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.
In Daedalus/Upliftment, a young Black man struggles to take flight. His gaze is fixed on the ground instead of the sky, with eyes downcast and obscured by gold sunglasses. One hand is outstretched to conceal himself. The other grasps a plume of pheasant feathers, with a rope tied around his wrist. A wreath of ostrich feathers adorns his neck, draping his chest and blending into bright white pants. The feathers symbolize the deities Yoruba Orisas Obatala of wisdom, and Osun of love.
This full-body portrait portrays someone steady, yet vulnerable, someone who embodies the emotional juxtapositions of freedom and captivity, hope and doubt. The dazzling high-tops—inlaid with gold leaf and spray paint detail, dripping to the edges of the canvas—paired with grayscale triangle-patterned socks are captivating. Although a symbol of value, the gold sneakers carry much weight: a strain against the aspirations and ability to rise.
Daedalus/Upliftment is from Dr. Fahamu Pecou’s 2015 series, I Know Why The Caged Bird Blings, the series title inspired by Maya Angelou’s poem, “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.” A visual/performing artist and scholar, Pecou concentrates on Black masculinity in his work. Pecou probes today’s media representations, expectations, and images of Black men removed from Black agency—including stereotypes of violence—and their emotional toll on readings and performances of Black masculinity. In 2017, Pecou was the subject of a retrospective exhibition “Miroirs de l’Homme” (Mirrors of the Man) in Paris, France and a recipient of the 2016 Joan Mitchell Foundation “Painters and Sculptors” Award.
Daedalus/Upliftment alludes to the Greek myth of Daedalus and Icarus. Daedalus built wings of feathers and wax for himself and his son, Icarus, to escape their prison. Despite Daedalus’ warning, Icarus flew too close to the sun, melting the wax on the wings, falling and drowning in the ocean. Pecou reinterprets this classic tragedy and questions the actions of Daedalus as Icarus’ father. Daedalus/Uplifting provokes a meditation on paternalism and masculinity, with “the breakdown of intergenerational communication and the emotional complexities within the Black male experience that trouble the desire and ability to take flight.”
In the far-right corner of the stark white background, Pecou
leaves us a surrealist poem:
The Seattle Art Museum Supporters—or SAMS—is a dedicated
group of nearly two hundred Seattle area women who are committed to fundraising
for the Seattle Art Museum. The mission of SAMS is to expand the support of the
Seattle Art Museum through fundraising and promotional efforts and to provide
education opportunities for its members.
Since its inception in 1985, SAMS has raised nearly $7
million to fund selected Seattle Art Museum projects, including the Seattle
Asian Art Museum campaign. Through their amazing efforts, SAMS has raised over
$400K for our capital campaign, helping restore our building and create an
Asian Art Museum for tomorrow. SAMS has been an integral component of our
fundraising efforts and we are grateful for their unwavering support of our
Despite Seattle’s typically June-uary weather, SAM is ready for summer and you know what that means—empanadas! Landscapes Café in our PACCAR Pavilion at the Olympic Sculpture Park has extended their hours and their menu to make sure that visitors to SAM’s waterfront sculpture park have all the snacks and beverages they could possibly need.
Now open Friday through Monday from 10 am to 2 pm, Landscapes offers a rotating selection of roasters and their seasonal drink, The Vermonter (latte with maple syrup, brown sugar, and cinnamon). For all you non-coffee drinkers, Smith artisan teas, Spindrift sodas, kombucha, and juice boxes are available so everyone can stay well hydrated.
Sweet & savory pastries from Comadre Panaderia & Macrina Bakery and grab-and-go sandwiches and salads from Molly’s make it so that all you have to bring for the picture perfect picnic is the blanket.
Landscapes Café originated as a teardrop trailer mobile coffee shop owned by barista Rickie Hecht and is part of SAM’s continuing partnership with Seattle nonprofit Ventures, which helps bring emerging entrepreneurs to the sculpture park’s PACCAR Pavilion. Stop by next time you take a walk in the park!
“I needed to let go
of whether I was an artist or not, and I needed to pursue the things that I
want to see existing in the world that don’t exist. What are the things that
would leverage this world that didn’t meet my expectations?”
Celebrated Brazilian artist Regina Silveira has debuted a new
site-specific installation at the Olympic Sculpture Park’s PACCAR Pavilion
called Octopus Wrap. A glimpse of the
installation process was captured by the Seattle Times’ Alan Berner. Seattle Met and Crosscut also previewed the
installation, which features a series of tire tracks wrapping around the walls,
windows, and floor of the building, looking like the arms of an octopus.
change to the familiar park building embodies elements of play, but also
reminds us of the luxury of presuming our surroundings will always stay the
“By the top of the stairs, the macaron begins to bobble; on the
penultimate step, it leaps to its death, in its final act somehow managing to
shatter on the soft carpeting. A man seated at one of Canlis’ well-spaced,
snowy-white-linened tables regards me with a mixture of pity and horror.”
But is it CAMP? The
Met’s latest exhibition—and attendant over-the-top Gala—has everyone reaching
for their undergrad copy of Sontag. Herearesomethoughts.
“She said her
legacy is in the work of her students,” notes Ikemoto. “Even when they didn’t
have money to buy their own art supplies, she let them use hers. She often
said, ‘I know much I was put down and denied, so if I can teach these kids
anything, I’m going to teach it to them.’”
Ancient Andean cultures used complex recording devices known as quipu, fashioned from tally cords, which
allowed for the communication and recording of information essential to daily
life. The quipu were essential tools
for many Andean communities: they were a medium that enabled reading, writing,
and, importantly, remembering. Such Indigenous practices nearly disappeared due
to colonial suppression. Not unlike the quipu,
the Cuna mola—or blouse—produced in
the San Blas Islands represents the resilience of a community in the face of
The Cuna Indians are an Indigenous people who live along the Atlantic
coast of Panama and Colombia. In the 16th century they were driven by the
Spanish from their original home in Colombia, and moved west toward the coast. Mola, as we know them today, evolved from
elaborate body painting. In the mid-18th century, when European settlers
introduced cloth to the region, women began to wear simple blouses, painting
them with natural dyes in the same manner they had previously decorated their
To make these elaborate blouses, an artist—importantly a woman—begins
with multiple pieces of different colored cloth, and bastes one on top of the
other. After cutting multiple designs, the maker then hems the edges with fine
stitches. From there additional elements are added, such as embroidery,
positive appliqué, or incisions that reveal the layers of cloth below. This
reverse appliqué technique is an intricate and time-intensive process that has
been mastered and handed down from generation to generation.
The history of the mola is
inextricable from the history of colonialism in Latin America. It evolved in
spite of European contact and continues to be shaped by contact with non-Native
people today. For example, traditional Cuna designs—on both the body,
originally, and the blouses—include abstracted linear patterns, stylized flora
and fauna, and figures from Cuna mythology. When interactions with outsiders
increased due to the construction of the Panama Canal, motifs such as
trademarks, slogans, and American products appeared. Further, in the first
decades of the 20th century, the Panamanian government tried to ban many Cuna
customs, including their language and traditional dress. A resistance was
mounted, and in 1925 the Dule Revolution resulted in the autonomy of the Cuna
people, granting them the right to govern their own territory and culture
autonomously. The mola can thus be
seen as a vibrant textile tradition that represents the strength and resilience
of the Cuna people.
– Elisabeth Smith, Collection & Provenance Associate
Read Crosscut’s Margo
Vansynghel’s conversation with Azura Tyabji, Seattle’s Youth Poet Laureate, about
the places in the city that inspire her, including the
he(art)-warming revelation that she’s been a regular at the museum
“since ‘falling in love’ with visual art during the Kehinde Wiley exhibit in
“The stakes of the demand to remove Kanders are
high and extend far beyond the art world,” the letter reads, in part.
“Alongside universities, cultural institutions like the Whitney are among the
few spaces in public life today that claim to be devoted to ideals of
education, creativity, and dissent beyond the dictates of the market.”
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.
Jacob Lawrence and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence were married for 59 years, in a harmonious partnership of two prolific and engaged creators that was both romantic and artistic. Though it was Jacob whose star would rise over the years, becoming celebrated around the world for his dynamic pictorial style of historical narratives, Gwendolyn continued her studies—in painting, drawing, design, and dance—and served vital roles in the cultural community of their adopted city of Seattle.
With this intimate portrait of her husband (Jacob, 1986), Gwendolyn explores her own artistic project, distinct from her husband’s grand themes of history and social justice. Instead, she pursues an expressive and personal idiom, reflecting the emotional truths of the immediate world around her.
Gwendolyn—or Gwen, as she was affectionately known—began the portrait in 1960, when the couple was still living in New York City. But she kept returning to it, with final retouches in 1986, when they would firmly be ensconced in their lives in Seattle. She found it challenging to create a portrait of the person she saw every day, in all of the moods and changes that an individual necessarily undergoes over the years. Instead of a frozen moment in time, we instead see the process of a person becoming.
Jacob’s face fills nearly the entire frame, even going out of the bounds of the canvas in one corner. His skin is rendered in broad and unusual strokes of brown, green, and yellow, reflecting against the hint of a red shirt at the neck and glimpses of orange in the background. He wears a calm smile and a somewhat inquisitive brow, exuding kindness.
In the catalogue for Never Late for Heaven: The Art of Gwen Knight, a 2003 solo show held at the Tacoma Art Museum, curator Sheryl Conkleton noted, “As her work developed, Knight became more committed to the interpretation and communication of visual delight in the world around her. It superseded the need to tell a story or to explore the larger meaning of what it meant to be a modern painter.”
When artist Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence died on February 18, 2005—almost exactly 14 years ago—she’d lived in Seattle for 34 years. The city was lucky to have her.