a work of art. The exterior features the work of about 45 Northwest artists including themselves, and it is constantly changing. There are reflectors, sculptures, paintings, totem poles and all manner of other artistic flourishes.
She and Elliott don’t have kids, and they didn’t want to burden any family members with the house, she said. And while they didn’t attach any strings to the promised gift, not wanting to tie the museum’s hands down the road, they do like the idea of the house being a place of creativity long into the future.
“My dream, hope, wish is that someday this could be an artists’ residence,” she said.