All posts in “Art Around Us”

Muse/News: Hot arts fall, recycled art, and the long climb of Betye

SAM News

Every week, Jasmyne Keimig of the Stranger looks closely at one artwork that’s “Currently Hanging.” Last week, she focused on Large Interior, W11 (after Watteau) by Lucian Freud, now on view at SAM as part of an iterative single-painting show honoring Paul Allen, A Cultural Legacy.

“There’s a stiltedness to the scene, a sense of uneasiness between the figures, that betrays a certain uncomfortable and strange family dynamic.” 

Out goes hot girl summer, in comes hot arts fall. Seattle Magazine’s fall arts preview recommends Flesh and Blood: Italian Masterpieces from the Capodimonte Museum, the “throbbingly dramatic” major exhibition opening October 17.

Local News

Gallery watch! Jasmyne Keimig shares the good news on Slog: the J. Rinehart Gallery officially has “a physical space, baby.”

Real Change’s Lisa Edge talks with Osa Elaiho, whose work is included in a group show at Columbia City Gallery. Music and family are what inspire the artist’s mixed-media paintings.

What a dump: Crosscut’s Brangien Davis visits the Recology CleanScapes recycling facility and meets its two current artists-in-residence.

“Just as WALL-E surfs the garbage heaps for treasures to take home — a bobblehead dog toy, a golden trophy, a hinged ring box — artists in residence roam the space with an eye out for intriguing items — a toy gun, a set of new knives, the detritus from an entire bachelorette party.”

Inter/National News

Artnet’s Taylor Defoe profiles Ivory Coast-based artist Laetitia Ky, who “makes unbelievably inventive sculptures with her hair.”

Following the devastation of Hurricane Dorian on the Bahamas, the Pérez Art Museum Miami and partners are collecting urgently needed supplies.

The New York Times’ Holland Cotter on the long, viable career—and sudden spotlight, with two major museum solo shows this fall—of Betye Saar.

“Because it’s about time!” she says. “I’ve had to wait till I’m practically 100.”

And Finally

Here’s a way to donate to those affected by Hurricane Dorian.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Image: Large Interior, W11 (after Watteau), 1981–1983, Lucian Freud, British, 1922–2011, oil on canvas, 73 x 78 in., Paul G. Allen Family Collection, © The Lucian Freud Archive/Bridgeman Images.
Share

Muse/News: SAM award news, the Space Needle is a she, and Dr. Seuss at the museum

SAM News

Last week, SAM announced the finalists for this year’s Betty Bowen Award: Andrea Joyce Heimer, Anthony Hudson, Adair Rutledge, Lynne Siefert, and Anthony White.

The solo exhibition of the 2018 winner, Natalie Ball, was reviewed in Art & Object.

“Subverting tropes about Native American identity and art by repurposing familiar materials, Ball points out the absurdity of our assumptions.”

Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness is on regal display on the cover of this week’s Real Change; inside, don’t miss Lisa Edge’s review of the installation.

“Let’s have positive images of ourselves that are done with love,” said Muholi. “Let us consume this self-love because our forefathers, our foremothers that came before us never had the opportunity to speak for themselves.”

Local News

“The Space Needle is a she.” Crosscut’s Brangien Davis on a documentary exploring the hidden history of Seattle’s iconic landmark: its shape may have been inspired by a Black dancer named Syvilla Fort.

The City’s Art Beat Blog has a recap of the recent Creative Advantage Arts Partner Summer Institute, held at SAM; this year’s theme was “exploring the local.”

The Stranger’s Jasmyne Keimig goes home to Wa Na Wari, reviewing the center’s newest show featuring work by several artists, including Nastassja Swift’s video of masked dancers.

“Swift’s video, no more than 10 minutes long, grapples with the concept of home, being home, having a home, feeling at home in one’s body and community. In that way, it fits well at Wa Na Wari. Where do we belong?

Inter/National News

Artforum reports that Werner Kramarsky passed away this week at the age of 93; a formidable collector, he donated 25 drawings to SAM over the years.

Artnet’s Ben Davis takes a look at Dia:Beacon’s new permanent gallery dedicated to Sam Gilliam and his signature “drape” paintings.

The New York Times’ Guy Trebay attends the 16th annual edition of the influential and popular International Folk Art Market, which explodes the art-world schism between fine art and craft.

“It comes out of nowhere, out of nothing,” he added. “There’s not a tradition for it. It’s just some guy saying, ‘I want to make this thing.”

And Finally

Double Dr. Seuss news: Oh, the museums you’ll go!

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Image: Installation view of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Snake” at Seattle Art Museum, 2019, photo: Natali Wiseman.

Share

Muse/News: Layerless freedom, #JayDoodles, and Art Boys

SAM News

In honor of Pacific Northwest Black Pride, Crystal Paul, Erika Schultz, and Corinne Chin of The Seattle Times presents a multimedia story exploring identity and freedom with 10 Black, queer Seattleites.

In a related story, they recreated an intimate conversation that Black, queer artists recently had with Zanele Muholi, talking through their reactions to the SAM show, Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness.

Here’s Gregory Scruggs for the Stranger, interviewing Brazilian artist Regina Silveira about her Olympic Sculpture Park site-specific installation Octopus Wrap, the goal of art, and the relative concrete jungles of Seattle and São Paulo.

Seattle Met’s September issue has hit newsstands. Their fall arts preview leads with a story on the new directors at SAM, the Symphony, and the Opera—and their visions for the future. SAM’s new director Amada Cruz starts in mid-September!

“The tradition of art museums is that they’re closed off repositories of precious works of art,” [Cruz] says. “How do we open ourselves up so that museums can become part of everybody’s daily life?”

Local News

The Seattle Times’ Alan Berner captured some terrific shots (as usual) of an installation happening at the Burke Museum: a huge mural by artist RYAN! Feddersen.

Watch this Crosscut video featuring cool footage of the viaduct “unmaking” and a conversation with architect David Miller about the future of the waterfront.

#JayDoodles: It’s a thing. SAM’s own Chiyo Ishikawa is among the art-world heavies offering their takes on Governor Jay Inslee’s lighthearted artistic practice in this Seattle Times story.

“The figure in the boat could represent his campaign: Rowing against the stream!”

Inter/National News

The MCA Denver has named Nora Burnett Abrams its new director, reports the New York Times. She’s been a curator at the museum for the last 10 years.

Alex Needham, an arts editor at the Guardian, tweeted this week that curators shouldn’t be named in show reviews. Artnet’s Naomi Rea reports on the ensuing Twitter storm.

Artnet’s Caroline Goldstein reports on the ABC casting notice that may bring so-called Art Boys to network television.

“The dashing Art Boy, on the other hand, is more of a rosé and tapas type. Who doesn’t want to watch a show about him?”

And Finally

Happy birthday, Dorothy Parker.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Image: Installation view “Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness,” Seattle Art Museum, 2019.



Share

Radical Responses with Allison Kudla

Beckoning visitors at the end of a long hallway inside Victorian Radicals: From the Pre-Raphaelites to the Arts and Crafts Movement is an interactive art activity inviting visitors to experiment with ideas connected to the exhibition. Created by artist Allison Kudla, visitors build designs using small pieces of discarded plastic pulled from ocean beaches through community clean up events, organized by the non-profit group Ocean Blue Project. As you build your design a camera captures the work, and the image, translated through a computer program, is projected into a kaleidoscopic pattern on the wall, mimicking the William Morris wallpaper surrounding it. You have until September 8 to see the exhibition, featuring a range of works by Morris and his peers, and to interact with Kudla’s art activity in the galleries.

Awarded a PhD in 2011 from the University of Washington’s Center for Digital Arts and Experimental Media (DXARTS), Kudla originally titled the work Radical Anthropocene, to focus on human activity as the dominant influence on climate and the environment. Prior to her PhD work, Kudla earned a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, 2002, with an emphasis on art and technology studies. We sat down with the artist to discuss this engaging art interactive, hear from her below!

SAM: Tell us about your process creating this project.

Allison Kudla: The Radical Anthropocene project was based on a prior work I created for Summer at SAM in 2015. That work, titled Digital Kaleidoscopes of Nature, was an interactive workshop wherein people visiting the Olympic Sculpture Park could select from plant cuttings from the park to create digital kaleidoscopes. SAM approached me to adapt the project to become a wallpaper, rather than a circular kaleidoscope, that would be placed in response to William Morris’ wallpaper.

When considering the material or objects to be used to create the wallpaper, I thought about Morris, his ethics, values, and poetry. I knew I didn’t want to buy mass-produced items, but I did want to talk about industry and where we have come since Morris’ era. His care for our relationship to nature and warning of the future that might occur due to industrialization, were the cohering agents when I determined what the objects to use in creating the digital wallpaper. We are in the middle of a waste crisis on multiple levels. Perhaps the Naturalists of the Anthropocene are those that are working to clean up, invent sustainable materials, and regenerate human culture on the planet.

The Ocean Blue Project, based in Oregon, regularly organizes community beach cleanups to extract the detritus of industrialization from the ocean. The oft-called “marine debris” that was sent to me for selection and placement included plastic forms, shapes, textures and colors—some recognizable objects, others only fragments, and all created through a process of industrialization.

I teamed up with my colleague, Dr. David Gibbs, a senior research scientist at ISB, who created the project’s code in Python. We worked collaboratively through GitHub with SAM’s Cooper Whitlow to complete the project

Do you collaborate with people in other disciplines on a regular basis?

Yes, absolutely. I think working with people in other disciplines is mutually beneficial. Cross- or interdisciplinary pursuits tend to push us out of our comfort zone. If I can work as a colleague with a scientist, and a scientist can work as a colleague with an artist, we are both getting an opportunity to be in the imposter zone. Though this word, imposter, may have negative connotations, the truth is that when we feel this way we are often learning new things, growing, beginning to think from a different perspective, and potentially forming new views of our work. This is inherently positive. Also, it is fun to work with other people, so there are social aspects to that as well.

What brought you to pursue a PhD in the intersection of Art and Science?

I studied fine art at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. This trailblazing school didn’t require their students to pick one discipline, but rather let the course catalog be exactly that; a catalog. Each semester I would pick my classes thinking about what I was genuinely interested in learning. I didn’t know what kind of artist I wanted to be when I started there, but by the end, after moving through painting and fiber arts into video and finally art and technology, I realized that it was the creation of new art forms and new knowledge where I found the most satisfaction. When I joined the PhD program at UW, DXARTS (Digital Arts and Experimental Media), it was in its first year. Not only was it a pioneering new program, it was founded on exploring cutting-edge, research-based art. I decided to take the X in DXARTS and run with it. Through that, I established a practice intersecting experimental biology, specifically plant biology, with computer-aided design and fabrication processes.

Where else can we see your work?

Due to the living nature of many of my works, they often are only presented when specific facilities and resources are secured, and typically solely for the purpose of creating a cultural experience for an audience. In short, my work, because it is living, is very hard to collect and often tricky or expensive to produce. When it is produced, it has a finite duration and potentially unknown outcomes, thus making it a “risky” choice for many typical arts establishments. Despite those challenges, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, France recently acquired one of my most complex works, “The Capacity for (Urban Eden, Human Error).” It was an amazing experience to transfer the knowledge of the piece to the museum and have valuable conversations with the technology team and the collections managers about not only the maintenance of the living work during the two-month lifespan of when it is on display, but also on the conservation of the whole system for decades to come.

What do you plan to do with the images created from the in-gallery experience at SAM?

It is another research project for me! I am fascinated by what people choose to “save” or determine as beautiful in the context of the activity. I am also fascinated by patterns and am interested in creating interactive projects where the audience is engaged in creating the work and feeding back into the system itself. In the future, I hope to use the images as a negative control for a classification system I plan to develop around the history of pattern-making using data science and libraries of ornamental patterns. I have been attempting to garner resources to move this project forward, but as you can imagine, longer-term funding in fringe areas like this can be hard to find.

For now, I created this compilation of several of the hundreds of patterns that were saved.

Images: Courtesy of Allison Kudla
Share

Muse/News: A radical age, imagined futures, and refugee stories

SAM News

The Stranger’s Philosopher-In-Residence Charles Mudede reviews Victorian Radicals: From the Pre-Raphaelites to the Arts & Crafts Movement, describing the historical context for what makes it radical.

“The humans of our times are so used to kitsch. But for the Victorians, it was completely new. It was radical. This is the mind-set the exhibit wants us to enter: one that had no past, only the future. The Victorian age is the cradle of our post-post-postmodern times.”

“Why see one sculpture when you can see nine acres of them?” Business Insider on popular US tourist traps and where to go instead—like SAM’s Olympic Sculpture Park.

Local News

Crosscut’s Misha Berson on “The Bar Plays,” two plays set in bars presented in a real-life “venerable gathering place,” Washington Hall.

The Stranger’s Jasmyne Keimig visits Juventino Aranda’s show at Greg Kucera, In Dreams I Once Believed There Was a Future, which features enlarged and edited pages from Little Golden Books.

Real Change’s Lisa Edge on the “Black celestial sovereignty” in the work of Robert Pruitt; his solo show is now on view at Koplin Del Rio gallery.

“The thing that we’re living under doesn’t seem to be working for us, so maybe we need to imagine a new thing,” said Pruitt. “Myth, science fiction, all of that is a way to kind of for me to think about another kind of way of living.”

Inter/National News

Just asking: should we maybe have left these where they were? Artnet reports on the “array of amulets, gems, and lucky charms” found at Pompeii that researchers believe belonged to a female sorcerer.

Now on view at DC’s National Gallery of Art: The Life of Animals in Japanese Art, featuring “300 works drawn from 66 Japanese institutions and 30 American collections” that are all about animals (!).

“Poignant, solemn and utterly shaming”: The New York Times’ Jason Farago reviews The Warmth of Other Suns, a thematic exhibition on the global refugee crisis at the Philips Collection.

“Together they outline a more fraught view of the art of the last century, in which the refugee is not an outsider looking in, but a central actor in the writing of a global culture. ‘Refugees,’ Arendt wrote in 1943, ‘represent the vanguard of their peoples — if they keep their identity.’”

And Finally

One solution for the sad lunch break.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Image: Installation view Victorian Radicals: From the Pre-Raphaelites to the Arts & Crafts Movement, Seattle Art Museum, 2019.
Share

SAM Gallery Artist Creates a Healing Environment

For her recent commission for the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA), SAM Gallery artist Niki Keenan created 11 paintings focused on healing environments. SCCA brings together the leading research teams and cancer specialists of Fred Hutch, Seattle Children’s, and UW Medicine. The treatment rooms in their newly expanded SCCA outpatient clinic in South Lake Union feature Keenan’s work.

Niki Keenan’s paintings are inspired by the natural world, specifically sunrises and sunsets in Seattle. She uses dynamic, bold colors to paint water scenes with bridges and reflections from the vantage point of a boat. Keenan writes, “Each of the paintings in this series depicts a Pacific Northwest bridge, most of them are in Washington State, one is in British Columbia, Canada. I use these bridges as a way to frame the sky, as a way to show off the sun’s rays dancing around the architecture and as an anchor to a specific place. These brilliant sunsets and sunrises are happening all around us and by showing them happening in places we recognize, it makes the experience a shared one. Also, I believe bridges are symbolic of journeys in that they help us get where we want to go.”

In the new treatment rooms at SCCA, Keenan hopes her paintings will help transport viewers and give them something new to focus on, during their treatments. She believes “being transported during times of stress and uncertainty, is such a gift and so vital for healing. Paintings can literally turn a regular wall into a portal and the place you get to go in my paintings is full of hope, happiness, light.”

Keenan began showing her work at the SAM Gallery in 2018 and was quickly discovered by local collectors. SAM Gallery supports local artists and their careers by increasing their exposure and finding audiences for their work. 

– Pamela Jaynes, SAM Gallery Coordinator

Photo: Dave Keenan. Images: Niki Keenan.

Share

Muse/News: Muholi recommended, radical love, and a new look at Basquiat

SAM News

Aesthetica makes five recommendations from around the world to see, including Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness at SAM.

Seattle Magazine is out with their list of the “21 Best Things To Do in Seattle in August 2019.” Remix at the Olympic Sculpture Park makes the cut.

Local News

The Seattle jazz scene has two sad losses to report: the closure of legendary club Tula’s at the end of September, and the retirement of Clarence Acox, Garfield High School’s jazz band director.

In addition to their booth-to-booth coverage of this past weekend’s Seattle Art Fair, Crosscut has pieces by Emily Pothast and Margo Vansynghel examining the various outcomes of the Fair on the local art scene.

The Big Art Weekend wouldn’t be complete without the incredible satellite events; here’s Gayle Clemans for the Seattle Times on the free festival:festival, which also took place over the weekend (SAM’s David Rue is one of the curators!).

“The festival will highlight ‘artist-driven portraits of identity,’ which will take many forms including visual art and performance, according to co-curator and dance artist David Rue. ‘We’re using this approach so that artists can provide a counterpoint to the dominant narrative told about people that look like them while celebrating the power of culturally responsive rigor.’”

Inter/National News

Baltimore is great city full of great people. And now this! Artnet reports that the Baltimore Museum of Art will dedicate “a year’s worth of exhibitions dedicated to female-identifying artists throughout 2020.”

“What Does Radical Love Look Like?” Hyperallergic’s Seph Rodney explores that question at the Ford Foundation Gallery’s latest show, featuring work by Athi-Patra Ruga, Lina Puerta, and Ebony G. Patterson.

The New York Times has a fascinating look Basquiat’s ‘Defacement’: The Untold Story at the Guggenheim; curated by Chaédria LaBouvier, the show centers on a painting that depicts the tragic death of a young Black artist.

‘”This is someone becoming — finding themselves, finding their voice, finding their practice,’ Ms. LaBouvier said. ‘I didn’t want to make him into a myth, or make him into a sort of trauma-porn story either. And I thought the best way to do that was to take a step back and let him speak for himself.’”

And Finally

Evergreen story.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Image: Installation view Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness, Seattle Art Museum, 2019, photo: Natali Wiseman.

Share

Muse/News: Muholi’s gaze, disco photographs, and Space Age fashion

SAM News

Crosscut’s Brangien Davis reviews Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness, saying the self-portraits “stare right back at you—and, unlike you, they don’t blink.”

“Throughout it all Muholi looks straight at us with those unflinching, wide-open eyes. ‘Yes?’ they seem to say. And also: ‘I see what you see when you see me.’”

Rainy Julys mean MOVIES. Have you been to our new film series, Comedy Gold from the American Cinema? Check out films every Thursday night recommended by Seattle Magazine and The Stranger, now through August 15.

Local News

The Stranger’s Dave Segal on the Nordic Museum’s exhibition of photography by Hasse Persson, who captured some of the most important political and cultural moments in America from 1968-1980—including shenanigans at Studio 54.

The Seattle Times’ Moira Macdonald goes to camp, checking out the Met’s latest fashion exhibition—and finding some resonances in MOHAI’s current show of Northwest style.

Farewell to Marvin Oliver, artist and professor emeritus at the University of Washington, who died this week at the age of 73.

“’We have lost an amazing mentor and elder in our community and his legacy will live on,’ Olsen said. ‘And those of us who understand his vision and mission to support the Native students and enhance the visibility of Native art and culture will make him and keep him proud and forge on with his legacy.’”

Inter/National News

Pictures worth a thousand (and more) frames: here’s Artsy on six films inspired by famous photographs.

Farewell to Philip G. Freelon, who was “arguably the most significant African-American architect in recent history.” He died recently at the age of 66.

Space seems to be on everyone’s mind. Enter the Brooklyn Museum, with their new retrospective Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion, full of his “youth-fueled modernism” aesthetic.

“They were garments that projected utility but were irresistibly sleek and sexily alienish; clinically pristine, yet sinuous—all the appeal of an Eero Saarinen Tulip chair, but made for the body.”

And Finally

So the trailer for CATS happened. The Internet had some feelings.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Image: Installation view Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness, Seattle Art Museum, 2019, photo: Natali Wiseman.
Share

Authentic relationships, living museums, and oysters: SAM goes to New Orleans

The American Alliance of Museums (AAM) brings together museums across the country—representing more than 35,000 individual museum professionals and volunteers, institutions, and corporate partners—to share knowledge, best practices, and standards of excellence. Every year, AAM hosts an Annual Meeting and MuseumExpo, featuring interactive sessions covering all aspects of the museum field, keynote talks, book readings, vendor presentations, and parties. Held in a different city every year, the host city often guides the content and experience of the attendees, especially when it comes to doing what museum professionals love to do: visit museums. Well, and eat.

This year’s annual meeting was held May 19–22 in New Orleans. Here are three reflections from SAM staff on what they learned, experienced, and ate in NOLA.

David Rue, Public Engagement Associate

Ongoing (and authentic) relationship building is the first thing that comes to mind when I think about the 2019 AAM annual meeting. After connecting with Lauren Zelaya, Brooklyn Museum’s Assistant Curator of Public Programs and Nico Wheadon, Studio Museum Harlem’s former Director of Public Programs and Community Engagement in 2017, we felt a mutual desire to continue a professional relationship of idea-sharing and thought that AAM would be a great opportunity to continue the conversation. In our session, we provided three different institutional perspectives on how to use public and educational programs to implement racial equity work both internally and externally. Getting to know and learn from my co-presenters undoubtedly help me grow as an arts professional. It’s a prime example of how important it is to reach out to those that are doing work that is similar to your own.   

Apart from a fun and exciting panel discussion, it was also my first time visiting New Orleans and it’s safe to say I fell in love. The city, the people, the art, and THE FOOD! It felt great representing SAM at such a large conference and in such a beautiful part of the world.

Philip Nadasdy, Associate Director of Public Engagement

Beyond full days of sessions, keynotes, and meetups, one of the distinct benefits of any AAM annual meeting is the opportunity to visit cultural organizations that help comprise the host city’s identity—and there is no city like New Orleans. A more recent addition to the city is the Lower Ninth Ward Living Museum which opened in 2013 with a mission “to promote community empowerment through remembering the past, sharing stories of the present, and planning for the future.”

The museum resides on the corner of a residential street in a six-room house converted into gallery and programming spaces. The Lower Ninth Ward is perhaps most commonly known as the neighborhood hit hardest by the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, but the Living Museum tells a more comprehensive history of the neighborhood’s geography, people, and culture—while amplifying the ongoing and future community-based efforts to strengthen the lives of people living in the Lower Ninth.

While the museum’s footprint is small, the experience is complex in approach, rigorous in interpretation, and deeply effective. The museum takes the long view of the neighborhood’s history: the geologic and natural ecosystem before land development and industry; Indigenous cultures of the region; colonial beginnings as sugar plantation land; the subsequent growth as a predominantly Black and working-class neighborhood, rich in culture and with an inclination towards resiliency and a do-it-ourselves activism, amidst historically racist and neglectful policymaking and lack of infrastructure investment.

Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath are given rightful attention, providing deeper insight into the stories of the residents through oral histories, photographs, art installations, and video that underline the devastation not only of the storm and floods, but of the ongoing systemic forms of oppression and racism that members of the community faced (and continue to confront) as their homes and livelihoods were destroyed.

As in its name, this is a living museum, and while the Lower Ninth’s history is on full display, so too are the ongoing efforts to rebuild and strengthen the community, in which the museum plays an important role through wellness, arts, afterschool programming for youth, and hosting community wealth building opportunities, professional training, and education programming for adults.

In 2012, the city began limiting voyeuristic Hurricane Katrina bus tours of the Lower Ninth, but similar versions continue to operate today. The Lower Ninth Ward Living Museum stands as an antidote to that exploitative version of learning about a place and people—a museum built by and for the community that tells their own stories.

Rachel Eggers, Manager of Public Relations

I arrived in New Orleans the day before sessions began, just as night began to fall. I walked the streets of the French Quarter and posted up at a red-lit oyster bar to experience Gulf oysters; in Seattle it’s all brine and mignonette, there it’s horseradish, hot sauce, and conversation. I was in love with the city already.

Over the next two days, I attended sessions on public policy, crisis communications, and participatory exhibitions. A standout was the conversation-starting keynote by art curator and writer Kimberly Drew. My favorite session was TrendsWatch, the annual forecasting report led by Elizabeth Merritt, Founding Director, Center for the Future of Museums. In her work, she identifies what the field needs to be planning for. She identified five trends: truth & trust, blockchain technology, decolonization efforts, homelessness & housing insecurity, and self-care. Phrases that I heard throughout the conference resonated with me and how I approach my work and the work we’re trying to do at SAM: bearing witness, democratic meaning-making, and mission-led social justice stances. 

The annual meeting is more than, well, meetings. I also caught a performance by Big Queen Cherice Harrison-Nelson of the Guardians of the Flame and a reading by legendary culinary historian Jessica B. Harris. At the amazing closing night party, I walked through the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, which simply astounded me. On view was Vernacular Voices, featuring work by Self-Taught, Outsider and Visionary artists; the paintings of Clementine Hunter were a revelation.

On my final morning, I took a streetcar (no, it wasn’t called Desire) to the New Orleans Museum of Art, where I saw photographs from Rich Frishman’s Ghosts of Segregation series; Will Ryman’s massive gold-painted log cabin America, chronicling the violence of capitalism; and yes, a monumental mural painting by Clementine Hunter.

I fell in love with New Orleans; from the cats in the streets and the live jazz and Sazeracs at Snug Harbor, to the gigantic Gulf oysters and the stunning art and people, it’s a place with a gift for life. I left inspired about the possibilities for cities and for cultural institutions to better people’s lives. 

– Rachel Eggers, Manager of Public Relations

Images: David Rue with co-presenters Chayanne Marcano (Studio Museum of Harlem) and Lauren Zelaya (Brooklyn Museum). Lower Ninth Ward Living Museum, photos: Philip Nadasdy. Oyster-getting and gabbing with famed shucker “Stormin” Norman Conerly at Acme Oyster House. Harvesting Gourds near the African House and Wash Day Near Ghana House, Melrose Plantation (1959) by Clementine Hunter at the New Orleans Museum of Art, photos: Rachel Eggers.
Share
Share