By Chris S. Nishiwaki
NORTH-WEST ASIA WEEKLY
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
“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.
“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.
Barraquiel Tan plans to continue Wing Luke’s social justice legacy.
“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]