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WINNER WINNER TRADITIONAL PERUVIAN GUINEA PIG DINNER!

SAM teamed up with The Seattle Times and PromPeru, the Peruvian tourist bureau, to give away a four day, five night trip to beautiful Lima, Peru. The only requirement? Describe in 300 words or less what you would do with 24 hours in Peru. (Get it? A sun and a moon, to match Peru: Kingdoms of the Sun and the Moon)

Over 300 readers responded. After much deliberation, the grand prize went to Sheelagh King! Her essay transported the selection committee, taking them right out of their offices and into the warm air and cobbled streets.

When we got Sheelagh on the phone, we found out that she knew what she was talking about—she once visited Peru for less than 48 hours and since then has been dreaming about going back.

“In 1940 my parent took their honeymoon in Peru. They ended up living in Lima for 3 years,” Sheelagh says. She feels a strong pull to explore a piece of family history; to stand on the edge of Lake Titicaca where a photograph of her parents was taken and spend time in Lima, where her sister was born. Her passions for culture, traveling and history are evident. We were happy to hear that Peru: Kingdoms of the Sun and the Moon, the inspiration for the contest, increased her understanding as well as deepened her curiosity of Peru.

Sheelagh's father on Lake Titicaca, 1940

Sheelagh’s father on Lake Titicaca, 1940

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Sheelagh’s mother in Lima, Peru

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Sheelagh’s mother in the marketplace of Huaycan with a local Peruvian woman

After hearing (and becoming quite jealous) of all her plans, we ended our conversation with a simple question (or so we thought): “Who is the lucky person you plan on taking?”

“Well, that hasn’t been decided yet. My husband and son are currently vying for the position of fellow traveler,” Sheelagh answered with a chuckle.

Read Sheelagh’s winning essay:

I would wake early and watch the mist above the Urubamba River in the Sacred Valley; put on my best walking shoes and have a light breakfast of papaya and a sweet tamale with raisins inside; watch the granite mountains, churning river, stucco houses and green fields fly by, from my seat on the Vistadome train; step off the bus at the top of the world and see for the first time that magnificent sight of Machu Picchu’s green terraces dropping off into space; overcome my fear of heights and climb to the highest point; run my hands along the smooth, seamless Incan stones; find a quiet spot on the lush grass above the remains of their dwellings and revel in the fact that the Conquistadors somehow missed this magical retreat of Pachacutec.

Retuning to Cusco that afternoon, I would wander up and down the narrow, cobblestone streets of San Blas, looking for that perfect souvenir; try fried sweet potato donuts in the San Pedro market; have a chat with the ladies who come in to town with their big round loaves of bread, dressed in colorful embroidered clothes and wide brimmed hats; spend time with the magnificent art in the cathedral of Cuzco, which took a century to build; try to imagine a city covered in gold; enjoy a tart pisco sour by the fireplace of the Monasterio Hotel, feeling the ghosts of the Spanish monks who walked this place in silence; try alpaca for my dinner entrée along with several types of potato and a fresh tomato salad, accompanied by a glass of Peruvian red wine; fall asleep on an open air terrace, under the stars of the Southern hemisphere and dream of the ancients.

Top Image: Sheelagh’s mother on Lake Titicaca, 1940
Asagao no tane (Vine with Morningglory Seed Pods), 19th century, Shibata Zeshin (Japanese, 1807 – 1891), lacquer and color on paper, 6 13/16 x 19 3/8 in., Eugene Fuller Memorial Collection, 61.80.1. On view in Nature and Pattern in Japanese Design, Asian art galleries (new!), third floor, SAM Downtown, opening Saturday, 21 December.

SAMart: The DNA of Japanese Design

Plants and animals of exceeding beauty and technical intricacy appear throughout Japanese design. The natural world is deeply rooted in the DNA of Japanese design, and is transmitted down through generations. Over the past few centuries, artists have begun reimagining traditional subjects in modern forms.

Nature and Pattern in Japanese Design, a new installation of Japanese art, celebrates the motifs of the natural world in folding screens, fan paintings, hanging scrolls, ceramics and lacquerware from SAM’s collection. On view at the Seattle Art Museum starting December 21.

Asagao no tane (Vine with Morningglory Seed Pods), 19th century, Shibata Zeshin (Japanese, 1807 – 1891), lacquer and color on paper, 6 13/16 x 19 3/8 in., Eugene Fuller Memorial Collection, 61.80.1. On view in Nature and Pattern in Japanese Design, Asian art galleries (new!), third floor, SAM Downtown, opening Saturday, 21 December.
Portable shrine: Bodhisattva Kokuzo, 19th century, Japanese (Edo period, 1603-1868), wood with gold and black lacquer, polychrome, and metal fittings, Eugene Fuller Memorial Collection, 34.183. On view in Going for Gold, third floor, SAM downtown, through Sunday, 8 December.

SAMart: Going for Gold is shimmering away

Gold has been a shimmering presence in art across cultures and time. When the first metals were unearthed by humans around 5000 b.c., gold was valued for its rarity and lustrous color. Today, gold is prized as both investment and adornment, with fifty percent of the world’s consumption of this rare substance being made into jewelry. The rarest of all metals, gold has unique properties. It is chemically inert so it remains stable and does not oxidize or degrade, even if buried in a tomb or sunken in a shipwreck. Gold is also dense—a cubic foot weighs half a ton—but is so malleable that it can be stretched into threads to be woven into textiles or hammered into thin sheets to be applied as gilding.

The dazzling art on view in Going for Gold offers a rare opportunity to appreciate gold in all its beguiling aspects. This exhibition closes on Sunday, 8 December.

Portable shrine: Bodhisattva Kokuzo, 19th century, Japanese (Edo period, 1603-1868), wood with gold and black lacquer, polychrome, and metal fittings, Eugene Fuller Memorial Collection, 34.183. On view in Going for Gold, third floor, SAM downtown, through Sunday, 8 December.
Reflections, 1977, Robert Davidson (Canadian, Haida, born 1946), ink on paper, 16 15/16 x 7 3/4 in., Seattle Art Museum, gift of Marshall and Helen Hatch, 2013.19.2, © Robert Davidson. On view starting Saturday, 16 November, in Robert Davidson: Abstract Impulse, third floor, SAM downtown.

SAMart: A new exhibition, a new type of innovation

Canadian Haida artist Robert Davidson is on a lifelong quest for innovation, which he sees as a continuation of the spirit of originality present in the work of generations of Haida artists.

In 1977, the efforts of Davidson and other artists in elevating the status and quality of silkscreen prints as an artistic, rather than touristic, medium resulted in the formation of the Northwest Coast Indian Artists Guild. Experimenting with larger scale and bold graphics, Davidson was inspired to new originality. In Reflections, the black expanse serves to heighten the precision of line, texture and color.

Reflections is included in the new exhibition Robert Davidson: Abstract Impulse, opening this Saturday, 16 November.

Reflections, 1977, Robert Davidson (Canadian, Haida, born 1946), ink on paper, 16 15/16 x 7 3/4 in., Seattle Art Museum, gift of Marshall and Helen Hatch, 2013.19.2, © Robert Davidson. On view starting Saturday, 16 November, in Robert Davidson: Abstract Impulse, third floor, SAM downtown.
Nandipha Mntambo, Photo: Tim Aguero

SAM TALKS: NANDIPHA MNTAMBO

Join the Seattle Art Museum Friday, November 8 in the Plestcheeff Auditorium at 6:30 pm as we welcome Swaziland native artist Nandipha Mntambo for an engaging and enlightening discussion about the art of bullfighting and one’s relationship with cows. Her hide sculptures, performance videos and startling photography put ancient mythology and contemporary reality in a new framework.  Don’t miss this opportunity to hear from the 2011 Standard Bank Young Artist Award winner.

Mntambo’s talents include photography, videography, taxidermy and sculpture. Taxidermy and her interest in chemical processing are the backbone for her unique sculptures where she fuses the dichotomy between humans and animals by rendering the female form with the treated hides of cattle.

The artist combines fluidity, nature and femininity to create truly mesmerizing work. One can’t help but wonder how Mntambo creates a fixed sculpture with a tremendous amount of detail from a once pliable cow hide. Take the time to discover more about her inspiration and interests that led to success and international recognition!

Check out the SAM Calendar for more information.

By Hilary St. Clair, Communications Intern

Nandipha Mntambo, Photo: Tim Aguero
Canoe prow figure (Nguzu Nguzu), 19th century, Solomon Islands, Melanesian, wood, nautilus shell, 10 5/8 x 7 7/8 x 5 in., Gift of Katherine White and the Boeing Company, 81.17.1443. On view in the Oceanic art gallery, third floor, SAM downtown, through Sunday, December 8.

SAMart: Last chance to see an heroic guardian

A heroic guardian, this figure was strategically placed precisely at the water line of a decorated canoe’s prow in the Solomon Islands. Dipping into the water as the large canoe navigated the seas, it kept watch for hidden reefs and enemies. Shell inlay swirls over the face in a pattern like those found on the painted faces of warriors. Beneath the chin of this figure is a head that is being clutched—although whether the warrior is protecting it or presenting it as a fallen enemy is unknown.

Oceanic art is on view at the Seattle Art Museum through Sunday, December 8.

Canoe prow figure (Nguzu Nguzu), 19th century, Solomon Islands, Melanesian, wood, nautilus shell, 10 5/8 x 7 7/8 x 5 in., Gift of Katherine White and the Boeing Company, 81.17.1443.
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Celebrate with SAM: Día de los Muertos

It’s the time of year for pumpkin spiced lattes, changing leaves, Seattleites relishing in the last few days of sunshine before the months of monotonous drizzle ensue, and strutting your stuff in your DIY/thrift shop/homemade (the only way to do it in my opinion) Halloween costume. Tonight, when your makeup starts running and your carefully crafted costume is dripping from the rain, remember that tomorrow you can warm up at SAM’s celebration of Día de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead).

Last night, while I was safety pinning my felt cut-out stars (which I’m pretty sure a kindergartener could have cut out better) to my high wasted blue shorts, I felt my enthusiasm building. But this enthusiasm did not pertain Halloween plans; instead all I could think about was Día de los Muertos! Yesterday, I made my way down to the Brotman Forum to check out the hand crafted tapete (sand painting) and was blown away. Not knowing quite what to expect, I was floored with the size, vivid colors, and detail in this work. I thought to myself, “this is just a fraction of what is to come on Friday night!”

If you have not been to a SAM event, this celebration would be a great place to start as it highlights the beauty and tradition of Día de los Muertos with art, dancing, music, delicious food, and more. Oh, and did I mention this family friendly reception is FREE? If for some reason you cannot make it to the celebration, the tapete that vibrantly decorates the Brotman Forum will be on view until November 20th.

In case you are not familiar, Día de los Muertos is an ancient celebration of the eternal cycle of life.  It combines ancient and New World traditions, folk customs, and spiritual beliefs. Mexican and Latin American communities observe Día de los Muertos traditionally on Nov. 1st and 2nd. During this time, families assemble ofrendas (altars) laden with offerings of food and drink to nourish the spirits of their loved ones on their long journey.  Clay figurines, sugar skeletons, and embroidery with personal messages and the names of the deceased are placed on the ofrendas along with flowers and candles. The ofrendas are then presented to the community to celebrate deceased loved ones and the ideas they imparted in life.

So, tonight as you’re shivering in your Halloween costume and thinking to yourself,  “maybe dressing as Miley Cyrus from wrecking ball was a bad idea,” recharge your dwindling enthusiasm by remembering you can continue the festivities at SAM on Friday night! Don’t miss this free opportunity to celebrate with the community while taking in the magnificent culture of this inspiring tradition. For more information, visit our site. We hope to see you there!

By Hilary St. Clair, Communications Intern

Photo by Catherine Anstett
Signare #1, île de Gorée, 2011, Fabrice Monteiro (Beninese-Belgian, works in Senegal, born 1972), archival digital print, 47 ¼ x 31 ½ in., Gift of the African Art Council and African Art Acquisition Fund, 2013.14, © Fabrice Monteiro. Not currently on view.

SAMart: More than just beauty

“It is not a reportage but a reconstruction….”
-Fabrice Monteiro, on his Signares series

How much force does a camera hold? Africa is a continent known for photo “ops”–as seen in post cards, historic portraits and journalism for 200 years. Looking back, this opportunism has also created a backlog of stereotypes and misunderstandings. Contemporary African artists are now shifting the use of this medium. Belgian-Beninese artist Fabrice Monteiro works with Senegalese women to create his images evoking “Signares,” the legendary women who matched beauty with business acumen, and played a surprising role in the Atlantic slave trade. His photographs capture his models in the guise of these elegant and charming women of the past.

Join curator Pam McClusky for “Take Me: Photography by and about Africans,” the first installment of this year’s Members Lecture Series: Curator’s Choice.

October 23, 2013
7–8:30 pm
Plestcheeff Auditorium, first floor, SAM downtown

Signare #1, île de Gorée, 2011, Fabrice Monteiro (Beninese-Belgian, works in Senegal, born 1972), archival digital print, 47 ¼ x 31 ½ in., Gift of the African Art Council and African Art Acquisition Fund, 2013.14, © Fabrice Monteiro. Not currently on view.
Momme Portrait Series (Shadow) 2008, Photo: LaToya Ruby Frazier

LaToya Ruby Frazier: Exposing Reality through a Different Lens

Have you ever met someone so passionate, devoted, and driven that you were instantly inspired to do better? Act better? Be better? On Thursday, July 18 I had the pleasure of listening to a talk given by renowned photographer and media artist, and most recent recipient of SAM’s Gwendolyn Knight and Jacob Lawrence Fellowship, LaToya Ruby Frazier.

What is the Gwendolyn Knight and Jacob Lawrence Fellowship?

The Knight/Lawrence Fellowship is awarded bi-annually to distinguished and celebrated early career black artists that “have their fingers on the pulse of contemporary black artistic practice.” Beyond being recognized for her extraordinary work, Frazier will be awarded $10,000 to further her artistic endeavors, and her work will also be featured in a solo exhibition in SAM’s Gwendolyn and Jacob Lawrence Gallery in December 2013. This is a show that you will not want to miss.

Unless you have experienced her artwork firsthand (in which case this would all be totally obvious), you’re probably wondering what makes LaToya Frazier’s work so eligible and influential over innumerable other candidates…

Born and raised in the industrial town of Braddock, Pennsylvania, Frazier grew up a witness and victim of irresponsible corporate citizenship, including “de-industrialization and outsourcing, environmental negligence, and inner-city gentrification (http://www.latoyarubyfrazier.com/).”  At the age of 17, she began to use photography as a means of documenting and exposing such practices, as well as building an archive that accurately reflected the city of Braddock and the damage done to its citizens.

In her presentation, LaToya Frazier pointed out how Braddock has been falsely represented throughout its history. Take, for example, this Levi’s Ad created in 2010, which uses Braddock as its poster child while neglecting to show any deterioration, harm, and pain that is the reality experienced by Frazier and many others. It is because of instances like this that Frazier was moved to act as a social critic and react against what she viewed as poor corporate stewardship. She exposes the push/pull of the balance between image and reality and the constant struggle of innocent bystanders wrestling against the harmful impact of various business practices.

What makes her work even more unique and fascinating is that she includes herself in many of her own photos, which is a very unusual but powerful tool. By inserting herself in history and subjecting herself to the scrutiny of portraiture, she makes the overall effect of the images much more poignant, personal, and real.

Frazier’s repertoire successfully combines aspects of art, social activism, and political awareness to relay a message that is powerful, inspiring, and yet readily accessible to a broad and diverse audience.

Don’t forget to visit SAM’s online calendar for the dates of LaToya Ruby Frazier’s show (TBD) and other events throughout the year!

-Caroline Sargent, Communications Intern

Momme Portrait Series (Shadow) 2008, Photo: LaToya Ruby Frazier