This photograph is old, but Davidson doesn't look very different today. He still wears the bowtie.
Sam Davidson has run a gallery in Seattle for 35 years: He knows where all the bodies are buried. But he also deals in quiet art, often prints, generally the sort that doesn't send a lot of journalists around to bother him. He's an undertapped resource.
A few years ago, Davidson opened a contemporary satellite in the middle of the East Edge Artwalk route—near SOIL and Platform, Shift and Punch. Mike Sweney ran Davidson Contemporary, and artists could take risks there (John Grade, for instance, completed his first-ever installation there; Grade is now showing at Bellevue Arts Museum).
But about a year ago, Sweney went to work for the state, and Davidson has decided to close the contemporary space. Its last show is this month's.
Sam Davidson isn't going anywhere, though, and he's got a lot of knowledge and plenty of opinions, as soft-spoken as he is. In this interview, he talks about why he's disappointed with Seattle Art Museum and the Olympic Sculpture Park, the bravery he expects from the Henry Art Gallery, his love for the ducks at the Frye Art Museum, how he's something of a "Broadway Danny Rose" character, and why he won't join the bowtie club of the Northwest.
Here's the Davidson Gallery, in Occidental Square, that is staying open: