All posts in “SAM News”

SAM COVID-19 UPDATE

COVID-19 UPDATE: ALL SAM LOCATIONS TEMPORARILY CLOSED

Updates for March 26, 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 park will remain open and free to the public. We ask that visitors closely follow social distancing guidelines, staying six feet away from other park visitors.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 May 10, 2020 in line with the latest recommendations from the CDC.

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

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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

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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
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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.

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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
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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.
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A Modern Champion: Virginia Wright (1929–2020)

With a heavy heart, we share the news of the passing of Virginia Wright, a pillar of the SAM family. Virginia and her late husband Bagley played pivotal roles in the development, vibrancy, and accomplishments of the Seattle Art Museum for more than half a century. Beyond being generous contributors, the Wrights’ greatest impact on SAM is seen in the art of the collection and in the art shown. Virginia was among a very small group of people who, in the 1960s, pushed SAM to create its first modern and contemporary art program. Virginia and Bagley also contributed to the purchase of many important acquisitions over the years. Above all else, the Wrights amassed one of the most important collections of modern and contemporary art in the world (over 200 works), all purchased with SAM in mind as the collection’s eventual home. When the bulk of it came to SAM in 2014, forming the backbone of its modern and contemporary collection, SAM was transformed from a great institution into a truly remarkable one.

Earlier this month, Virginia said, “When I think about the future of the Wright Collection at SAM, I put my trust in the artists. I trust that future generations will value their work, that SAM will continue to provide meaningful access to it, and that the conversations that their work has inspired will continue.” We are honored by her faith in Seattle’s museum and, because of her support over the last 60 years, we are confident that we can live up to the legacy she established.

Born in Seattle and raised in British Columbia, Virginia went East for college and majored in art history. Out of college, she worked for Sidney Janis Gallery in Manhattan and began collecting art. Mark Rothko’s abstract painting Number 10 (1952) was one of her early, daring purchases and it is now part of SAM’s collection.

Virginia has been a SAM member since 1951. She began docent training in 1957 and led her first public tour in 1959. In 1959, the Wrights made their first-ever gift to SAM’s collection: Room with White Table (1953) by William Ward Corley. That year they also provided funding for SAM to acquire Winter’s Leaves of the Winter of 1944 (at the time titled Leaves Before Autumn Wind) by Morris Graves.

In 1964, she and a group of friends persuaded then-director Richard Fuller to let her start the Contemporary Art Council (CAC), a group of collectors at the museum. For the next decade, it functioned as the museum’s first modern art department. The CAC sponsored lectures and supported the first exhibitions of Op art and conceptual art in Seattle. It also brought the popular Andy Warhol Portraits exhibition to Seattle in 1976, among many other important exhibitions. Her role in bringing great art to the Seattle Art Museum also involved the curation of two solo exhibitions for Morris Louis (in 1967) and William Ivey (in 1975).

Virginia joined SAM’s board in 1960, making 2020 her 60th anniversary with the Seattle Art Museum. She temporarily stepped away in 1972 when her husband Bagley joined the Board and rejoined in 1982. She served as President of the Board from 1987–90. Virginia was President of SAM’s Board of Trustees from 1986–1992, years that coincided with the construction and opening of the downtown Robert Venturi building in 1991—the museum’s first major transformation since its opening in 1933 and a major shift in Seattle’s cultural life to downtown First Avenue (with the Symphony soon following).

In 1999, SAM mounted an exhibition of the Wright Collection (The Virginia and Bagley Wright Collection of Modern Art, March 4–May 9, 1999). The Wrights’ entire art collection—the largest single collection of modern and contemporary art in the region—has been gradually donated (and the balance of the collection promised) to the Seattle Art Museum. A significant portion of the collection came to the museum in 2014 when the Wrights’ private exhibition space closed.

When the Seattle Art Museum opened the Olympic Sculpture Park in 2007, many works from the Wrights’ collection were installed there, including Mark di Suvero’s Bunyon’s Chess (1965) and Schubert Sonata (1992), as well as works by Ellsworth Kelly, Tony Smith, Anthony Caro, and Roxy Paine.

SAM’s ongoing exhibition Big Picture: Art After 1945 draws from the Wrights’ transformative gift of over 100 works and is a reminder of their incredible generosity.

Virginia was an active board member up to the end of her life, regularly attending meetings and advising the museum in many important endeavors. About SAM Virginia said, “It’s always been the main arena. I never wanted to break off and start a museum. I wanted to push the museum we already had into being more responsive to contemporary art.” And SAM would like to acknowledge that she did just that, leaving an undeniable mark on the cultural landscape of the entire Pacific Northwest.

As Amada Cruz, SAM’s Illsley Ball Nordstrom Director and CEO, says, “Even having only been in Seattle for a short time, it’s clear that Virginia Wright’s impact on the city and on SAM is beyond measure. Her legacy, and that of her late husband Bagley, is seen in both the very walls and on the walls of the downtown museum, and it fills the Olympic Sculpture Park’s landscapes. I’m honored to have been able to know her and of her hopes for SAM’s continued future.”

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Muse/News: Kismet at the Asian Art Museum, big stone hands, and bro-ramics

SAM News

The Seattle Asian Art Museum is now reopened, and we are still excited. Jennifer S. Li wrote about the “fresh and relevant” museum for ArtAsiaPacific.

“[The curators] orchestrated moments of kismet, discovery, and wonder, with space for visitors’ personal revelations as they interacted with the reinstallation.”

Eve M. Kahn has a lively and thorough look for Apollo Magazine of the reimagined museum.

And given Seattle’s complicated history of changing attitudes toward immigrants and visitors from the rest of the Pacific Rim, Foong [Ping, curator of Asian art] notes, ‘It’s very meaningful to have an Asian art museum in this city.’”

This week’s edition of Real Change features the Asian Art Museum, with this story from Kelly Knickerbocker.

“With the renovated building came an opportunity to start completely from scratch,” Foong said. “People kept asking, ‘Did you just go on holiday when the museum closed?’ It’s quite the opposite.”

The Stranger’s Jasmyne Keimig often takes a look at what’s “Currently Hanging”; here she is on Faig Ahmed’s Oiling, which is now on view in Be/longing: Contemporary Asian Art.

Mayumi Tsutakawa wrote for the South Seattle Emerald about Gather, the Garden Court’s new LED-light installation, which was created by her son, Kenzan Tsutakawa-Chinn.

Local News

“Do Sh*t Alone,” says the Stranger’s Jasmyne Keimig, recommending the joys of seeing art, movies, and music solo.

The Seattle Times’ Crystal Paul reviews Excluded, Inside the Lines, the Wing Luke’s exhibition on redlining and housing discrimination in Seattle that closes February 23.

Katie Kurtz interviews artist Dan Webb about his massive foray into stonework; his granite hands will soon grace Sound Transit’s Redmond Technology Station. Very cool visuals by Matt M. McKnight, too!

“They are my hands for a reason. Moving your boulder is a very personal subject and everybody’s got a boulder to move. It’s very literal,” Webb says.

Inter/National News

A look back for the #BongHive: Here’s Gary Indiana for Artforum in 2007, reflecting on the “Gogol in Seoul” sensibilities of director Bong Joon-ho.

The New York Times’ Elizabeth A. Harris reports on repercussions from the coronavirus hitting the art world.

Artnet’s Katie White from the frontlines of “bro-ramics”; apparently, Hollywood dudes are really into making ceramics? Of course, it’s a medium that has been dominated by women for centuries.  

“The popularity may wax and wane, but I don’t think we’ll return to anything like the material biases that existed in the late 20th century…and Seth Rogen will turn to underwater basket-weaving, eventually.”

And Finally

Cristofano Allori’s “breakup song” version of the oft-painted Judith and Holofernes.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Photo: Jueqian Fang
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Muse/News: We heart Asian art, keepers of the dream, and Parasite’s art

SAM News

The Seattle Asian Art Museum is officially reopen! Thank you to the thousands of people who streamed through the reimagined galleries at the free housewarming event last weekend. The museum starts regular hours on Wednesday, February 12.

“I felt freed, well, just to look”: Stefan Milne examines Boundless at the Asian Art Museum and The American War at ARTS at King Street Station, which both “explore how we see Asia.”

Seattle Refined shot a recent episode from the museum, including a fantastic segment with SAM curators Foong Ping and Xiaojin Wu (starts at :40).

And ParentMap’s JiaYing Grygiel has this charming look at the museum through the eyes of kids and families.

Local News

I Google this every Oscars season. Here’s a breakdown from the Seattle Times on those harder-to-understand categories.

The Stranger’s Charles Mudede on the work of Marisa Williamson, who has two shows on view in Seattle at SOIL Gallery and Jacob Lawrence Gallery.

Crosscut’s Margo Vansynghel on the new local documentary, Keepers of the Dream: Seattle Women Black Panthers, which premiered last Friday at Northwest Film Forum and will screen again on February 20.

“Women were critical to the survival of the organization,” [Robyn] Spencer says. “They were the movers, the shakers, the theorists, the thinkers, the organizers — they were keeping the party going.”

Inter/National News

Artist Beverly Pepper died this week at 97. Two of her works grace the Olympic Sculpture Park. Here’s Artnet’s obituary for the legendary sculptor.

Here’s Artnet on director Bong Joon-ho’s use of suseok, or “scholar’s rocks” in his Oscar-winning film Parasite.

The New York Times’ Roberta Smith on the late, Seattle-born painter Noah Davis, whose work is again on view in a “big, beautiful exhibition” at David Zwirner.

“Your eyes and mind enter them easily and roam through the different layers of brushwork and narrative suggestion. There’s an unexpected optimism to all this. The paintings also dwell in silence, slow us down and hypnotize.”

And Finally

Did you know that the Asian Art Museum will screen this film on February 26? Well, we will!

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Photo: Jueqian Fang
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