Wednesday, April 23, 2003 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

E-mail article     Print

Art Hupy, 78, founded NW art museum

Seattle Times staff reporter

Noted Northwest photographer Art Hupy, who founded the Museum of Northwest Art in La Conner, Skagit County, died Thursday (April 17) in a Mount Vernon nursing home. He was 78.

Those closest to him say Mr. Hupy left behind a priceless gift for his region, a lifetime of images of Northwest life and artists. Most of his life's work is now in the permanent collections of the University of Washington archives.

Mr. Hupy is credited with photographing famous area artists, including Bill Cumming and Kenneth Callahan, and giving them and other artists a place to exhibit their work.

"He and the early founders really saw an unmet need," said Kris Molesworth, executive director of the museum, which opened in 1981 as the Valley Museum of Northwest Art in the historic Gaches Mansion. "There was no museum at the time that focused only on art by Northwest artists."

The museum eventually grew, was renamed the Museum of Northwest Art and moved to a separate location.

Mr. Hupy, an Army veteran who served in Germany in World War II, free-lanced for United Press International (UPI), Time Magazine and other publications. He is known largely for his architectural photos and images of celebrities and artists. His wife, Rita Hupy, said one of his favorite UPI assignments was covering Husky football games.

Molesworth said Mr. Hupy formed "tremendous friendship" with his fellow artists.

Although "curmudgeon" was sometimes used to describe the late photographer's ways, his wife said that attitude came only from his distaste for political games.

"He didn't gloss things over. He was not the kind of person that would say something was all right when it wasn't," said Rita Hupy, director of the La Conner Quilt Museum. "He would be critical of things that would be done badly. He wanted things to be done right."

Molesworth said the Museum of Northwest Art has stayed true to Mr. Hupy's vision.

"If all that we had were tremendous national museums, the story — the art history — of a region like the Pacific Northwest would not be told. Art helped tell that story," she said.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Hupy is survived by his sons Hal Hupy of La Conner, Guy Hupy of Port Townsend and Todd Von Stroberg of Burlington, Skagit County; and 10 grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 5 p.m. Saturday at Gaches Mansion in La Conner.

Young Chang: 206-748-5815 or


Get home delivery today!