Home Museum institution Gala Wing Luke: first in person since the pandemic

Gala Wing Luke: first in person since the pandemic


By Chris S. Nishiwaki

From left to right: Ellen Ferguson, Joel Barraquiel Tan, Beth Takekawa and Jill Nishi
(Photo by Assunta Ng)

Bettie Luke, sister of the late Seattle City Council member and namesake of the Wing Luke museum, looked up as museum board co-chair Jill Nishi greeted supporters on the evening of March 13 at her dinner and auction at the Sheraton Grand Seattle. . She remembered her brother.

Luke recalls Nishi, crowned Miss Seafair in 1989, refusing to join the Seafair Parade float with a yard full of kimono-clad white women, in protest against ignorant cultural appropriation.

Left to right: King County Council President Claudia Balducci, Victor and Stacy Mizumori (photo by Assunta Ng)

“I was delighted to see (Nishi) there,” Luke told Northwest Asian Weekly two days after the event. “His protest reminded me of the type of thinking Wing had, going back as far as high school. Wing was such a leader in the community. At Roosevelt High School, he was student body president during the war. It reminded me that Jill was a leader from a young age. Seeing her up there has come full circle.

Paul Mar (left) and Kelly Yamamoto (Photo by Assunta Ng)

The March 13 auction was also the first in-person gala since 2019. The combined virtual and in-person gala at the Sheraton Grand Seattle raised more than $500,000. Attendance was limited to 350 guests, mostly masked, to encourage social distancing and safety protocols – the day after the state lifted the mask mandate. Another 45 guests logged in online.

Wing sisters Luke Ruby and Bettie, niece Cythnia Del Rosario and Otilla Barbarboi (Photo by Assunta Ng)

The fundraising total was the second highest in the museum’s history, surpassed only by the more than $600,000 raised in 2019. The total included “Fund Our Need” major donations of $25,000 each from the Board Co-Chair Ellen Ferguson and Board Member Paul Mar.

The bronze sculpture made by Gerard Tsutakawa “SeaWave”, a scale model of his commission outside the Climate Pledge Arena, was the highest-grossing auction lot, hammering in at $11,000. The successful bidder was Sounders FC Director of Operations Peter Tomozawa.

Mayor Bruce Harrell (left) and Joel Barraquiel Tan (Photo by Assunta Ng)

The gala was the first without Marge Young and Bob Luke, siblings of Bettie and Wing, who died in 2019 and 2020 respectively. Ruby Luke, the only other surviving Wing Luke sibling, attended with Bettie.

“It was sad not having all three sisters together,” Bettie said. “I know (Marge) would have totally enjoyed seeing what happened that night.”

From left to right: Matt and Gei Chan, Lori Matsukawa and Larry Blackstock (Photo by Assunta Ng)

The remaining sisters and museum carry on the legacy of Wing Luke, who was the first Asian American to be elected to public office in Washington State.

“I am absolutely amazed that for over 50 years the museum has pursued the two most important parts of Wing’s legacy – cultural preservation and social justice,” Bettie said. “I’m impressed. It’s bold for an institution to take this stance, to ensure the API community has a chance to hear its voice.

Left to right: First Lady Joanne Harrell, Mimi Gan, Mayor Bruce Harrell and Kendee Yamaguchi (photo by Assunta Ng)

“Wing would have been very proud to see the work that has been done over the years. Not just the work, but also the people who are still very strongly associated with the museum. »

Luke also envisions continued success for The Wing and its new executive director Joel Barraquiel Tan, who attended the party.

From left to right: Mimi Gates, Gerard Tsutakawa and Beth Takekawa (Photo by Assunta Ng)

“The fact that he’s already been involved in social justice is a delightful plus,” said Luke, highlighting Barraquiel Tan’s experience creating and implementing award-winning DEI civic engagement initiatives, while that he was at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco.

From left to right: Shiao-Yen Wu, James Wong, Jerry Lee and Taylor Hoang (Photo by Assunta Ng)

Barraquiel Tan plans to continue Wing Luke’s social justice legacy.

Alfredo Arreguin’s ‘Dance of the Muses’ sold for $1800 (Photo by Assunta Ng)

“It was my first real post-pandemic event,” Barraquiel Tan said of the gala. “It couldn’t have been more festive or glorious. I am still processing it. The gala is the moment when all the generations and the different stewards of The Wing converge. Who wouldn’t want to be welcomed into a community as close as this? »

Chris can be contacted at [email protected]