See, when Chase took over Washington Mutual, Chase got everything—including the art. Over the years, WaMu had amassed a pretty significant collection of Northwest art, but Chase didn't want it hanging in its newly Chasey halls downtown being all WaMu-ish. (Or something like that.) So Chase picked out the most valuable stuff to take to New York and went about handing out the rest like a person with flyers on a street corner.

The first step was not so weird: Chase offered the art to museums in order of importance (you know, Seattle Art Museum first, then down the list). Several museums got several works; the place they'll probably make the most impact in the galleries is at Tacoma Art Museum, where the Northwest collection gets regular play. (Curator Rock Hushka calls the four gifts "iconic." Two of them—William Cumming's painting Kay Gee Doc and an oil from Alden Mason's great Burpee series—are already on display.)

When the museums had taken what they wanted, Chase stacked the rest of the art—a hundred or so pieces—in a room. Representatives from a handful of invited nonprofits marched downtown, rode the elevator up to the room on two specified days, and picked out what they wanted. This is why, if you ever go to a meeting in the cavelike staff conference room at Capitol Hill Housing, you will find a seriously splendid, very huge, rainbow-colored abstract painting/collage by Francis Celentano, whose name appears in art-history books.

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Before this, "we had, like, terrible posters up," said Michael Seiwerath of Capitol Hill Housing, who chose the Celentano that day last summer. "It was kind of this cattle call. You just went in the room and took stuff." The Celentano was coming apart at one of its seams, which is probably why a museum didn't take it; Celentano, who lives in Seattle, came down to the housing office to repair it (though another seam has now, subtly, split). The other lucky nonprofit benefactors include ArtsFund and Seattle Chinatown International District PDA, and nobody's saying who else. You may come across some serious paintings if and when you require social services.

An aside: Bank art collections often get gobbled as part of the banking food chain. Lincoln Mutual Savings Bank (based in Spokane) commissioned a Norman Rockwell painting in 1964, and along with it came at least one big charcoal study for the painting. The painting, now worth a zillion, was of a young Abe Lincoln reading a book while carrying an ax (my man!). The painting was sold by the bank, but the studies went to WaMu when it ate Lincoln Mutual in the 1980s. Now, Chase has the charcoal study. Chase wouldn't provide an image, but I picture it hanging above the chairman's Manhattan skyscraper desk, behind a swirl of cigar smoke. recommended