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Finding Miró: Palma de Mallorca

Join special projects intern Gabriela Ayala every Friday as she travels in Miró’s footsteps through Europe.

Palma de Mallorca, Spain

I am up early for my 50-minute flight over to Mallorca but it is all worth it because I am ready for some island life. When we take off we are literally in the air for a moment before they announce we are descending into our destination. Once I land I can already feel how different the environment is here. Smaller airports are always a joy to arrive to because they are usually empty, quick, and easy. I get myself to a taxi in no time and officially greet Mallorca. Hello, I introduce myself; I lower the window and the warm ocean breeze gives me a beautiful welcome. The water is to my left and an incredible castle reveals itself to my right. My first impression as we keep driving along is that the city has a sensation of a simpler, quieter, and older Miami. There are new buildings and old. The busiest path is the one that lines the ocean’s edge in a semi-circle around the city. There are hundreds of people biking, walking, and rollerblading. It is quite the destination. It is a stark difference coming from a city with small streets, many cars, and many stimulants. Mallorca offers a bit of this but as it goes on it quiets down more, the colors are brighter, and the pace is very slow. It is easy to become inspired here.

Buildings in Palma de Mallorca. Photographer: Gabriela Ayala

Buildings in Palma de Mallorca. Photographer: Gabriela Ayala

I decide the quickest way to get an idea of the city is the great red double-decker bus. It does not take long to visit the city as a whole but what I slowly learn is that it offers a bit of everything. There is an older part that is very romantic, a modern area with taller buildings and apartments that all resemble each other. There are castles and cottages. There is even an Old Spanish square where famous buildings from other parts of Spain have been recreated. Mallorca conclusively gives you a versatile taste of experiences but mostly it romances you. I end my relaxed and simple day with a typical Spanish dish, tortilla de patatas, refreshingly combined with a sweet glass of Sangria. As the food disappears from my plate and the ice in my round wine glass starts to disappear, I stop to let Mallorca fully seduce me. I need to take the time to recognize the intense gratitude I feel to be in a beautiful place, researching an incredible history. I could not wait to see the best of Miró tomorrow, his remarkable studio where he spent the last twenty plus years of his life.

Top image: Bay in Palma de Mallorca. Photographer: Gabriela Ayala

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Finding Miró: Barcelona

Join special projects intern Gabriela Ayala every Friday as she travels in Miró’s footsteps through Europe.

Barcelona, Spain

Relaxed and ready to walk, I awake early to take on the city and locate a couple of researched Miró-related destinations. Luckily today, the sun is out to guide me along. First on my list is the Parc Joan Miró. This is easy because it is also clearly located on a map. Barcelona is a busy city. The center has many different types of buildings and so much life on the streets. It is easy to forget that this is a city on a coast and water is merely a fifteen-minute walk away. I learn that as a citizen of Barcelona you have the option, with an affordable yearly fee, to use the many bicycles that are stationed around the city. It was a project established to help encourage people to ditch their cars and adopt an environmentally friendly way to get around. I see a lot of people using this and I think it is pretty neat. Moving along, I find the park and the massive sculpture made by Miró, Dona i Ocell (Woman and Bird). It stands tall at the corner of the park, its many colors glistening to say hello. I then move on to find a gallery named Sala Gaspar. This may or may not be the location it was in originally, but this was a gallery that featured Miró many times. This weekend is a national holiday and therefore the gallery is not open during its regular hours. I do not get a chance to enter but I do take the time to imagine its past. I encounter the effects of this national holiday in more ways than one. As I walk towards one of the most centralized parts of the city, the Rambla, I find myself in a demonstration at the central square. There is red and yellow in every direction, flags flying, and people chanting “España!” I am thrilled. I feel so much energy coming from the pride these citizens feel for their country and it is a fortuitous experience.

Demonstrators in Barcelona wave the Spanish and Catalan flags. Photographer: Gabriela Ayala

Demonstrators in Barcelona wave the Spanish and Catalan flags. Photographer: Gabriela Ayala

Eventually I locate the mural that was on the street in the center of the Rambla. The Rambla is an avenue with all the shops, restaurants and café’s you could ask for. There are flower stands and souvenirs by the millions. At the heart of the street is Miró’s mural. People walk back and forth down this street but not many notice what they are stepping on. There is art beneath their feet. The great part is to see the people who do notice. They stop, back away to see the full picture, and smile.

My final mission is a bit more difficult. I hoped to find Miró’s family home where he lived and worked for a bit. This is meant to be located at number 4 Passatge Del Credit. The map I have is not detailed enough to show the names of the smaller streets and so I find a large street that is meant to intersect with my desired location. Luckily, this street is incredibly lively and visually striking. I find a hidden gallery showing contemporary artists and discover that frozen yogurt has indeed found its way to Europe. Unfortunately, Passatge Del Credit never shows itself to me. I do however see a plaque of a club dedicated to Miró that is very close to where this street should have been, and so I decide I must have been close.

View from Güell Park, Barcelona designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. Photographer: Gabriela Ayala

View from Güell Park, Barcelona, designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. Photographer: Gabriela Ayala

After these Miró specific destinations, I decide to go to locations that are related to people Miró was inspired by. This included the Picasso Museum and Güell Park. The Picasso Museum is undeniably great but Güell Park is something very special. Güell Park is completely designed by Catalan architect Antoni Guadí and built in the years 1900 to 1914. It is a journey of mosaics in many shapes, colors, and patterns. It has the feeling of an amusement park only because of its wonderment. It is like stepping into a new world, into a painting mixed with nature and unique architecture. After taking many pictures and being romanced by the views of the city, I head back to my hotel with happy thoughts that tomorrow will bring me to the next step of Miró’s life, Palma de Mallorca.

Top image: Building in Barcelona, Spain. Photographer: Gabriela Ayala

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Celebrate with SAM: Día de los Muertos

It’s the time of year for pumpkin spiced lattes, changing leaves, Seattleites relishing in the last few days of sunshine before the months of monotonous drizzle ensue, and strutting your stuff in your DIY/thrift shop/homemade (the only way to do it in my opinion) Halloween costume. Tonight, when your makeup starts running and your carefully crafted costume is dripping from the rain, remember that tomorrow you can warm up at SAM’s celebration of Día de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead).

Last night, while I was safety pinning my felt cut-out stars (which I’m pretty sure a kindergartener could have cut out better) to my high wasted blue shorts, I felt my enthusiasm building. But this enthusiasm did not pertain Halloween plans; instead all I could think about was Día de los Muertos! Yesterday, I made my way down to the Brotman Forum to check out the hand crafted tapete (sand painting) and was blown away. Not knowing quite what to expect, I was floored with the size, vivid colors, and detail in this work. I thought to myself, “this is just a fraction of what is to come on Friday night!”

If you have not been to a SAM event, this celebration would be a great place to start as it highlights the beauty and tradition of Día de los Muertos with art, dancing, music, delicious food, and more. Oh, and did I mention this family friendly reception is FREE? If for some reason you cannot make it to the celebration, the tapete that vibrantly decorates the Brotman Forum will be on view until November 20th.

In case you are not familiar, Día de los Muertos is an ancient celebration of the eternal cycle of life.  It combines ancient and New World traditions, folk customs, and spiritual beliefs. Mexican and Latin American communities observe Día de los Muertos traditionally on Nov. 1st and 2nd. During this time, families assemble ofrendas (altars) laden with offerings of food and drink to nourish the spirits of their loved ones on their long journey.  Clay figurines, sugar skeletons, and embroidery with personal messages and the names of the deceased are placed on the ofrendas along with flowers and candles. The ofrendas are then presented to the community to celebrate deceased loved ones and the ideas they imparted in life.

So, tonight as you’re shivering in your Halloween costume and thinking to yourself,  “maybe dressing as Miley Cyrus from wrecking ball was a bad idea,” recharge your dwindling enthusiasm by remembering you can continue the festivities at SAM on Friday night! Don’t miss this free opportunity to celebrate with the community while taking in the magnificent culture of this inspiring tradition. For more information, visit our site. We hope to see you there!

By Hilary St. Clair, Communications Intern

Photo by Catherine Anstett
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LaToya Ruby Frazier: Exposing Reality through a Different Lens

Have you ever met someone so passionate, devoted, and driven that you were instantly inspired to do better? Act better? Be better? On Thursday, July 18 I had the pleasure of listening to a talk given by renowned photographer and media artist, and most recent recipient of SAM’s Gwendolyn Knight and Jacob Lawrence Fellowship, LaToya Ruby Frazier.

What is the Gwendolyn Knight and Jacob Lawrence Fellowship?

The Knight/Lawrence Fellowship is awarded bi-annually to distinguished and celebrated early career black artists that “have their fingers on the pulse of contemporary black artistic practice.” Beyond being recognized for her extraordinary work, Frazier will be awarded $10,000 to further her artistic endeavors, and her work will also be featured in a solo exhibition in SAM’s Gwendolyn and Jacob Lawrence Gallery in December 2013. This is a show that you will not want to miss.

Unless you have experienced her artwork firsthand (in which case this would all be totally obvious), you’re probably wondering what makes LaToya Frazier’s work so eligible and influential over innumerable other candidates…

Born and raised in the industrial town of Braddock, Pennsylvania, Frazier grew up a witness and victim of irresponsible corporate citizenship, including “de-industrialization and outsourcing, environmental negligence, and inner-city gentrification (http://www.latoyarubyfrazier.com/).”  At the age of 17, she began to use photography as a means of documenting and exposing such practices, as well as building an archive that accurately reflected the city of Braddock and the damage done to its citizens.

In her presentation, LaToya Frazier pointed out how Braddock has been falsely represented throughout its history. Take, for example, this Levi’s Ad created in 2010, which uses Braddock as its poster child while neglecting to show any deterioration, harm, and pain that is the reality experienced by Frazier and many others. It is because of instances like this that Frazier was moved to act as a social critic and react against what she viewed as poor corporate stewardship. She exposes the push/pull of the balance between image and reality and the constant struggle of innocent bystanders wrestling against the harmful impact of various business practices.

What makes her work even more unique and fascinating is that she includes herself in many of her own photos, which is a very unusual but powerful tool. By inserting herself in history and subjecting herself to the scrutiny of portraiture, she makes the overall effect of the images much more poignant, personal, and real.

Frazier’s repertoire successfully combines aspects of art, social activism, and political awareness to relay a message that is powerful, inspiring, and yet readily accessible to a broad and diverse audience.

Don’t forget to visit SAM’s online calendar for the dates of LaToya Ruby Frazier’s show (TBD) and other events throughout the year!

-Caroline Sargent, Communications Intern

Momme Portrait Series (Shadow) 2008, Photo: LaToya Ruby Frazier
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SAMart: Deceptive simplicity

Even in the most seemingly-straightforward designs, things are not always as they seem. This chest is an example of early American rural-style furniture. Beneath a coat of gray paint added in the mid-nineteenth century can be seen the original red coloration, suggestive of fashionable mahogany furniture produced in New England. Despite appearances, only two of the “drawers” actually function as such. The top two drawers are, in fact, false fronts, used to conceal a large compartment which opens from the top—a likely reason these are sometimes called blanket chests.

Chest over drawers, ca. 1750-90, American, New England, possibly Rhode Island, pine and chestnut wood with paint, 43 1/2 x 38 1/4 x 18 3/8 in., Gift of Mimi and Bill Gates in honor of John Kirk and Trevor Fairbrother, 2000.160. Currently on view in the American art galleries, third floor, SAM downtown.
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Where the Park Meets the Sound

The view from the Olympic Sculpture Park is heavenly. As you sit in one of the vibrant red chairs, you can gaze out on a harbor filled with sailboats, and onto the Olympic Mountains scraping the clouds. The meadow’s colorful flowers bloom and sway with the ocean breezes, and the native foliage is juxtaposed against clean, modernist lines and bold contemporary art to create a visual feast. It’s hard to imagine, with all its runners, dog walkers, and parades of children running through the distinctive Z-path, that this now iconic park was once site to the Union Oil Company of California.

Since it’s birth in 2007, the Olympic Sculpture Park has undergone hefty changes and challenges, but a large portion of the transformation is ongoing. It was World Ocean Day June 8, and there was no better location to celebrate than on the reclaimed rocky shore of the park. As an intern gardener at the park, I work closely with Bobby McCullough, who has been head gardener since the park opened its gravel walkways.  He ensures that water is being used efficiently, and that the naturalized beach area is healthy for park visitors of all kinds, from people to dogs and even harbor seals. Keeping this area in good shape is an important part of the crew’s work: the beach is patrolled for litter almost daily, plants have been placed and cared for to act as a natural buffer, and we even climb the trees to search for troublesome insects. It is safe to say that years after the design implementation, the Olympic Sculpture Park is continually taking efforts to create a clean Puget Sound.

I assist Bobby by hand weeding and performing maintenance, keeping plants healthy and the open space clean and friendly. The park uses organic gardening methods—no pesticides, fertilizers, no harmful chemicals. By using these techniques, it prevents contamination in the soil and on the ground surface, which could then wash into Puget Sound. And what’s even more unique and sustainable than our gardening practices are the plants themselves; they are all native to the Pacific Northwest. Visitors experience four distinct archetypal landscapes at the Olympic Sculpture Park: the valley, the meadows, the grove, and the shore. These series of precincts give the park a sense of regional identity, and reduce water use.  The plants are already adapted to Seattle’s climate, and therefore do not require any additional water. Sprinklers in the park are energy-efficient and only turned on when necessary. Young plants are watered while they become established, but in the future they will require little-to-no watering.

Without a doubt, the sculpture park’s most carefully maintained area is where the park meets the Sound.  The beach features large logs and boulders, perfect for climbing and sitting to admire the harbor. The shore was designed to act as a natural filter, collecting debris that wash up with the tides. Each year after the storm season, usually in February, Bobby organizes a massive clean up to remove trash and treated lumber. Creosote is a substance created through the distillation of tar to preserve wood, and is toxic. It is often used to treat lumber used in structures like boats and docks, and can wash up onto the beach. Each year Bobby removes six to eight tons of this treated wood from the shore to prevent creosote from leaking into the water. This maintenance continues throughout the year, with treated wood removal and daily trash pick-ups.

The shoreline is carefully monitored through a variety of efforts to create safe wildlife habitat. Learn more about the Olympic Sculpture Park and its restoration.

-Stephanie Stroud, Intern Gardener, Olympic Sculpture Park

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SAM Remix

Remix: It’s Got What You Need

As a brand-new intern at SAM, my very first assignment involved getting up close and personal with the details of the upcoming Remix (as in tomorrow, Friday, June 7!), and let me tell you, the night is jam-packed with good stuff. After learning about all the events, activities, and performances planned, it’s no surprise I’m counting the hours until the doors open, and you should be, too!

Every quarter, SAM holds Remix, an after-hours, 18-and-older event, drawing hordes of party-goers to SAM Downtown to get an intimate view of the museum’s latest exhibition, test their own art-making abilities at various activity booths, watch some unbelievable dance performances, and, of course, bust a move (or two, or ten) of their own.

This season’s Remix event is centered on the Modern exhibition The Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection: Fifty Works for Fifty States and promises to be nothing short of a modern explosion and an event that you don’t want to miss.

Come see SAM after dark, this Friday from 8 pm–midnight, when the lights turn low and the jams turn up.

DJ Riz kicks the night off in the Brotman Forum with an irresistible, groove-inducing variety of soul-meets-pop-meets-hip-hop beats.

As if that weren’t enough reason to linger, the Brotman Forum will also play venue to three performances by Seattle’s Alchemy Tap Project, whose dancers bring a whole new modern flavor to tap dancing.

Want even more dance?

Head up to the third floor galleries for Modern art-inspired dance vignettes by Seattle-based Salt Horse.

While you’re there, take advantage of SAM’s aptly-titled My Favorite Things: Highly Opinionated Tours to get a fresh and highly opinionated (surprise!) look at SAM’s Collection Galleries. With a wide array of knowledgeable and outspoken guides to choose from, the only way you could possibly go wrong with these tours is by not taking one.

After seeing Fifty Works for Fifty States, you’ll no doubt be itching to start an art collection of your own (if you aren’t, you might want to get your pulse checked), and SAM’s got you covered.

Head to the Chase Open Studio area where artist Joey Veltkamp and other local artists will be waiting to create and exchange mini artworks with you in the SAM Mini Fair; grab a FREE Remix tote bag to store your goods!

If all this dancing, art collecting, and opinion-hearing has you feeling wiped, swing by the Rec Room for libations at the bar and some good, old-fashioned (but not) bingo. If you’re envisioning a room in Florida with faded floral prints and a slow-moving ceiling fan, stop right there. This is not your grandmother’s bingo (and if it is, you’ve got one cool grandma).

Hosted by the fabulous members of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, this bingo has a modern (art that is) twist with cards featuring pictures of SAM’s favorite modern artworks. One game in, and you’ll be dying to make a habit of it (SAM is not responsible for any pun-related injuries).

With all the excitement and endless stream of options offered, you may just feel like a kid in a candy store. If you want to make that metaphorical candy a reality, TASTE Restaurant is open ‘til midnight to keep your sweet tooth satisfied. Didn’t I say SAM’s got you covered?

Whatever venue you favor, be it the dance floor, the art exhibition and galleries, or any of the numerous SAM creates studios (minimalist jewelry making, anyone?), one thing is for certain: SAM Remix has everything you need to make this Friday a night to remember.

-Carter Stratton, Communications Intern

Photo by Robert Wade.
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SAMart: A new look at an ancient tradition

A new installation in SAM’s Native American art galleries explores basketry and ceramics in Native communities of the American west, including this double spout vase made by Maria Martinez and Julian Martinez.

Beginning more than 2,000 years ago, pottery was made by early communities in the southwest, including the ancestors of the Pueblo peoples. Using clay from their homelands to fashion bowls, jars, canteens and figures, Pueblo potters developed distinctive styles that continue unchanged today. Double spout vases symbolizing the marital union were gifted at Pueblo weddings and, with the arrival of tourists in the 1880s, became popular collectors’ pieces. Matte-on-glossy designs were added by Julian after Maria constructed the vessel.

Double spout vase, early-mid-20th century, attributed to Maria Martinez (San Ildefonso Pueblo, 1887–1980) and Julian Martinez (San Ildefonso Pueblo, 1879–1943), ceramic, 10 3/16 x 8 1/8 x 6 3/4 in., Gift of Katherine White and the Boeing Company, 81.17.1946. Currently on view in the Native American art galleries, third floor, SAM Downtown.
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It’s Elles REMIX Style

Before moving to Seattle to start my fall internship at the Seattle Art Museum this past August, I had already developed an appetite for Remix. I’d never been to one on my many visits to the Northwest but I had seen the posters—shiny, glossy and wickedly designed, I wanted, needed to know more about SAM’s quarterly event.

Aimed at engaging and building relations with young adults, SAM’s Remix events align ever so nicely with the museum’s special exhibitions to create a dance-party-meets-fine-arts experience that gets under your skin in the best way. This fall’s French import Elles: Women Artists from the Centre Pompidou, Paris weaves its way seamlessly throughout this month’s Remix at SAM Downtown on November 9 from 7:30 pm–12:30 am; showing that ladies can hang with the boys and party just as hard.

DJ Michele Myers kicks off the night in the Brotman Forum with intoxicating rhythms and beats from pop, local favorites, soul and just about anything else you can dream of to keep you dancing your pants off. Watch as choreographers Linda Austin, Anne Furfey and Amy O perform excerpts from Ten Tiny Dances on a 4×4 foot dance floor throughout the night. Enjoy the musical styling’s of Hollis and The Pytons as they perform sets from ACT Theatre’s These Streets—an homage to the grunge movement in Seattle with a feminine twist. Curated by Gretta Harley and Sarah Rudinoff, these sets are sure to get the blood pumping and bring out your long dormant grunge kid.

Head on over to the Arnold Board Room to rest those tired dogs while testing your mettle and your knowledge of pop culture, sports, film and more at the Women All-Stars Trivia with Geeks Who Drink. Or earn your Artistic License with Erin Shafkind at her Department of Artistic Licensing with the help of Jenny Zwick and Tessa Hulls. It’s like the DMV only fun.

Let your activist self run free in the South Hall and create Take Action Buttons with Janet Fagan. Too much activism and not enough space?  Create a Power Band with Romson Bustillo to showcase your inner superhero! Put your thinking cap on at the Second Floor Think Tank and ask yourself Can Women Really Have It All? Join Vivian Phillips and Priya Frank as they explore questions raised by Elles: Pompidou through interactive activities. Give your brain a break and mosey on up to the Fourth Floor Galleries and listen to Seattle Symphony Orchestra harpist Valerie Muzzolini Gordon while she performs music inspired by Elles: Pompidou’s French roots.

But wait there’s more! (Isn’t there always?) It wouldn’t be Remix at the museum without the My Favorite Things: Highly Opinionated Tours. Happening periodically throughout the entire night, the tours are led by short folks, tall folks, artistic folks, academic folks and just about everyone else in between to offer up their opinions, whether good or bad, about the art and artists featured in the Elles: Pompidou exhibit.

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