Over a century ago, the Belltown building that houses Suyama Space was a livery stable. By 1929 it became an automobile repair shop, remaining in operation until George Suyama purchased the building for his architectural office in 1995. George redesigned the building for Suyama Peterson Deguchi's architectural studio, with two storefront retail spaces and an undedicated space in the center.
The central area developed into an exhibition space and became known as Suyama Space when George partnered with Seattle curator Beth Sellars. After staging the first several exhibitions of pre-existing work, Suyama and Sellars acknowledged that artwork suffered when it did not fully recognize the tangible characteristics of the building. Since 2000, artists are now obliged to become familiar with the space prior to submitting an installation proposal in response to the powerful volume of wood plank floors, concrete walls, and the exposed, open-beam ceiling.
The featured artist now becomes a collaborator with the space, rather than fighting with the structure, or worse, ignoring it. Successful installations gain from all that the building has to offer, accentuating the accomplishment.
Suyama Space is an exhibition venue located in downtown Seattle, Washington that provides opportunities for experimentation, inspiration, and education in contemporary art. Acting as a catalyst for innovative, experimental ideas and specifically sited projects, Suyama Space presents artist talks and related public programs intended to encourage public discourse about the role of the built environment and its impact upon the artistic process. Our goal is to collaborate with the art community to expand general public interest and understanding of contemporary art.
Since 1998, Suyama Space has invited regional, national and international artists to respond directly to the gallery's unique physical architecture rather than introduce independent, singular artwork to the space. Exhibition programming operates as a type of residency that provides artists the opportunity to reach beyond their previous work and investigate possibilities not available in the commercial world. The artist is free to succeed or fail within the parameters of his or her initially stated proposal. This process and the accompanying residency embrace a variety of creative expressions and provide a platform for audience awareness of the creative process.
Suyama Space is a nonprofit organization featuring programming that depends entirely upon the generous tax-deductible contributions of individual donors, governmental agencies and foundations. Continued support has been gratefully received from the Suyama Space Friends, and Sustained Support Grants from 4Culture/King County Lodging Tax Fund, and the City of Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs. Past support includes grants from The Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, the Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation, The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, and the Washington State Arts Commission.