Abby Williams Hill, landscape artist
Abby Williams Hill (1861-1943) was an artist and social activist who arrived in Seattle the same year Washington became a state (1889). She and her physician husband lived in Tacoma, where she fell in love with the mountains. Early in the century she was commissioned by railroad companies to paint scenery of the Pacific Northwest. These large oil paintings were used to lure tourists (by train, of course) to witness the beauty of the area.
She never sold her paintings. Her collection is now located at the University of Puget Sound (UPS), in Tacoma. In addition to over a hundred oil paintings are diaries, mementoes of her travels, letters, and sketches.
A group of Rebels and I were honored to meet with the Collection’s curator, Laura Edgar, to hear more about the extraordinary life and work of Abby Williams Hill. We were also given the opportunity to view some of the amazing archive collection.
We started our trip from the Olympia Transit Center, exiting the bus on Pacific Avenue in Tacoma. Our first stop was Harmon Brewery where we enjoyed lunch. After lunch we had about 30 minutes to explore the immediate area, including the University of Washington campus and the glass bridge which leads to the Museum of Glass. The “Red Chinook” is a Dale Chihuly wonder which hangs in the University’s library reading room. From downtown Tacoma we caught the free light rail “Link” on Pacific Avenue at Union Station. We got off the LInk at 10th and Commerce, crossing the street to our bus stop on Commerce. Our bus, Pierce Transit route 11, dropped us off in front of the UPS campus.
Dozens of Abby Williams Hill’s paintings are hanging for public viewing. The Collins Library has several paintings, including the few portraits that Ms. Hill painted. The portraits are of Native Americans, in their native clothing, which Ms. Hill believed their traditional clothing may disappear with time. Her magnificent landscapes and three charming botanicals are hanging in the main floor hallway of Jones Hall, the Administration building.
Don’t forget that specific directions for posted trips are found in the “Page” category of the RBB home page. Look for “trip directions” in the right hand column.
Thanks to Vicki, one of the Rebels on this trip, for taking pictures of our adventure!