Pop Departures Photo Booth

‘Tis The Season To Be Jolly…

With a permanent collection that spans the globe, featured exhibitions Pop Departures and City Dweller’s: Contemporary Art from India, special Seattle holiday events such as SAM Lights at the Olympic Sculpture Park, and extended hours, a trip to the museum is a great way to spend the holidays.

Bring your family, friends, or out-of-town guests and have fun wandering around the galleries and interacting with fascinating pieces. Stop by SAM Shop or SAM Books for Pop art mementos, and turn your selfies into a work of art by stepping inside our Pop photo booth, selecting a Pop art filter, and snapping a shot!

SPECIAL EXTENDED HOURS

  • 10 am-­5 pm Tuesday, December 23
  • 10 am-­5 pm Tuesday, December 30
  • 10 am­-5 pm Tuesday, January 6 (Pop Departures final week)

The museum is open on December 24 (closing early at 3 pm) and New Year’s Day (10 am to 9 pm which is First Thursday).

HOLIDAY CLOSURES

  • Christmas Day

Please call 206.654.3100 for more information about SAM exhibitions and programs, or visit the our website for up-to-date scheduling and hours.

–Bianca Sewake, Seattle Art Museum Communications Intern

Image: Some lovely SAM visitors in our Pop Departures Photo Booth!

Caring for our Collections

Mr. Kawazu surveying - Conservator Tomokatsu Kawazu studies Japanese paintings at SAM for the Mellon conservation survey

Conservator Tomokatsu Kawazu studies Japanese paintings at SAM for the Mellon conservation survey

 

In 2013, the Seattle Art Museum received a generous three-year grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in support of programs and initiatives in Asian Art. We dedicated the grant to two important areas for any museum: conservation and curatorial work. Through the grant, we will foster even better understanding of SAM’s rich Asian art collection and we will also forge new relationships with Asian museums, curators, artists and scholars. With these aims in mind, SAM staff visited a select number of partners in Asia last year and we welcomed two fascinating visitors in October 2014 in connection with this project.

Conservator Tomokatsu Kawazu examines a painting on the light table for the Mellon Survey

Conservator Tomokatsu Kawazu examines a painting on the light table for the Mellon Survey

A major goal of the Mellon grant is to conduct a comprehensive conservation survey of SAM’s great collection of Japanese painted scrolls and screens. The funding enables us to bring Japanese paintings conservator Tomokatsu Kawazu to SAM two times per year for the next three years to document the Japanese paintings collection, with specific focus on the materials and preservation state of each painting. In early October, Mr. Kawazu was at SAM for the first residency, during which he conducted a marathon evaluation of seventy-one Japanese paintings in two short weeks. Working closely with Chief Conservator Nicholas Dorman, Collections Care Manager Marta Pinto-Llorca and Project Coordinator Rachel Harris, Mr. Kawazu examined each painting, documenting its condition with detailed notes and close-up images. In spring 2015, Mr. Kawazu will return to evaluate a second group of Japanese paintings. Two important spin-offs of the survey are that the grant enabled us to set up a work station, equipped with the highly specialized tools and materials of the Asian paintings conservator. We are also able to take new photographs of all the surveyed objects, with SAM conservation staff shooting macro shots, inscriptions and other details and photographer Spike Mafford taking high-resolution shots of a selection of paintings.

Spike Mafford and his assistant photographing paintings for the Mellon survey

Spike Mafford and his assistant photographing paintings for the Mellon survey

Ukiyoe, Figure of a woman, Eugene Fuller Memorial Collection, 33.1689. The Mellon conservation survey provides unprecedented documentation and new photography of works like this that hail from the earliest days of the collection

Ukiyoe, Figure of a woman, Eugene Fuller Memorial Collection, 33.1689. The Mellon conservation survey provides unprecedented documentation and new photography of works like this that hail from the earliest days of the collection

The curatorial track of the Mellon grant is also moving ahead. While Mr. Kawazu was examining Japanese paintings, Eunju Choi, Chief Curator of the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea (MMCA) was also in residence at SAM. The Mellon grant provided funds to bring Ms. Choi to Seattle so that she could begin planning an exhibition with Xiaojin Wu, SAM’s Curator of Japanese and Korean art. Tentatively planned for late 2015, this exhibition will offer Seattleites a look at contemporary Korean art never before seen in our city.

While in residence at SAM, Ms. Choi gave a sold-out lecture titled: Korea Now: Contemporary Art from the MMCA, Korea. Her talk highlighted MMCA exhibits and offered insight into the work of important contemporary Korean artists. If you weren’t able to attend Ms. Choi’s lecture, check out this article for an overview of her talk: http://www.nwasianweekly.com/2014/10/vibrant-korean-contemporary-art-set-arrive-seattle/.

In very different ways, the conservation survey and the new curatorial collaborations give a terrific boost to our collection legacy and our Asian programs, we look forward to sharing its progress with you over the next two years.

 

Rachel Harris

Project Coordinator for Asian Art Collaborations

 

Nicholas Dorman

Chief Conservator

 

Xiaojin Wu

Curator of Japanese and Korean Art

 

Conservator Tomokatsu Kawazu and project coordinator Rachel Harris work on the Mellon survey to document the condition of Japanese paintings

Conservator Tomokatsu Kawazu and project coordinator Rachel Harris work on the Mellon survey to document the condition of Japanese paintings

 

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Mr.’s Caterpillar (or: The Importance of Living On)

When we arrive at the Asian Art Museum, the Tateuchi Galleries are filled with cardboard boxes. Each room has a low tower built up in the middle, away from the walls. You can see flashes of a panda sticker on many of them, the logo of a moving company. Some of Mr.’s paintings are already hung, and a few are leaning against the walls. In a couple of places, an 8.5×11 piece of paper with a picture of a painting is taped to the wall with masking tape, giving us a clue of what will be going there.

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The paintings are huge—much larger than we would have guessed—the size of entire gallery walls. We watch as four art preparators carefully lift and place one panel of three, sliding it along a rail toward the other two until you can just barely discern the seam.

Mr. is sitting at a folding table, working on a laptop. He’s surrounded by printouts of his paintings, plans that show how to build the installation in front of him, and photographs he’s taken. He wears a striped hoodie and glasses and jeans, and he seems perfectly happy to take a break and talk about what he’s working on. He doesn’t speak much English, and I speak no Japanese, so we chat with the aid of SAM’s Curator of Japanese and Korean Art, Xiaojin Wu, and Mr.’s assistant, Kozue, who’s also based here in Seattle. The necessary triplicate of the interview means we move through the galleries slowly, standing amidst the cardboard boxes and the sounds of drills nearby. Everyone is so patient it’s hard to tell how much time is passing.

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The installation he’s stationed in front of is the centerpiece of the exhibition, a tribute to the March 11, 2011 Tōhoku tsunami and ensuing earthquake. Most recently, it was shown at the Lehmann Maupin Gallery in New York. When it’s finished, it’s about the size of a train car, made up of what Mr. calls “stuff.”

Right now, it’s just a skeleton made from pipes and plywood. It looks something like an erector set, and Mr. refers to it affectionately as the “caterpillar.” The art preparators working in this gallery say that it’s like putting together a puzzle. They have sketches to follow, but they’re not exact, and they’re figuring it out with Mr. as they go. It will be a massive structure, made up of hundreds of everyday objects of Japanese life that Mr. spent three months collecting. Some crates were shipped from New York City, where they were stored after the Lehmann Maupin show. Some crates were shipped from Japan. Mr.’s translator points out a box of curry, emphasizing that all of these are real things used every day in Japan. I ask if the installation changes every time he constructs it, and he says it’s hard to keep it the same, so by nature it varies. Mr. is creating new paintings with which to surround the installation. And this is the first time that Mr.’s photographs of the aftermath of the tsunami will be on display.

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During the tsunami, Mr. was living in Saitama, Japan, just outside of Tokyo. One hundred days after the tsunami hit, Mr. went to the site and took hundreds of photographs. He pulls his laptop off the table to show me some of the pictures and brings it with us as we look at the wall where they’ll be plastered in a collage from bottom to top.

“I went,” Mr. says, which sound a bit like a pronouncement because in the midst of all the Japanese, he says it in English. Which—this one is. He went there. He saw it in person. He witnessed.

A hundred days after the tsunami, he explains, means it was almost summer. There was a factory nearby that had been making canned fish, and it smelled terrible. While Mr. looks through his photos to find what he wants to show me, I ask Xiaojin why she thinks it’s important that Seattle see the artwork.

“I think at the beginning we were attracted to Mr.’s work because of the tsunami installation. The tsunami was such a huge event that impacted so many Japanese people’s lives that you can look around and almost all the Japanese contemporary artists, in some way, have responded to it. But Mr.’s response is quite unique. He uses the daily items he collected. But he also went to the place and documented the aftermath, so I think it’s very meaningful for us to show that. And somehow, even though his main body of works is made up of paintings, some of the works he made even earlier tie into that idea of disaster and how we respond to it. We think it will be very interesting for the Seattle audience to see a different perspective of Japanese Pop art. Even though the paintings look like anime/manga, they are not just about this—even they have more to them, a little bit deeper meanings. You can get a bit deeper, see beyond the surface…beyond those big eyes, those smiles.” Xiaojin laughs suddenly as she references the happy-go-lucky anime faces, like there’s something bubbly just in talking about it.

Mr. draws my attention to his laptop and shows me the photos of collapsed buildings, tipped cars, downed power lines. Everything looks askew, and gray, covered in silt and dust. In some photos, Mr. is wearing a mask.

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“When you first went to the tsunami site, did you experience it more as an artist, looking to make artwork, or were you just there to see and experience it as a citizen, as a civilian who’d been part of this disaster?” I ask.

Both Xiaojin as she listens to my question in English, and then Mr. as she translates it into Japanese, nod solemnly. Mr. talks for a long time.

“He was saying the tsunami just impacted everybody in Japan, everyone in the entirety of Japan,” Xiaojin starts. “So he never thought, I’ll go in there as an artist. He just wanted to go and see and experience, but after this experience, his thoughts have just changed so much, and the Fukushima nuclear disaster was also, after…it’s still going on.”

Mr. starts speaking again as Xiaojin slow down. She murmurs in agreement as he talks, a thoughtful sound.

“He says there are two types of people that the tsunami had an impact on. One is directly those people who lived there, lost their home, and really, they probably had the worst damage. But the second kind is just like him, who didn’t really directly experience the tsunami but they lost power, or water, or the supermarket didn’t have enough supplies, so they experienced it indirectly. But just on different levels, everybody was involved.”

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The next week, when I go back to the Asian Art Museum, the installation is nearly complete. Above the screen that blocks gallery access, I can see a mattress, folded into a u shape over the top of the structure. The installation crams so many pieces of life together that it seems impossible it will hold, in the way an over packed suitcase may burst open at any moment. It’s about trauma, but also about the possibilities of what will come next.

The title of the installation? Give Me Your Wings – think different. No wonder Mr. has nicknamed the skeletal structure the caterpillar.

Live On: Mr.’s Japanese Neo-Pop is now on view at the Asian Art Museum.

Words: Maggie Hess, Copywriter
Photos: Natali Wiseman & Stephanie Fink

A Portal to the Past

Have you ever looked at an art work at SAM and thought, “I bet there’s a great story behind that?” I think this all the time. Today, a friend of mine tells us a fantastic story that she imagines lies behind a needlepoint image. Her story, a portal to the past, is about a work that looks like a painting but was made by a young girl from tiny, tiny stitches in thread. This story is written by Lorelei Timmons-Herrin, a fifth-grader at Whittier Elementary school (my friend, and daughter of SAM head librarian Traci Timmons). 

Do you have any stories to tell about the art at SAM, or the art in your home? If so, please share it with us in the comments!

-Sarah Berman, Curatorial Associate for Collections

Needlework mourning picture, ca. 1805-07, Eliza Gravenstine (American, Philadelphia, 1792-1821), embroidered and painted; watercolor paint on silk, approx. 24 x 28 in., Gift of Ruth J. Nutt, 2014.24.44

 

NEEDLEWORK MOURNING PICTURE

I made this picture to remind people of what cholera did to us living in the 1800s.

It was a cold sad day as I trudged through the mud to my brother’s grave. He had died of cholera two years ago. I was only eight years old then. I miss him a lot. I shall tell you all my story.

“I want John to get better mother” I whined.

“I know you do, but we haven’t found a cure yet” my mother said. I could see she was getting inpatient. My mother was a strong woman, she had raised all three of us all alone. My brother, John loved reading and writing, he was a caring young man. My sister, Samantha loved reading like John. She also likes playing with our kittens. And there’s me, I love doing needlework.

You can see that my mother (in the middle) is decorating the grave. My sister (on the right) is holding an olive branch, a sign of good luck. I am (on the left) mourning for my dead brother. It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I cried many times in the making of this picture.

SAM Art: Honoring Veterans

Relief fragment with warrior and horse, 668-627 B.C., Neo-Assyrian (ca. 1045-610 B.C.; modern Iraq), Nineveh, Southwest Palace, Room XXXIII, stone, overall 17 1/4 x 22 1/4 in., Eugene Fuller Memorial Collection, 57.54. Currently on view in the Ancient Mediterranean and Islamic art galleries, Seattle Art Museum.

Relief fragment with warrior and horse, 668-627 B.C., Neo-Assyrian (ca. 1045-610 B.C.; modern Iraq), Nineveh, Southwest Palace, Room XXXIII, stone, overall 17 1/4 x 22 1/4 in., Eugene Fuller Memorial Collection, 57.54. Currently on view in the Ancient Mediterranean and Islamic art galleries, Seattle Art Museum.

WHEREAS it has long been our custom to commemorate November 11, the anniversary of the ending of World War I, by paying tribute to the heroes of that tragic struggle and by redirecting ourselves to the cause of peace; and

WHEREAS in the intervening years the United States has been involved in… other military conflicts, which have added millions of veterans living and dead to the honor rolls of this Nation…

NOW, THEREFORE I, DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER, President of the United States of America, do hereby call upon all of our citizens to observe… November 11… as Veterans Day.

 

-Presidential proclamation on the first Veteran’s Day, 1954

 

 

The Seattle Art Museum and Asian Art Museum are closed on Veteran’s Day. The Olympic Sculpture Park is open today until 30 minutes after sunset.

SAM Art: Vote!

City Fathers, Hoboken, N.J., 1955, Robert Frank, American, born 1924, gelatin silver photograph, 14 3/4 x 18 7/8 in., Pacific Northwest Bell, the Photography Council, the Polaroid Foundation, Mark Abrahamson, and the National Endowment for the Arts, 84.116. © Robert Frank. Not currently on view.

City Fathers, Hoboken, N.J., 1955, Robert Frank, American, born 1924, gelatin silver photograph, 14 3/4 x 18 7/8 in., Pacific Northwest Bell, the Photography Council, the Polaroid Foundation, Mark Abrahamson, and the National Endowment for the Arts, 84.116. © Robert Frank. Not currently on view.

Today is Election Day—don’t forget to vote!

My Five – An Intern’s Favorite Things

Katie Morris is a graduate intern at the Seattle Art Museum, working with the Curatorial Division this fall. This week, she gave a thoughtful and insightful tour of five of her favorite objects to SAM staff and interns. Here, she shares her thoughts with you.

-Sarah Berman, Curatorial Associate for Collections

 

Having been asked to choose my five favorite pieces of art on display at SAM I must apologize because I have come to the conclusion that I simply cannot achieve this goal. For me, it is impossible. Not only did I find that choosing five objects above all others on my preliminary “list of favorites” too difficult, in the process of attempting to fine-tune my selection I would inevitably find another intriguing or beautiful object that captured my eye with every walk through the gallery space. And don’t get me started on what a new day and different mood did to my selection.

So, with defeat not an option I tried to look at the task from a different angle, to give myself some boundaries and to try and anchor my selections. With this in mind a very large theme began to emerge across many of the objects at SAM – the theme of Ceremony.

In its most basic sense, ceremony is defined as a ritual observance and procedure performed at grand or formal occasions. In many regards, ceremony is apart of our daily lives.

 

Canoe-shaped bowl with quail topknots, early 20th century, Native American, Californian, Pomo, willow, sedge root, bracken fern root, quail feathers, 1 3/4 × 6 1/4 × 2 1/4in., Gift of the Estate of Robert M. Shields, 2013.4.13. Currently on view in the Native American art galleries, Seattle Art Museum.

Canoe-shaped bowl with quail topknots, early 20th century, Native American, Californian, Pomo, willow, sedge root, bracken fern root, quail feathers, 1 3/4 × 6 1/4 × 2 1/4in., Gift of the Estate of Robert M. Shields, 2013.4.13. Currently on view in the Native American art galleries, Seattle Art Museum.

This canoe-shaped bowl with quail topknots is a quiet symbol of ceremony. For Native American Indians of the American West, basketry and weaving is considered a highly skilled art form passed down between generations. A woven object not only usually serves a direct and functional purpose, but it is also indicative of a broader system of cultural knowledge in its design, technique and the materials available locally for its creation.

Baskets such as this one were made as simple containers, but also as gifts during formal occasions. For example, traditional wedding ceremonies in certain regions often included the bride and groom gifting each other baskets full of objects signifying commitment; for women, bread and corn to symbolize the lifetime of support she will share with her new husband, for men, meat and skins for his bride to represent his promise to feed and clothe her. Baskets in other clans were used during birthing ceremonies, holding the baby’s umbilical cord along with other objects of meaning so that the ancestors will recognize them when they arrive in the spirit world.

 

Lkaayaak yeil s'aaxw (Box of Daylight Raven Hat), ca. 1850, Native American, Tlingit, Taku, Gaanax'adi clan, maple, mirror, abalone shell, bird skin, paint, sea lion whiskers, copper, leather, Flicker feathers, 11 7/8 x 7 3/4 x 12 1/4in., Gift of John H. Hauberg, 91.1.124. Currently on view in the Native American art galleries, Seattle Art Museum.

Lkaayaak yeil s’aaxw (Box of Daylight Raven Hat), ca. 1850, Native American, Tlingit, Taku, Gaanax’adi clan, maple, mirror, abalone shell, bird skin, paint, sea lion whiskers, copper, leather, Flicker feathers, 11 7/8 x 7 3/4 x 12 1/4in., Gift of John H. Hauberg, 91.1.124. Currently on view in the Native American art galleries, Seattle Art Museum.

This carving of maple, mirror, abalone shell, bird skin, sea lion whiskers, copper, leather and Flicker feathers is an elaborate example of Tlingit carved wood hats. These carvings, attached to larger headdresses, are among the most significant objects of Tlingit clans, kept safe by the clan leader or caretaker. They are shown or worn only on ceremonial occasions and their carving often captures distinct geographic features, animals or natural phenomena that form part of the clan’s legends to which it belongs.

 

This carved wood hat depicts Raven with human-like hands and fingers. Tlingit legend says that Raven was responsible for organizing the world to the form that we inhabit it today – this carving shows him releasing the sun, the red disk above his head, and the stars and moon which are in the box that he holds. It is unusual in its full sculptural form of Raven, who is frequently depicted in the face only.

 

Pukamani pole, 1999, Leon Puruntatamari, Australian Aboriginal, Tiwi Islands, Melville Island, born 1949, natural pigments with fixative on ironwood, height 104 5/16in., Partial and promised gift of Margaret Levi and Robert Kaplan, in honor of the 75th Anniversary of the Seattle Art Museum, 2005.155, © Leon Puruntatamari. Currently on view in the Australian Aboriginal art gallery, Seattle Art Museum.

Pukamani pole, 1999, Leon Puruntatamari, Australian Aboriginal, Tiwi Islands, Melville Island, born 1949, natural pigments with fixative on ironwood, height 104 5/16in., Partial and promised gift of Margaret Levi and Robert Kaplan, in honor of the 75th Anniversary of the Seattle Art Museum, 2005.155, © Leon Puruntatamari. Currently on view in the Australian Aboriginal art gallery, Seattle Art Museum.

This ironwood Pukamani pole is another example of carving used in ceremony. For the Tiwi people of the Tiwi Islands, just off the coast of the Northern Territory in Australia, Pukamani is the ceremony surrounding death. It is performed over a series of rituals beginning with the burial of the body and culminating in the final ceremony where carved Pukamani poles are placed around the grave in a circular shape to contain and comfort the spirit of the deceased.

Between death and the final placement of burial poles around the grave sometimes more than a year will pass, but most often about six months, as the family of the deceased work to organize the people who will be involved in the ceremonial duties. It also takes a long time to carve and paint a Pukamani pole. The artists of Pukamani poles such as Leon Puruntatamari, who made this example, are paid for their artistic efforts as whilst it is a privilege to be commissioned to complete a burial pole, the deceased’s honor is attached with how his or her family arranges the Pukamani ceremonies and how generous they are with those participating.

At a Pukamani ceremony members of different Tiwi clans congregate to ensure the safe and happy journey of the deceased to the spirit world through dance and song. People will paint their bodies with designs not foremost to designate clan as is usually thought to be the case, but rather to disguise the body from the deceased who is considered to be in trickster mode until the completion of Pukamani rituals. Tiwi people will also wear feather armbands and headdresses in order to better disguise themselves.

 

Katie Morris, looking at paintings by Emily Kngwarreye, promised gifts of Margaret Levi and Robert Kaplan, all paintings © Emily Kngwarreye. Currently on view in the Australian Aboriginal art gallery, Seattle Art Museum.

Katie Morris, looking at paintings by Emily Kngwarreye, promised gifts of Margaret Levi and Robert Kaplan, all paintings © Emily Kngwarreye. Currently on view in the Australian Aboriginal art gallery, Seattle Art Museum.

Although there are thousands of miles between the Tiwi Islands and Emily Kngwarreye’s Country Alhalkere, in Australia’s Utopia region of the central Desert, the act of body painting during and for ceremony is of equal and sacred importance.

Emily Kngwarreye starting painting on canvas in 1989 and before her death in 1996 she completed close to 3000 works. Posthumously she has been celebrated as a great abstract painter, contributing to the same artistic dialogue as artists such as Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. But Emily Kngwarreye never saw one of these iconic artist’s work, let alone studied them in a book. For Emily, her work considered and was about one subject only: her Country.

In Awelye (Ceremony), we are seeing the same lines on the canvas as they traditionally appear on the body during women’s ceremonies. With this in mind, the surface of the painting can be likened to a ceremonial ground in which Emily Kngwarreye reenacted the ceremony to which she was custodian. She was known to sing as she painted, using the canvas to remember and pay homage to her Country. With each brushstroke she connected herself to her ancestors and kin.

 

Tureen, ca. 1725-30, Austrian, Du Paquier manufactory, hard paste porcelain, 7 3/4 x 8 1/8 x 14in. overall, Gift of Martha and Henry Isaacson, 69.171. Currently on view in the Porcelain Room, Seattle Art Museum.

Tureen, ca. 1725-30, Austrian, Du Paquier manufactory, hard paste porcelain, 7 3/4 x 8 1/8 x 14in. overall, Gift of Martha and Henry Isaacson, 69.171. Currently on view in the Porcelain Room, Seattle Art Museum.

With family in mind, my final object of ceremony is of a vastly different tone to my four previous choices. It is in no way intended to trivialize the extreme significance of the four preceding examples of objects I have presented which are tied to ceremony, but rather to simply present another object from a new angle. Given the time of year and the busy Holiday season approaching, I cannot help but reflect on the ceremonies that I know I will be apart of in the last months of the year.

This hard paste porcelain tureen was produced in Vienna sometime between 1725 and 1730. The many treasures that made their way back to Europe as a result of increased trade in the eighteenth century influenced its design. You can see the lure of exotic and distant lands that came about with this travel is visible in the monkey and Japanese-inspired floral decoration.

When looking at this quirky object of domesticity I find myself wondering of the tables that this tureen has graced and the conversations it has overheard. Has it been apart of a wedding or a birthday celebration? Or perhaps a meal on a religious holiday? After all, what is the act of sitting around a dining table during the holidays or a special occasion with family and friends? Whether your holiday meals involve an elegant monkey tureen or paper plates and takeaway containers, I suggest that it is all ceremony.

-Katie Morris, Curatorial intern, 2014

 

 

 

Roadkill from Twenty-six Roadkills by Daniel Teoli Jr, 2013

Twenty-Six Roadkills from Twentysix Gasoline Stations

The Dorothy Stimson Bullitt Library at the Seattle Art Museum has a small collection of books by artists. In conjunction with the exhibition Pop Departures, we are currently showcasing one particular artist’s book, Twenty-Six Roadkills by Daniel Teoli Jr., and the example that inspired it, Twentysix Gasoline Stations by Pop Departures artist Ed Ruscha.

Twentysix Gasoline Stations
In 1963, artist Ed Ruscha (born 1937) produced his seminal artist’s book: Twentysix Gasoline Stations. The book, held in SAM’s object collection (2000.223), consists of twenty-six black and white photographs of gasoline stations that Ruscha encountered on Route 66 between Oklahoma City, where he grew up, and Los Angeles where he moved in 1956. He saw these stations frequently on his trips home, and stated that he had “a personal connection to that span of mileage between Oklahoma and California… it kind of spoke to me.”

The book was self-published when the artist was 26 years old. Ruscha found a commercial printer in Los Angeles to mass produce 400 copies and sold them for $3 each.

In 2013, NPR correspondent Caroline Miranda interviewed Ruscha about Twentysix Gasoline Stations—deemed the first modern artist’s book— on its 50th anniversary. Ruscha recalled initial reactions to it: “If I showed this book to somebody who worked in a gas station, they might be genuinely interested in it, saying ‘Oh yeah, I remember that place…’ [but] people who were in the art world, [would say things] like, ‘What is this you’re doing? Are you putting us on?’”

At the time, the intellectual establishment didn’t take it seriously and even the Library of Congress refused to put it in their collection because of its “unorthodox form and supposed lack of information.” They still don’t own the 1963 edition. But the work persevered and acquired cult status. It inspired artists like Daniel Teoli Jr. to create their own versions.

Twenty-Six Roadkills
Photographer Daniel Teoli Jr. (born 1954) grew up in Los Angeles, very close to where Ruscha lived and worked and was aware of his art from his own earliest beginnings as a photographer in the 1970s. When Teoli moved to the Northeast in the late 1980s, Ruscha “dropped off his radar.” Then, Teoli heard Miranda’s interview with Ruscha on NPR and felt moved to create his own work, wanting to memorialize Twentysix Gasoline Stations on the 50th anniversary—Twenty-Six Roadkills was the result.

Twenty-Six Roadkills is hand printed, letter size in landscape format, spiral bound with rounded corners. The book has beautiful artisan-made marbled endpapers and incorporates clear protectors between each photograph. The edition is limited to 50 artists’ books and two pre-production proof books.

Roadkill from Twenty-Six Roadkills by Daniel Teoli Jr, 2013

From: Twenty-Six Roadkills. Pittsburgh: Daniel D. Teoli Jr., 2013. SPCOL TR 647 T393 T94 2013. Gift of Daniel D. Teoli Jr. in honor of Lewis Hine and Ray Metzker. Image used by permission from the artist.

Roadkill from Twenty-Six Roadkills by Daniel Teoli Jr, 2013

From: Twenty-Six Roadkills. Pittsburgh: Daniel D. Teoli Jr., 2013. SPCOL TR 647 T393 T94 2013. Gift of Daniel D. Teoli Jr. in honor of Lewis Hine and Ray Metzker. Image used by permission from the artist.

Roadkill from Twenty-Six Roadkills by Daniel Teoli Jr, 2013

From: Twenty-Six Roadkills. Pittsburgh: Daniel D. Teoli Jr., 2013. SPCOL TR 647 T393 T94 2013. Gift of Daniel D. Teoli Jr. in honor of Lewis Hine and Ray Metzker. Image used by permission from the artist.

So how did Twenty-Six Roadkills come about? The NPR story reminded Teoli of his early interest in Ruscha. He had just completed two other artist’s books and decided, then and there, that his next book would honor the artist. He then asked himself: what twenty-six things could he use for his book? “We have a lot of roadkill [near where I live], so I settled on that.”

When I lived in L.A., we may have had a few dogs or cats as roadkill,… but when I moved to the Northeast, I was shocked at both the amount and variety. [In addition to the animals included in the book,] I’ve also seen turtles, frogs and snakes. In the nearly twenty-five years I’ve lived here, I’ve never once gotten out of the car to look over roadkill. If you live here, seeing roadkill is a daily affair; you become immune to it.

Unlike Ruscha’s “mundane” gas stations, Teoli’s subject matter may have a more visceral effect on its viewers. But he acknowledges that some viewers might think he went out of his way to show gore, but that’s not the case, he didn’t. More uncommon occurrences—like a deer Teoli saw that seemed to have exploded after being hit by an 18-wheeler—were not included.

Teoli’s book is on view just outside the Bullitt Library on the fifth floor of the Seattle Art Museum, during the library’s public hours: Wednesday-Friday, 10 am-4 pm.

SAM Art: Halloweeeeeeeeeen Edition!

Seated demon figure, 14th century, Chinese, bronze with gilt, 3 1/4 x 2 x 1 7/8 in., Eugene Fuller Memorial Collection, 52.45. Currently on view at the Asian Art Museum.

Seated demon figure, 14th century, Chinese, bronze with gilt, 3 1/4 x 2 x 1 7/8 in., Eugene Fuller Memorial Collection, 52.45. Currently on view at the Asian Art Museum.

‘Tis the season… for ghosts and ghouls and demons!

Supernatural beings appear in artwork spanning centuries and continents, and play distinct roles in different cultures. Even within individual cultures, these creatures have different attributes that can mean different things. It has been suggested that this demon is shivering from cold, suffering that is being imposed upon him.

SAM celebrates Halloween this week with the help of Nancy Guppy and New Day Northwest (KING 5, 11 am). Nancy will be in SAM’s galleries on Thursday, October 30, in full costume inspired by Pop Departures. Join her, and SAM, for a little Halloween inspiration!