CoCA looks back on 35 years of contemporary art with ‘Legacy’

Tightly focused show includes heavy hitters such as Laurie Anderson, Chuck Close and Gary Hill.

For more than three decades, the Center on Contemporary Art (CoCA), despite its name, has functioned without a permanent, physical center. Moving from venue to venue, its focus has always been on showcasing art, and not so much on establishing itself as a fixed, predictable institution.

In the catalog accompanying its first exhibition 35 years ago, organizers explained that developing administrative staff and securing a permanent exhibition space “were given second priority by the founding group, in favor of launching a program first.” And they decided early on not to collect work, “choosing instead to stimulate and respond to new activity.”

Since then, CoCA has stimulated a lot of new activity, presenting more than 200 major exhibitions, hundreds of other events and the work of almost 3,000 artists in various places across town.

Exhibition Review

‘CoCA Legacy’

11 a.m.- 6 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, through Nov. 18, Center on Contemporary Art, 114 Third Ave S., Seattle; free (206-728-1980 or

A new exhibition, in CoCA’s gallery in the art-centric Tashiro Kaplan building in Pioneer Square, pays homage to that legacy. According to a news release, the exhibition celebrates “the diverse range of artists that represent CoCA’s legacy best: those who are fiercely independent and experimental, with an unapologetically rough hewn nature, and often with an equally bold political statement.”

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If you’re familiar with CoCA’s history, you’ll probably revel in the selections, nodding at the artists’ names and remembering their involvement in past programming.

If you’re unfamiliar with CoCA’s history, you’ll get a taste of the variety of work that CoCA has embraced and its overall gutsiness. It’s a vivid, eclectic exhibition, with a…

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