All posts in “Seattle Asian Art Museum”

Muse/News: Reimagined museums, reflective art, and the many rhythms of Cuba

SAM News

Last week, SAM announced that the Asian Art Museum will reopen to the public on February 8 and 9 with two free 12-hour days of programming, reflecting the 12 themes of the dramatically reimagined collection. The Seattle Times broke the news.

Natalie Ball: Twinkle, Twinkle Little Snake is reviewed by Bean Gilsdorf in Art in America. It’s also the cover story in this week’s edition of Real Change, with a feature review by Lisa Edge inside.

“Ball’s creations are freighted with symbolic messages, composed in a language that conjures both ancestral tradition and contemporary identity.”

“While audiences may not understand all the references she’s included, she wants them to connect with it emotionally. ‘I want them to feel it,’ Ball said. ‘I want it to pull or tug.’”

Building bridges! Centering joy! Priya Frank, SAM’s Associate Director for Community Programs, is one of Puget Sound Business Journal’s annual “40 Under 40” leaders.

Local News

Last week, we shared coverage of an internal battle at Intiman Theatre. This week, the organization has agreed on a plan for its future.

Seattle Met’s Stefan Milne has some thoughts on the five gallery shows to see this month.

The Stranger’s Jasmyne Keimig gets reflective in Carrie Yamaoka’s recto/verso at the Henry Art Gallery.

“It’s representation in the purest of senses, in that you can literally see yourself in her work—not an abstracted label of your body, say, or your identity, but your body and your identity.”

Inter/National News

The new MoMA opens on October 21, and press have had their sneak peek. Here’s thoughts from the New York Times and Vulture; CBS Sunday Morning will visit this week.

Can he collect it? Yes he can! Artsy chats with Q-Tip about his art collection, now on view at Bonham’s in New York.

It’s one of those beautiful New York Times interactives, this time taking us on a road trip across the many rhythms of Cuba.

“Cuban music is often described as a tree, with various primary roots that supply life for many branches. But separating the island’s music into distinct genres is an inherently flawed task — they intertwine and cross.”

And Finally

A swan song (or 10) from Jessye Norman.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Share

Donor Spotlight: Anne and Joe Baldwin

We are honored to support the transformation of the Seattle Asian Art Museum. As children, we both grew up visiting SAAM and were awed by the massive art deco building and exposure to rich culture within the museum. While raising our children, we visited the museum on school field trips and family outings, so it wasn’t surprising when our son, Michael, chose to take his senior pictures in front of SAAM. When we learned that the historical building was in desperate need of improved infrastructure and climate control as well as expanded exhibition and learning spaces, and we wanted to be involved. SAAM is a Seattle gem with its unique location within Volunteer Park and long, relevant history. This treasured landmark will offer locals and visitors an opportunity learn about the diverse art, culture, values and traditions of Asia for years to come.

–Anne and Joe Baldwin, SAM Donors

Share

A Grand Return: Preparing to Reopen the Seattle Asian Art Museum

With construction nearing completion at the Seattle Asian Art Museum, SAM staff has started preparations for the months-long move back into the historic building. As most people who have changed residences know, moving back in can often be as challenging as moving out. That experience will be amplified on a massive scale as the staff begins the gargantuan task of readying the renovated museum for art and visitors.

The 10,000 collection objects that were carefully packed, tracked, and removed from the Asian Art Museum now need to return to the building—a process expected to require a full year, although the museum will reopen before that process is complete. Lauren Mellon, Director of Museum Services and Chief Registrar, explains “Moving back in will be more complicated because we’re building the storage spaces as the art returns.” However, the collection will be returning to many important improvements. Mellon continues, “We will now have full climate control, and the storage facilities will be vastly upgraded. Overall, the objects will be much happier in their new home.”

Before works of art and museum staff can enter the renovated building, a number of systems across the facility will need to be tested to ensure they are operating correctly, including those pertaining to security, mechanics, air quality, and climate control. “We must maintain what we call a ‘critical environment’ to support the art, as well as provide a safe and healthy environment for employees and museum visitors,” explains Lee Richardson, Director of Facilities.

Once testing is complete, the first works of art that will be brought inside are those to be presented in the museum’s galleries. The preparation crew will begin working gallery by gallery, building platforms, preparing the cases for object displays, and eventually mounting the works of art. One of the most exciting outcomes of this work is visitors will have the chance to experience more of the museum’s collection. “We will no longer have to de-install the permanent collection as the special exhibitions change. All thirteen of the museum’s original galleries will now be dedicated to showing the collection,” says Nathan Peek, Director of Design and Installation. 

The building’s many improvements are inspiring the work of museum staff across departments. As Richardson says, “While the renovation process was important to addressing safety issues, we also now have a better palette to work with for exhibiting art and engaging the public.”

– Erin Langner, freelance writer

Photo: Natali Wiseman
Share

Docents Defined: Nina Vichayapai

Are you a fan of the Seattle Asian Art Museum who loves discussing your favorite artworks? Consider volunteering as a docent at the Asian Art Museum when it reopens later this year! SAM is recruiting new docents to start training to lead tours of the newly installed galleries and you have until May 31 to apply.

Docents bring their unique interests and backgrounds to each tour they lead and that’s what makes them fun and engaging for SAM’s diverse audiences. A docent like Nina didn’t go to museum growing up but later found them to be an important part of her life and started leading tours with SAM to help others become invested in museum visits early in life. Find about more about Nina in the interview below!

SAM: Tell us about yourself. Why did you decide to become a docent?

Nina: I am an artist and studied at an art school in San Francisco. Since I was young, I loved making art and knew I wanted to become an artist. It wasn’t until I was older that I also learned to love looking at art. A huge part of my college education took place at museums and included wonderful opportunities to meet the people who help these spaces function. Growing up I never really visited museums and by the time I became an adult, I somehow fell into the impression that the museum was a space reserved for people unlike me and the stories being told there did not represent mine.

After seeing many different museums, I was blown away by how much these spaces offer our communities. By the time I finished college and decided to move back to Seattle I knew that as much as I wanted to continue making art, I also wanted to find opportunities which would allow me to tap into the joy I have for museums. Becoming a docent with the Seattle Art Museum was really the perfect outlet for that joy. I was especially compelled to become a docent given my previous background of apprehension toward museums. There are many people who avoid museums out of feeling excluded. Having once been one of those people, I have a lot of patience and understanding when it comes to sharing what I think we can all learn from art.

What’s the best part of being a docent?

The best part of being a docent for me is definitely getting to see all the incredible connections people make to their own lives all just from looking at art. I’ve worked primarily with younger students and whether we are looking at a piece from the Pacific Northwest or from somewhere far away, whether it was made last year or hundreds of years ago, I’m always so thrilled to see how quickly the students will begin to relate the work to their own lived experiences.

Another thing I must mention as being a huge highlight is the wealth of resources we have access to! Through the online database, which docents can access, and the library at SAM, there is so much to learn about the art in SAM’s collections. Docents are always contributing to this wealth as well. For any art lover, it’ s really a dream and very fun to get lost in exploring the archives.

What’s your favorite work of art to tour?

My favorite installation to tour is Lessons from the Institute of Empathy. This installation includes the work of Saya Woofalk along with pieces from many other artists, so there is a lot to work within the gallery for the many different tours we do. But what I love most is seeing how students light up when they step into that space. The whole installation really breaks a lot of preconceived ideas about what art and museums are supposed to look like. And the concept of empathy is always one that generates really deep and often touching conversations.

What’s your most memorable touring experience?

I gave an Elements of Art tour to a particularly enthusiastic class once. They walked in without much prior experience of talking about art, but by the end of our tour they couldn’t contain their excitement at discovering the different elements we had just discussed in every artwork we passed. It was as if I had revealed a magician’s trick to them and their glee was really contagious!

What advice do you have for people applying for the docent program?

Visit museums! Not just art museums too. Seattle has so many great museums. I think it’s important to get a feel for the culture and approach to education unique to each museum. It helped me understand what qualities I felt were important and how I could bring that to my role as a docent.

– Yaoyao Liu, Seattle Asian Art Museum Educator

Share

Docents Defined: David Turner

Do you love art and can’t wait to spend loads of time in the Seattle Asian Art Museum when it reopens? We’ve got the volunteer position for you! SAM is recruiting new docents to start training to lead tours of the newly installed galleries and you have until May 31 to apply.

Our docents have a wide range of interests and background. Take David, for instance—he started volunteering to lead tours to get more involved in the arts community and his favorite artwork in the museum changes with every tour! Want to learn more about being a docent? Join SAM staff and current docents at our Docent Open House on May 16, 2019 from 6–7 pm

SAM: Tell us about yourself. Why did you decide to become a docent?

David: It was a way for me to get to be connected with the community when I came to Seattle.

What’s the best part about being leading school tours?

The exposure to the art and interacting with kids. One visit to a museum is never enough to get to understand or enjoy something. My joy in being in the museum comes from close contact with art over a period of time. It’s more meaningful when I can try to engage a group of kids or even adults in responding to an artwork. It’s a challenge, but it’s really a pleasure.

What’s your favorite work of art at SAM?

That changes every tour. I tell every group I take into the galleries, “I’m going to take you to see my favorite piece.” I want to express to kids, and everyone else on my tours, that I have regard for the work. Yesterday, my favorite piece was Market Scene by Paul Bril.

What’s your most memorable touring experience?

The emotional response to Marie Watt’s Blanket Stories: Three Sisters, Four Pelts, Sky Woman, Cousin Rose, and All My Relations in the Northwest Coast galleries. My take on it has always been that every blanket has a story and Blanket Stories encapsulates the stories of the people who created the materials in the piece. I ask viewers if they have a blanket story and it’s always very moving. It’s a very meaningful moment when they see it’s not just about a blanket, but that this is a collection of human beings’ lives.

What advice do you have for people interested in the docent program?

Be yourself. That’s it! A mistake that’s easy to make is to think that there’s a canned presentation that you’re going to give. Those are not the most interesting tours by any means. When docents have internalized a piece, it makes a big difference in the way the audience that you’re speaking to reacts.

– Yaoyao Liu, Seattle Asian Art Museum Educator

Share

Docents Defined: Erin Bruce

SAM is now recruiting new docents to start training for the reopening of the Seattle Asian Art Museum. You don’t need to be an art historian or a teacher to apply! In fact, SAM docents have a variety of interests and experiences. Having a diverse group of docents is how we’re able to offer tours that are engaging to all visitors. Read below and find out more about docents like Erin Bruce who volunteer their time at the museum.

If you still want to learn more about being a docent? Join SAM staff and current docents at our Docent Open House on May 16 from 6–7 pm! Or, apply now to the docent program. Applications are accepted through May 31.

SAM: Tell us about yourself. Why did you decide to become a docent?

Erin Bruce: I have always been inspired by all things visual, whether it is nature, a building, a room and especially art. I studied art in college and made art whenever possible. Now I am a technical stock trader and rely on charts for my work—more visual interpretation! It was a three-year wait for a new docent class to start for me after a friend told me about SAM. The chance to participate with our museum is an honor.

What’s the best part about being a docent?

The best part is all of it: meeting energetic, generous, knowledgeable people; constant learning; leading a tour of young people and engaging them in the art and history of objects. It’s all gratifying. SAM’s collections are a wondrous gift to our city and special exhibitions join and expand experiences as well.

What is your favorite work of art to tour at the Asian Art Museum?

The Deer Scroll. Calligrapher Koetsu and painter Sotatsu collaborated to create this iconic masterpiece. Our 30 feet of the original 72 feet contains 12 poems from the Shin Kokinshu, which took four years to write. The beauty and harmony transports you to another time and place.

What’s your most memorable touring experience?

Tours were scheduled the week before Mother’s Day so I made a gallery activity “A Gift for Mom.” Given one exhibition room students got to pick an object that they would give to their Mom if they could. It revealed so many wonderful things such as what objects in our Asian art collection young people were most drawn to, what they found beautiful and why. Crafting future tours improved since I had learned some of their favorite objects. The chance to interact with young people is yet another joy and benefit of leading a school tour.

What advice do you have for people applying for the docent program?

Your interests and life experiences offer wonderful and unique perspectives. You will discover and explore the vast and layered connections of art to our lives. It is so much fun.

– Yaoyao Liu, Seattle Asian Art Museum Educator

Share

Muse/News: Punching bags wearing skirts, pet portraits, and multiple voices

SAM News

There’s only a month left to see Jeffrey Gibson: Like a Hammer! Seattle Magazine’s Gavin Borchert celebrates the exhibition’s insistence on blending all kinds of associations.

“You may notice the exquisite, painstaking craftsmanship first, or you may notice that many of the bags now look like they’re wearing skirts.”

SAM’s Chief Conservator Nicholas Dorman spoke with Hyperallergic’s Kealey Boyd for this story on the need for specialized conservators of East Asian art; SAM’s forthcoming Asian Paintings Conservation Center will treat works from its collection and serve other institutions as well.

AFAR’s Alison C. Meier calls The Allure of Matter: Material Art from China one of “10 Incredible U.S. Museum Exhibits to See This Summer.” This immersive, exciting exhibition of contemporary Chinese art debuts at LACMA this summer—and heads to SAM in 2020.

Local News

Crosscut’s Agueda Pacheco Flores on the recently debuted Nepantla Cultural Arts Gallery in White Center, which founders Jake Prendez and Judy Avitia-Gonzalez will devote to Latinx art and programs.

And another gallery is on the way out:  Pioneer Square’s Mount Analogue will shutter after its May show—but will “live on as a freewheeling print magazine.”

Our pets are obviously the best. The Stranger’s Jasmyne Keimig talks with several local pet portraitists—including Rebecca Luncan, a preparator and mountmaker at SAM!—who preserve their goodness for all time.

“It’s a funny idea that even in 2019, this medium of representation, of memory, of love is something that people still seek out. That with our smartphones and our ability to capture every aspect of our lives, people still go out of their way to commission portraits of their animal friends.”

Inter/National News

Hyperallergic’s Jasmine Weber on the Musée d’Orsay’s Black Models: from Géricault to Matisse, based on Denise Murrell’s thesis on black models in French art.

Artnet has the stunning images from a newly discovered tomb in the town of Saqqara, south of Cairo; more than 4,000 years old, it’s remarkably well preserved.

The Chicago Tribune’s Steve Johnson reports on the postponement of a major exhibition on Native pottery at the Art Institute of Chicago, due to concerns over a lack of Indigenous perspectives.

“The principal thing that we have not accomplished is to have an aligned indigenous perspective, scholarly and curatorial, with the project,” he said. “And I think that ultimately for us has been the crucial realization that our ability to reflect back what we were learning needed to be done in multiple voices, not just our voice.”

And Finally

I would like to see it: An interview with the first full-time art therapist on staff at a North American museum.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Image: IF I RULED THE WORLD, 2018, Jeffrey Gibson, Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians/Cherokee, b. 1972, repurposed punching bag, acrylic felt, glass beads, metal jingles, artificial sinew, and nylon fringe, 79 x 15 x 15 in., Seattle Art Museum, Modern Art Acquisition Fund; by exchange Eugene Fuller Memorial Collection; American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Childe Hassam Fund; Sidney and Anne Gerber; Jan and Gardner Cowles; David Hoberman; Gordon Woodside; Ed Rossbach; Pat Klein and Stephen Wirtz Gallery; Gary Wiggs; Jerome D. Whalen; Karin Webster; Virginia Zabriskie; Dinah James and the Diane Gilson Gallery; Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Weyerhaeuser Davis; Norman and Amelia Davis Collection; Mrs. Will Otto Bell; Puget Sound Group of Northwest Painters Award in memory of Eustace P. Ziegler, 1969, 2018.17, © Jeffrey Gibson, photo: Peter Mauney.

Share

Donor Spotlight: Peggy Carlisle

I made my first trip to China in 1986. I wanted to see China before it changed, I had no idea it would completely alter my life. It opened a world of wonder, curiosity, and endless adventure for me that continues to this day. By 1990 I had become so obsessed that when an opportunity arose to study Asian art at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, I jumped at it. Since then, I have traveled extensively to see remote areas of Asia and visited hundreds of museums to quell my curiosity.

One of the reasons for my move to Seattle in 2000 was that there was this jewel box museum dedicated entirely to Asian art. There, in that perfect little building was a stunning collection. Many pieces from SAM’s collection had been referenced during my studies in London. And much to my surprise, each time I visited the Seattle Asian Art Museum, the curators had completely rotated the collection to display yet another aspect or region of the collection. In many museums, the collections never rotate and I go back to visit some objects like old friends. At the Asian Art Museum it was always a new wonder and delight.

For so many reasons, it has been my great pleasure to support the continuation of this remarkable institution. And thanks to everyone at the Seattle Art Museum for their enormous contribution to Seattle.

– Peggy Carlisle, SAM Donor

Share

New Design Brings History to Light: Seattle Asian Art Museum

One of the most important sources of design inspiration for the Seattle Asian Art Museum’s renovations is the incredible place where it resides: Volunteer Park. It’s been more than 100 years since John Charles Olmsted conceived of Volunteer Park’s design. Yet, it continues to be the city’s most intensely used park—and an essential consideration within the museum’s renovation project that has involved input from national, city, and community groups that include Friends of Seattle’s Olmsted Parks, the National Park Service, Seattle Parks & Recreation, and Volunteer Park Trust.

“We took a lot of cues from the Olmsted plan and their design intent, their aesthetic and some of the principles they brought to planning all of the trails and pathways within this park,” explains Chris Jones, principal at Walker Macy, the firm overseeing the renovated landscape design. He continues, “In lieu of putting in plazas around the museum, we’re grading the landscape in a way that maintains the recreation that occurs onsite, really supporting the character of the park as the Olmsteds would, emphasizing a nice pastoral landscape with open lawn and trees.”

In addition to their importance within the pastoral aesthetic, trees intersect with the design process in another way. The design team has been working with the guidance of an onsite arborist, who has been integral to the renovation processes by making recommendations for construction methods and identifying important root areas to avoid, in order to best support the trees’ health.

 

The pathways surrounding the museum are also central to the Asian Art Museum’s landscape renovation plan. This includes creating safer traffic circulation around the museum, constructing a more direct connection between the museum and public transit on 15th Avenue, and improving accessibility to the museum. The plan also realizes two pathways that were in Olmsted’s original plan for Volunteer Park but were never fully established, an element that was developed in response to community groups’ input on the design. Jones says, “The intent was to provide each park-goer with an improvement that’s visible on a daily basis . . . I think we achieved that by coming to a really happy consensus that reflects the input from the community.”

In the months ahead, we will continue exploring the future of the Asian Art Museum as the renovations progress towards the much-anticipated re-opening in 2019.

– Erin Langner, freelance writer

Images: Photo: Eduardo Calderon. Photo: Natali Wiseman.
Share
Share