Lawrence Lemaoana’s Cloth Banners: In This Imperfect Present Moment

Laughing at leaders in public can be a welcome release. Lawrence Lemaoana created banners to shout back at the powerful president of South Africa, Jacob Zuma. Zuma, who was a controversial leader, had many annoying traits. One of his most despised public maneuvers was a tendency to dance as if there were no problems in his midst, and then add the antagonism of raising his fist as a sign of victory. Observers groaned. Lemaoana said of this, “Once the raised fist was a symbol used to motivate the people for a public cause, but here Zuma uses it as a tool to enrich himself, to bolster himself against any criticism or interference.”

In another cloth banner, the artist mimics a newspaper announcing “Things Fall Apart.” As the artist said, “You get hit by those headlines on the side of the road. On the one hand, it’s informative, but it’s also dangerous; there’s almost a propagandistic element to it. It shapes the way we live.” His choice of a cloth known as kanga is another obvious clue of disapproval. When Jacob Zuma went on trial for rape in 2006, he claimed that the young woman wearing a kanga cloth wrapped around her was signaling an invitation to assault her. Lemaoana turned that assault right back at Zuma by making his banners from that cloth, and by offering a chance to laugh or express outrage at Zuma’s dangerous absurdity. See Lemaona’s work as part of In This Imperfect Present Moment at SAM through June 16, 2019, and experience this welcome release.

– Pam McClusky, SAM’s Curator of African and Oceanic Art

Images: Newsmaker of the Year, 2008, Lawrence Lemaoana, South African, b. 1982, Cloth applique, 42 1/8 x 31 1/2 in., Private collection, © Lawrence Lemaoana, photo courtesy AFRONOVA GALLERY. Installation view of In This Imperfect Present Moment at Seattle Art Museum. 2018, photo: Natali Wiseman.
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Seattle Asian Art Museum: A Storied Past Inspires a Bright Future

“Renovating a museum that is an architectural icon is no small task,” explains Sam Miller, Partner at LMN Architects, the firm overseeing the Seattle Asian Art Museum’s renovation and expansion design. Preservation of the landmark building is essential, but modern demands necessitate change. These changes include improved ADA accessibility, seismic and climate control upgrades, and other electrical/mechanical controls imperative to present-day museum standards. The renovation features a modest expansion that adds exhibition and educational space, allowing the museum to better serve the community.

The Art Deco building is considered one of architect Carl F. Gould’s greatest achievements. “Our goal has been to impact the existing spaces as minimally as possible,” Miller says of LMN’s approach to the renovation process. “When there’s any new intervention that’s not replicating or preserving the historic architecture, we’re distinguishing the work with a more contemporary detailing so it’s clearly different from the building’s historic fabric.”

Gould’s original design serves as inspiration to LMN’s renovation plan, as does historic Volunteer Park, designed by the Olmsted Brothers landscape architectural firm in 1903. “There is this beautiful building in a beautiful historic park, and yet the two weren’t connected. We felt restoring some of that connection would be a great opportunity,” Miller says.

He explained how Gould’s design incorporated skylights that flooded the galleries with light, as well as windows with views into Volunteer Park. However, later building additions and a transition towards artificial lighting closed off many of those elements. The renovations will include LED light boxes that allow display of light-sensitive objects in an environment inspired by the original skylights. LMN also designed a glass lobby addition that improves building circulation while also providing park views. Conceived by Gould as an indoor-outdoor space, the Fuller Garden Court will also offer those views, through two new openings that will connect it to the lobby. “As you stand in the Garden Court, you’re going to have this incredible view of the park,” Miller says.

The community was integral to the design process. SAM received feedback from the City, local parks groups, and other community members. In addition to suggesting changes to a building staircase and landscaping that were incorporated into the final design, the community also led the museum back to an important source of inspiration—the Olmsted Brothers’ historic design for Volunteer Park pathways. In response to this feedback, SAM is restoring a set of Olmsted-designed paths. This opportunity to complete and augment these walkways through Volunteer Park speaks to the nature of the restoration project: historic preservation that has led to design inspiration.

In the months ahead, we will continue exploring the future of the museum as the renovations progress towards the much-anticipated re-opening in 2019.

– Erin Langner, freelance writer

Images: Eduardo Calderón.
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Muse/News: A dazzling assembly, fantasy as a tool, and experiencing “experiences”

SAM News

Thump! That’s the happy sound of The New York Times fall arts preview hitting doorsteps. SAM’s major fall exhibition, Peacock in the Desert: The Royal Arts of Jodhpur, India, was featured in their round-up of “Over 100 Not-to-Miss Shows From East Coast to West.” The show traveling from the Mehrangarh Museum Trust was dubbed “a dazzling assembly.”

Peacock in the Desert opens October 18; it was also a Seattle Times pick for one of the “hottest Seattle events for October” and is among The Seattle Weekly’s choices for “the best entertainment the season has to offer” for fall arts.

Local News

Think tiny! Curbed’s Sarah Anne Lloyd shares that the Seattle Office of Arts and Culture has posted an RFP for “tiny cultural spaces.” Applications are due on Friday, October 14.

Seek help: Here’s two reviews on the Frye Art Museum’s current exhibition, Group Therapy, from Seattle Met’s Stefan Milne and Seattle Weekly’s Seth Sommerfeld.

The October issue of City Arts is out now, with features on writer Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore and poet Quenton Baker—and a blazing cover story on Double Exposure artist Tracy Rector.

“Rector’s ability to seduce through stories is the stuff of hallowed auteurs. But it’s her ability to vanish behind the story that makes her work so enthralling. Fantasy doesn’t always have to be an escape; rather a tool to reframe and change the world.”

Inter/National News

Yay for art history majors: When Denise Murrell’s professor ignored the Black servant in Édouard Manet’s Olympia, she made it her thesis subject—and it’s now an exhibition at Columbia that will travel to Paris’ Musée d’Orsay.

Five design proposals for a planned Boston monument to Marin Luther King, Jr. are now before the citizens of the city; the finalists are Barbara Chase-Riboud, David Adjaye, Hank Willis Thomas, Yinka Shonibare, and Wodiczko.

The New York Times’ “internet culture” writer Amanda Hess with a hilarious and haunting take on the now-ubiquitous pop-up “experiences” and what, exactly, they’re for.

“What began as a kicky story idea became a masochistic march through voids of meaning. I found myself sleepwalking through them, fantasizing about going to a real museum. Or watching television. Or being on Twitter.”

And Finally

Articles with titles like “Favorite Snacks of Famous Artists” will always get an instant click from me.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Image: Maharaja Abhai Singh on Horseback, c. 1725, Dalchand, Jodhpur, opaque watercolor and gold on paper, Mehrangarh Museum Trust, photo: Neil Greentree.
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Object of the Week: Dream of the Language Wheel

Freedom of worship is one of the founding principles of American democracy. After all, the First Amendment forms our constitutional religious rights: it protects the free exercise and establishment of religion. In President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1940 State of the Union, delivered before the United States’ entry into World War II, he reminded the American people that the United States was committed to securing a future in which four essential human freedoms are upheld, the second of which is, in his words, the “freedom of every person to worship God in his own way—everywhere in the world.”

This is a powerful and important message, especially today. And while there are many works in SAM’s collection that give visual form to the freedom of worship, there are also a number of works that represent the opposite narrative: religious freedoms being taken away. For example, there are a number of objects in our Native American galleries whose value and function during potlatches tell a different story of persecution, as such ceremonies were banned by in 1885. Unfortunately, there are too many stories like this told through our material and visual culture. So, when thinking about freedom of worship, we must also ask who is free to worship.

In the piece pictured here, Dream of the Language Wheel, Guy Anderson offers up a unifying religious message. A member of the Northwest School, Anderson was a peer of Mark Tobey and Morris Graves and known for his abstract “mystic” paintings that incorporated motifs ranging from Zen Buddhism to Hinduism to Native American cosmologies, among others. Formally, the painting exhibits a degree of visual tension due to its divided canvas with dark and light elements. Embedded within the upper half are symbols from Northwest Coast groups—such as a fish and raven, whose treatments reference the iconic formline style of the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian peoples. In the lower half, we see early Christian symbols similarly contained within an abstract field.

While this work could be interpreted through a lens of cultural appropriation, Anderson’s blending of spiritual practices and cultures other than his own evinces the artist’s freedom of worship, developing a unique brand of spirituality which manifested itself artistically. It is also no accident that Anderson brings together Native American and early Christian iconography, given the long and fraught history between Native communities and Christian colonizers; however, the title of the work—Dream of the Language Wheel—holds, I think, an important key to the work’s meaning. A tool used to help find and translate words among different languages, a language wheel is meant to make things synonymous—that is, forge similarities. Perhaps Anderson believed that art was that thing, like a language wheel, that could unite us rather than divide us, showing us how we are more similar in our religious beliefs than we are different.

– Elisabeth Smith, Collections Coordinator

Image: Dream of the Language Wheel, 1962, Guy Anderson, oil on canvas, 81 x 48 in., Gift of the Marshall and Helen Hatch Collection, in honor of the 75th Anniversary of the Seattle Art Museum, 2012.15.3 © Guy Anderson and Deryl Walls
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My Favorite Things: Marc Onetto on “Shipwreck off the Coast of Alaska” at Seattle Art Museum

“This painting is in fact very good when you think about the fact that the painter only had a sketch from the logbook and some description. He had never seen it.”
– Marc Onetto

Take it from a sailor who has been to Lituya Bay—Louis-Philippe Crépin accurately captured the setting of this expedition disaster in his painting, Shipwreck off the Coast of Alaska. Born in Paris, Crépin became a specialist in marine painting and made his debut at the Salon of 1796 with a painting of the port of Brest. His primary patron throughout his long career would be the Naval Ministry of the government. Many of his works are in the National Maritime Museum in Paris, while others are in provincial museums throughout France. This work is likely the first painting by Crépin in an American museum.

Marc Onetto sails to Alaska annually. After finding a publication of explorer Count Jean-François de La Pérouse’s logbook in California, Onetto was inspired to visit Lituya Bay, among other uncharted Alaskan territories where La Pérouse’s expedition traveled in 1786. Thankfully Onetto has not encountered the early morning ebbing current in the pass of the bay that led to the tragic death of 21 sailors in a matter of minutes. Experience the drama of this painting in person when you see it hanging in Extreme Nature: Two Landscape Paintings from the Age of Enlightenment on view through December 9, 2018.

Want to know more about this painting and how it came into SAM’s collection? Read “The Ins and Outs of Acquisitions: A Newly Discovered french Masterpiece.” 

Subscribe to our My Favorite Things playlist on YouTube for more interviews featuring artists, innovators, specialists, and community leaders.

Artwork: Shipwreck Off the Coast of Alaska, 1806, Louis-Philippe Crepin, French, 1772-1851, oil on canvas, 40 15/16 × 58 11/16 in., Seattle Art Museum, European Art Acquisition Fund; Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Art Acquisition Fund; by exchange Gift of Mrs. Lew V. Day in memory of her husband; Gift of Arthur F. Ederer; H. Neil Meitzler, Issaquah, Washington; Col. Philip L. Thurber Memorial; Gift of Mrs. Donald E. Frederick; The late Mr. Arrigo M. Young and Mrs. Young in memory of their son, Lieut. (j.g.) Lawrence H. Young; Phillips Morrison Memorial; Gift of Mrs. Oswald Brown, in memory of her parents Simeon and Fannie B. Leland; Gift of Miss Grace G. Denny in memory of her sister Miss Coral M. Denny; Gift of friends in memory of Frank Molitor; Purchased from funds contributed in memory of Henry H. Judson; Purchased from the bequest of Charles M. Clark; Gift of Mrs. John C. Atwood, Jr.; Norman and Amelia Davis Collection; Norman Davis Collection; Mrs. Cebert Baillargeon, in memory of her husband, 2017.15.
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SAM Films: Night Heat – 41st Film Noir Series

Who can sleep when the night is a fever of perfume and gun smoke, the wails of saxophones and police sirens, when acting on impulse is better than a dream? Called “the best series in Seattle film history” by Charles R. Cross, this is the world’s longest-running film noir celebration. Get your series tickets online now or try your luck day of for standby tickets on a first-come, first-served basis.

September 27: White Heat
(Raoul Walsh, 1949)

A tense, wound-up gangster’s (James Cagney) inner demons are always threatening to boil over. He’s got a beautiful wife (Virginia Mayo), but his heart, his tormented emotions, are all tangled up with his mother (Margaret Wycherley). He sits in her lap while she soothes his pounding headaches. A robber and a killer, Cagney’s sent to prison, where he doesn’t know that his cellmate (Edmond O’Brien) is an undercover cop trying to ferret further incriminating information from him. On the outside, Mayo’s falling in with Cagney’s hunky rival (Steve Cochran). Behind bars, Cody’s cut off from his consoling and advising mother, and he rages out of control in a famous mess hall scene. O’Brien’s a simpatico cellmate, but Cagney’s just got to crash out and become the man Ma wants him to be: grasping, destroying, making it to the top of the world. In 35mm, 114 min.

October 4: Leave Her to Heaven
(John M. Stahl, 1945)

The sensuous, saturated visuals of this film convinced everyone that a knockout film noir could be in Technicolor. It’s novelist Cornell Wilde’s lucky day. On the train he meets a stunningly beautiful woman (green-eyed Gene Tierney), who’s reading, and enjoying, his latest book. Within a few days Wilde and this most romantic woman are deeply in love. In record time she scatters her beloved father’s ashes to the winds, riding fast through the New Mexico desert, jilts her fiancé, (Vincent Price) and announces her coming betrothal to Wilde. Tierney’s ardor for him is absolute, but it’s a weaponized devotion. She wants to command his attention and affection, and sometimes she wishes that his typewriter, his crippled brother (Darryl Hickman), and her sweet sister (Jeanne Crain) would just go away. Luscious 1940s art direction gives us a Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired desert house, a Maine forest retreat and a comfy New England cottage. As Martin Scorsese says, “a lost paradise, its beauty ravished by the heroine’s perverse nature.” Critic-author David Thomson calls the film “a mad goddess creation; if you want a wild thrill one night, I know which way I’d go.” In 35mm, 110 min.

October 11: Force of Evil
(Abraham Polonsky, 1948)

Director Polonsky and actor John Garfield, both Bronx-born, both scarred by the anti-Communist witch hunts, crafted this gritty blank-verse poem of the urban jungle, that conflates a soul’s and a society’s corruption. America is devoted to making money and strategizing to make more. Nothing new there, but there are gradations of commitment and devotion to the pursuit. Corporate racketeer Ray Roberts is all in, scheming to monopolize the symbiotic relationship between illegal betting and the banks that provide the winnings, and lawyer Garfield will make it happen. He arranges for the July fourth lucky number seven-seventy-six to win all over New York, so all the small-time betting banks will have to borrow money from Roberts to pay so many winners, and then he’ll take them over. Garfield will make a cool million, but his conscience troubles him. His estranged brother Thomas Gomez is one of the little guys who’ll get squeezed. Is it too late for Garfield to act on his better nature? Or is he too far on a path “going down and down, to the bottom of the world.” Music by David Raksin (“Laura”). In 35mm, 87 min.

October 25: On Dangerous Ground (Nicholas Ray, 1951)

Nicholas Ray is the cinematic poet of human alienation, and the saving grace of connection. He studied architecture with Frank Lloyd Wright, and understands the shaping influence of the places we inhabit. Tough cop Robert Ryan is brutal with himself and others in New York’s concrete labyrinth. His youthful sports trophies? Who cares? When he breaks the rules and savagely beats a suspect, he yells, “Why do you punks make me do this?” To keep from getting fired, he’s sent from the dark city to pristine snow fields upstate. But human wildlife is everywhere, and he helps track a child-killer with a man (Ward Bond) bent on illegal vengeance. Is there any way Ryan can see a different way of being? The suspect’s sister (Ida Lupino), herself isolated geographically and in her blindness, tells Ryan, who trusts no one, that she has to trust everyone. Music by Alfred Hitchcock’s favorite composer Bernard Herrmann (Psycho). In 35mm, 82 min.

November 1: Sudden Fear
(David Miller, 1952)

Wealthy Broadway dramatist Joan Crawford rejects actor Jack Palance as the lead in her new play, but falls for him big-time on a train trip to San Francisco. They marry, and Crawford is deliriously happy: she’s found her leading man for life. But Palance is secretly writing his own life script, which features a major part for his smoldering ex-flame Gloria Grahame, who’s got her eyes on Crawford’s substantial bank balance. Add some newfangled 1950s technology, and the elements for one of film noir’s most suspenseful climaxes are firmly in place. In 35mm, 110 min.

November 8: Wicked Woman
(Russell Rouse, 1953)

This seedy, down-and-dirty gem features luscious B-movie siren Beverly Michaels as the new waitress at the bar where muscular Richard Egan mixes the drinks. She can’t keep her hands off him, he responds in kind, and she concocts a scheme to have him sell the bar and carry her off to Mexico. But there are complications. Egan’s alcoholic wife (Evelyn Scott) is the one who owns the bar. And toad-like little Percy Helton, who’s always had lustful eyes for Michaels, can ruin everything. Maybe there’s something she can do to keep her dream alive. In 35mm, 77 min.

November 15: The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955)

Film noir usually presents the shadow side of the human psyche in adult terms. But Laughton’s masterpiece immerses us in a child’s view of a grown-up world of greed, violence and twisted sexuality that’s almost overwhelming, where adults loom like monsters and angels, and reality, fairy tale and nightmare merge. Via cinematographer Stanley Cortez’s searing images, Laughton floats us into a world where playing kids find the molested body of a woman in a cellar, and a dead woman sits at the bottom of a river, her hair streaming in the current. Where a Bible-crazed preacher with a knife (Robert Mitchum) tries to get little Billy Chapin and Sally Jane Bruce to tell him where some money’s hidden. They won’t say, and they have to get away, floating on that river, watched by innocent animals. Laughton’s aesthetic of power-through-simplicity was inspired by D.W. Griffith’s seminal films, and Griffith’s great heroine, Lilian Gish, provides a sanctuary for lost children. She’s got a spine of steel, but Mitchum, worse than any boogey man, just keeps coming. With Shelley Winters, Peter Graves. Screenplay by James Agee and Laughton. In 35mm, 93 min.

November 29: Lilith
(Robert Rossen, 1964)

In the Bible and the Talmud, Lilith is a female demon, a destroyer of men. In film noir, femme fatales can be brash and harsh, or as softly seductive as a spider web in a beautiful meadow. A young man (Warren Beatty) with a war-wounded soul returns to his home town. He needs to rediscover who he is and find a purpose in life. Working at a park-like mental hospital, he comes under the spell of Lilith (Jean Seberg), an artistic woman who wants to share her love with the world. But Seberg’s golden aura casts shadows, ensnaring patient Peter Fonda, who touchingly speaks of the life he’ll lead after he’s released. Beatty goes home to sleep at night, but home is where the heart is. Great acting all around, with Beatty trying to gather, and find himself in his pauses and hesitations, and Gene Hackman tense and wonderful in his first film. But Seberg is the sun. With Kim Hunter. In 35mm, 114 min.

December 6: Heat
(Michael Mann, 1995)

Two men in L.A. Both hunters, both prey. One takes money that isn’t his own, the other tries to stop him. A criminal, a cop. Robert de Niro and Al Pacino. Ice and fire, coming to a boil. Cool and controlled, De Niro and his pals (Val Kilmer, Jon Voight, Tom Sizemore) pull off big robberies with military precision. Steamed-up, swaggering Pacino uses intuition and manpower to track them down, with limited success. Master stylist Michael Mann gives this monumental crime saga irresistible forward momentum, but everything stops so two great American actors, De Niro and Pacino, can appear together for the first time and have coffee. The outlaw and the lawman are both doing what they’re best at, and it’s their nature to keep on with it. But for moments out of time they talk about the fullness and emptiness of their lives, person to person. This isn’t a truce, there will be skirmishes, machine gun fire on downtown streets, people lying dead. They’ll meet again at the airport at night, out in the field, where planes glide like souls, some coming in, some leaving, on the soft sultry air. With Diane Venora, Amy Brenneman, Ashley Judd, Natalie Portman. Digital Cinema, 172 min.

– Greg Olson, Manager of Film Programs

Photos: Courtesy of Photofest

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Muse/News: A SAM award-winner, kinesthetic truth, and art goes lunar

SAM News

This week, the Seattle Times shared SAM’s news that multidisciplinary artist Natalie Ball is the winner of the 2018 Betty Bowen Award. Ball approaches her sculptural work through the lens of auto-ethnography. Look out for the artist’s solo exhibition at SAM in spring 2019.

Our major fall exhibition, Peacock in the Desert: The Royal Arts of Jodhpur, India, is among the highlights in Zoe Sayler’s Seattle Times story on the upcoming visual arts season that promises “something for everyone.”

SAM participated in an important research collaboration between Artnet and In Other Words, exploring in-depth how institutions have—or have not—moved the needle on showing and buying art by Black artists.

RIP to the legendary architect Robert Venturi; he and his wife, Denise Scott Brown, designed the 1991 downtown Seattle Art Museum building.

Local News

Dance critic Sandra Kurtz previews Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Jerome Robbins Festival for Seattle Weekly, noting the iconic choreographer’s “kinesthetic truth.”

Seattle Eater reports: Food science nerd Nathan Myhrvold, creator of the Modernist Cuisine cookbooks, is opening a food photography gallery in SAM’s neighborhood.

Margo Vansynghel of City Arts spoke with artist Lawrence Pitre about community, the Central District, and his new narrative painting series We Are One at 4Culture.

“I knew the Central Area had been going through a lot of urban renewal. I went to see the Migration Series at the Seattle Art Museum and thought, I could do a series capturing urban life, showing the historical legacy of the Central Area.”

(Inter)National News

Just in time for the 10-year anniversary of the 2008 financial meltdown, a 26-foot-tall painted steel rose by German artist Isa Genzken has been installed in Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park, intending to inspire empathy and equality.

Speaking of the financial breakdown, the New York Times’ Scott Reyburn explores why “the art market remains one of the most glaringly visible symptoms of global income inequality.”

Artsy’s Scott Indrisek on photographer Robert Frank’s game-changing photography book The Americans, and why the monograph—turning 60 years old—matters today.

“’Frank revealed a people who were plagued by racism, ill-served by their politicians, and also rendered increasingly numb by the rising culture of consumerism,’ Greenough noted. ‘But it’s also important to point out that he found new areas of beauty in those simple, overlooked corners of American life—in diners, or on the street.’”

And Finally

“Finally, I can tell you that I choose to go the moon.”

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Image: Portrait of Natalie Ball by Greg Wahl-Stephens, courtesy of the artist.
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Painting Number 49, Berlin

Object of the Week: Painting Number 49, Berlin

This Object of the Week is inspired by SAM’s special tour series, part of “For Freedoms’ 50 State Initiative,” which features programming held at arts institutions across the US to create civic dialogue about the 2018 midterm elections. Reflecting on artwork and exhibitions on view at SAM, staff members are presenting in-gallery tours that consider each of the four freedoms and connect to contemporary society.

“For Freedoms,” a collaborative project founded by artists Hank Willis Thomas and Eric Gottesman, is inspired by artist Norman Rockwell’s paintings of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms” (1941)—freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.

This week’s post by SAM staff member Rachel Eggers explores freedom of speech in the work of Marsden Hartley.

Marsden Hartley (1877–1943) was an innovative Modernist artist, incorporating elements of abstraction, Expressionism, Cubism, and Primitivism in his paintings. Born in Lewiston, Maine, Hartley is known for expressive visions of his home state, including landscapes and portraits of fisherman.

But Hartley was more than a regionalist. Perhaps his most intriguing body of work is his “German officer paintings,” created while living in Berlin from 1914 to 1915. SAM has one of these extraordinary paintings in its collection, and Painting Number 49, Berlin is now on view in tribute to the late arts patron and collector, Barney A. Ebsworth, who gifted it to the museum. The painting’s thick brushstrokes, vivacious primary colors, and mysterious abstracted symbolism reveal an artist enraptured and enrapturing, enticing the viewer with a deeply personal vision that melds the physical and spiritual—and, sometimes uncomfortably, the political.

Hartley arrived in Berlin in May 1913, though it felt to the artist like a homecoming. The imperial German capital was a hub of industrial innovation and social life; it also had a relatively liberal attitude toward homosexuality. He was delighted by the city’s grand military parades, with their ostentatious display of banners, flags, plumage, and men on white horses. In them, he saw a heroic ideal of Man.

He had befriended a Prussian officer named Karl von Freyburg, who may have been the love of his life. When von Freyburg died in battle at the age of 24, Hartley plunged into a deep grief—and eventually to the creation of this fascinating series of paintings.

Painting Number 49, Berlin is exuberant, loose, and colorful—but, at its heart, it’s a memorial portrait rendered in abstracted symbols. At the center is the Iron Cross, the medal for bravery that von Freyburg was awarded. There’s an officer’s plumed helmet and epaulets; the number “24” refers to Karl’s age when he was killed. Across the bottom blooms a setting sun, radiating red: the color of martyrdom.

The painting bursts with uncomfortable—even heartbreaking—tensions between youth and death, the state and the individual, openness and restriction, color and darkness. Unable to express his sexuality and his love, Hartley turns to a network of symbols and signs. In his unimaginable grief, he merges the physical, the spiritual—and of course, the political—inventing a highly personal visual language.

–Rachel Eggers, Manager of Public Relations

Image: Painting Number 49, Berlin, 1914-15, Marsden Hartley, oil on canvas, 47 x 39 1/2 in., Partial and promised gift of Barney A. Ebsworth, 2001.1067.
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Seohee Kim: Emerging Arts Leader Intern Look at SAM

During my first week as an Emerging Arts Leader Intern at Seattle Art Museum, I was told that by the last week of the internship this reflection post for the blog would be due. I remember thinking, “Oh, that sounds easy enough—just summarize what happened in a paragraph or two.” Clearly, I had no idea what was headed my way. The past week has been an endless cycle of drafting, writing, editing, only to draft again. (You know that feeling of when there’s so much you want to say, and say eloquently, that words and sentences are flying around your mind and you’re scrambling to make sense of them, but you actually just end up staring at the blinking text cursor for an hour? Yeah, that.)

When I reflect on the past 10 weeks of my internship, I imagine having one of those View-Masters (they’re still relevant, right?) and clicking through reels of moments at SAM. It starts with the welcoming faces of everyone I meet coming into view. Then, a whirlwind of back-to-back meetings; getting lost in the labyrinth of the administrative office; storage visits with Carrie (thank you, Carrie!); always pressing the wrong level in the elevator; researching objects; conducting informational interviews with staff; preparing for my My Favorite Things tour; taking part in Career Day, Seattle Art Fair, Summer at SAM, and Remix; and so much more. As if in slow motion, images of my last week include the nerve-wracking day of my tour and saying goodbye to everyone I had the privilege of working with.

I’m surprised how much I changed in this short time span. In the beginning, I thought I knew enough about diversity and equity work from courses at university and my past experiences that I was only focused on giving my perspectives rather than allowing myself to be vulnerable and molded by those far more experienced than I. Working closely with the equity team this past summer, I found myself constantly learning, practicing, and honing the use of an equity lens in my work. I experienced the behind-the-scenes of a museum and community working towards transparency and racial and social equity. I saw every meeting ask how to be inclusive, provide access, and advance equity. There was, and is, so much I don’t know, not only regarding the arts and museums, but also in becoming a better ally for community. Watching and working alongside these amazing and passionate individuals, I’ve come to reevaluate myself, my goals, and my passions on a weekly basis.

What resulted of this reevaluation was the “My Favorite Things” tour I had the privilege of leading (I still can’t believe I led a tour). To close off, I’d like to share a snippet from what I shared at the tour.

We tend to get easily distracted if an issue doesn’t directly affect us. From this internship and conducting research for this tour the past few weeks, I’ve realized again and again that privilege doesn’t always mean monetary wealth or status. It could be not having to worry about being seen as a threat walking in your own neighborhood late at night. It could be not feeling your heart pound every time you see words like ICE and DACA and UNDOCUMENTED in the headlines. It could be your close friends and family asking you if you’re doing alright and being able to genuinely answer that you’re well instead of brushing it off with an “I’m okay” when you really cried yourself to sleep at night because you’re supposed to have everything under control. Just because it doesn’t affect us directly, doesn’t mean it’s not there nor does it mean it’s less important. As a community, in order to work towards true equity, we have to embrace and endure all pains as if they are our own. We must face our worst selves and acknowledge our lacking. It’s going to be difficult; it will be uncomfortable…but I invite you to join me in this continuing journey of becoming more aware, becoming more responsible, and becoming more informed not only for ourselves but also for each other.”

To everyone I met and worked with this past summer, thank you so much for your continuous kindness, encouragement, and acceptance. I’ve never felt more welcome and cherished in a workplace setting than at SAM. And, thank you for all you do on a daily basis to work for and better our community.

–Seohee Kim, 2018 SAM Emerging Arts Leader Intern

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