Muse/News: Unplugged Studios, a home for Black art, and Subway Dogs

SAM News

SAM’s upcoming major exhibition, Victorian Radicals: From the Pre-Raphaelites to the Arts & Crafts Movement, makes Seattle Met’s list of “10 Seattle Events to Catch This June.”

Colossal features the human + animals ceramic vessels of Claire Partington, whose work also has set up shop in SAM’s beloved Porcelain Room.

Watch this Art21 short video featuring Zanele Muholi and their “unplugged” studio practice of self-portraits and portraiture; Muholi’s work comes to SAM on July 10.

Local News

Stefan Milne of Seattle Met on poet Jane Wong, whose James W. Ray Distinguished Artist-exhibition at the Frye—exploring food, silence, and ghosts–opens tomorrow.

The Stranger’s Jasmyne Keimig goes up, up, up, to the 73rd floor of the Columbia Center to see The Factory’s latest show, work by 17 queer artists including Anthony White, Clyde Petersen, Markel Uriu, and more.

Lisa Edge of Real Change visits the Central District’s new Black arts space, Wa Na Wari, created by Jill Freidberg, Elisheba Johnson, Rachel Kessler, and Inye Wokoma. Also: the collective is curating the Summer at SAM kickoff.

“They always say ‘this is so great’ or ‘this is so wonderful,’” Johnson shared. “The first couple times it happened I said ‘you haven’t seen anything yet.’ They say ‘no, this is here.’ It’s just something about being able to walk into a space and know that it’s a cultural center for Black people that feels embodied as soon as you go through the entryway.”

Inter/National News

A Seattle man examined photographs he’d purchased 50 years ago at a Philadelphia secondhand store—only to discover they were by Weegee, the legendary crime photographer. Here’s other weird places art has been found.

Artnet’s Taylor Defoe continues to follow up on the recent incident at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, in which a group of students of color were harassed by staff and other visitors.

The New York Times’ Holland Cotter looks at several shows in the city held this Pride Month in honor of the half-century Stonewall anniversary.

“For many reasons, protest is a logical direction for art right now. There is still no federal law prohibiting discrimination against L.G.B.T.Q.+ people on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity (although some states and cities have enacted laws prohibiting it). Trans women continue to be victims of violence. The rate of new H.I.V./AIDS transmission among gay black men remains high. And the impulse within the gay mainstream to accommodate and assimilate is by now deeply ingrained. The time has come to hear Sylvia Rivera calling us out again.”

And Finally

As a person who has taken IKEA desks and Christmas trees on Seattle buses, I am here for this.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Image: Saint George Slaying the Dragon, 1872; designed ca. 1862, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, British, 1828–1882, stained, painted, and leaded glass, 37 3/8 × 28 7/8 in., Lent by Birmingham Museums Trust on behalf of Birmingham City Council, Purchased, 1972M79, © Birmingham Museums Trust, Courtesy American Federation of Arts
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Object of the Week: Twins

The work, Twins, created by photographer and video artist, Sue De Beer (American, born 1973), depicts two entwined twin teenage girls. De Beer’s work examines the internal conflicts of high school-aged girls—a period of both happiness and great terror. De Beer describes Twins as a “depiction of an impossible situation, a companion who is not an other; a state of pure completion, the strength and horror of desire without fear.”[1] What makes this work even more interesting is that De Beer portrays her subjects through her own likeness. Rather than a pair of identical twins, this image is a digitally-manipulated photograph of the artist herself. Using her own body to explore the identity of others is a technique the artist utilizes, to great effect, in other work, like Two Girls and her seminal video work, Making Out With Myself.

In her correspondence with Seattle gallerist Linda Farris (American, 1945-2005), De Beer explains:

“Much of my work takes place at high school age, a time of heightened experience, and often a time of ‘first’ experience: sexual experience, drug experience, intellectual experience. High school is the first time since birth that your height has stabilized, when your mind had learned enough to begin to analyze information, rather than just accumulate it. You have all of the physical equipment you will carry with you for the rest of your life, but it is all so new and unfamiliar, your agony and pleasure is heightened by the newness of being ‘complete,’ fully formed, and yet blank, without experience.” [2]

Twins, along with two other De Beer works, more visceral and violent—Two Girls and Untitled, from Heidi 2—came to SAM as part of the ContemporaryArtProject gift. CAP was the brainchild of Farris, who assembled a group of private collectors that were willing to share their private spaces with challenging images and objects. Farris selected daring new works that touched her very personally and passionately. In 2002, this group graciously gifted this work to SAM. The thirty-three artworks in the CAP collection include painting, photography, and video unified by a strong feminist perspective with an overarching theme: identity as a complex convergence of the cultural, social, and sexual selves.[3]

Learn more about the 33 works from the ContemporaryArtProject.

– Traci Timmons, SAM Senior Librarian

Image: Twins, 1998, Sue de Beer, color digital C-print, 35 13/16 x 49 3/8 in., Gift of the ContemporaryArtProject, Seattle, 2002.15 ©Laura Parnes
[1] Paul M. Smith, “Identity Paradox – Austin Museum of Digital Art,” Amoda.org, 2002, http://www.amoda.org/events/exhibit-02/.
[2] Email correspondence between Sue De Beer and Linda Farris, July 3, 1999.
[3] Seattle Art Museum and Tara Reddy Young, SAM Collects ContemporaryArtProject (Seattle: Seattle Art Museum, 2002), 8, 9, 40.
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Picnic at Olympic Sculpture Park with Landscapes Café

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!

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Site-Specific Art at the Park: Regina Silveira’s “Octopus Wrap”

If you’ve strolled through the Olympic Sculpture Park since May you’re probably wondering about the tire tracks covering the PACCAR Pavilion. As if monster trucks went rogue or a motorcycle gang veered off Western Avenue to burn some surreal rubber, the building is wrapped in a pattern of skid marks. Look closely and you’ll spot five toy motorcycles on the interior mural wall, the origin of this mind-bending temporary intervention—by one of Latin America’s most influential contemporary artists—that alters our perceptions of our physical environment. 

Commissioned by SAM, Regina Silveira: Octopus Wrap is the latest architectural installation the artist has realized around the world. Hailing from Brazil and examining the ways superimposed images change the meaning of an existing space, Silveira took inspiration from the Olympic Sculpture Park’s location at the intersection of several busy thoroughfares. Next time you visit the park, tune in to the sounds of traffic, trains under the greenway, and the churning sea, as you take in Octopus Wrap, on view through March 8, 2020

Silveira’s interventions on the exteriors and interiors of buildings, on city streets and in public parks, have included dense clusters of footprints, swarms of insects, nocturnal light projections of animal tracks that wander across building façades, and exaggerated shadows. Some of her installations have the appearance of occupations, infestations, or supernatural visitations; others seem to be fantastical apparitions that suspend the laws of nature and perception.

For Regina Silveira, a political element of these ruptures resides in their assault on our perception or, in her words, “in the level of transformation that can be brought about by grafting something into a given space in a way that magically changes its relationship to the real.” Her aim is estrangement from the familiar, and her preferred tactic is surprise. Beyond a heightened sensory experience within a newly defined space, Silveira’s mode of intervention can also be understood in social and political terms.

With Octopus Wrap, the pavilion’s calm, white walls are noisily invaded by five motorcyclists who use the windows, walls, and floor as their racetrack. When seen from a distance, the undulating tracks create another, larger image, one that ensnares the architecture as if within the arms of an octopus. The installation will be temporary, but the new images and sensations it creates will enter our memory and form a lasting imprint of a different kind.

We extend a special thank you to our generous SAM Fund donors who helped make this installation possible.

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Muse/News: A sound wagon, a light tunnel, and a change

SAM News

Seattle PI’s Zosha Millman interviews Path with Art executive director Holly Jacobson and a student artist about Hear & Now, the kinetic sound sculpture now on view at SAM that was created by Trimpin and Path with Art student artists who have lived experience of homelessness. Don’t miss June’s First Thursday performance and talkback about the work.

“It is going to require human centered solutions that will require putting the person that is having that experience at the center of the solution . . . And art is just a tremendous vehicle for that.”

Following her preview of Regina Silveira: Octopus Wrap, Crosscut’s Brangien Davis features the installation in her weekly newsletter, including quotes from her interview with the artist.

SAM’s upcoming major exhibition, Victorian Radicals: From the Pre-Raphaelites to the Arts & Crafts Movement, is included in the Seattle Times’ annual guide to all the happenings around town this summer.

Local News

“Gore-tex meets Gucci”: Crosscut’s Brangien Davis re-examines at the oft-mocked Seattle style through two fashion exhibitions, now on view at MOHAI and MoPOP.

Seattle Met’s Stefan Milne explores the future of music festivals in the region, now that Sasquatch and Upstream are done.

It’s been a minute since Charles Mudede brought his inimitable voice to the visual arts; here he is with an appreciation of James Turrell’s Light Reign at the Henry Art Gallery.

“But there is nothing supernatural or sacred here. We have the deepest feelings for light because it powers the processes that result in the wine we drink, the books we read, the park-bench kisses we enjoy all through the summer.”

Inter/National News

Jori Finkel of the New York Times reports that the Museum of Contemporary Art will soon offer free general admission; the change is made possible by a $10 million donation by the board president, Carolyn Clark Powers.

ARTnews’ Claire Selvin shares the news that the PBS NewsHour will expand its broadcast and digital arts reporting initiative, Canvas, thanks to a gift from the Knight Foundation (Arts publicists around the country react).

Lori Lightfoot, Chicago’s first African American woman, and first openly LGBTQ mayor got an artwork for her office just in time for her swearing-in; Amanda Williams’s Cadastral Shaking (Chicago v1) is about the legacies of redlining.

“Chicago is a city full of hope about shifting histories and moving toward equity, and the fact that the new mayor wanted a work of art about that says a lot,” Gass added. “We believe in the power of art to help shift perspectives, and hopefully the map in the office will help do that.”

And Finally

Get stuck on the Unicorn Tapestries.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Image: Installation view of Hear & Now, Seattle Art Museum, 2019, photo: Natali Wiseman.
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Object of the Week: Crow

In 2016, the Seattle Asian Art Museum invited acclaimed Japanese artist Tabaimo to study the museum’s collection and curate an exhibition. The resulting presentation, Tabaimo: Utsutsushi Utsushi, was based on the concept of utsushi, which literally means “copying or paying homage to a master’s work.” Tabaimo selected several historical objects from SAM’s Asian art collection to present alongside her own work, some of which she produced specifically for the show. The last gallery of the exhibition featured the museum’s beloved pair of 17th-century Crows screens and Tabaimo’s response, a video installation that imagines new possibilities for the screens’ depicted action.

The subject of the Crows screens is a murder[1] of black-feathered birds set against squares of gold leaf. Descending en masse from the top left-hand corner of each screen, the crows wind their way down to a rocky crag along the bottom edge. In photographs of the screens, the birds appear as silhouettes, though an in-person viewing reveals the unique texture of each creature’s feathers, eyes, beak, and claws. The dynamism of the scene is created through the movements of the individual crows. In some places, they fly towards each other, suggesting an impending clash; in the upper right-hand corner, two birds take part in a midair tussle; and even those grounded crows spread their wings, look about, and caw. 

In Tabaimo’s video utsushi of Crows, the birds are flattened into black silhouettes floating against a background of gold squares. Here, the squares take part in the action too. One by one, they sink into the pictorial space revealing rectangular hollows into which the feathered-beasts fly. An exhibition text explains:

In Japanese culture, it is a custom to tidy things up at the end of an event. Crows are often associated with untidiness because they look for food among garbage and create litter. Tabaimo does not intend for us to leave the gallery with a clear understanding of the exhibition, but rather, she would like to invite lively discussions by ending it in an ambiguous way, just as the crow brings untidy debris.[2]

– Murphy Crain, Asian Art and Gardner Center Coordinator

[1] Not a killing! A group of crows is called a murder.
[2] Tabaimo: Utsutsushi Utsushi exhibition brochure
Images: Crow, 2016, Tabaimo, single-channel video installation, 4 min. 10 sec., Asian Art Acquisition Fund, 2017.5 ©Artist or Artist’s Estate. Crows, early 17th century, Japanese, pair of six panel screens; ink and gold on paper, 61 9/16 x 139 5/16 in., Eugene Fuller Memorial Collection, 36.21.1.
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Welcome Home, Ancestral Modern!

Ancestral Modern: Australian Aboriginal Art from the Kaplan-Levi Collection recently concluded a tour to four museums where it opened thousands of eyes to the visionary innovations of a new chapter of art history. When this exhibition first opened in 2012 in Seattle, one critic described it as:

National and international visitors came to Seattle and paid attention to this gathering of art which led to a connection with the American Federation for the Arts through their board member, Kimerley Rorchach. The AFA took on the responsibility for finding other museums and organizing the logistics for traveling the exhibition. During three years, it was seen at the Frist Center for the Arts in Nashville, the Chazen Art Museum in Madison, the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin, and the Audain Museum in Whistler. 

Amazingly enough, the entrance to the exhibition often focused on a painting that has the startling quality of a stop sign, by painter Ngilpirr Spider Snell, who is warning you not to get too close to a sacred body of water that is being guarded by a snake. 

That warning leads into looking at dots, mazes and linear patterns that may not always be what they seem. In Australian Aboriginal art, dots can trace the journey of a creative ancestor.

Or dots can punish a boy who has stolen an emu’s heart by turning him into a colorful whirlwind

A maze can be a map of an artist’s homeland filled with sandhills.

And linear dashes of paint may conjure up leaves full of medicinal strength blown across a windswept desert. 

This art constantly offers many new visual experiences—peering underground to see yams grow; trekking over vast salt lakes; following the trail of a blue-tongued lizard or encountering a lightning-spitting serpent in swirling water. It is endowed with the vision of the world’s oldest living cultures whose artists have ushered in an indigenous renaissance since the 1970s. They focus our attention on the remarkable continent these communities have managed for centuries.    

At each venue, the exhibition was accompanied by texts written by SAM, and designers put the art in interpretive themes also established by SAM.  Throughout the tour, the couple whose collection was being featured made their way to the openings to speak with the press, educators, staffs, and members of each museum. Thanks to Robert Kaplan and Margaret Levi for making this extraordinary tour possible, and to all the artists whose creativity continues to challenge our eyes to adjust to what they consider significant. 

– Pam McClusky, Curator of African and Oceanic Art

Images: Installation view of Ancestral Modern: Australian Aboriginal Art from the Kaplan-Levi Collection, Seattle Art Museum, 2012, photo: Nathaniel Wilson. Kurtal, 2005, Ngilperr Ngalyaku Spider Snell, © 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VISCOPY, Australia. Mountain Devil Lizard Dreaming (detail), 1996, Kathleen Petyarre, © Kathleen Petyarre. Walu (detail), 2008, Tommy Mitchell, © Tommy Mitchell. Yunarla (detail), 2010, Yukultji Napangati, © 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VISCOPY, Australia. Leaves (detail), 2002, Gloria Tamerr Petyarre, © 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VISCOPY, Australia, photo: Paul Macapia. Audain Art Museum, Whistler, BC, Canada, photo: Pamela McClusky. Audain Art Museum opening with Bob Kaplan and Margaret Levi, and Director, Curtis Collins.
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Docents Defined: Nina Vichayapai

Are you a fan of the Seattle Asian Art Museum who loves discussing your favorite artworks? Consider volunteering as a docent at the Asian Art Museum when it reopens later this year! SAM is recruiting new docents to start training to lead tours of the newly installed galleries and you have until May 31 to apply.

Docents bring their unique interests and backgrounds to each tour they lead and that’s what makes them fun and engaging for SAM’s diverse audiences. A docent like Nina didn’t go to museum growing up but later found them to be an important part of her life and started leading tours with SAM to help others become invested in museum visits early in life. Find about more about Nina in the interview below!

SAM: Tell us about yourself. Why did you decide to become a docent?

Nina: I am an artist and studied at an art school in San Francisco. Since I was young, I loved making art and knew I wanted to become an artist. It wasn’t until I was older that I also learned to love looking at art. A huge part of my college education took place at museums and included wonderful opportunities to meet the people who help these spaces function. Growing up I never really visited museums and by the time I became an adult, I somehow fell into the impression that the museum was a space reserved for people unlike me and the stories being told there did not represent mine.

After seeing many different museums, I was blown away by how much these spaces offer our communities. By the time I finished college and decided to move back to Seattle I knew that as much as I wanted to continue making art, I also wanted to find opportunities which would allow me to tap into the joy I have for museums. Becoming a docent with the Seattle Art Museum was really the perfect outlet for that joy. I was especially compelled to become a docent given my previous background of apprehension toward museums. There are many people who avoid museums out of feeling excluded. Having once been one of those people, I have a lot of patience and understanding when it comes to sharing what I think we can all learn from art.

What’s the best part of being a docent?

The best part of being a docent for me is definitely getting to see all the incredible connections people make to their own lives all just from looking at art. I’ve worked primarily with younger students and whether we are looking at a piece from the Pacific Northwest or from somewhere far away, whether it was made last year or hundreds of years ago, I’m always so thrilled to see how quickly the students will begin to relate the work to their own lived experiences.

Another thing I must mention as being a huge highlight is the wealth of resources we have access to! Through the online database, which docents can access, and the library at SAM, there is so much to learn about the art in SAM’s collections. Docents are always contributing to this wealth as well. For any art lover, it’ s really a dream and very fun to get lost in exploring the archives.

What’s your favorite work of art to tour?

My favorite installation to tour is Lessons from the Institute of Empathy. This installation includes the work of Saya Woofalk along with pieces from many other artists, so there is a lot to work within the gallery for the many different tours we do. But what I love most is seeing how students light up when they step into that space. The whole installation really breaks a lot of preconceived ideas about what art and museums are supposed to look like. And the concept of empathy is always one that generates really deep and often touching conversations.

What’s your most memorable touring experience?

I gave an Elements of Art tour to a particularly enthusiastic class once. They walked in without much prior experience of talking about art, but by the end of our tour they couldn’t contain their excitement at discovering the different elements we had just discussed in every artwork we passed. It was as if I had revealed a magician’s trick to them and their glee was really contagious!

What advice do you have for people applying for the docent program?

Visit museums! Not just art museums too. Seattle has so many great museums. I think it’s important to get a feel for the culture and approach to education unique to each museum. It helped me understand what qualities I felt were important and how I could bring that to my role as a docent.

– Yaoyao Liu, Seattle Asian Art Museum Educator

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Muse/News: Summer fun, earthy art, and a wish

SAM News

Heads-up, parents and caregivers: summer in Seattle is upon us! Here’s Elisa Murray for the Seattle Times with great ideas to keep the learning going and keep the fun going while school’s out. She includes Summer at SAM, our annual series of free programming at the Olympic Sculpture Park, held this year July 11 through August 22.

And Artdaily and Patch.com both shared the news about Regina Silveira: Octopus Wrap, the mind-bendingly cool site-specific installation at the Olympic Sculpture Park’s PACCAR Pavilion.

Local News

At this week’s event featuring Tayari Jones (she was AMAZING), Seattle Arts and Lectures announced their exciting 2019-20 lineup, including Ta-Nehisi Coates, Min Jin Lee, and Jodi Kantor & Megan Twohey.

Musical hooks and a “subtle new take on its sexual politics”: Seattle Magazine’s Gavin Borchert on “Why You Need to See Seattle Opera’s Carmen.”

Crosscut’s Brangien Davis examines the dire news about climate change and looks at how art could be a vital way to confront the challenges ahead.

“It might seem too-little-too-late to argue for sublime beauty in the face of urgent statistics about habitat loss, mass extinctions, droughts, wildfires and coastal erosion. But the introspective state that art is so adept at conjuring might be the only angle from which our modern brains can process and address the monumental facts.”

Inter/National News

Farewell to I.M. Pei, the Pritzker Prize-winning architect who passed away at the age of 102. He designed the glass pyramid entrance of the Louvre in Paris and the East Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.

The team at Artnet has a gondola-full of reads on the Venice Biennale, including the recent news that Lithuania’s beach-opera installation and Arthur Jafa’s film “The White Album” took the event’s top prizes.

Renée Reizman for Hyperallergic on Dandelions, an installation by the anonymous Los Angeles art collective Art Department that turned a decommissioned substation into “a secret wish-processing facility.”

“The bureaucrat asked more general questions. Could the wish be categorized as altruistic or selfish? Did it pertain to romance or your career?”

And Finally

“We sat them up on chairs, they were smiling for the camera. It was the greatest day of my life.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

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