All posts in “SAM News”

It’s On! Seattle Art Museum (SAM) and Denver Art Museum (DAM) are betting big on Super Bowl XLVIII

The Super Bowl is a mere six days away (February 2, 3:30 pm PST on FOX). Not only is the 12th man gearing up, but so is the Seattle Art Museum. SAM and the Denver Art Museum (DAM) (everyone likes a rhyming competition, right?) have upped the ante on the outcome of Super Bowl XLVIII by betting temporary loans of major works of art on Sunday’s big game.

The Stakes:
A majestic Native American mask, reminiscent of a mighty “Seahawk” from SAM’s renowned Northwest Coast Native American art collection, is wagered by Kimerly Rorschach, SAM’s Illsley Ball Nordstrom Director and CEO.

The Broncho Buster, a bronze icon of the West by Frederic Remington from the renowned western American art collection at the DAM, is wagered by Christoph Heinrich, Frederick and Jan Mayer Director.

The winning city will receive a three-month loan of the prized artwork. All shipping and expenses will be paid by the city that loses the big game. Dates of the loan are still being finalized.

Here at SAM we are looking forward to showcasing the Broncho Buster. Our visitors will be in for a special treat when they gaze upon the beautiful bronze horse symbolizing the spirit and tenacity of the Wild West. Popular from the time of its creation, The Broncho Buster stands today as an icon of the region and is thought of as the first action bronze of a western hero.

Just for the record, SAM’s “Seahawk” is a Forehead Mask from the Nuxalk First Nation ca. 1880. This Nuxalk mask shows the elegant elongation of the bird beak, a sensitive and human-like rendering of the eye/socket/brow area, with painted embellishments on the surface in black, red and blue. The open mouth suggests the ferocity of this bird of prey, possibly a supernatural “man-eater”. Shredded red cedar bark symbolizes the mythical arena in which the dance-dramas would be enacted.

…It’s too bad that visitors to DAM won’t be able to experience it there, but they can always come visit SAM.


Image credits: Forehead Mask, Nuxalk, ca. 1880, Alder, red cedar bark, copper, pins, paint, 4 1/8 x 11 3/8 x 5 1/8 inches, Gift of John H. Hauberg 91.1.71. Frederic Remington, The Broncho Buster, Modeled 1895, cast by 1902, Bronze; 23-1/4 in., Denver Art Museum; The Roath Collection.


SAM teamed up with The Seattle Times and PromPeru, the Peruvian tourist bureau, to give away a four day, five night trip to beautiful Lima, Peru. The only requirement? Describe in 300 words or less what you would do with 24 hours in Peru. (Get it? A sun and a moon, to match Peru: Kingdoms of the Sun and the Moon.)

Over 300 readers responded. After much deliberation, the grand prize went to Sheelagh King! Her essay transported the selection committee, taking them right out of their offices and into the warm air and cobbled streets.

When we got Sheelagh on the phone, we found out that she knew what she was talking about—she once visited Peru for less than 48 hours and since then has been dreaming about going back.

“In 1940 my parent took their honeymoon in Peru. They ended up living in Lima for 3 years,” Sheelagh says. She feels a strong pull to explore a piece of family history; to stand on the edge of Lake Titicaca where a photograph of her parents was taken and spend time in Lima, where her sister was born. Her passions for culture, traveling and history are evident. We were happy to hear that Peru: Kingdoms of the Sun and the Moon, the inspiration for the contest, increased her understanding as well as deepened her curiosity of Peru.

Sheelagh's father on Lake Titicaca, 1940

Sheelagh’s father on Lake Titicaca, 1940


Sheelagh’s mother in Lima, Peru


Sheelagh’s mother in the marketplace of Huaycan with a local Peruvian woman

After hearing (and becoming quite jealous) of all her plans, we ended our conversation with a simple question (or so we thought): “Who is the lucky person you plan on taking?”

“Well, that hasn’t been decided yet. My husband and son are currently vying for the position of fellow traveler,” Sheelagh answered with a chuckle.

Read Sheelagh’s winning essay:

I would wake early and watch the mist above the Urubamba River in the Sacred Valley; put on my best walking shoes and have a light breakfast of papaya and a sweet tamale with raisins inside; watch the granite mountains, churning river, stucco houses and green fields fly by, from my seat on the Vistadome train; step off the bus at the top of the world and see for the first time that magnificent sight of Machu Picchu’s green terraces dropping off into space; overcome my fear of heights and climb to the highest point; run my hands along the smooth, seamless Incan stones; find a quiet spot on the lush grass above the remains of their dwellings and revel in the fact that the Conquistadors somehow missed this magical retreat of Pachacutec.

Retuning to Cuzco that afternoon, I would wander up and down the narrow, cobblestone streets of San Blas, looking for that perfect souvenir; try fried sweet potato donuts in the San Pedro market; have a chat with the ladies who come in to town with their big round loaves of bread, dressed in colorful embroidered clothes and wide brimmed hats; spend time with the magnificent art in the cathedral of Cuzco, which took a century to build; try to imagine a city covered in gold; enjoy a tart pisco sour by the fireplace of the Monasterio Hotel, feeling the ghosts of the Spanish monks who walked this place in silence; try alpaca for my dinner entrée along with several types of potato and a fresh tomato salad, accompanied by a glass of Peruvian red wine; fall asleep on an open air terrace, under the stars of the Southern hemisphere and dream of the ancients.

Top Image: Sheelagh’s mother on Lake Titicaca, 1940

Josh Yiu: From Getty Intern to Arts Professional

Click here to check out this interview about the Getty Foundation’s Multicultural Undergraduate Internship Program.

Josh Yiu, the curator of our Chinese Art Collection here at SAM, is interviewed about his summer spent in the Getty program following his Junior year.


SAM Announces New Director

We are thrilled to report that, this morning, the Chairman of the Board of SAM announced the selection of Kimerly Rorschach as the next Illsley Ball Nordstrom Director of the Seattle Art Museum.Since 2004 Kim has been the Mary D.B.T. and James H. Semans Director of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, and we look forward to fall 2012 when she will formally begin her work at SAM.

In making the announcement, Charles Wright, Chairman of the Board said, “We feel fortunate to be bringing a new arts leader of such caliber to Seattle. Kim’s engagement with national and global arts issues, along with her combined experience in scholarship, business management and community engagement will benefit SAM and the wider community immeasurably and strengthen the city’s reputation as a national leader in the arts.”

Click here for more information about Kim.

We hope you will join us in welcoming Kim Rorschach and her husband this fall. Watch this space for more information about her start date and when you will have the chance to meet her yourself.

Nick Cave

Congratulations SAM Design Team!

Our talented designers won quite a few awards from the 2012 AAM Museum Publications Design Competition.


1st Prize
Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA
Nick Cave: Meet Me at the Center of the Earth Wheatpaste Series
Designed by: Matthew Renton, Rebecca Guss, Stephanie Battershell & Michele Bury

2nd Prize
Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA
Luminous: The Art of Asia
Designed by: Matthew Renton, Rebecca Guss, Stephanie Battershell & Michele Bury

Invitations to Events:

Honorable Mention
Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA
Nick Cave: Meet Me at the Center of the Earth Invitations
Designed by: Matthew Renton, Rebecca Guss, Stephanie Battershell & Michele Bury

Marketing/Public Relations Materials:

1st Prize
Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA
Beauty & Bounty Ad Campaign
Designed by: Matthew Renton, Rebecca Guss, Stephanie Battershell & Michele Bury

Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA
Nick Cave: Meet Me at the Center of the Earth Ad Campaign
Designed by: Matthew Renton, Rebecca Guss, Stephanie Battershell & Michele Bury


Summer Introductions at SAM Gallery

 I come at painting from the wrong way around. I do not set out to illustrate anything – not an object, a scene, nor an idea. The painting is a record of events in the studio and of experiments both intuitive and calculated – with color, with the physical properties of paint on a surface, and with random shapes and gestures. Throughout most of the process, the subject of the painting is the painting itself. Marks, colors, and shapes accumulate, are modified, are erased by abrasion or layering, are consolidated and connected to one another. Over time a working surface is built, destroyed, and rebuilt.

During the process, as work continues, glimpses of subject matter beyond the canvas begin to appear. Relationships and connections develop between what happens on the canvas and personal memories of dreams, events, and landscapes. The painting moves from an inchoate assemblage of visual elements to “something resembling something,” however abstract. Relationships are built, strengthened, diminished, redrawn.

JoEllyn Loehr, Tumbling Dice, oil on panel

 Within this seemingly random process, there are themes and patterns that recur. The image is oriented to the edges of the canvas. The surface constitutes a shallow field of space established by variations in transparency and intensity. The color black is important to the overall visual structure. There is a balance between finished and raw, dull and bright, areas of gestural activity and areas of calm, between grace and awkwardness.


JoEllyn Loerh, Sauseebe 2, oil on panel

Over time I have realized that the paintings echo similarities in structure that can be perceived over vast differences in scale: from microscopic views of insect wings, to geological processes in land formations, and even to hypotheses about the ordering of matter in the cosmos. These structures then are ultimately the subject matter, arrived at more viscerally than intellectually, through the process of painting itself.

 -JoEllyn Loehr

Come see artwork by artists JoEllyn Loehr, Katie Anderson, Leif Anderson, Patti Bowman, Betty Jo Costanzo, David Owen Hastings, Rafael Soldi, Bradley Taylor, and June Sekiguchi in our Summer Introductions exhibition opening Thursday, July 19, 2012.

Join us for the Opening Reception
Thursday, July 19,  from 5 – 7pm

Exhibiton through August 18, 2012

SAM Gallery
1220 3rd Ave
Seattle WA

 206 343 1101

Top photo: JoEllyn Loehr, Steens, oil on panel

“GREEN” Eggs and SAM

In the past couple of weeks I’ve heard a lot of talk in the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) offices about an infamous group called The SAM Goes Green Team. The more email notices the Green Team sent out about daily “green” tips or “green” contests between staff members, the more I became curious about who takes part in this coalition, and what it takes to initiate “green” practices at SAM.


To investigate further, I decided to interview the head of the Green Team, Liz Stone. Liz holds the title of Operations Assistant/ Digital Media Support Specialist at SAM.  Liz is a spirited, young woman who brings a lot of light to the busy offices here at SAM. When I asked to interview her, she was very excited for the opportunity to represent SAM’s “green” roots and sustainability concerns.

I asked Liz, “When did the Green Team start at SAM?”  She provided the following information:


The Green Team was started in 2006, shortly before the Olympic Sculpture Park opened in January 2007. It began with a handful of staff representing different departments who were interested in making a difference. The excitement around Olympic Sculpture Park gave the museum the momentum it needed to develop an environmental face for SAM. Examples of how SAM conducts green operations in many different capacities include:

  • Reduced the museum’s carbon footprint, including cuts in energy use, paper conservation, and waste reduction
  • Switched to 100% recycled copy paper
  • Earned Salmon-Safe certification of land management practices at the Olympic Sculpture Park.
  • Supported SAM’s museum educators in designing art activities that use repurposed, recycled and non-toxic supplies
  • Created a culture of sustainability within SAM, including meeting with departments to identify barriers to “going green”


“There have been a few different Green Team leaders at SAM, but I was approached in 2011 and asked if I would take the reins of the Green Team to keep it moving forward,” Liz says.


In overseeing the Green Team, Liz presents green tips and activities in media posts and helps maintain sustainability around the offices. Each division at SAM—from IT to Exhibition Design to Engineering—has a representative on the Green Team.


SAM is also a Presenting Partner with Seattle Center Foundation and Central District Forum for Arts & Ideas in presenting the performance, red, black, GREEN: a blues. This performance is coming to Seattle Center’s Intiman Theater May 30–June 2 for the Next 50 Festival and brings artists Marc Bamuthi Joseph and Theaster Gates back to Seattle once again! Both artists, as educators and social activists, strive through their work to ignite our collective responsibility towards social and environmental sustainability for every community. This performance shares SAM’s values in combining community engagement with art to work towards a greener, more sustainable community. The Green Team and Liz Stone are working hard to activate everyone’s involvement in “going green”.


You can also find more details about SAM’s environmental commitment and the SAM Goes Green initiative, as well as a list of partners joined in this initiative when you visit the SAM website. Some commitments involve joining the City of Seattle’s Seattle Climate Partnership and Seattle Climate Action Now to reduce SAM’s carbon footprint. You can also read more about the SAM Goes Green Team history on previous SAMblog posts, including SAM’s recent participation in the worldwide Earth Hour event.


Silk Road Dance Company

Make Your Own Wonderful Wardrobe at the Seattle Asian Art Museum on Free First Saturday

On Saturday, May 5, bring your family to the Seattle Asian Art Museum for Free First Saturday! Explore the exhibition Colors of the Oasis: Central Asian Ikats, and design your own wearable art inspired by gorgeous garments from central Asia.
This fun-filled day will feature special performances by Silk Road Dance Company, which has delighted audiences around the country with traditional and fusion dances from the Middle East and Central Asia. Performing Uzbek, Afghani, Tadjik, Azerbaijani, Kurdish, Persian, and Egyptian dance techniques rarely seen in the United States, Silk Road Dance Company offers a unique glimpse of the life, culture, and art of little known regions.

Please note that a large public event in Volunteer Park will be taking place all day May 5. We recommend that you allow extra time for parking and walking to the Seattle Asian Art Museum. You also may want to consider biking or taking a bus instead of driving.

Free First Saturday at the Seattle Asian Art Museum is presented by Russell Investments with support provided by The Peg & Rick Young Foundation.

-Madeline Moy, Digital Media Manager