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COVID-19 UPDATE: ALL SAM LOCATIONS CURRENTLY CLOSED. LEARN MORE »

Inside the Reinstalled Asian Art Museum with SAM’s Curators

Be prepared to be surprised when you are next able to visit today’s Seattle Asian Art Museum! Our curators are here to share the thinking and process behind offering a thematic, rather than geographic or chronological reinstallation of SAM’s Asian art collection.

You will no longer find galleries labeled China, Japan, or India. Instead, vibrant artworks from Vietnam to Iran, and everywhere in between, come together to tell stories of human experiences across time and place. From themes of worship and celebration to clothing and identity, nature and power to birth and death, the new collection installation reveals the complexity and diversity of Asia—a place of distinct cultures, histories, and belief systems that help shape our world today.

If you value the ways SAM connects art to your life, consider making a donation or becoming a member today!

Muse/News: Drawing with O’Keeffe, walks and recipes, and a napping lioness

SAM News

SAM’s temporary closure has been extended until further notice, in our effort to do all we can to safeguard the health and safety of the community.

We hope you are enjoying Stay Home with SAM, which connects you with art through videos, interviews, art-making activities, and art spotlights. Don’t miss the latest post, featuring digital and analog art-making experiences for Georgia O’Keeffe: Abstract Variations.

Artnet will be spotlighting exhibitions from all over the world during the closures—they started with Abstract Variations.

Local News

Seattle Times’ Gabriel Campanario is back with another sketch. This time, he takes in the Betty Bowen Viewpoint while on a socially distanced walk, mentioning her connection to SAM.

“Don’t skip the Olympic Sculpture Park art detour,” says Alison Williams of Seattle Met in her prescient “15 Best City Trails in Seattle” feature for Seattle Met’s April edition.

Crosscut shares another video in their Art Seen series, created before the stay-at-home order, with a question that is more relevant than ever.

“What do you create or do in life that brings you happiness? The question we asked locals — just before Washington state’s stay-at-home order — takes on new meaning now that individuals and communities are coping with the coronavirus crisis.”

Inter/National News

Last week, Congress passed a $2 trillion aid package in response to the coronavirus. Cultural organizations had requested $4 billion; Artnet’s Eileen Kinsella reports on how “they got, well, less.”

Hyperallergic says skip Netflix, and explore their list of experimental films and video art to stream, gathered with the help of their contributors as well as artists and filmmakers.

Artnet’s Sarah Cascone got 10 famous artists to dish on their favorite recipes getting them through these tough times.

“A fridge full of seafood, a cabinet full of beans, and regular trips to the coffee shop while we still can. Prepping for the worst, but can’t leave this city! So far, pizza is still delivering, so totally OK.”

And Finally

It makes me feel better to know Nikita the Lioness is taking a nap (again).

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Artwork: Georgia O’Keeffe, American, 1887–1986, Music, Pink and Blue, No. 1, 1918, oil on canvas, 35 x 29 in., Seattle Art Museum, Gift of Barney A. Ebsworth, 2000.161, photo: Paul Macapia

COVID-19 Update: All SAM Locations Temporarily Closed

Updates for April 20, 2020

The safety and well-being of our staff, volunteers, and visitors are always our highest priorities. We are mindful of concerns surrounding the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and are committed to being responsive, following the recommendations of US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Public Health Seattle & King County.

What SAM is Doing
In light of the directives issued by the Governor’s office to limit the spread of coronavirus and the guidance provided by public officials to safeguard the health and safety of our community, we will remain closed at our three locations until further notice. The Seattle Art Museum, the Asian Art Museum and the PACCAR Pavilion at the Olympic Sculpture Park will be closed.

The Olympic Sculpture Park remains open, consistent with Governor Jay Inslee’s proclamation noting that walks, bike rides, and similar activities are considered essential for everyone’s physical and mental health and are not prohibited during this time. We will continue to monitor and follow the guidance of city and public health officials and we will align with any decision to close major Seattle city parks. When the park is open, we ask that visitors keep moving through the park and closely follow social distancing guidelines, staying six feet away from other park visitors. We encourage park visitors to wear masks. Please note that no groups or gatherings are currently allowed in the park.

The SAM Shop and TASTE Café, the Education Resource Center, and all libraries will also be closed. We have also canceled or postponed all museum events through June 30, 2020.

While we are closed, follow us on Facebook and Instagram so you can Stay Home with SAM—we’re sharing art activities for all ages, videos, interviews, art news, and more to keep you connected to art. If you would like to continue to help support SAM’s efforts to connect art to life while we are closed, we would be most appreciative. Please visit our website to make a donation.

If you have a ticket to the museum or for a canceled event, please consider donating your ticket to the museum during this difficult time. We are also happy to exchange your ticket for a future event or offer a refund on request. Due to staffing limits during the museum’s closure, the Customer Service Center will be unable to check voicemails regularly. Please contact us via email at customerservice@seattleartmuseum.org with any questions, concerns, or requests. Responses may take longer than usual.

We are monitoring the evolving situation closely and will announce any further program or operational changes through our regular channels, including our website and social media.

Thank you for your understanding and support as we work together to help our community stay safe and healthy.

What You Can Do
For the safety of everyone in our community we ask that you:

  • Stay home if you are feeling unwell and practice social distancing when out.
  • Wash your hands. Do so often. Use soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • If opportunity for hand washing is not available, use hand sanitizers.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes. Hold a tissue over your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. Throw that tissue away and, again, wash your hands.
  • No handshakes or hugs, please. A wave is acceptable for greeting others.

Public Health Seattle & King County is strongly recommending that people at higher risk of severe illness should stay home and away from large groups of people as much as possible, including public places with lots of people and large gatherings where there will be close contact with others. People at higher risk include:

  • People 60 and older.
  • People with underlying health conditions including heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes.
  • People who have weakened immune systems.
  • People who are pregnant.

We encourage you to stay informed and to follow the guidance provided by public health officials.

Here are some links to resources that can provide more details on these and other recommendations:

kingcounty.gov/covid

kingcounty.gov/depts/health/news/2020/March.aspx

cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/symptoms.html

https://www.doh.wa.gov/emergencies/coronavirus

Muse/News: Stay Home with SAM, couch sketches, and penguins on parade

SAM News

SAM is temporarily closed through the end of March, to help limit the spread of COVID-19 and protect the community. To keep connecting you to art, we have launched Stay Home with SAM, with regular emails sharing videos, interviews, and art news from SAM Blog. Join us!

Local News

“Seattle Sketcher” Gabriel Campanario shared his latest work for the Seattle Times: a sketch of the view from his couch, of course.

Crosscut has gathered an impressive swath of local writers to share their reflections on the impacts of coronavirus on our daily lives.

The Seattle Times’ Brendan Kiley reports on the City of Seattle’s wave of relief efforts for artists and cultural organizations, totaling $1.1 million.

“’This is 9/11 meets The Great Recession meets the snowstorm,’ Randy Engstrom, director of the city’s Office of Arts and Culture (OAC), said during an online public meeting Tuesday afternoon. ‘We know we’re going to get through this together — and this is our time.’”

Inter/National News

The Gothamist’s Ben Yakas reports on the dire situation at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; they are projecting a $100 million loss in revenues and likely layoffs.

“American Alliance of Museums Asks Congress to Allot $4B for Nonprofit Museums” announces Jasmine Weber for Hyperallergic.

How Can We Think of Art at a Time Like This? asks a just-launched online exhibition from writer-curators Barbara Pollack and Anne Verhallen, recruiting artists and building a website over 48 hours.

“‘It’s always been an intriguing contradiction between how important art is and how trivial it can be at the same time,’ said Pollack. ‘When crises come up, I think it’s a question we all ask ourselves…There is always something going on in the world that seems to overshadow creative effort, and yet it’s so important for creative effort to continue.’”

And Finally

Three cheers for the social media team—and the penguins!—at Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Art is Not a Noun, It’s a Verb: Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas

“The real magic of Carpe Fin is in the space between the object and the observer.”

– Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas

Hear from the artist behind the 6 x 19–foot watercolor mural commissioned for SAM. Haida artist Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas describes Carpe Fin as “Haida manga.” This unique approach developed by Yahgulanaas blends several artistic and cultural traditions, including Haida formline art, Japanese manga, Pop Art, and graphic novels.

Inspired by a traditional Haida oral story, the story is also linked to a 19th-century headdress in SAM’s collection carved by Yahgulanaas’s relative, Albert Edward Edenshaw. Carpe Fin calls attention to issues of environmental degradation and the rupture of the values that honor human-nature interdependence.

We asked SAM staff to reflect on the work and what stood out to them by answering which panel impacted them most. Have you seen the artwork at SAM or read the book? Read some reflections below and share your thoughts with us in the comments!

  • The very center panel—it’s more free form so it draws the eye. It’s the moment when Carpe realizes he’s been left behind on the island. His phases of expression and gesture really struck me.
  • The central panels—frames break down, creative topsy-turvy!
  • The third panel (upper center) for the transition from the human to the underwater world. The contrast of thick, thin, and detailed brushwork make it come alive.
  • The middle panels stand out because of the dynamic between the sea lions and humans. There’s a chaotic structure that reminds me of the circle of life, but it also shows an imbalance.
  • The central panel and how it just seems to come alive and break out of the typical comic book boxes/outlines; the overall image captivates your attention and makes you want to keep looking at the intricate, smaller details.
  • I was most impacted by the panel in which Carpe swims back wearing sewed-up seal skin. There is something about embodying the animal that he had been killing. I wonder how much the message of “you’re killing our women” would have sunk in without this physical experience or if he would have heard it in a different way?
  • I’m most impacted by the panel where the young boys kill a flicker. This senseless, purposeless killing of a living thing in a microcosm of the imbalance and lack of respect for the environment that has created dire circumstances for this community and communities across the globe. The energy that youth are bringing to climate activism lies in contrast to this detail and gives hope for the future. We all need to take responsibility and enact laws and regulations that will ensure the survival of future generations.
  • All of them together

If you value the ways SAM connects art to your life, consider making a donation or becoming a member today!

Images: Carpe Fin (details), 2018, Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas, Haida, b. 1954, watercolor and ink on handmade Japanese paper, 6.5 x 19.7 ft., Seattle Art Museum, Ancient and Native American Art Acquisition Fund, McRae Foundation and Karen Jones, 2018.30, © Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas.

Muse/News: Remote art, O’Keeffe’s recipes, and staying safe

SAM News

Following a series of progressive steps taken in recent weeks, SAM announced last Thursday that it has temporarily closed through the end of March, to help limit the spread of COVID-19 and protect the community.

While the museum is closed, we hope you’ll enjoy Gayle Clemans’ lovely review of John Akomfrah: Future History, which notes that even with the closure, “the artist and his work, nonetheless, is well worth knowing about.”

“For Akomfrah, that cinematic approach is like philosophy, a way of comprehending the world. ‘As opposites have conversations, or as they are persuaded to at least potentially sit at the table in preparation for conversation, something miraculous happens,’ he says. ‘Life itself happens.’”

Also for the Seattle Times, Gayle Clemans rounded up visual arts recommendations in honor of Women’s History Month, including SAM’s “one-room powerhouse of a show,” Georgia O’Keeffe: Abstract Variations.

Local News

The Seattle Times has extensive coronavirus coverage, including local museum news, thoughts on the immediate impact to arts organizations, and daily live updates.

Crosscut shares ways to support the creative economy, Culturyst has a special “Seattle arts at home” edition, and Red Tricycle also has ideas for remote experiences, including browsing SAM’s collection online.

The Stranger’s Rich Smith suggests that you join Everyone in the World who will be tuning in to rebroadcasts and livestreams of Seattle Symphony performances.

“The push to do these performances is all stemming from the musicians,” Shafii said. “They’re motivated to do whatever they can to provide music for the community.”

Inter/National News

Globally, Artnet is tracking closures and other art world news. They’re also reporting that institutions in China and South Korea are carefully reopening.

The New York Times’ live (and free) coronavirus updates are essential.

Since we can’t be looking at Georgia O’Keeffe’s paintings, might we suggest cooking from Georgia O’Keeffe’s recipes? Thanks to The New Yorker’s Rachel Syme for the perfect housebound idea.

“Miss O’Keeffe often wondered aloud, ‘Do you think other people eat as well as we do?’”

And Finally

“Working from home is awesome.”

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Image: Alfred Stieglitz, American, 1864–1946, Georgia O’Keeffe (in a chemise), 1918, gelatin silver print, 9 1/2 x 7 1/2 in., Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, New Mexico, Gift of the Georgia O’Keeffe Foundation, 2006.6.1432, photo: Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe / Art Resource, NY

Muse/News: Akomfrah lights up, Native artists lead, and a catchy tune

SAM News

“More collage than straightforward narrative, more meditation than explanation.” Crosscut’s weekly “things to do” always has great suggestions; right now they’re recommending SAM’s two new shows, the immersive video works in John Akomfrah: Future History and the small-but-mighty Georgia O’Keeffe: Abstract Variations.

As part of their ongoing series on arts and culture, Canvas, the PBS NewsHour takes us to the Peabody Essex Museum to see their exhibition of Jacob Lawrence’s Struggle series, which heads to SAM next year.

Artnet’s Eileen Kinsella wrote about the art world’s increased attention on contemporary Native and First Nation artists; she spoke with SAM curator Barbara Brotherton about what it means.

“It’s obviously a really exciting thing,” said Barbara Brotherton, a curator of Native American art at the Seattle Art Museum, of the recent exposure. The museum has a long track record of showing Native American art ranging from historical to contemporary periods. “We’re just in this modern moment where it’s gaining cachet from venues like art fairs, contemporary galleries, and biennials.”

Local News

Seattle Magazine announced this week that it is under new ownership, having been acquired by startup entrepreneur and Geekwire chairman Jonathan Sposato.

Per Crosscut’s Margo Vansynghel: “The 114-year old Georgetown Steam Plant . . . will become a state-of-the-art education, science and arts center, to open in three to five years.”

Gavin Borchert for the Seattle Times on the “pathbreaking” Black composer Florence Price, and the tale of how her Violin Concerto No. 2 came to be performed by the Seattle Symphony.

“An errant tornado, or even a carelessly tossed cigarette butt, in the wrong place and the Seattle Symphony would be playing a very different program.”

Inter/National News

Here’s a good overview of how national cultural institutions are responding to the coronavirus, from Julia Jacobs and others at the New York Times.

Ariella Azoulay for Hyperallergic on the “Free Renty” case, in which Tamara Lanier, a descendant of Renty Taylor, is suing Harvard University for restitution of a daguerreotype of Taylor.

“Why Watch Video in a Museum?” asks Jason Farago of the New York Times; his answer is in his review of filmmaker Steve McQueen’s new exhibition at the Tate Modern.

“Video art, once dumbly condemned by traditionalists as a mass-media takeover of the fine art gallery, now offers more of an escape from the hellscape of our digital feeds than other artistic media.”

And Finally

Catchy.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Image: Film still from Tropikos, 2016, John Akomfrah, single channel colour video, 5.1 sound, 36 minutes, 41 seconds, (AKOM160001), © Smoking Dogs Films; Courtesy Smoking Dogs Films and Lisson Gallery.

Muse/News: Chiyo’s goodbye, the art of hom bows, and Earth’s mini moon

SAM News

Last week, we announced that Chiyo Ishikawa, SAM’s Susan Brotman Deputy Director for Art and Curator of European Painting and Sculpture, will retire this summer after 30 years with the museum. The Seattle Times, KUOW, Artforum, Artnet, ARTnews, Artdaily, and Hyperallergic all shared the news. In Crosscut’s Arts & Culture newsletter, Brangien Davis spoke for everyone when she wrote, “Beloved in the Seattle arts community for her insight, approachability and très chic personal style, Ishikawa will be missed.”

“A Place for Meaningful Cultural Conversations” declared the headline for art critic Lee Lawrence’s thoughtful review of the reimagined Asian Art Museum, which appeared in the February 25 print edition of the Wall Street Journal.

“These 19th-century bululs, or rice deities, from the Philippines once watched over terraced paddies, and they’re among the museum’s most modest yet most powerful works. Given the nature and small size of its Philippine holdings, the Seattle Asian Art Museum probably would have kept them in storage had it opted for a traditional installation. But in another benefit of thematic groupings, they—and other long-warehoused treasures in the museum’s collection—now have a role, enriching the new installation not just with their stories but with their spirit.”

Local News

Seattle-based artist Susie J. Lee is making a short video about what makes a museum “interesting and cool.” The Seattle Times’ Alan Berner captured photos of the recent shoot at the Asian Art Museum.

Crosscut’s new video series, Art Seen, explores “the hidden art of the everyday”; they recently showed us how Mee Sum Pastry makes all those hom bows, day in and day out.

The Seattle Times’ Crystal Paul reviews the new collection of stories by Zora Neale Hurston, Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick.

“As a trained anthropologist, Hurston traveled down the East Coast and sat on stoops and corners, the storytelling stages and communal gathering spaces of Black communities, where, with academic rigor and a loving gaze, she listened, studied and collected the stories Black folk tell.”

Inter/National News

Tara Bahrampour for the Washington Post on the Phillips Collection’s Creative Aging program, which helps seniors connect and make art.

Holland Cotter of the New York Times on MoMA’s Donald Judd survey that opens on Sunday, noting that his work “can now be seen to offer pleasures, visual and conceptual, that any audience with open eyes, can relate to.”

Hyperallergic’s Kealey Boyd reviews the exhibition of Chinese contemporary art, The Allure of Matter: Material Art from China; its national tour has now brought it to the Smart Museum of Art and Wrightwood 659 in Chicago, before it heads to SAM this summer.

“It is not often a new category of art historical research is proposed as a solution to these persistent problems, but The Allure of Matter: Material Art from China makes a compelling case for the usefulness of a new analytical structure around Chinese art.” 

And Finally

Earth can have a mini moon (as a treat).

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Photo: Scott Areman

Muse/News: Virginia’s legacy, Yardbird goes opera, and the Museum Walk

SAM News

Virginia “Jinny” Wright, a pillar of the SAM family, passed away last week at the age of 91. The Seattle Times obituary of the collector and philanthropist noted that she “lived for art—and dedicated herself to sharing it with others.” KUOW and ARTnews also shared remembrances of her legacy. She will be greatly missed.

KEXP’s Hans Anderson interviewed SAM curators Foong Ping and Xiaojin Wu about the reimagined Seattle Asian Art Museum for their Sound & Vision show; head to their archive for Saturday, February 15 for the story, which started at 7:49 am.

More coverage for the Asian Art Museum appeared in GRAY Magazine, Post Alley, and 425 Magazine.

Local News

You have until this Saturday to check out the Jacob Lawrence works on view at Greg Kucera. The Seattle Times’ Brendan Kiley wrote about the artist’s “big, beautiful panels for real-life superheroes.”

The Stranger’s Jasmyne Keimig keeps an eye out for what’s “Currently Hanging”; right now, it’s Agnieszka Polska’s Love Bite at the Frye Art Museum.

Tom Keogh for Crosscut on Seattle Opera’s “promising, dynamic production” of Charlie Parker’s Yardbird, which explores the life of the jazz legend.

“So the piece, like Parker’s music, is full of extremes, pushing the voice’s boundaries,” [tenor Joshua] Stewart says. “When you have a piece this difficult, you have to bring to it everything you have to offer. You have to go on the full journey.”

Inter/National News

OK, this is definitely a thing: Museum Walk gives you back pain. Hyperallergic has tips to alleviate it from posture expert Mark Josefsberg.

Payal Uttam for Artsy on the most recent edition of the India Art Fair (IAF) in New Delhi, and what it said about the market for South Asian art.

Artnet’s Taylor Defoe reports on the Oakland Museum of California’s recent pivot to measuring their success by their “social impact,” rather than by usual metrics.

“This is coming at a time when museums and other cultural institutions are really trying to make a case for their existence,” says the OMCA’s associate director of evaluation and visitor insight, Johanna Jones, who led the project. “We know we make a difference in people’s lives, now we need to really demonstrate it through measurable metrics.”

And Finally

More movies for your list, post-Parasite.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Image: Virginia Wright in her Pioneer Square gallery, Current Editions, August 1967. Photo: © Mary Randlett. All rights reserved.