Nationally-recognized artist Alden Mason was born in Everett, Washington (1919) and grew up in the beautiful natural surroundings of the Skagit Valley. Alden attended UW, majoring in zoology until he turned to art. Mason received a BFA in 1942, an MFA in 1947, and joined the faculty of the School of Art in 1949. He retired from the art department in 1981 and continued to paint actively until his death in 2013.
Alden's paintings have moved from highly abstract to figurative, and now in his mid 80s, back to abstract. Originally working with large bright color blotches of oil, he was forced to switch to acrylic due to an allergic reaction to the toxic fumes of oil paints. With acrylic, he uses both stick figures and thick strokes to convey aspects of nature and his life and experience. His forms are at once playful, primitive, and mischievous. Mason's work reflects both his country roots and his appreciation for primitive cultures. For example, well into his 70s, Mason traveled to New Guinea to live among native tribes (he still proudly displays in his Ballard studio an arrow he pulled from a tribesman struck in an inter-tribal war).
Mason's paintings have been shown at over 100 exhibitions. They are included the collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Denver Art Gallery, the Milwaukee Art Museum, The Boise Museum of Art, the Portland Art Museum, and the Seattle Art Museum. The new Seattle Opera House (McCaw Hall) displays his enormous 4-piece mural on the main floor in the Impromptu Cafe.
Alden's painting Red Bird Pyramid (top) looks over the 3rd floor of the Allen Center while Summer Dance (bottom) is displayed on the 3rd floor of the Gates Center.
Greg Kucera Gallery, Seattle
Foster White Gallery, Seattle
Smithsonian Archives of American Art Interview, January 1984
Seattle PI Article on 2008 Mason Exhibit
50-minute documentary on Alden Mason
Alden Mason Foundation
Alden Mason Paintings, University of Washington Press, by Roger Hull, July 2021
Art in the Allen Center