COVID-19 Update: All SAM Locations Currently Closed »

Muse/News: King’s Day, New Plays, and Rihanna Slays

SAM News

All SAM locations are currently closed until further notice, but we’re still honoring a King. Our tradition of art & social justice tours in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day continue, but are taking place from SAM staff homes on our Instagram stories this week. Join us! And check out the Seattle Times calendar of MLK Day events.

Local News

The Seattle Times’ Crystal Paul reports on the bold new plan at Seattle Rep: three separate projects commissioning over 20 new plays over the next decade. One of the projects, 20×30, was originally inspired by Gardens of the Anthropocene, the 2016 augmented reality installation by Tamiko Thiel at the Olympic Sculpture Park.

Seattle Magazine’s Stephanie Ellis interviews two local cookbook aficionados about how food has provided comfort over the last year.

The Stranger’s Chase Hutchinson interviews director Sam Pollard about his new documentary, MLK/FBI, which explores through archival footage the FBI’s coordinated campaign to discredit the civil rights leader.

“It just goes to show you that, in America, anytime a group steps up and says, ‘we want change,’ the American status quo says, ‘Whoa, hold off there. What are you trying to do? You’re dangerous.’ It’s fascinating to me.”

Inter/National News

Culture Type recently posted about several exciting new curatorial appointments of Black women, including Natasha Becker at Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Kanitra Fletcher at the National Gallery of Art, and Naomi Beckwith at the Guggenheim.

Mike Diamond, AKA Beastie Boy Mike D, talks with the New York Times’ Alex Pappademas about “cleaning out the family attic,” AKA the auction of his parents’ incredible art collection. He mentions Brancusi’s Bird in Space—“I would compare it to a great jazz record”—which the Diamonds once owned and is now in SAM’s collection, a gift from Jon and Mary Shirley.

For ESSENCE’s January/February issue, the magazine commissioned Lorna Simpson to  “interpret modern-day beauty” in collaboration with Robyn Rihanna Fenty AKA Rihanna. The resulting photographic collages shine bright like a diamond.

“Lorna is a legend…Honestly, I just didn’t think I could get her,” Rihanna laughed. “But I like reaching for the stars and I like challenging myself.”

And Finally

Cicely Tyson, just as she is.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Muse/News: Painting in Motion, Jimi’s Anthem, and Museums’ Role

SAM News

All SAM locations are currently closed until further notice, but we’re still dancing about paintings.

As City of Tomorrow: The Art That Shaped a New Seattle will not reopen to the public, we asked Seattle-based dancers Michele Dooley, Nia-Amina Minor, and Amanda Morgan to reinterpret a work from the exhibition, Cross Section (1956) by Franz Kline. The Stranger’s Jasmyne Keimig shared the video and her reactions (including a perfect soundtrack suggestion).

“In particular, I love the frame above where the crook of Dooley’s elbow and bent hips capture the left side of the painting, while the verticality of Minor’s body captures the right. It’s a dynamic and fun reinterpretation of work that brings new life to Kline’s black and white original.”

Local News

Roxanne Ray for International Examiner interviews Northwest Film Forum executive director Vivian Hua on her two years there bringing together art and social justice.

The Seattle Times’ Michael Rietmulder and Brendan Kiley gather reflections from members of Seattle’s cultural community on last week’s violence at the Capitol Building.

And for her weekly editor’s letter, Crosscut’s Brangien Davis fires up Jimi Hendrix’s iconic Woodstock performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

“Hendrix sometimes called his anthem adaptations ‘This Is America.’ The Woodstock edition is almost straightforward — albeit on a Fender Stratocaster, an American innovation itself — until he reaches ‘the rocket’s red glare.’ That’s when it rips open to reveal the pain and suffering of a nation at war with others, and within.”

Inter/National News

Dance Magazine shares its “25 to Watch” for 2021; on the list are Seattle-based dance artists Amanda Morgan of Pacific Northwest Ballet and The Seattle Project and Nia-Amina Minor of Spectrum Dance Theatre. Don’t miss the embedded video of Minor’s dance response to SAM collection work Trapsprung by Lynette Yiadom-Boakye.

What is the future of museums? Artnet shares excerpts from András Szántó’s forthcoming book in which he interviews museum directors and curators from around the world.

Following last week’s violent events at the Capitol, the American Alliance of Museums, along with a number of affiliates, made a statement about the role museums play in the moment.

“At this dark junction in our nation’s history, museums must lean into their missions and step up to the challenge ahead of us by fighting against white supremacy through educating our communities, building empathy, combating disinformation, and uplifting the stories and voices that have endured in the margins.”

And Finally

The return of Viennetta.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Image: Cross Section, 1956, Franz Kline, American, 1910–1962, oil on canvas, 53 1/2 x 63 in. Seattle Art Museum, Gift of the Virginia and Bagley Wright Collection, in honor of the 75th Anniversary of the Seattle Art Museum, 2020.15.17. © Artist or Artist’s Estate, Photo: Paul Macapia.

Muse/News: Reflections, Lives They Lived, and Room Tone

SAM News

All SAM locations are currently closed until further notice, but we continue to reflect and plan for the future.

The Seattle Times shared remembrances of 11 cultural figures we lost in 2020. Chiyo Ishikawa, SAM’s former Deputy Director for Art and Curator of European Painting and Sculpture, wrote about Virginia “Jinny” Wright. Jinny and her enormous contributions to SAM and to the Puget Sound region are celebrated in SAM’s exhibition City of Tomorrow: Jinny Wright and the Art Shaped A New Seattle, which closes January 18.

Seattle Times columnist Naomi Ishisaka asked four leaders in the region to reflect on the past year and on what they’ll take into 2021; Priya Frank, SAM’s Director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, reflected on creativity, care, and an ubiquitous sweatshirt. And in case you missed it: Priya appeared on KUOW’s The Record back in November talking museums and accessibility.

Local News

2020 feel like a blur? Seattle Met has you covered with this timeline of the year, including the February reopening of the reimagined Asian Art Museum (we hardly knew ye!).

“A giant of Native Northwest Coast art”: Artist, curator, and teacher Bill Holm passed away at the age of 95 earlier in December. Barbara Brotherton, SAM’s Curator of Native American Art, spoke with the Seattle Times about how she “found her calling” in his classes.

Also in the Seattle Times: The largest-ever edition of their annual Pictures of the Year project. Take a moment to reflect on the visual stories that their team of photojournalists captured, against all odds.

“Everything we needed was suddenly in short supply. One photographer sewed masks for the entire staff. Others dredged masks out of their garages and closets. Yet another photographer found a supply of hand sanitizer made by a local distiller. Not wanting to worsen the shortage of PPE in this country, we eventually found a supply of more masks overseas. We’ve gone through a lot of them.”

Inter/National News

Artnet writers name 10 acclaimed exhibitions they wish they could have seen this year, including Artemisia at London’s National Gallery, Awol Erizku’s show at FLAG Art Foundation, and—what’s this?—Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle at the Met? Lucky you, the exhibition arrives at SAM next spring.

Artist John Outterbridge passed away December 23 at the age of 87. Celebrated for his assemblage work, he was also a former director of the Watts Towers Arts Center; read more about his life and practice in the Los Angeles Times obituary.

The New York Times Magazine shares its annual end-of-year project, “The Lives They Lived.” Don’t miss Jenna Wortham on grappling with the afterlife of Breonna Taylor.

“I’ve come to see the thousands of images of Taylor as a memory of our collective will — even though it was betrayed by the state. Anti-lynching efforts were ultimately successful in reshaping the historical and cultural memory of the brutality and immorality of those deaths. ‘We shouldn’t see them — or this — as a failure, but as a project on the road to redemption,’ [Leigh] Raiford told me. She reminded me that memory and memorialization are necessary for that work, as is the honest appraisal of the past to work toward justice in the present and the future.”

And Finally

Let’s get some room tone.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Muse/News: Amada Reflects, Black Santa, and the Deaf Experience

SAM News

All SAM locations are currently closed until further notice, but in the meantime, reflect on the state of the arts in Seattle with the Stranger’s new online series. It kicked off with an interview between Jasmyne Keimig and Amada Cruz, SAM’s Illsley Ball Nordstrom Director and CEO, in which she shared some of the challenges and endeavors going on at the museum.

“The focus is on maneuvering this big institution through the toughest financial challenge it has ever had. For many museums across the country, this is an existential crisis. 30% of the art museums across the country could close, right? SAM is not in that position, but we’re certainly not immune to the challenges.”

Local News

Crosscut’s Margo Vansynghel celebrates the “cultural innovators” in the city who creatively responded to the challenges of the pandemic.

Mentioned in the article: New Archives, the local arts journal that launched this year. Catch up with a recent review by Kym Littlefield of Algorithm: Archetype, Christopher Shaw’s show at the Northwest African American Museum (NAAM).

Also at NAAM: Black Santa returns! Seattle Times photographer Bettina Hansen was there to capture the annual tradition, which went virtual this year. She spoke with the museum’s executive director, LaNesha DeBardelaben.

“We have to hold on to our children and protect our joy,” DeBardelaben said. “We are not derailed by the challenges we have faced this year. This is just a glimmer of hope and light in what has been a very difficult year for our community and our nation.”

Inter/National News

Art & Object is just in time with a list of “7 Films About Art to Beat the Winter Blahs.”

Join critic and historian Hal Foster as he contemplates art and lockdown for Artforum’s December print edition.

Artnet’s Kate Brown speaks with Christine Sun Kim about Trauma, LOL, the artist’s exhibition of drawings at François Ghebaly in Los Angeles.

“Kim is fascinated with phrases that can have multiple definitions, that can be translated and mistranslated by different audiences. Her new works illustrate the complicated nature of trauma within Deaf experience—something she says is ‘layered’ due to a lifetime of living in a ‘hearing world.’”

And Finally

Meet Noor and Aziz.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Photo: Natali Wiseman

Muse/News: New Angles, South End Energies, and Pantone’s 2021

SAM News

All SAM locations are currently closed until further notice, but you can still take a walk outside. Here’s Colleen Stinchcombe for the Seattle Times recommending a visit to Western Washington’s many outdoor spaces with sculptures, including SAM’s Olympic Sculpture Park.

“If you’ve walked through before, challenge yourself to find new angles on the statues: underneath, behind, up close. How does the park look on a rainy day, or if we manage to get a dusting of snow this year?”

The renovation and expansion of SAM’s Asian Art Museum by LMN Architects makes architecture site Dezeen’s list of top 10 US architecture projects of 2020. We are working towards reopening (again!) the reimagined museum in early spring 2021.

Local News

The Stranger’s Jasmyne Keimig takes a virtual tour of once-delayed-now-open exhibition Artemisia at the National Gallery in London; she says it’s worth the price of admission, although “when her Judith and Holofernes painting came through Seattle last year at the Seattle Art Museum, sidling up to the gruesome work felt holy.”

Crosscut’s Margo Vansynghel on Yakima-based artist and teacher Christie Tirado, whose recent series at Davidson Galleries, America’s Essential Workers, features “linoleum block relief prints [that] honor the people who harvest the produce many of us buy without much thought as to its origins.”

Beverly Aarons for the South Seattle Emerald on the effort to establish a state-certified “creative district” for Seattle’s South End, led by Afua Kouyate, executive director of ADEFUA Cultural Education Workshop.

“It’s about breathing energies into South Seattle,” Kouyate said. “I had so much dialogue with people [who were] like, ‘Oh, well we already have a business district in South Seattle. Oh, we already have our merchants association. We already—’ Yeah, but everybody is comfortably segregated. Nobody’s really doing things together.”

Inter/National News

Artnet has the sad headline: “A Single US Republican Senator Has Blocked the Approval of New Museums Dedicated to Women’s History and the American Latino.”

Alexandra M. Thomas of Hyperallergic has a play-by-play of a recent online teach-in organized by La Tanya S. Autry that addresses “the limits and possibilities of the arts to address anti-Blackness.” Catch up and find out what’s next for Autry’s Black Liberation Center.

The New York Times’ style writer Vanessa Friedman on Pantone’s announcement of the color of the year. Spoiler alert: for the second time, two colors have been named.

“News of the coronavirus vaccine has reinforced Pantone’s selection. Even in the gray sameness of our current days, the future does look a whole lot brighter. Illuminated, even.”

And Finally

ICYMI: Reflect on what the water holds.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Photo: Benjamin Benschneider

Muse/News: Aboard the Ark, a Reporter’s Next Move, and a Desert Mystery

SAM News

All SAM locations are currently closed until further notice. But you can still prepare to board the Ark once SAM reopens; UW Daily’s Katie Newman explores the video installation by Lynne Siefert that we can’t wait to push “play” on once again. 

“On a cruise ship, an eerie voice announces the postapocalyptic realities of our capitalist society. In a snowfield, a man walks alone, children play on a beach, and life goes on — all under the shadows of gargantuan, smoke-belching coal power plants. Welcome to Lynne Siefert’s world of film.”

SAM Shop remains open, with safety protocols in place, and its awesomely diverse offerings are popping up in holiday gift guides. Seattle Met says yes to the SAM-exclusive “NO” tote by Tariqa Waters, 425 Magazine recommends a museum membership, and ARTFIXdaily toasts the glass wine bulbs by Oliver Doriss. Or: Shop SAM Shop online. Easy!

2020 may not have been the best, but SAM still is. Thank you to the readers of Seattle Magazine, for naming Seattle Art Museum the best museum!

Local News

Isamu Noguchi’s Floor Frame (1962) was recently installed on the east terrace of the White House’s Rose Garden—the first work by an Asian-American artist to enter its collection. The Stranger’s Jasmyne Keimig walks us through this unusual art moment

Randy Engstrom, the director of Seattle’s Office of Arts & Culture, will be stepping down after eight years. Here’s the office’s full announcement

And another bittersweet change: Marcie Sillman retires from KUOW after 35 years reporting on the arts. But you won’t be missing her thoughtful stories for long; she’s planning to launch an arts podcast with Vivian Phillips.

“I think mostly what I want to say is that this isn’t a frill,” Sillman said of the arts. “It’s something that is just central to our lives. During this pandemic, where have we all turned for comfort? I’m sure people are really happy that sports teams are playing again, but you’re still listening to your favorite song or watching great movies, streaming online or reading good books or just contemplating beautiful nature in Instagram posts. So, it’s something that we need for our souls.”

Inter/National News

Pumla Dineo Gqola for the New York Times on the Zanele Muholi career retrospective that has finally opened at the Tate Modern, after some delay due to COVID closures. The exhibition includes works from several of Muholi’s series, including Somnyama Ngonyama, which came to SAM in 2019.

“More than a little tumultuous”: The editors of ARTnews reflect on 2020.

A 12-foot-tall polished steel monolith appeared in the Utah desert. Then it disappeared. Then it was pondered. Then there were copycats? We can’t keep up. What does it all mean?

“We are currently in an environment of epidemic over-explanation, a surplus of commercially incentivized information production. That is literally sending people into the desert looking, not for answers, but for questions.”

And Finally

Muse/News Recommends: Poem-a-day in your inbox. 

Installation view of Lynne Siefert: Ark at Seattle Art Museum, 2020, photo: Natali Wiseman.

Muse/News: SAM Reviews, Neddy Finalists, and a Latinx artists Showcase

SAM News

All SAM locations are currently closed until further notice. That means you can’t see City of Tomorrow: Jinny Wright and the Art That Shaped A New Seattle right now, but you can read The Daily of UW’s article by Andy Chia about the exhibition’s celebration of collector Jinny Wright.

“‘Jinny was always a self-effacing person, but she had a love for art and humanity. She never wanted to say we’re done with art,’ [Catharina] Manchanda said. ‘She would want us to press forward into the future with the curiosity and hope that she had.’”

And while the opening of Barbara Earl Thomas: The Geography of Innocence may be delayed, you can check out the artist’s interviews with Marcie Sillman of KUOW and Aaron Allen of the Seattle Medium.

“‘My thoughts are [for everyone to] be a good citizen,’ says Thomas. ‘If SAM is closed down that means all of the exhibits cannot be seen. This is not personal to me and so we all have to deal, we all have to do our part. I’m lucky because my show will be up at least for a year, so if all things go well people will be able to see my show within four to six weeks.’”

Local News

Mark Van Streefkerk of South Seattle Emerald previewed the virtual edition of Legendary Children, which was presented on Saturday. Celebrating its fifth anniversary, the event highlights the talents of queer and trans Black and POC creatives and is co-presented by SAM and the Seattle Public Library.

“A welcome reprieve from isolation, a hub of safe extroversion”: The Daily’s Austen Van Der Veen on the wonders of Volunteer Park. SAM’s reimagined Asian Art Museum, which reopened in February of this year only to close again in March, is mentioned; the museum looks forward to yet another reopening in the future.

Cornish College of the Arts has announced the eight finalists for the annual Neddy Artist Awards, The Stranger’s Jasmyne Keimig reports. Priya Frank, SAM’s Director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, served as one of the jurors for the awards, which will grant $30,000 each to the two winners.

“‘I feel so excited and proud for the choices we made when selecting the eight finalists,’ said Frank in a statement. ‘All exceeded the criteria, and I was touched by the ways they express their talents in such profound and inspiring ways that allow us to see the beauty and humanity in art as a reflection of life.’”

Inter/National News

This weekend, LACMA unveiled a new outdoor sculptural installation by Alex Prager. Titled Farewell, Work Holiday Parties, the piece features “15 eerily realistic, life-size sculpted figures enjoying (enjoying?) an insurance company holiday party in full swing.”

Four activists were acquitted after taking a ceremonial spear from Marseille’s Museum of African, Oceanic, and Amerindian Arts; they successfully defended the action as free speech.

Artnet’s Brian Boucher explores the Museum of Fine Arts Houston’s soon-to-debut $385 million expansion. It will feature their dramatically expanded holdings of modern and contemporary art, particularly of works by Latin American and Latinx artists.

“Fully one-quarter of the art on show in the new galleries is by Latin American and Latinx artists. Among the prizes are works by Lygia Clark, Gego (aka Gertrud Goldschmidt), Hélio Oiticica, Mira Schendel, and Joaquín Torres-García.”

And Finally

The saga of the Pig Couch.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Installation view of Barbara Earl Thomas: The Geography of Innocence at Seattle Art Museum, 2020, © Seattle Art Museum, photo: Spike Mafford.

Muse/News: Tomorrow Is Here, Candy-Colored Art, and Aftershocks

SAM News

The current episode of Seattle Channel’s Art Zone was hosted from the Seattle Art Museum; Nancy Guppy takes viewers on a tour of City of Tomorrow and cellist Lori Goldston fills the empty galleries with music. Here’s the full episode.

The Seattle Times’ Moira Macdonald previews “Reflections,” a virtual dance festival presented by Seattle Public Library, Friends of Waterfront Seattle, Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, and Seattle Art Museum. The free festival features Indigenous and Black artists, all of whom consider the question: “If you could sum up 2020 with a dance, what would it be?”

Local News

After Kamala Harris became Vice President-Elect, Seattle Times columnist Naomi Ishisaka speaks with Black women and women of color about the historic win, including Priya Frank, SAM’s Director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, who said, “Today I get to see my mom, my aunts and myself reflected in our vice president of the United States.”

Seattle Magazine shares an excerpt from Ron Chew’s new memoir, My Unforgotten Seattle, ‘a deeply personal memoir about the tight-knit Asian American community in the region.” Chew is the former editor of the International Examiner and a former director of the Wing Luke Museum.

Crosscut’s Margo Vansynghel on artist and Martyr Sauce-owner Tariqa Waters, who curated an “immersive, candy-colored show” now on view at Bellevue Arts Museum. The article also mentions Waters’s recent Kayla Skinner Special Recognition Award, part of SAM’s annual Betty Bowen Awards.

“I want the space to look like a children’s museum,” Waters says. “I want it to be all immersive where it’s a bit disorienting. It’s almost like we’re having a whole conversation with each other through our work, and people are walking into this conversation.”

Inter/National News

“Meret Oppenheim’s fur-lined porcelain teacup, Object (1936), made her an international art star,” begins Artnet’s Katie White, in this exploration of the now-celebrated surrealist work.

Hyperallergic’s Valentina Di Liscia provides a rundown of the many ballot measures voters took up that will impact arts and culture.

Artforum invites artists—including Glenn Ligon, Christine Sun Kim, Paul Chan, and more—to share a text, video, or image for a series of posts responding to the election called Aftershock.

“What stands between Democracy and mass deception is the genuine experience of art, because aesthetics heightens epistemic fitness if and when art is practiced and experienced with more than a return-on-investment or tastemaking in mind.”

And Finally

What is, “grief”?

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Installation view of City of Tomorrow: Jinny Wright and the Art That Shaped a New Seattle at Seattle Art Museum, 2020, photo: Natali Wiseman.

Muse/News: Seattle-Centric SAM, Spooky Art, and “I voted” Stickers

SAM News

“Seattle, Go See Some Art This November.” Well said, Seattle Met! In this round-up of shows to see this fall, Stefan Milne recommends SAM’s two “Seattle-centric” shows. City of Tomorrow celebrates the legacy of collector Jinny Wright and is now on view, and The Geography of Innocence, Barbara Earl Thomas’s solo exhibition, opens in November. 

Speaking of Barbara Earl Thomas: the artist was featured in the New York Times’ special arts section about her new work created for the SAM show; the article also discusses a major show for Bisa Butler, who along with Thomas is represented by Claire Oliver Gallery in New York. 

Local News

The Seattle Times’ Megan Burbank reviews Wa Na Wari’s new exhibition, Story Porch, which features installations by Virginia-based artist and historical strategist Free Egunfemi Bangura.

For her weekly editor’s letter, Crosscut’s Brangien Davis leans into Halloween, highlighting some spooky art to experience.

“Start peeking into your elderly neighbors’ living rooms—who knows what you might find.” The Stranger’s Jasmyne Keimig reflects on the recent exciting discovery of a missing Jacob Lawrence panel. Part of the artist’s Struggle series, the panel will be on view next spring at SAM

“I particularly love the mess of hands and feet on both sides of the work; the rebel farmers’ messy hair and their big, blocky hands; the bright red blood against the scene’s muted tones. Like with a lot of Lawrence’s work, you benefit from a long, good look.”

Inter/National News

Hyperallergic on why New York Magazine commissioned 48 artists to design “I voted” stickers, including Amy Sherald, David Hammons, Barbara Kruger, Hank Willis Thomas, and more.

The New York Times has recommendations for staycations in six American cities; a walk in SAM’s Olympic Sculpture Park is included in the tips for Seattle.

Artnet’s Sarah Cascone reports on the ongoing controversy around the Baltimore Museum of Arts’ planned sale of artworks from its collection; last week, the museum pulled the works from auction just hours prior to the sale and after the Association of Art Museum Directors offered clarification on their guidelines.

“‘I recognize that many of our institutions have long-term needs—or ambitious goals—that could be supported, in part, by taking advantage of these resolutions to sell art,’ [AAMD board of trustees president Brent Benjamin] wrote. ‘But however serious those long-term needs or meritorious those goals, the current position of AAMD is that the funds for those must not come from the sale of deaccessioned art.’”

And Finally

The most sacred right

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Image: Installation view of City of Tomorrow: Jinny Wright and the Art That Shaped a New Seattle at the Seattle Art Museum. Photo: Natali Wiseman.