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Muse/News: Contradictions in Art, Humanity in Landscapes, and Cake goes to Court

SAM News

The Seattle Times’ Brendan Kiley previewed Double Exposure for the Sunday edition.

The museum knew it couldn’t present a simple hagiography of Curtis’ work without acknowledging its contradictions. “Double Exposure,” [Barbara Brotherton] said, “isn’t so much about Curtis and Native artists responding to his work as it is about putting them on equal footing.”

Jono Vaughan’s Project 42 was featured in this story and video by Crosscut’s Brangien Davis and Aileen Imperial. Look for the video as an interstitial on KCTS, too!

“Labor in my work is very important,” she says. “The labor that is put into the works is part of the memorialization. It’s the time that I spend thinking about that person and their story, and about how I’m hosting their spirit while I’m making their garment.”

Here’s the Stranger’s inimitable Charles Mudede on Basquiat’s “gorgeously brutal” Untitled, capitalist values, and giraffe necks.

Local News

Artist Trust recently announced Marita Dingus as the winner of the 2018 Irving and Yvonne Twining Humber Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement; see Marita’s work at SAM Gallery beginning this Thursday.

Rosin Saez of Seattle Met counts the “thoughtful, if curmudgeonly, ways” of Anthony Bourdain, tracing the moments the food & culture connector visited Seattle.

Don’t miss Rebecca Brown’s feature in the Stranger’s summer A&P, “What Looking at Landscapes Can Do to You,” a review of the current exhibition on view at the Frye Art Museum.

“This art is about looking and being aware that we live on a planet that’s bigger than us that we shouldn’t take for granted. Most of the landscapes don’t have people in them at all—and when they do, they’re small. We need to remember this.”

Inter/National News

Following last week’s significant ruling by the Supreme Court in Masterpiece Cakeshop vs. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, both Artnet and Hyperallergic reflect on what it means for the art world.

The Art Newspaper previews the Charles White retrospective now on view at the Art Institute of Chicago and later traveling to MoMA and LACMA. A key figure of the Chicago Black Renaissance, White was a mentor to SAM favorite Kerry James Marshall.

For Freedoms, an organization founded by artists Hank Willis Thomas and Eric Gottesman, has launched an epic 52-state initiative to encourage political engagement by artists and art institutions this fall.

“We believe art is a necessity, especially in civic discourse,” she continues. “At its simplest level, we’re hoping to see more art exist in the world.”

And Finally

Good news: Art auction stock photos are about to get way less weird.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Images: Left: Sunset on Puget Sound, 1912, Edward S. Curtis, American, 1868-1952, photogravure on vellum (paper), 11 3/4 x 15 1/2 in., Seattle Art Museum, Gift of John H. Hauberg, 86.173. Right: Ch’aak’ S’aagí (Eagle Bone), 2018, Tracy Rector, Seminole/Choctaw, b. 1972., video, Seattle Art Museum, 2018 Commission, Courtesy of the artist.
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What do you want to do when you grow up? SAM can help with the answer!

Remember when you were in school and everyone nagged you about what you wanted to do when you grew up? You may have known, you may not have known, you may have thought you knew and ended up changing your mind. SAM’s High School Career Day programs differ from others by rejecting the notion that 15 and 16 year-olds need to know what they want to do for the rest of their lives. Instead we explore the vast career options within a museum whilst creating a space for students to feel okay with the unknown.

SAM’s Equity Team’s Career Days center the interests of aspiring youth while involving staff from across departments and shedding light on the real people who navigate the creative, interesting, and sometimes odd, world of nonprofits, art, and museums. Students have heard from folks in SAM’s Education, Curatorial, Security, and Development departments, as well as from teaching artists, and more!

Our last Career Day on April 25, 2018 was with Mount Rainier High School and 85% of students said this experience helped them better understand their future career interests and plans for after high school. Nearly 70% of students said this experience helped them think about school in a new way, or motivated them to do better in school. Some of the students shared their thoughts with us after their visit!

“I thought about how it would be an interesting job but it made me realize I need to do better in school to become what I want.”

“Learning about the history of some of the art made me understand and find a deeper appreciation for history in school I don’t enjoy.”

“We saw a figures in history exhibit where old paintings had been re-imagined to represent a larger modern community. I’d like to work harder to later represent youth and help educate about identity expression at school.”

Our next Career Day is in November and we will continue to offer this program in the future. If you would like to bring your group to the museum for a Career Day experience, please email us!

– Rayna Mathis, School and Educator Programs Coordinator

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Muse/News: Tech in museums, revolutionary fashion, and the magic of akari

SAM News

The museum’s first-ever Chief Technology Officer, Manish Engineer, appeared on Geekwire’s podcast to talk about his path to SAM, his plans for the institution, and the balance he wants to strike between art and technology.

“’I always want to make sure that people are looking at the art more so than anything else,’ he said. ‘When you think of things like visual hierarchy, I want to make sure that the art is first and on top of hierarchy.’ And that phone or tablet with its supplemental information? ‘I want to make sure that’s secondary,’ he said.”

Kerry James Marshall’s Past Times recently set an auction high for any work by a living African-American artist; The New York Times’s Scott Reyburn wrote about the rise of value for works by Black artists. He notes that these shifts are also reflected in curatorial choices; SAM’s recent Figuring History exhibition and current Basquiat painting on view are referenced.

Local News

Vogue features Indigenous fashion designers, in advance of Toronto’s first-ever Indigenous Fashion Week; blankets by Bethany Yellowtail are available at Seattle’s Eighth Generation.

Who went Upstream this weekend? Seattle Times music writer Michael Rietmulder attended and tweeted all weekend; here’s his take from the first day of the second edition of the music festival.

City Arts’ June cover photo of Prairie Underground’s Davora Lindner is amazing; don’t miss Amanda Manitach’s fantastic profile of Davora, either.

“’Prairie Underground embodies the idea of political uprising, insurrection and a secret society,’ Lindner says.”

Inter/National News

On the newsstands: The New Yorker’s annual Fiction Issue, with cover art by artist Loveis Wise; it was her debut for the magazine and also only the second time a Black woman’s art has been featured on the cover.

Raise your hand if you have an electric paper lantern in your home: yep, that’s everyone. Artsy traces Isamu Noguchi’s creation of the simple—yet magical—forms of akari.

What happens when you’ve booked a show four years ago—called Casanova: The Seduction of Europeand it’s opening now in the age of #MeToo? Hyperallergic’s Emily Wilson shares what San Francisco’s Legion of Honor Museum did.

“’The simplest problem to fix is framing his rapes as seductions and Casanova as a kind of sexy scoundrel,’ she said. ‘We can avoid glorifying or censuring and try to imagine if, instead of a wealthy white European man, this story was told through some of the women of the time.’”

And Finally

It’s June!!

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Photo: GeekWire Photo / Clare McGrane
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Introducing SAM’s 2018 Emerging Arts Leaders

“SAM connects art to life.”

These are the first five words of SAM’s mission statement. Staff and volunteers read these words on the wall every day when arriving at work. It’s the lens through which we view everything we do.

One crucial part of that mission is to work for equity and inclusion within our own walls, knowing that the museum must reflect the community it serves. In 2016, SAM launched the Emerging Arts Leader Internship, a paid internship aimed at candidates who are underrepresented in the museum field. It’s an interdisciplinary internship that allows the intern to interact with diverse aspects of museum work and contribute their unique insights and perspectives. Members of SAM’s Equity Team, representing several departments at the museum, make up the hiring committee for this important internship that is just one way SAM is working to create points of entry into the museum field.

This summer, two more interns begin their work. Near the end of their internship, they’ll lead a free tour in the galleries focusing on some what they’ve learned while contributing to SAM.

Introducing SAM’s 2018 Emerging Arts Leaders:

Dovey Martinez

Born and raised in Seattle, Dovey is triumphantly returning to the city after completing her Bachelor’s in Studio Art at Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. As a Honduran American and the child of immigrants, Dovey initially explored becoming an immigration lawyer. Fortunately for the arts and for SAM, she turned her focus to art: to the formal qualities of paint, to depicting the lives of marginalized communities, and to working for equity and inclusion.

Dovey was a member of Rainier Scholars, a Seattle-based college access program. One of her mentors there said this about her work:

“Her paintings convey the real struggle and sacrifice of her family and the millions of other amazing families working in agricultural fields and cleaning houses in order to create opportunities for the next generation of children hoping to benefit from the American promises of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Thanks to her interest in contemporary art and with working with the public, Dovey will be working primarily with the Curatorial department and with the Education department on public programming.

Seohee Kim

Seohee is preparing to graduate this June from the University of Washington with a degree in Communications and a minor in Diversity. A first-generation Korean American, she grew up in a predominantly white community in the American South. A self-described Third Culture Kid, Seohee had to balance the divergent rules and codes of school and home. It was at college where she learned to “embrace both cultures equally, and to value the challenges as learned opportunities to wield as tools in assisting those who similarly feel wedged between cultural identities.”

Embracing her multifaceted identity and experience is what guides Seohee’s interest in communications, in which she’s excelled. One of her former professors shared,

“Seohee has a longstanding interest in visual cultural production as a medium for communicating about racialized difference. Her schoolwork and previous experiences have long focused on the simultaneous negotiation, power, and disconnections between her various identities.”

Because of her passion for storytelling and multilingual and intercultural fluencies, Seohee will work primarily with the Curatorial and Communications departments, researching and writing about art.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Equity Team Outreach Taskforce Chair

Image: Left, Dovey Martinez. Right, Seohee Kim.
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The Art of Ikebana

The art of Ikebana, creating forms with cut branches and flowers, traces it origins back to the 8th century when monks began placing flower offerings on the Buddhist shrines. In order to understand the essence or soul of the art, however, it is helpful to go back much further to its ancient roots in the Shinto tradition. It is stated in the early verses of the Nihongi, “The Chronicles of Japan,” that everything has its own voice. The mountains, the waters, the plants, the teapot, everything speaks to us. People who practice Ikebana become continually aware that the many different plants have many different voices. Listening carefully to what they say is the key. Becoming intimate with nature in this way, one grows ever more appreciative of life’s precious moments, which in turn provides focus along with a sense of rest and tranquility.

Perhaps this helps explain how, in the 16th century, the art evolved from a strictly monastic practice into a samurai warrior discipline. Doing Ikebana before battle provided warriors sharp focus, and Ikebana afterwards allowed them to express gratitude for another day of life. And now in modern times, Ikebana is practiced by people from every culture around the world. Along with creating beautiful forms, one experiences presence in the moment along with a sense of peace in one’s own heart.

Ikebana differs radically from western floral design in that rather than gathering a multitude of flowers into one space and having them speak in a chorus, Ikebana strives to provide each element with a solo appearance highlighting its own unique voice. The idea is to provide a conversation among the various materials used in the design. As with any good conversation, the key word is space. Ikebana is essentially an art of space. Space in which to listen, space in which to speak. When you view an Ikebana piece and you feel drawn in, then the designer has been successful and the work can be considered good Ikebana.

Evolving from its traditional classical forms, Ikebana in the early 20th century underwent a similar transformation as did western art. Rather than trying to imitate nature, artists began creating out of their own personal impressions of what they saw simply with their eyes. This has led to abstract expressionism in the art of Ikebana as well. The spirit, the soul of Ikebana, is sometimes referred to as a flowing river whose waters cannot be stopped. It will continue to engender new forms on into the distant future. And this is at it should be.

Seattle’s Chapter 19 of Ikebana International, a worldwide organization of Ikebana teachers and students, will hold its 59th annual exhibit downtown in the University street entrance of Seattle Art Museum on the weekend of  May 26 and 27. View works from Ikebana’s classical periods as well as its modern abstract expressions along with demonstrations at 1 pm on both days.

– Charles Coghlan, Hana Design Ikebana Instructor

Images: Nina Dubinsky
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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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