Richard C. Gilkey papers, approximately 1940s-2006  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Gilkey, Richard C. (Richard Charles), 1925-1997
Richard C. Gilkey papers
approximately 1940s-2006 (inclusive)
2.58 cubic feet (3 boxes) plus 1 vertical file and 5 oversize vertical files
Collection Number
Correspondence, photographs, art exhibition announcements and clippings related to a Seattle painter
University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections
Special Collections
University of Washington Libraries
Box 352900
Seattle, WA
Telephone: 206-543-1929
Fax: 206-543-1931
Access Restrictions

Open to all users.


Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Richard C. Gilkey was born December 20, 1925 in Bellingham, Washington and spent his first six years in British Columbia, Canada where his father worked for the timber industry. The family returned to the Skagit Valley, and then moved to Seattle when Gilkey was twelve where he went to Ballard High School. Before finishing high school, he enlisted in the Marine Corps and served in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Gilkey was discharged in 1944.

Gilkey learned to draw as a child and except for high school classes was largely self-taught. While working at various jobs as a young man, Gilkey continued to practice his art, inspired by the works of Guy Anderson, Morris Graves and Mark Tobey. In the mid-forties, Gilkey set up a studio in Skid Row at the corner of Yesler and 1st Avenue in what is now known as Pioneer Square, and with encouragement from Tobey and Graves, experimented in his painting of local figures, still lifes, and cityscapes. Gilkey continued to return to the Skagit Valley when he could paint the landscape of the country. Having inherited some money from his grandmother, Gilkey traveled in Europe for four months in 1948 where he explored the museums and became particularly impressed with the works of Rembrandt, Goya, and van Gogh. Returning to Seattle, Gilkey continued to hone his craft and in 1958 was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship which allowed him to travel to Europe where he painted and studied in Ireland and Italy.

Gilkey’s work ranges from monochromes and black and whites to brilliant color, and the influence of the Skagit Valley can be seen his paintings though his later work became more abstract. His work was included in art shows throughout the Northwest, and in 1982 his work was part of an exhibit at the Osaka National Museum of Art featuring Pacific Northwest artists. In 1990 Gilkey was named the winner of the Osaka Triennale Exhibition and in 1991 was awarded the Washington State Govenor's Art Award. Gilkey’s paintings remain in private and public collections including the Seattle Art Museum, the King County Arts Commission, The Seattle Times, and Swedish Hospital.

Richard Gilkey was diagnosed with lung cancer in September 1997 and died October 3, 1997 at age 72.

Sources: Ament, D.T. (2003 March 13). Gilkey, Richard (1925-1997): Painter of human consciousness. Retrieved from; Museum of Northwest Art. (n.d.). Richard Gilkey. Retrieved from; Richard Gilkey. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved May 16, 2018 from

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

Consult the scope and content information for each of the accessions listed below.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

Creator's rights transferred to the University of Washington Libraries.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top


Accession No. 2786-001: Richard C. Gilkey papers, 1933-1977 (bulk approximately 1945-1977)Return to Top

0.43 cubic feet (1 box)

Scope and Content: Correspondence, photographs, art exhibition announcements, clippings.

Restrictions on Access: Open to all users.

Acquisition Info: Donated by Richard C. Gilkey, February 10, 1978.

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder Accession
1/1 2786-001
Biographical materials
1/2 2786-001
Incoming correspondence
1/3 2786-001
Outgoing correspondence
1/4 2786-001
Notes and writings
1958; undated
1/5-6 2786-001
1/7 2786-001
Ephemera A-K (art exhibitions)
1/8 2786-001
Ephemera L-S (art exhibitions)
1/9 2786-001
Ephemera T-W and miscellaneous
1/10-12 2786-001

Accession No. 2786-002: Richard C. Gilkey papers, 1954-1977Return to Top

1 vertical file

Scope and Content: Correspondence, gallery notices, photograph, clippings, ephemera.

The photograph is a 4" x 5" black and white print of a Gilkey painting.

Restrictions on Access: Open to all users.

Acquisition Info: Donated by Archives of NW Art, January 1, 1983.

Accession No. 2786-003: Richard C. Gilkey papers, approximately 1940s-2006Return to Top

2.15 cubic feet (2 boxes and 5 oversize vertical files)

Scope and Content: Correspondence, photographs, slides, and other materials relating to Gilkey's career.

Files either came from Gilkey's home or were kept by Janet Huston of the Janet Huston Gallery in La Conner, Washington, who was Gilkey's agent for many years.

Restrictions on Access: Open to all users.

Acquisition Info: Donated by Janet Huston, August 17, 2011.

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder Accession
1/1-17 2786-003
Biographical materials
General Notes: Folder 6 contains personal letters from Morris Graves.Folder 14 contains a poem written by Carolyn Kizer.
1/18-76 2786-003
Files maintained by Janet Huston
2 2786-003
Photographic materials
1-4 2786-003
Photographic materials
1947-1948, 1960s, 1979-1980, 1990-1991, undated
5 2786-003

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Artists--Northwest, Pacific
  • Painters--Northwest, Pacific
  • Personal Names :
  • Fuller, Richard E. (Richard Eugene), 1897-1976
  • Gilkey, Richard C. (Richard Charles), 1925-1997--Archives
  • Graves, Morris, 1910-2001