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Muse/News: Basquiat on Film, Poetry on the Radio, and the Digital Hereafter

SAM News

The New York Times’ Glenn Kenny reviews Sara Driver’s new documentary on the young Basquiat. Boom for Real premieres at the Seattle Art Museum on May 18 in partnership with Northwest Film Forum.

“Basquiat’s art — raw, inventive, socially engaged — continues to speak to us even as the artist himself cannot. Near the end of the movie, one of Basquiat’s friends refers to him as ‘a true investigator.’ In Ms. Driver, the artist finds a kindred spirit, a fellow investigator who pays him proper and enthralling tribute.”

Jeffrey Gibson: Like a Hammer opened at the Denver Art Museum on Sunday; Cultured Magazine visits the artist’s studio to discuss his artistic goals and methods. Save the date: the exhibition opens at SAM on February 28, 2019.

“’It’s always been about using my personal narrative to complicate the popular notions of being queer, being gay, being Native American—any of these singular adjectives,’ says Gibson.”

Local News

The Seattle Times’ Moira Macdonald previews this year’s edition of the Seattle International Film Festival—and shares the colorful, analog way the massive schedule is built.

Seattle radio is beautiful this week: KEXP announces OCnotes as their new Sunday night DJ, playing soul, funk, and R&B, and KUOW launches #NewsPoet, which features PNW poets waxing about a news story.

The Station coffee shop on Beacon Hill has new digs, and in their old space across the street will be Estelita’s Library, a “justice-focused community bookstore and library” from UW professor Edwin Lindo.

“’You’ll find books on Latinx identity next to a book about Harriet Tubman, next to Karl Marx, next to a first edition John Steinbeck,’ he says, gesturing toward a packed shelf. Though some of the titles have Dewey Decimal stickers (‘They’re really hard to remove!’ he marvels), the books aren’t arranged in any particular order. Lindo hopes instead that people will make discoveries by proximity, or perhaps by suggestion from someone sitting at the next table.”

Inter/National News

Lessons From the Institute of Empathy artist Jacolby Satterwhite has a solo show at NYC’s Gavin Brown’s Enterprise; Blessed Avenue is a “mythical place created by the fantasies of cyborgs — possibly a digital hereafter.”

Artnet on a new grad program created by LACMA and Arizona State University that allows students to pursue studies while working at the museum—its purpose is to increase diversity in museum leadership, especially curation.

Donald Glover, AKA Childish Gambino, debuted the video “This is America” and everyone watched it (and watched it…); Interview Magazine spoke with the video’s choreographer, Sherrie Silver.

“The video is full of madness and reflects what’s going on in America and around the world right now. The kids and the choir are supposed to be the happy part of that, so there are two different worlds at the same time. Multiple parts of the video are meant to catch the viewer off-guard, with people smiling and enjoying themselves before it goes dark.”

And Finally

Hoping everyone had a wonderful Mother’s Day on Sunday: mothers, departed mothers, in-all-but-name mothers, unjustly absent mothers.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Image: Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures
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My Favorite Things: DJ Riz Rollins & Choreographer Donald Byrd

“The painting is delightful but the content of it is not.” – Donald Byrd

If you missed seeing Figuring History: Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas, or if you just can’t enough of these artists—don’t fret! We’ve got works by Robert Colescott and Kerry James Marshall from SAM’s collection on view in our third floor galleries! KEXP DJ Riz Rollins and Executive Artistic Director Donald Byrd have shared some thoughts on these paintings with us. Look through the eyes of these opinionated individuals and continue to consider the questions and lessons that Figuring History explored.

“. . . I think this individual is prescient. Which means he has a sense of something deeper . . . .” – Riz Rollins

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A Lasting Echo: Barney Ebsworth (1934–2018)

Seattle and the nation have lost a great businessman, arts patron, and collector. The Seattle Art Museum community was saddened by the news that longtime museum Trustee, Barney A. Ebsworth passed away on April 9. Barney was one of the top art collectors in the country, a supporter and advocate for great art, and a generous philanthropist.

Collecting became a way of life for Barney as he focused on great works worthy of a museum. He honed his eye for art by visiting the Louvre museum in Paris every weekend when he was stationed with the army in France during the 1950s. With works from Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Marsden Hartley, to Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, and Jasper Johns, Barney built one of the most significant collections of American Modernism in the world. In a 2009 article, he said:

Before I bought a picture, I wanted to know two things: do I really understand this artist, and do I know where he or she was really best in his or her career? If I don’t, I probably shouldn’t be buying. So it’s been a lifetime study.”

Fortunately for all, Barney was exceptional in his study, and from the start he was committed to sharing his remarkable collection with others. In 1996, SAM first showed paintings from the Ebsworth Collection as part of a traveling exhibition. At the time, Barney was still living in his hometown of St. Louis where he had founded numerous travel companies including INTRAV, Royal Cruise Line, and Clipper Cruise Line. In addition to businesses in real estate and venture capital, he was the angel investor in Build A Bear Workshop.

In the summer of 2000, SAM welcomed Twentieth Century American Art: The Ebsworth Collection, a major exhibition organized by the National Gallery of Art. It was the first chance for Seattle to see the collection in its entirety and before the year was out, Barney joined SAM’s Board of Trustees.

As a member of SAM’s board, Barney brought a wealth of experience. He served as a dedicated Trustee of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Saint Louis Art Museum, and Honolulu Museum of Art. He was also a member of the Trustees Council and Co-Chairman of the Collectors Committee at the National Gallery of Art. At SAM, Barney was as an officer; an active member of the Committee on Collections; and served as co-chair of the 75th Anniversary Acquisitions Committee. He was a generous contributor to our major campaigns, including SAM Transformation—for which the museum named its double-height gallery in his honor—and most recently the Fund for Special Exhibitions. He gifted or pledged many works of art to SAM and helped with the purchase of many others. Of course, Seattleites may know him best for his gift of the monumental sculpture Echo, Jaume Plensa’s four-story head, serenely looking out towards the Olympic Mountains from the Olympic Sculpture Park.

Barney Ebsworth had a fun sense of style, a quick wit and loved telling jokes. Nothing brought him more joy than traveling with his family, and introducing someone to a new place or introducing them to art. SAM mourns the loss of a great friend, but Seattle will continue to cherish Barney’s generosity and the art he championed that enriches our city’s culture.

Image: Bettina Hansen  / The Seattle Times
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Brooks Ragen

A Civic Leader: Brooks Geer Ragen

When Brooks Ragen moved to Seattle in 1961, our cultural community was in its formative years. The anchor organizations we know today only grew through the commitment of dedicated leaders and civic-minded citizens, people like Brooks Geer Ragen. From his business ventures to his board service at SAM and other major organizations throughout Seattle, Brooks approached these undertakings with the same philosophy: to make our community stronger. It is with a heavy heart that we share the news of Brooks’s passing on April 15.

Brooks was a SAM Trustee for over 25 years, a time of incredible growth and expansion for the museum. He joined the Board in 1992 and served as Vice President from 1996 to 1998. He served as President from 1998 to 2000, and as Chairman from 2000 to 2001. Brooks’s dedication to his causes was unparalleled, and his work ethic incomparable.

As Board President and as Board Chairman, he used his business acumen and endless energy to expertly guide SAM through the planning phases in advance of the SAM Transformation campaign, creating the Olympic Sculpture Park and expanding our downtown museum, both of which have continued to shape our city and museum. Most recently, Brooks served as a member of our Seattle Asian Art Museum Campaign Committee, once again providing his invaluable insights as we undertake this next major civic project.

His advice and expertise have been instrumental on so many of SAM’s committees, including among others Finance and Investment; Audit and Real Estate; Executive and Governance; Corporate Relations and Succession planning. Brooks and his wife, SAM Docent Laureate Susie Ragen, created the Brooks and Suzanne Ragen Film and Education Endowment, which provides key support to the museum’s renowned film program, and countless educational programs for people of all ages.

Beyond SAM, Brooks embraced roles of civic service for over 50 years. He served as board president of many Seattle institutions, including ACT Theatre, The Bush School, The Seattle Foundation, UW Medicine, and Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. He also served on the boards of the Washington chapter of the Nature Conservancy, the Bloedel Reserve and The High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon. The philanthropy of Brooks and Susie has established endowments and scholarships at institutions all over the country.

Within all his successes and a long career—he never retired—Brooks Ragen was always kind and gracious, and never pretentious. Approachable, intelligent, and always determined, Brooks was the very definition of a civic leader. Seattle is a stronger community because of Brooks Ragen, and he will be greatly missed.

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Personal Histories: Community Connections to Figuring History

“So often Black women are made small and the idea of expanding into an exhibition that is so large and so inviting and welcoming is incredible and awe inspiring to see a reflection of myself so large in the world.” – Imani Sims, poet and Central District Forum for Art and Ideas curator

Figuring History: Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas is a chance to reflect on your personal history as well as art history and American history. Take a tip from our Personal Histories video series and spend some time at SAM thinking about how you connect to the work on view because of the history that impacts you. Figuring History brings together three generations of contemporary American artists, whose work challenges a Western painting tradition that underrepresents people of color. The vibrant and monumental paintings by these artists offer bold perspectives on Black culture and representation. Presented together for the first time, the figurative paintings of ColescottMarshall, and Thomas are shaped by distinctive historic events, unique in style, and united in questioning the narratives of history through Black experience. The exhibition closes May 13, so don’t delay!

Looking for more videos related Figuring History? Check out Youtube to hear from the artists!

“Storytelling is very important in hip-hop and I feel like with [Kerry James Marshall’s] pieces that he has in this room, he’s taking the stories and interpreting it in his way and then also giving the next generation something to look at.” – Stasia Irons, rapper and KEXP DJ

“I immediately recognized what I was seeing as happening in my own neighborhood back home in Mississippi.” – Marcellus Turner, City Librarian of Seattle Public Library

Featured artworks: Tamika sur une chaise longue avec Monet, 2012, Mickalene Thomas, rhinestones, acrylic, oil, and enamel on wood panel, 108 x 144 x 2 in., Sydney & Walda Besthoff, Courtesy of the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong, © Mickalene Thomas Memento #5, 2003, Kerry James Marshall, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri, © Kerry James Marshall. School of Beauty, School of Culture, 2012, Kerry James Marshall, Birmingham Museum of Art, © Kerry James Marshall
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Donor Spotlight: Carol Frankel Supports Seattle Asian Art Museum

We’re not the only ones excited about the renovation of our Asian Art Museum! Hear from the donors that are making the preservation of SAM’s original home possible for the benefit of generations to come. Learn more about the project and show your support!

There is no place in Seattle that means more to me than the Seattle Asian Art Museum in Volunteer Park. Many, many years ago when it was the entire Seattle Art Museum and I got my first drivers license at age 16, the first place I drove by myself was to the Seattle Art Museum to see a Van Gogh exhibition. I felt very grown up and very sophisticated!

Some decades later when I retired from the faculty of the University of Puget Sound, I decided to become a docent. I had not been an art major. For me art was always “the road not taken,” but through my university work, I had become very interested in Japan. The year of my docent training, the downtown location was being remodeled and all our training was the Volunteer Park site. Needless to say, by this time I was hooked on Asian art and deeply in love with the Asian Art Museum. I was so delighted when Xiaojin Wu and Ping Foong brought their new vision to my old friend. I have experienced Song landscape painting, which formed the basis for the background in Disney’s Bambi and waded through the rubble of Live On, Mr’s post-tsunami installation. I was completely overjoyed to hear that the Asian Art Museum was being renovated. Contributing to help make that possible became one of my highest priorities. I am so proud of that site and can hardly wait to wander those new galleries!

– Carol Frankel

Illustration: Natali Wiseman
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SAM Gallery Artists on Seattle: Ryan Molenkamp

Seattle is often cited as a great place to live because of the ease of access to the outdoors. With mountains encroaching on the city’s skyline from every direction and terrains ranging from rain forest to desert in the state of Washington, it’s easy to understand why we’ve got a reputation as a city of landscape painters and nature poets. In Outside Influences, on view in SAM Gallery through April 4, Dan Hawkins, Ryan Molenkamp, Kate Protage, and Chris Sheridan depict both the cityscape as well as our moss and stone backyard—taking their inspiration from everything outside themselves and filtering it through their particular medium to create unique and striking scenes of Seattle and its surroundings. This artwork begs for reflection on the artist life in Seattle and Molenkamp provides.

Ryan Molenkamp

When I moved to Seattle in 2001 to pursue an art career it didn’t make a lot of sense . . . frankly moving anywhere to pursue an art career didn’t make a lot of sense, but I had the bug, the itch, and I found Seattle to be a welcoming place to grow. The city was full of artists and galleries and a lot of DIY spaces to show art, but it always felt like it had a chip on its’ shoulder. Very little attention was ever given to what was happening here, unless it was in music. But the scene was tight. I remember in particular during the recession years strong unity among artists in this town. If no one was going to buy art at least we could all go out and support each other over 2-buck-chuck and a Rainier. Those days have given way to a more expensive Seattle, one that has priced out a lot of artists and venues. At the same time the new Seattle is full of opportunity for artists to actually make a living at this business. The success of the Seattle Art Fair, as well as the continued success of galleries like SAM Gallery and Linda Hodges Gallery (plug—I show with Linda, too) shows that this city is ready to be more than a forgotten corner of the art world. I’m excited to have a small voice in the conversation that gives me the privilege to pursue a career in the city I love.

Image: Cascade 7, 2018, Ryan Molenkamp, acrylic on panel, 40 x 34 in.
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Muse/News: Arts News from SAM, Seattle, and Beyond

SAM News

The spring edition of the Stranger’s Art & Performance Quarterly hit newsstands last week; recommended SAM shows in the visual arts listings include Basquiat—Untitled, Jono Vaughan: 2017 Betty Bowen Award Winner, Figuring History: Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas, Everyday Poetics, and Sondra Perry: Eclogue for [in]HABITABILITY. Don’t miss their recurring “Anatomy of a Painting” feature, which takes you through the finer points of Resist, the incredible painting by Mickalene Thomas created specifically for our exhibition.

And the reviews keep coming in for Figuring History. Lisa Edge of Real Change writes up the exhibition for the cover story of their current edition, and the Stranger’s Katie Kurtz shares her thoughts on the show that’s “about righting the wrongs of erasure” in their arts section lead story.

Also out last week: The New York Times’ annual “Museums” section. Figuring History was mentioned in a round-up of exhibitions around the country showing “art in startling variety.”

“This show of three African-American artists creates a solid counternarrative on general history, art history, black identity and gender identity.”

Local News

The Seattle Times was there as 2,800 high-school students from 39 area schools attended a matinee of Hamilton—and performed raps, songs, and poems inspired by the musical and their own studies.

The art of food: last week, Edouardo Jordan of JuneBaby and Salare was nominated for two James Beard Awards and glowingly reviewed in the New York Times. That oxtail tho!

Rachel Gallaher interviews Pacific Northwest Ballet soloist and choreographer Ezra Thomson; his work The Perpetual State has its world premiere in the ballet’s Director’s Choice program, showing now through March 25.

“One thing I always try to do in my choreography is to make the dancers as human as possible. I want the audience to be able to relate to them as people, as opposed to classical 18th-century ballet figures.”

Inter/National News

Christopher Knight of the Los Angeles Times broke the news of the sudden firing of MOCA Los Angeles curator Helen Molesworth, which stunned many in the art world last week.

Brian Boucher of Artnet on the historic vote last week by the board of New York arts and engineering school, which approved a 10-year plan to offer free tuition for every student.

Photographer Dawoud Bey’s The Birmingham Project brings to life the four girls and two boys who died violently in 1963, with portraits of children their ages alongside adults the same age that the kids would be if they’d lived.

“It hurts because those Birmingham girls, often commemorated in what look like class portraits, could have been goofy, self-conscious, bookish, or disobedient. Maybe they didn’t even want to go to church that day; maybe one had a sore throat. They were kids.”

And Finally

Former mallrats may be just as moved as the New Yorker’s Jia Tolentino by this video of “Toto’s ‘Africa’ edited to sound as though it were playing in an empty mall.”

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Image: Installation view of Figuring History: Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas at Seattle Art Museum, 2018, photo: Natali Wiseman.
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Muse/News: Arts News from SAM, Seattle, and Beyond

SAM News

Boom for real! SAM announced last week that a famed and rarely seen painting by legendary artist Jean-Michel Basquiat is headed to the museum beginning March 21. The Seattle Times shared the news, and KUOW’s The Record hosted a conversation about the painting’s rarity and impressive auction price with KUOW’s Marcie Sillman and City Arts’ Margo Vansynghel.

Diana Cherry of ParentMap reviewed Figuring History with an eye towards kids and families, declaring that “the message is undeniable: Black is beautiful — in art, in history and in this country.”

“To tell you that these paintings made my heart sing would be an understatement. I found it truly uplifting to see Seattle Art Museum center black people—especially black women—and their stories with art that includes, but isn’t limited to, slavery, black suffering and black oppression.”

The Bellevue Reporter previewed the upcoming installation by artist Jono Vaughan at SAM, sharing quotes from the artist.

“We’ve become de-sensitized to violence, and violence against the trans community in particular,” Vaughan said. “Project 42 is an opportunity to share space with that life that was lost, engage with each other, and elevate the discussion. I feel really humbled to be a part of it.”

Local News

For Crosscut, Double Exposure artist Tracy Rector offers her reflections on the allegations against Sherman Alexie and recommends an impressive list of female Native authors for your reading list.

Seattle Times columnist Nicole Brodeur profiles photographer Eddie Rehfeldt, whose new photography show at The Piranha Shop in Sodo tackles ideas about isolation and technology.

City Arts’ Margo Vansynghel reviews the Ko Kirk Yamahira exhibition, now on view at the Frye.

“In his first solo museum exhibition, Yamahira builds beautifully on this minimalist-modernist legacy with deadpan reverence and delicate sensuality.”

Inter/National News

The New York Times on Billy Graham, the “Renaissance man and bon vivant” who was largely unknown, even though he was the first Black artist for Marvel to draw Black Panther and Luke Cage.

Artnet on the “showstopper” booth of new work by British-Liberian artist Lina Iris Viktor at New York’s Armory Show from Seattle’s own Mariane Ibrahim Gallery.

Jonathan Jones of The Guardian with a powerful write-up of Sondra Perry’s latest gallery show, Typhoon, now on view in London. Her show at SAM is now on view.

“Perry juxtaposes the shallowness of our media-saturated lives with the power of true art and properly held memory. If we carried the bloodstained Atlantic that Turner painted in our hearts, maybe we could address the crimes and wrongs of the present. Yet forgetfulness is winning. There is a typhoon coming on.”

And Finally

“Place your ‘Left Ring Finger’ in the undulating bug next to your keyboard.” David Lynch teaches typing.

– Rache Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Image: “Untitled,” 1982, Jean-Michel Basquiat, American, 1960–1988, acrylic, spray paint, and oilstick on canvas, 72 1/8 x 68 1/8 in., Yusaku Maezawa Collection, © 2018 The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat / ADAGP, Paris / ARS.
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