Muse/News: Party people, Black pioneers, and surrealist snacks

SAM News

Last Friday, SAM presented another edition Remix, its creative late-night out featuring music, tours, and art-making. And as per usual, the beautiful people of Seattle showed up and showed out: Check out these colorful photo slideshows from Seattle Refined and Queerspace Magazine. See you at the next edition of Remix in March!

Local News

Andrew Hamlin for Northwest Asian Weekly on the Wing Luke’s new show, Worlds Beyond Here: The Expanding Universe of Science Fiction; Tamiko Thiel, whose augmented reality experience appeared at the Olympic Sculpture Park in 2016, is included in this group show.

The Seattle Times launches Art Outings, in which their critics find places where art and snack & drinks are brought together. First up: The Frye Museum’s just-launched Third Thursday Happy Hours.

Real Change’s cover story this week: Lisa Edge’s review of Tacoma’s Washington State Historical Museum show featuring rarely shown works on paper by Jacob Lawrence about Tumwater founder George Bush.

“Lawrence depicting Bush’s migration is a convergence of two important pioneers. Bush, in the literal sense as he moved out west a century before The Great Migration, and Lawrence because of the barriers he broke within the art world. The series is an opportunity to learn more about two people who thrived in spite of entrenched barriers.”

Inter/National News

Artnet’s Sheila Regan reviews Art for a New Understanding, the new survey at the Crystal Bridges Museum, calling it “a serious attempt to redefine what contemporary Indigenous art means today.”

Brigit Katz for Hyperallergic on Color Problems, a “widely overlooked, yet staggering” book on color theory by Emily Noyes Vanderpoel first published in 1901—it’s now getting a careful reprinting.

Carl Zimmer of the New York Times reports on the extraordinary discovery in Borneo of what scientists are calling “the oldest figurative art in the world”—it’s 40,000 years old!

“The early images and figures might have illustrated stories contained vital information for how to survive in hard times, Dr. Conard said. Or perhaps the drawings helped joined people as a group, encouraging them to cooperate—‘a kind of glue to hold these social units together,’ he said.”

And Finally

Snacks – with a Surrealist manifesto.

Photo: Jen Au
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Object of the Week: Triplicate vase

Some things never go out of style, but some words do. Take, for example, fuddle (verb) ca. 16th century: 1. confuse or stupefy (someone), especially with alcohol; 2. a state of confusion or intoxication. Fuddle, related to a more common and modern derivative, befuddle (which dates to 1873), was once so in vogue that it was incorporated into drinkware terminology: the fuddling cup.

This Triplicate vase, also known in England as a fuddling cup, is really three mugs in one. Joined together by slip prior to the kiln, these three uniform mugs are connected internally so that liquid can flow from one to another as emptied and imbibed. The cups’ intertwined handles add further illusion to the nature of their fabrication.

The German porcelain factory Höchst, which produced this delicate piece, was founded in 1750 by the Elector of Mayence, near Mainz, just outside of Frankfurt. The lightly colored floral design is representative of the manufactory’s early painting style (not to mention the eighteenth-century European predilection for botanical motifs), which helps dates the fabrication of this piece circa 1755.1

In England, such vessels were usually associated with taverns, and considered “‘joke’ drinking pots.”2 The modest size of each individual vessel would deceive the uninitiated drinker, who was encouraged to finish the contents of a single mug, when in reality they would be consuming the alcohol in all three; the result would be confusion from the practical joke as well as from the volume of their alcohol consumption. Confusion and intoxication are inextricable when fuddling cups are involved, no matter how delicate and unassuming they may appear.

–Elisabeth Smith, Collections Coordinator

1 Julie Emerson, Jennifer Chen, and Mimi Gardner Gates, Porcelain Stories: From China to Europe (Seattle: Seattle Art Museum, 2000), 235.
2 “Fuddling Cup,” V&A Collection, accessed November 7, 2018, http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O21042/fuddling-cup-unknown/.
Image: Triplicate vase, ca. 1755, German, Höchst, hard paste porcelain, 4 1/2 in. height, 19 1/2 in. girth, 2 1/16 in. diameter, Gift of Martha and Henry Isaacson, 69.175.
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Toyin Ojih Odutola’s Postures: In This Imperfect Present Moment

We read each other’s body language all day, every day. In the museum, surrounded by artworks depicting a variety of figures and movements, this instinct can be put to an international test of how well we understand gestures and postures. A walk through the galleries can simulate what it’s like to be in another country, where you don’t know the verbal language and need to navigate based on reading bodies.

In the exhibition In This Imperfect Present Moment, a person’s body is telling you to stop and recognize that their moment has come, and you are a vital participant. They are ready to talk. Which language are they likely to speak? Toyin Ojih Odutola was born in Nigeria, grew up in Alabama, went to art school in San Francisco, and now lives in New York. She’s given many insightful interviews that provide a sense of the conversation you might have with her about her work. For now, here’s just one quote: “I’m attracted to the understated in art: moments that can be quickly passed over, but are complex and layered. There’s nothing wrong with bombast, and the maximalist in aesthetic and presentation, and I often exploit those very qualities. But nothing beats the underwhelming, the quiet, the subtle. When you see the economy of line used so effortlessly—that always gets me, because it isn’t easy.”

– Pam McClusky, Curator of African and Oceanic Art

Images: In This Imperfect Present Moment, 2016, Toyin Ojih Odutola, Nigerian, b. 1985, charcoal, pastel, pencil on paper, 83 x 24 in., Private collection, © Toyin Ojih Odutola, photo courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York. You are welcome, 2012, Toyin Ojih Odutola, Nigerian, b. 1985, pen, ink on paper, 11 x 11 in., Private collection, © Toyin Ojih Odutola, photo courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.
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Muse/News: SAM director to retire, found photos, and what Oprah says

SAM News

Last week, SAM announced that Kimerly Rorschach, SAM’s Illsley Ball Nordstrom Director and CEO, will retire in fall 2019 after seven years leading the institution. The Seattle Times shared the news in their Thursday print edition, featuring an interview with Kim. ARTNews, Artforum, and others picked up the news.

Sign me up: “Manipulation, melodrama, and black-and-white thrills ensue,” says Seattle Met, recommending last week’s selection in our 41st Film Noir Series. There are only four screenings left in the series—come get moody with us!

The Seattle Times has “everything you need to know about the hottest tickets in town” for November, including Peacock in the Desert: The Royal Arts of Jodhpur, India, and Seattle Magazine features the Peacock-inspired edition of Remix on their list of “15 Best Things To Do in Seattle in November 2018.”

And finally, the November/December issue of Art Access features a review of Peacock in the Desert by art critic Susan Platt.

“The exhibition, like India itself, is full of elaborate objects, stunning color, and fascinating history.”

Local News

Seattle Met’s Stefan Milne sees “different takes on immersion” in two new shows: Between Bodies at the Henry and Annie Morris at Winston Wächter Fine Art.

I recently shared reviews of Bellevue Art Museum’s show of found photos from the collection of Robert E. Jackson; watch ArtZone’s interview with Robert about his extraordinary collection.

The November issue of City Arts is out now; the feature by Margo Vansynghel asks “what’s worth saving?” as she explores the process of historical building preservation —and what values and whose stories are deemed worthy.

“The history of the everyday is worth saving along with the history of yesterday and today. In some cases, architectural preservation is self-preservation.”

Inter/National News

Hey, remember our awesome For Freedoms tours? The organization that inspired them just came out with a series of photos reimagining Norman Rockwell’s paintings featuring Rosario Dawson, Van Jones, and others.

Hyperallergic reviews the new show at the Asia Society Museum, The Progressive Revolution: Modern Art for a New India, charting a moment that “encapsulated avant-garde abstraction without bowing to its Western idiom.”

Charles Desmarais on the “extraordinary conclusion” of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco’s search for a new leader; Thomas P. Campbell replaces Max Hollein (… who just took over for Campbell at the Met).

“On another front, the appointment of one more white man to a powerful museum position is not likely to sit well with those who have demanded greater diversity in such jobs. That call, heard widely throughout the field, was taken up by FAMSF staff in June, when a letter signed by more than 100 employees asked the board to seriously consider women and people of color during the search.”

And Finally

I have been doing what she tells me to do since I was a child and I don’t intend to stop now.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Photo: Scott Areman
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Object of the Week: Chukwu Okoro Masks

“This is one of the best places I’ve seen masks installed because normally they would hang it on the wall. But doing it this way, with the costumes and everything, also gives it character because these masks were not really meant to be hanging on the wall like that.” – Emeka Ogboh

Remember when Disguise: Masks and Global African Art was on view in 2015? We’re bringing you a flashback to Nigerian sound artist Emeka Ogboh discussing masks by Chukwu Okoro in SAM’s collection, why he chose them as one of his favorite things in the museum, and their significance in regards to the soundscapes he created for Disguise. Currently, these masks can be viewed in our African art galleries as part of Lessons from the Institute of Empathy where three Empathics have surrounded themselves with works from our African art collection as a way to help visitors awaken their own empathy. The Empathics display their trademarked process for transformation and ask you to consider the other artwork around you. Come see what we mean.

Image: Installation view Chukwu Okoro Masks at Seattle Art Museum, 2016, photo: Natali Wiseman.

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Muse/News: Peacock struts, Saint Woman commands, and the pumpkin dances

SAM News

Peacock in the Desert continues to strut:

The exhibition was included in The New York Times’ overview of “Art to See This Fall,” which says it’s “the next best thing to visiting the clifftop Mehrangarh Fort Museum overlooking Jodhpur.”

It was king of KING, with segments on the station’s Evening Magazine and New Day NW—the latter featured an interview with His Highness Maharaja GajSingh II and his daughter Baijilal Shivranjani Rajye.

And reviews for the show ran in The International Examiner, Crosscut, The Daily, and The Spectator.

“Spanning five centuries, Peacock is an eye-popping look at a royal-family legacy. It uses video, audio and room-filling installations, along with dozens of fantastically detailed paintings (magnifying glasses are provided so you can study them closely), to immerse you in its world.”  —Michael Upchurch, Crosscut

Also: You may have seen Amy Sherald’s Saint Woman on the cover of this week’s Real Change (cash or Venmo accepted!); reporter Lisa Edge reviews the SAM show In This Imperfect Present Moment for this week’s centerpiece story.

“’It’s like she’s thinking about something else. She’s in command of her own space. Her own time,’ said curator Pam McClusky.”

Seattle Magazine’s annual list of the city’s movers and shakers is out—and Priya Frank, SAM’s Associate Director of Community Partnerships, is on it! She’s named “one to watch”—we couldn’t agree more. Congrats, Priya!

Local News

Very sad news: Yoko Ott, an artist and curator with connections to numerous Seattle organizations, died last week at the age of 47.

Tschabalala Self! That, and other offerings, are part of the exciting lineup coming up at the Frye Art Museum announced this week.

Sharon Salyer of The Everett Herald speaks with artist Romson Regarde Bustillo about his show on view at Edmonds Community College that asks, “what’s in a name?”

“’Art is information as much as it is something inexplicable,’ Bustillo said. ‘When we look at it, we have an emotional and a visceral reaction, but it is not removed from the way we’ve been conditioned to process information.’”

Inter/National News

Oh, Canada. Smithsonian Magazine reports on the latest humane news from our northern neighbor: Doctors in Montreal will soon be able to prescribe museum visits to their patients.

And in Germany, museums are the subject of a TV show. It will feature noted creatives—like Vivienne Westwood and Karl Ove Knausgård—leading tours in inside eight historic European museums.

And come through, America (well, NYC)!: The just-released budget for the city features a record-breaking $198.4 million for cultural organizations.

And Finally

It’s a Halloween tradition! To all you ghouls and goblins, I present: The Pumpkin Dance.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Image: His Highness Maharaja GajSingh II of Marwar-Jodhpur and Baijilal Shivranjani Rajye of Marwar-Jodhpur in Peacock in the Desert: The Royal Arts of Jodhpur, India at Seattle Art Museum, 2018, photo: Stephanie Fink.
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Object of the Week: Ruth Asawa Family and Sculpture

Though this 1957 photograph is by Imogen Cunningham, its subject is Bay Area artist Ruth Asawa (1926–2013). For decades Asawa has been little known beyond the West Coast, and is all too belatedly finding herself rewritten into the history of American art. Rather than concentrate on photographer Cunningham, this post focuses on Asawa, her diaphanous wire sculptures, and her complex identity as a Japanese-American woman artist.

Cunningham’s photograph is a quiet yet evocative image: Asawa sits with her face occluded by the semi-transparent curvature of one of her hanging wire sculptures. She’s surrounded by her four children, ranging from toddler to six years old. Each, including Asawa, is engaged in and absorbed by his or her own activity: reading, playing, observing, drinking, and making. The iconic photograph has often been read in gendered terms, focusing on Asawa’s demonstrated domesticity, femininity, and passivity. Like too many women artists, Asawa has been positioned primarily as a wife and mother—identities that override her identity as an artist, which can and should include these other identities. As curator Helen Molesworth discusses in her recent paper delivered last month at the Smithsonian, “Ruth Asawa: ‘San Francisco Housewife and Mother’,” this image has additional import, positioning art making as a social activity, and Asawa, therefore, as a citizen above all else.

As a child, Asawa would draw and make art while in a World War II internment camp with her Japanese parents. She was not an outside or self-taught artist though, for she attended Black Mountain College and studied for three years and two summers (1946–49) with Josef Albers, Merce Cunningham, and Buckminster Fuller, among others. For Asawa, “Black Mountain gave you the right to do anything you wanted to do. And then you put a label on it afterwards. I think that’s the nice thing about what Black Mountain did for its students. It was like they gave you permission to do anything you wanted to do. And then if it didn’t fit they’d make a category for you. But I think Black Mountain helped make something with weaving and with printmaking, and it gave people the freedom to make something of each category.”¹

Black Mountain was a transformative place and time for Asawa, creatively as well as socially: incorporated into Black Mountain’s utopian environment was an attitude that expanded what art can do for society. Therefore, to be an artist is to be a citizen—engaging actively in the world and making choices alongside others.² Though Cunningham’s photograph captures Asawa in her home, surrounded by her four (of six) children, central to the visual narrative is her artwork, which is inextricable from her role as an artist, wife, mother, and citizen.

– Elisabeth Smith, Collections Coordinator

Image: Ruth Asawa Family and Sculpture, 1957, Imogen Cunningham, Gelatin silver print, 10 3/8 x 10 3/8 in. (26.4 x 26.4 cm), Gift of John H. Hauberg, 89.43
¹Ruth Asawa, “Oral history interview with Ruth Asawa and Albert Lanier, 2002 June 21-July 5,” interview by Mark Johnson and Paul Karlstrom, Archives of American Art, https://www.aaa.si.edu/collections/interviews/oral-history-interview-ruth-asawa-and-albert-lanier-12222#transcript.
²Helen Molesworth, “Ruth Asawa: ‘San Francisco Housewife and Mother’,” filmed September 12, 2018 at Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., video, 1:07:05, https://americanart.si.edu/videos/clarice-smith-distinguished-lecture-series-scholar-helen-molesworth-154476.
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Muse/News: The Peacock has landed, dudes talking in shops, and the woman who was first

SAM News

The Peacock has landed! The Seattle Times’ Steve Ringman captured colorful shots of the galleries, one of which also appeared on the front page of last Thursday’s print edition. An overview of the exhibition and related events also appeared their Weekend Plus section.

Check out more recommendations for the show in Seattle Met, Seattle Magazine, and ParentMap.

Last week, SAM announced the appointment of Theresa Papanikolas as its new Ann M. Barwick Curator of American Art. The Seattle Times had the exclusive, featuring an interview with Theresa.

All of SAM was saddened to hear of the passing of Paul Allen last week at the age of 65; SAM director and CEO Kim Rorschach shared her thoughts on the massive cultural legacy he left the city of Seattle with Crosscut.

Local News

We’re gonna need more Windex: Crosscut’s Aileen Imperial follows the Space Needle’s “Lead Glass Keeper” Paul Best on a typical day of keeping (literally) tons of glass clean.

Here’s two reviews of Polaroids: Personal, Private, Painterly, Bellevue Art Museum’s new show of found photos from the collection of Robert E. Jackson, by City Art’s Margo Vansynghel and Seattle Weekly’s Seth Sommerfeld.

Naomi Ishisaka for the Seattle Times interviewing Inua Ellams about his play Barber Shop Chronicles that runs for three nights at the Moore Theatre in November.

“It’s about cross-generational conversations about African masculinity and how that is compromised by the West . . . it’s about dudes talking in shops and it’s about men trying to find a safe space to be vulnerable.”

Inter/National News

Artnet’s Kate Brown explores a recent study that asks whether Leonardo da Vinci had a condition called exotropia that makes one eye wander off alignment—and whether it contributed positively to his work.

Hyperallergic’s Sarah Rose Sharp with a gentle skewering (ha) of the recent event-within-an-event of Banksy’s shredded print at Sotheby’s.

“If you like to hallucinate but disdain the requisite stimulants…” The New York Times’ Roberta Smith reviews Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future, now on view at the Guggenheim.

The idea that a woman got there first, and with such style, is beyond thrilling. Yes, I know art is not a competition; every artist’s ‘there’ is a different place. Abstraction is a pre-existing condition, found in all cultures. But still: af Klint’s ‘there’ seems so radical, so unlike anything else going on at the time. Her paintings definitively explode the notion of modernist abstraction as a male project.”

And Finally

The Royal Ontario Museum goes to pot.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Photo: Nina Dubinsky
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