Davidson Galleries | HELMI DAGMAR JUVONEN: A Personal Connection | May 5th – July 1st, 2023
May 5th – July 1st, 2023
Helmi Dagmar Juvonen: A Personal Connection
313 Occidental Ave S, Seattle, WA 98104
Helmi Dagmar Juvonen (American, 1903-1985) was born in 1903 in Butte, Montana and moved to Seattle in 1918. She attended classes at the Seattle Art School and Cornish College of the Arts while working in the commercial arts including drafting, designing greeting cards, and sewing. Helmi befriended members of and became associated with the Northwest School including Morris Graves, Guy Anderson and Mark Tobey. In 1930, Helmi was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder (previously known as manic depression) which caused challenges throughout her life. Between 1930 and 1955, Helmi was often hospitalized but continued to study and practice art. She frequently visited the historical museums to sketch Native American masks and also visited Native American reservations due in large part to her friendships with Tulalip tribal chief Shelton, Yakima chief Job Charley, Makah chief Charlie Swan, Ute artist Julius Twohy, and Bobbie Temple-Sweat of the Suquamish and Duwamish tribes. During this period, Helmi also participated in WPA Federal Art Projects, researched camouflage for the US Navy, studied engineering and mechanical drawing, and learned casting and modeling in clay. After some troubling interactions directed towards Mark Tobey, issues with her home and depressive episodes, Helmi was committed to Northern State Hospital where she lived, worked, and wrote to artists and friends until her death in 1985.
Helmi is known for her humor and sincerity, bringing a personal quality to the often somber and stoic Northwest School where women’s contributions were rarely acknowledged. She also focused on indigenous Northwest art at a time when it received little attention or recognition. Her work was frequently underappreciated until advocacy by her friends and fellow artists led to several retrospective exhibitions in the last ten years of her life.