All posts in “Exhibitions”

Muse/News: SAM director to retire, found photos, and what Oprah says

SAM News

Last week, SAM announced that Kimerly Rorschach, SAM’s Illsley Ball Nordstrom Director and CEO, will retire in fall 2019 after seven years leading the institution. The Seattle Times shared the news in their Thursday print edition, featuring an interview with Kim. ARTNews, Artforum, and others picked up the news.

Sign me up: “Manipulation, melodrama, and black-and-white thrills ensue,” says Seattle Met, recommending last week’s selection in our 41st Film Noir Series. There are only four screenings left in the series—come get moody with us!

The Seattle Times has “everything you need to know about the hottest tickets in town” for November, including Peacock in the Desert: The Royal Arts of Jodhpur, India, and Seattle Magazine features the Peacock-inspired edition of Remix on their list of “15 Best Things To Do in Seattle in November 2018.”

And finally, the November/December issue of Art Access features a review of Peacock in the Desert by art critic Susan Platt.

“The exhibition, like India itself, is full of elaborate objects, stunning color, and fascinating history.”

Local News

Seattle Met’s Stefan Milne sees “different takes on immersion” in two new shows: Between Bodies at the Henry and Annie Morris at Winston Wächter Fine Art.

I recently shared reviews of Bellevue Art Museum’s show of found photos from the collection of Robert E. Jackson; watch ArtZone’s interview with Robert about his extraordinary collection.

The November issue of City Arts is out now; the feature by Margo Vansynghel asks “what’s worth saving?” as she explores the process of historical building preservation —and what values and whose stories are deemed worthy.

“The history of the everyday is worth saving along with the history of yesterday and today. In some cases, architectural preservation is self-preservation.”

Inter/National News

Hey, remember our awesome For Freedoms tours? The organization that inspired them just came out with a series of photos reimagining Norman Rockwell’s paintings featuring Rosario Dawson, Van Jones, and others.

Hyperallergic reviews the new show at the Asia Society Museum, The Progressive Revolution: Modern Art for a New India, charting a moment that “encapsulated avant-garde abstraction without bowing to its Western idiom.”

Charles Desmarais on the “extraordinary conclusion” of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco’s search for a new leader; Thomas P. Campbell replaces Max Hollein (… who just took over for Campbell at the Met).

“On another front, the appointment of one more white man to a powerful museum position is not likely to sit well with those who have demanded greater diversity in such jobs. That call, heard widely throughout the field, was taken up by FAMSF staff in June, when a letter signed by more than 100 employees asked the board to seriously consider women and people of color during the search.”

And Finally

I have been doing what she tells me to do since I was a child and I don’t intend to stop now.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Photo: Scott Areman
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Object of the Week: Chukwu Okoro Masks

“This is one of the best places I’ve seen masks installed because normally they would hang it on the wall. But doing it this way, with the costumes and everything, also gives it character because these masks were not really meant to be hanging on the wall like that.” – Emeka Ogboh

Remember when Disguise: Masks and Global African Art was on view in 2015? We’re bringing you a flashback to Nigerian sound artist Emeka Ogboh discussing masks by Chukwu Okoro in SAM’s collection, why he chose them as one of his favorite things in the museum, and their significance in regards to the soundscapes he created for Disguise. Currently, these masks can be viewed in our African art galleries as part of Lessons from the Institute of Empathy where three Empathics have surrounded themselves with works from our African art collection as a way to help visitors awaken their own empathy. The Empathics display their trademarked process for transformation and ask you to consider the other artwork around you. Come see what we mean.

Image: Installation view Chukwu Okoro Masks at Seattle Art Museum, 2016, photo: Natali Wiseman.

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Muse/News: Peacock struts, Saint Woman commands, and the pumpkin dances

SAM News

Peacock in the Desert continues to strut:

The exhibition was included in The New York Times’ overview of “Art to See This Fall,” which says it’s “the next best thing to visiting the clifftop Mehrangarh Fort Museum overlooking Jodhpur.”

It was king of KING, with segments on the station’s Evening Magazine and New Day NW—the latter featured an interview with His Highness Maharaja GajSingh II and his daughter Baijilal Shivranjani Rajye.

And reviews for the show ran in The International Examiner, Crosscut, The Daily, and The Spectator.

“Spanning five centuries, Peacock is an eye-popping look at a royal-family legacy. It uses video, audio and room-filling installations, along with dozens of fantastically detailed paintings (magnifying glasses are provided so you can study them closely), to immerse you in its world.”  —Michael Upchurch, Crosscut

Also: You may have seen Amy Sherald’s Saint Woman on the cover of this week’s Real Change (cash or Venmo accepted!); reporter Lisa Edge reviews the SAM show In This Imperfect Present Moment for this week’s centerpiece story.

“’It’s like she’s thinking about something else. She’s in command of her own space. Her own time,’ said curator Pam McClusky.”

Seattle Magazine’s annual list of the city’s movers and shakers is out—and Priya Frank, SAM’s Associate Director of Community Partnerships, is on it! She’s named “one to watch”—we couldn’t agree more. Congrats, Priya!

Local News

Very sad news: Yoko Ott, an artist and curator with connections to numerous Seattle organizations, died last week at the age of 47.

Tschabalala Self! That, and other offerings, are part of the exciting lineup coming up at the Frye Art Museum announced this week.

Sharon Salyer of The Everett Herald speaks with artist Romson Regarde Bustillo about his show on view at Edmonds Community College that asks, “what’s in a name?”

“’Art is information as much as it is something inexplicable,’ Bustillo said. ‘When we look at it, we have an emotional and a visceral reaction, but it is not removed from the way we’ve been conditioned to process information.’”

Inter/National News

Oh, Canada. Smithsonian Magazine reports on the latest humane news from our northern neighbor: Doctors in Montreal will soon be able to prescribe museum visits to their patients.

And in Germany, museums are the subject of a TV show. It will feature noted creatives—like Vivienne Westwood and Karl Ove Knausgård—leading tours in inside eight historic European museums.

And come through, America (well, NYC)!: The just-released budget for the city features a record-breaking $198.4 million for cultural organizations.

And Finally

It’s a Halloween tradition! To all you ghouls and goblins, I present: The Pumpkin Dance.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Image: His Highness Maharaja GajSingh II of Marwar-Jodhpur and Baijilal Shivranjani Rajye of Marwar-Jodhpur in Peacock in the Desert: The Royal Arts of Jodhpur, India at Seattle Art Museum, 2018, photo: Stephanie Fink.
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Athi-Patra Ruga’s Utopian Vision: In This Imperfect Present Moment

Utopian visionaries are rare these days. If Black Panther moved you to consider what might be possible in the future, there’s an artist who is opening a new portal into the world of possibilities to come and you can see their work at SAM right now as part of In This Imperfect Present Moment. Athi-Patra Ruga introduces characters from a mythical metaverse. You can see what this means in his performances, which are available online. His avatars wear high heels and balloons, ride zebras, walk down dirt roads or city streets, and occasionally swim upside down. He knows how to turn heads and get people to stare at unexpected visions. For this sculpture, he covers a neoclassical bust with beads, flowers, and gems to mock the usual stagnancy of a bronze-cast monument. He has stated that “our statues are an indictment of our poor imagination.” Calling this sculpture The Ever Promised Erection, Ruga says, “The humorous tone of the title points to the fallacy and impotence of the posturing of the nation-state.”

Ruga replaces the failed state with an ideal femme-centric futurist nation called Azania, inspired by rumors of an ideal Africa described in ancient American myths. You can get to know Azania and see their queens and territories by looking at his large-scale tapestries and videos. His tapestry maps record an Ocean of Repentance, where cleansing waters protect and surround islands inhabited by women. It takes a distinctive rigor to create and carry an entire nation in your mind. When meeting Athi-Patra Ruga, you sense him as someone dedicated to keeping his alternative world alive and well. He’s now about to open his first one-person exhibition in London at the Somerset House, and for those who crave utopian universes, Ruga can take you there.

– Pam McClusky, SAM’s Curator of African and Oceanic Art

Images: Installation view of In This Imperfect Present Moment at Seattle Art Museum. 2018, photos: Natali Wiseman.
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Lawrence Lemaoana’s Cloth Banners: In This Imperfect Present Moment

Laughing at leaders in public can be a welcome release. Lawrence Lemaoana created banners to shout back at the powerful president of South Africa, Jacob Zuma. Zuma, who was a controversial leader, had many annoying traits. One of his most despised public maneuvers was a tendency to dance as if there were no problems in his midst, and then add the antagonism of raising his fist as a sign of victory. Observers groaned. Lemaoana said of this, “Once the raised fist was a symbol used to motivate the people for a public cause, but here Zuma uses it as a tool to enrich himself, to bolster himself against any criticism or interference.”

In another cloth banner, the artist mimics a newspaper announcing “Things Fall Apart.” As the artist said, “You get hit by those headlines on the side of the road. On the one hand, it’s informative, but it’s also dangerous; there’s almost a propagandistic element to it. It shapes the way we live.” His choice of a cloth known as kanga is another obvious clue of disapproval. When Jacob Zuma went on trial for rape in 2006, he claimed that the young woman wearing a kanga cloth wrapped around her was signaling an invitation to assault her. Lemaoana turned that assault right back at Zuma by making his banners from that cloth, and by offering a chance to laugh or express outrage at Zuma’s dangerous absurdity. See Lemaona’s work as part of In This Imperfect Present Moment at SAM through June 16, 2019, and experience this welcome release.

– Pam McClusky, SAM’s Curator of African and Oceanic Art

Images: Newsmaker of the Year, 2008, Lawrence Lemaoana, South African, b. 1982, Cloth applique, 42 1/8 x 31 1/2 in., Private collection, © Lawrence Lemaoana, photo courtesy AFRONOVA GALLERY. Installation view of In This Imperfect Present Moment at Seattle Art Museum. 2018, photo: Natali Wiseman.
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Amy Sherald’s Archetypes: In This Imperfect Present Moment

Unless you’re looking at this image on a gigantic screen with perfect resolution, you’re missing the impact of this Saint Woman. She’s slightly larger than life, which fits the premise of the artist who elevates her subjects to a status that goes beyond our normal vision. Amy Sherald paints portraits that are not trying to convince you they are a substitute for the actual person. Instead, she paints archetypes. She is taking the time to change our minds about what a portrait can be, an evocation of a saint whose name you do not know, but who is standing and waiting for you to recognize them.

This saint is surrounded by a halo of what may appear as bright yellow on your screen. If you’re just seeing a flat expanse of color, you’re missing the depth of a painted surface that is full of nuance, with swirling dimensions that activate this setting. The same nuances of color are true of the skin, which is in variations of gray. Amy Sherald chose this color shift for a reason, “to exclude the idea of color as race.” She also has this woman’s body face forward, while her head is turned in profile. What captures her attention is unknown, and it challenges you to wonder why she’s holding herself so still while her dress is blown in a breeze of urgency. It’s the stance of a saint who’s worth coming to see in person. Visit her with a trip to see In This Imperfect Present Moment, an installation of artworks by 15 artists conveying vibrant narratives that resonate across global boundaries.

– Pam McClusky, SAM’s Curator of African and Oceanic Art

Images: Saint Woman, 2015, Amy Sherald, American, b. 1973, Oil on canvas, 54 x 43 in., Private collection, photo courtesy the artist and Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago. Installation view of In This Imperfect Present Moment at Seattle Art Museum. 2018, photo: Natali Wiseman.
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New Topographics: Instantly (in)Famous

When viewing New Topographics, you’ll want to lean in and look closely—on close inspection you discover the dead-pan humor as well as the disquiet in seeing the land sliced up and rapidly developed in this group of photography.

This new installation at SAM brings together a group of photographers who became widely known through a 1975 exhibition at the George Eastman House. What made all the work instantly (in)famous was that the artists turned their back on celebrated landscape imagery.

Landscape as wild and tempestuous (think Bierstadt) or picturesque was set aside. Instead, artists such as Robert Adams, Lewis Baltz, Joe Deal, Frank Gohlke, Stephen Shore, and others trained their cameras on new housing developments that turned farmland into suburbia, or looked at the topography of cities.

In addition to the new subject of man-altered landscape, the photographers also created a new aesthetic: Modern photography had become known for stark black and white contrast and dramatic perspectives, while the New Topographics photographers had a decidedly quiet and descriptive approach.

A lone beer bottle here, wires and hookups there, are anything but grand but then the piles of dirt come with glamorous titles such as Prospector Park.

In addition to some of the artists who were featured in the original 1975 show, included are artworks that are related and expand this vision into other directions. Thus you will find Mark Tobey’s early painting, Middle West, in an entirely new context. You will also discover several of the great artist books by Ed Ruscha—whose work was very influential to this new generation. Last not least, you will find several of Howard Kottler’s “souvenir plates” that are adorned with birds-eye views of downtown Seattle. (Watch out for his dead-pan humor.)

While you’re visiting, sit down with photocopies of the original New Topographics catalogue and text as well as Robert Smithson’s groundbreaking and fabulously written essay: “A Tour of the Monuments of Passaic, New Jersey.”

The rapid transformation of the urban and suburban areas of Seattle by new development right now provide a new context for the work of these artists. See New Topographics on view through the end of the year.

– Catharina Manchanda, Jon and Mary Shirely Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art

Images: Installation view of New Topographics at Seattle Art Museum, 2018, photos: Stephanie Fink
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Muse/News: A brilliant show, subversive sculpture, and the future of art

SAM News

Double Exposure: Edward S. Curtis, Marianne Nicolson, Tracy Rector, Will Wilson was highlighted by AFAR Magazine as one of “10 Brilliant U.S. Art Exhibitions Worth Traveling for This Summer.”

And our curator, Barbara Brotherton, was interviewed about the exhibition for a story in London-based Huck Magazine.

“’The work of these artists stands in sharp juxtaposition to the elegant Curtis photographs with their romanticized approach that casts Native people in the past,’ Brotherton concludes. ‘Native people did not vanish. They are resilient and deeply engaged in the issues of identity today.’”

Lots of love for SAM and the Olympic Sculpture Park: Both are recommended in the Stranger’s 2018 Visitor Guide on their list of “Best Places to See Art.” Condé Nast Traveler features SAM as one of their “Best Things to Do in Seattle” on their newly revived site, and Dwell Magazine kick off their list of “Top 8 Outdoor Sculpture Parks” with the Olympic Sculpture Park.

Local News

“’Painters Who [Expletive] Know How to Paint’ is not a shy title for an exhibition.” Darn right, Gayle Clemans. Here’s her Seattle Times review of the “vigorous” show now on view at Center on Contemporary Art (CoCA).

Crosscut’s Michael Upchurch reviews Castoffs, now on view at the Henry, calling Martha Friedman’s deconstructed sculptures of dancer Silas Riener’s body “mischievously subversive.”

The July edition of City Arts is out! It’s the Interview Issue; don’t miss the cover story featuring a conversation between Ijeoma Oluo and Emmett Montgomery.

“Freedom and progress look like something I can’t even envision yet. And I think art is very similar—the future of art doesn’t look like anything you see right now. That’s maybe the next five minutes of art.”

Inter/National News

I say, more Beyoncé videos. But seriously: Alina Cohen of Artsy takes a look at the challenges museums face in this article, “How Art Museums Can Remain Relevant in the 21st Century.”

Check out the University of North Carolina’s “Archivist in a Backpack” project that seeks to “make archive creation more accessible by offering resources that can easily launch community partners on memory projects.”

Remember when the Baltimore Museum of Art announced they’d sell big-name artworks to fund purchases of contemporary art by women and artists of color? Don’t you want to know what they bought??

“’You can’t stop now,’” Bedford says. ‘You have to acknowledge that you will never, at least in our lifetime, get to true equity within the museum. But I think there is virtue in continuing to push for it relentlessly.’”

And Finally

A doozy of a Long Read: Thomas Chatterton Williams on Adrian Piper for The New York Times Magazine.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Image: Installation view of Double Exposure: Edward S. Curtis, Marianne Nicolson, Tracy Rector, Will Wilson, 2018, installed at Seattle Art Museum, 2018, photo: Natali Wiseman.
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Muse/News: A prescription for art, life-changing DJs, and an epic visit to the Louvre

SAM News

The Seattle Times explores “why art is becoming part of doctors’ education at Virginia Mason in Seattle” with a recent front page feature. The Art & Medicine program at SAM uses art education techniques to teach medical residents skills like visual literacy, empathy, and self-care.

The Stranger’s Charles Mudede visits the Lessons from the Institute of Empathy installation, finding connections to the blockbuster film Black Panther and to Afrofuturism.

“These African masks, African jewelry, African clothes—made to be worn by fictional figures who run a fictional institute that deals with things like Empathy Deficit Disorder, and made to exist in real and virtual spaces—now have, for young and old Americans, a mainstream point of reference.”

Priya Frank, SAM’s Associate Director for Community Programs and co-chair of the museum’s Equity Team, shares her reflections for the NAEA’s Museum Education blog on the work of centering racial equity and creating an institutional culture shift. Priya was also a recent guest on the No Blueprint podcast and profiled in profiled in UW’s alumni magazine Columns.

Local News

Don’t miss this incredible story in the Seattle Times—a collaboration among writer Jerry Large, photographer Bettina Hansen, and videographer Corinne Chin—about a Seattle attorney’s collection of “some ugly, some inspiring” historical artifacts.

To know Riz is to love him: The Stranger’s Charles Mudede with a beautiful and convincing piece for their Queer Issue on “how DJ Riz Rollins changed Seattle.”

I can’t believe it’s almost July. Seattle Magazine has great picks for cultural happenings next month, including an upcoming show at the Henry featuring Figuring History artist Mickalene Thomas as photographer, designer, and curator.

Inter/National News

The New York Times’ Roberta Smith reviews the Met’s exhibition History Refused to Die (great name!); it features work from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation, whose focus is self-taught Black artists of the American South.

Hyperallergic’s John Yau takes a look at The Morgan Library & Museum’s show of Wayne Thiebaud’s works on paper.

“I may need to lie down.” Yes, the art world and everyone else recently went—well, you know—when Beyoncé and Jay-Z released a new joint album and a video shot at the Louvre. Artnet has a good round-up on the mania.

And Finally

The art historical and cultural resonances of APES**T will live forever—but this is the reaction I laugh about DAILY.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Image: Installation view Lessons from the Institute of Empathy, Seattle Art Museum, 2018, photo: Natali Wiseman.
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