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Thursday, April 9, 1998 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Donald Young Will Close Pike Street Gallery

Seattle Times Art Critic

Donald Young, the city's most well-connected, internationally active art dealer, will close his Seattle gallery this summer or fall. Young, who moved with his family from Chicago seven years ago, says he plans to return to Chicago and open a gallery there.

Young says the timing of the move will depend on how long it takes to find a suitable space in Chicago. He has shows planned for his gallery at 1103 E. Pike St. through the summer.

Though the Donald Young Gallery has never been on the usual loop of Pioneer Square galleries, the gallery has the highest-profile stable of artists of any gallery in the Pacific Northwest. With two or three exceptions, Young's artists are nationally or internationally acclaimed artists who live and work elsewhere, usually in New York.

Included in the list are such contemporary art stars as John Baldessari, Chris Burden, Tony Cragg, Dan Flavin, Cristina Iglesias, Donald Judd, Jeff Koons, Martin Puryear, Richard Serra, Sophie Calle and Rosemarie Trockel. Though most of these artists also are represented by New York galleries, it has been a boon for Seattle to have works by these artists on view at Young's gallery.

Nearly all have had shows in such prestigious venues as the Museum of Modern Art or the Guggenheim Museum. Young represents two artists who live in Seattle, internationally renowned video artist Gary Hill, who moved here a few years ago, and glass and conceptual artist Josiah McElheny. Young also represents video artist Rodney Graham, of Vancouver, B.C.

Young, who was born in London, lived in Paris for 10 years, then in Chicago for 15. He opened the Donald Young Gallery in Chicago in 1976, and was a private art dealer for 10 years before that. He says he is moving back to Chicago because he and his wife miss big-city life.

"When you live in a big urban city, at a certain point you think you want to move out, to go somewhere else," said Young. "Then you move, but after a point you realize that urban life is in your blood. You miss it. You miss the grittiness, the human contact, the abrasives of the big city. You miss the more outspokenness of the big city."

With his emphasis on vanguard contemporary art, Young's sophisticated shows have been treasured by those who follow the national and international art scene, even while they have been ignored by others, including many people who regularly visit the city's Pioneer Square and other downtown galleries. The work he shows is often stark, conceptual or minimalist. There are never pretty pictures or colorful glass sculptures on the walls. Even the location of the gallery has always been out of the mainstream art walk. For the first five years, his gallery was at 2107 Third Ave., in a no-man's land of graphics shops and small, nonretail businesses. Young moved the gallery to the corner of 11th Avenue and East Pike Street in 1996, a neighborhood of youthful coffee shops, taverns and fringe theaters.

Young's local clients have included a few of the area's most committed art collectors, and he has worked closely with the Henry Gallery when it did a major show of Hill's work, and the University of Washington when it installed an outdoor sculpture by Puryear. Among dealers, curators and some of the city's most sophisticated collectors, Young is well-known, even though the majority of his clients and artists are in other parts of the country.

When Young and his wife moved here, they did so partly for the city's quality of life and its friendliness to families, said Young.

Both of his children were then in grade school. His daughter is now out of college and his son is 14.

"Our son starts high school in the fall, so it was a question of moving now or in four years' time," said Young. "Some people will love to take this as a criticism of Seattle, but it really is not. I've been able to do things here I couldn't have imagined, such as the Puryear project."

Copyright (c) 1998 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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