Muse/News: Arts News from SAM, Seattle, and Beyond

SAM News

Big news! The project to renovate and expand the Asian Art Museum was approved unanimously last week by the Seattle City Council. Curbed Seattle was among the outlets who reported the story.

The Seattle Times names Figuring History: Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas as one of the “hottest Seattle events” to look forward to in February.

Local News

Marcie Sillman of KUOW on artist Christopher Paul Jordan’s banner year, which— memorably for us—included his Latent Home Zero installation at the Olympic Sculpture Park.

Margo Vansynghel of City Arts interviewed Jolyn GC, curator of Perspectives in Portraiture, a new online gallery and ongoing pop-up space at WeWork.

32 fouettés! It’s exhausting/exhilarating just watching Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Lesley Rausch prepare for their production of Swan Lake, as the Seattle Times video team did recently.

Inter/National News

Donatello was the best, but this still rules: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exhibition, Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman and Designer, had a totally tubular visit this week by someone who happens to share the legendary artist’s name.

Los Angeles isn’t known for its public transportation system. Perhaps the many planned improvements, and this, will help: public art for the planned Crenshaw Line by Mickalene Thomas, Carlson Hatton, Shinique Smith, and more.

“It is, of course, extremely valuable and somewhat fragile.” Guggenheim curator Nancy Spector had a better idea for a loan to the White House; instead of the requested Van Gogh, she thought they needed Maurizio Cattelan’s “America.”

And Finally

Art history classes were never like this: Drunk History presented the story of art historian/war hero Rose Valland with help from actor/life hero Tiffany Haddish. Because she likes us, Haddish also made the Oscar announcements Emmy-worthy last week.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Image: Colored TV, 1977, Robert Colescott, acrylic on canvas, 84 x 66 in., San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Gift of Vicki and Kent Logan, © 2017 Estate of Robert Colescott / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, photo: Don Ross
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Object of the Week: Chop Plate

When you think of Rockwell Kent, Herman Melville’s 1930 edition of Moby Dick might first come to mind, as his illustrations for the great American novel are, for many, as beloved as the story of the whale itself. A celebrated draughtsman, printmaker, author, and explorer, Kent’s highly stylized brand of social realism was reproduced in many contexts, and has since become inextricable from the American visual culture of the 1930s and 40s. The artist’s prolific output is difficult to summarize, but a large majority of his work depicts human figures set against the natural world—compositions informed by his interest in transcendentalist philosophy.

Also a self-proclaimed pacifist and socialist, Kent’s political leanings often imbued his work with a proletarian sentiment: images of the working class transitioning from an agrarian to industrial society. With this in mind, Kent’s predilection for working in mediums that saw mass production and widespread distribution—such as bookplates, book jackets, prints, advertisements, and posters—might also explain his willingness to work with California-based Vernon Kilns on designs for a line of dinnerware, perhaps the most utilitarian of the aforementioned objects.

Adapted from the illustrations Kent created for his 1935 book titled Salamina, a chronicle of his life and travels while in Greenland, this hand-tinted chop plate (a round platter) focuses our attention on the strong, kneeling body of a beautiful young woman: Salamina.[1] Rendered with Kent’s characteristic graphic sensibility, her body and surrounding landscape are comprised of geometric highlights and shadows. In the middle ground, between her feet and the mountains behind her—colorful triangles of blue, yellow, and brown—are an adobe-style house and bird’s nest. While these details are suggestive of the American Southwest, they are likely of Greenland (during the summer, of course) and present a romanticized portrait of both a person and a place, basking in golden hour light. With the addition of the doves and flowers, it evinces an air of nostalgia for a time when human beings lived in harmony with the natural world.

Unfortunately for Kent, this line of dinnerware (as well as two others made for Vernon Kilns) is a lesser-known aspect of his career. Due to its short production span and the fallout resulting from the artist’s outspoken political views, many people are unaware of the series and Kent’s contributions to the American decorative arts.[2]

– Elisabeth Smith, Collections Coordinator

Image: Chop plate, 1939, Rockwell Kent, ceramic with hand-tinted decoration, 1 x 13 7/8 in., Decorative Arts Purchase Fund and General Acquisition Fund, 98.37
[1] Salamina, Kent’s housekeeper and romantic companion while living in Greenland, is understood as the model for this work, after which the dinnerware set is named.
[2] During the McCarthy era, Kent was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1953 to clarify his political views and associations. Though he denied being a member of the Communist Party, his reputation plummeted; the subsequent blacklisting resulted in decreased sales, exhibitions, and overall popularity.
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Boundaries of Belonging with the Gardner Center

Debating critical issues over immigration and refugee issues, and the security of national borders in the US can escalate quickly or quickly become tiresome. But, through inquiry, SAM’s Gardner Center offers an alternative way of engaging with, and thinking about, global events that impact us all. The Saturday University Lecture Series beginning this week, is a chance to reflect and discuss how some of these issues manifest around the world. Six outstanding speakers will consider various ways that national borders and other boundaries are created, maintained, and crossed in different parts of Asia in the winter lecture series, Boundaries of Belonging.

Two major events of the mid-20th century that resulted in new national borders—between India and Pakistan, and the formation of North and South Korea—still have resonance in international tensions. Our first speaker, David Gilmartin, looks at the Partition of India and Pakistan in terms of dividing the Indus River Basin, which was then the site of the world’s largest integrated river irrigation system. Next up is the DMZ that separated the members of so many families between North and South Korea. Suk-Young Kim considers that heavily militarized border as a site of intense emotion over the conflicting bonds of family and nation, and discusses various forms of border crossing.

Meanwhile in the Philippines, President Duterte has declared war on marginalized communities within their own nation. While most Filipinos are removed from the violence, Vicente Rafael discusses the work of photojournalists who aim to bring national and international attention to the victims of this “drug war.”

 In a comparison of the treatment of Koreans living in Japan and Japanese Americans in the US during World War II, Tak Fujitani uncovers how both governments recruited among these communities for military service as their duty to the nation, while at the same time denying them full rights.

How to imagine a refugee camp of over 650,000 Rohingya people in Bangladesh? Azeem Ibrahim shares his research conducted over several visits to Bangladesh and Myanmar.

Our final speaker, Lucinda Ramberg, considers issues of religion, caste and gender among a Buddhist community in South India.

Join us and consider the many questions raised during the Saturday University Lecture Series. Tickets are still available to the series and individual lecture tickets are sold at the door, day-of.

– Sarah Loudon, Director, Gardner Center for Asian Art and Ideas

Photo: NASA
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Japanese Photobooks from the Collection of Chris Harris, Part 4

This is the fourth in a series of posts about an extraordinary photobook collection donated to the McCaw Foundation Library for Asian Art by collector, Chris Harris. Photobooks are photography-illustrated books which may or may not include additional text. The photography drives the content, rather than being supplemental to the written word. Often handmade, self-printed, or published in limited editions, these books are considered works of art themselves.

Rough Edges, Hard Life
Photographer Daisuke Yokota shares his distinctive interpretation of people and places in two photobooks which were donated by Chris Harris to the McCaw Foundation Library. Urban life can be a hard place with sharp edges, yet people navigating them can retain some softness. Yokota shows us his haunting perspective of this paradox in his photobooks Immerse (Akina, 2015) and Linger (Akina, 2014).

Texture and Composition
In Immerse, Yokota explores the interplay of unexpected textures and startling vulnerability.

Cover of Immerse by Daisuke Yokota

Cover of Immerse by Daisuke Yokota

Images like these take on an abstract quality, creating the evocative tone of Yakota’s work. Color and composition enhance a coincidence of defenselessness with a suggestive boldness.

Immerse by Daisuke Yokota

Immerse by Daisuke Yokota

Immerse by Daisuke Yokota

Immerse by Daisuke Yokota

Form without Fabrication
Daisuke Yokota’s hand-bound photobook, Linger, contains images as unpretentious and stark as the cover itself.

Cover of Linger by Daisuke Yokota

Cover of Linger by Daisuke Yokota

In Linger, Yokata continues to explore the interplay of texture and form. Images of intimate poses and private spaces convey a sense of softness within a hardened world. Grainy and startling, these images hint at a complicated way of life, asking more questions than they answer. Simple and fascinatingly disturbing, the photographs in Linger are a rich, sometimes perplexing, observation of humanity’s adaptation to life in modern settings.

Linger by Daisuke Yokota

Linger by Daisuke Yokota

Linger by Daisuke Yokota

Linger by Daisuke Yokota

Linger by Daisuke Yokota

Linger by Daisuke Yokota

These photobooks are available for consultation at the Dorothy Stimson Bullitt Library at the Seattle Art Museum downtown by appointment while the Asian Art Museum at Volunteer Park is undergoing renovation. When the Asian Art Museum and the McCaw Foundation Library reopen, the photobooks will be available there as an ongoing resource.

– Kate Nack, Library Volunteer, McCaw Foundation Library for Asian Art

Photos: Natali Wiseman.
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SAM Gallery Artists on Seattle: Jason Gouliard, Patty Haller, and Anna Macrae

What does it mean to be local in a city that is rapidly growing? This month hear from two of SAM Gallery’s newest artists whose work is on view in New Art, New Artists through February 5. One of these artists transplanted to Seattle four years ago and the other comes from a family that has lived here for four generations. Hear how Seattle influences the creative output of these artists and then come see work by some of SAM Gallery’s newest regional artists in all their complexity, interest, and beauty, regardless of where they are from.

Jason Gouliard

Having moved from Austin, Texas to the Pacific Northwest four years ago to pursue a career in the tech industry, I wouldn’t say that my work is specifically inspired by Seattle—Though I do try to create work that is as complex and layered as the city I now call home. My paintings explore the intersection between abstraction and meaning. Abstract assemblages with recognizable reference points. I think of them as earnest attempts at condensing rich, complex subject matter down to drips of paint through juxtaposing traditional abstract expressionist painting methods with cartography, proofreader’s marks, and amateur roadside museum techniques of display, classification, and critique.

 

Patty Haller

I’m a fourth generation Seattleite, most comfortable in a mossy wet forest in the fog, on a darkening late-November afternoon, even. My paintings explore complexity in the forest, analyzing the layers of plant growth we see all around us in the Pacific Northwest. I have a studio at Magnuson Park where I’m surrounded by soccer families, dog walkers, and artists. Every day I see people doing healthy things together, and I truly appreciate how Seattle values this. Showing at SAM Gallery only amplifies my pride of place. It’s a hub for art lovers. I’m meeting new people and enjoying Seattle’s active social media community. I love that our SAM Gallery show coincided with Andrew Wyeth: In Retrospect, whose work is an enduring influence on me. I remember seeing an image of Helga Testorf in a book in my Nathan Hale High School art class. Helga’s braids! I couldn’t get enough. Last week I looked so closely at Wyeth’s brushwork I nearly broke the barrier that would set off an alarm. I should be more careful, but I just love the art that much. Resources like SAM help me to dream of the paintings I’ll make next.

Anna Macrae

We emigrated to Seattle from England in 2001. My new environment certainly changed my art making—from small realist watercolor paintings, to large bold abstract renderings. I feel that shift was largely due to scale, for a start the walls are so much bigger here, and I can move a 48 x 60″ canvas in my car! Seattle embodies an abundance of extremes and contradictions that generates a rich influence and narrative for art making. From a very young age I had always made, played, and explored. I feel this has continued to be present in my art practice. I have always allowed myself the freedom of discovery through “mistakes”. For me, there are no wrong choices when making art, I trust in my intuition and value those unexpected awkward marks that can only present themselves when you truly surrender to the process.
Images: Act V, Romeo & Juliet Abstract, Jason Gouliard, paint and mixed media on paper under plexiglass, 12 x 24 in. Fort Casey Big Data, Patty Haller oil on panel, 36 x 24 in.  Follow your lead, 2017, Anna Macrae, oil and mixed medium, 48 x 48 in.
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Muse/News: Arts News from SAM, Seattle, and Beyond

SAM News

In a ceremony at the Seattle Art Museum last Wednesday, Dr. Chiyo Ishikawa, SAM’s Susan Brotman Deputy Director for Art and Curator of European Painting and Sculpture, was awarded the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters), joining a prestigious group of artists, writers, scholars, and producers recognized for fostering French arts and culture. ARTnews and Vanguard Seattle both shared the news.

The project to renovate and expand the Asian Art Museum met some important milestones in recent public hearings with the Seattle City Council. Last week, Brendan Kiley of the Seattle Times filed an update on the project.

Local News

Seattle says farewell to educator Mona Humphries Bailey, who passed away recently at the age of 85. We here at SAM were honored to have her once serve on our Education & Community Engagement Committee.

Last week’s New Yorker cover featured an illustration by Mark Ulriksen depicting Seahawk and activist Michael Bennett kneeling with Colin Kaepernick and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Alison Marks: One Gray Hair, now on view at the Frye Art Museum, was reviewed by Erin Langner for Hyperallergic.

“ . . . instigates an urgent conversation about the perspectives that are lost in a monolithic world, with questions and answers moving fluidly between the work, the viewer and the artist.”

Inter/National News

The Brooklyn Museum has announced that they’ll present a painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat in a one-painting exhibition (which will then go on tour); the work made headlines last spring after it was purchased by collector Yusaku Maezawa.

Meredith Mendelsohn of the New York Times profiles artist Derrick Adams, whose exhibition opening this week at the Museum of Arts and Design was inspired by the “Green Book,” guides for black travelers published from 1936 through 1966.

Antwaun Sargent writes for Artsy about LaToya Ruby Frazier—2013 winner of SAM’s Gwendolyn Knight and Jacob Lawrence Prize—who has a new show at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise in Harlem.

‘”Whenever I’m making a portrait,’ says Frazier, and its subjects are ‘looking back at me, showing their dignity and pride and humanity, they are a marker on the timeline of history.’”

And Finally

This past weekend saw the Women’s March 2.0 take over cities and towns across the country. Here’s a song for those who want to keep the party going.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Photo: Natali Wiseman
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Object of the Week: Mask Okpesu Umuruma (Frighten Children)

If your social media feeds were anything like mine this past week, they were full of artful (and not-so-artful) selfies matched with portrait doppelgängers in museums around the world. Thanks to the Google Arts & Culture app, the public is now able to see their best selfies instantly paired with paintings in over 1,200 museum collections.

What fascinates me about the viral popularity of this app is its simplicity—that one’s photographic likeness with a historical subject can generate such universal entertainment. But what is it that we seek to learn about ourselves through this mediated experience? Or, perhaps this activity is less about self-realization than it is a performative gesture allowing us to—however momentarily—embody the identity of someone other than ourselves.

Though markedly different, this performative and participatory impulse lies at the heart of many masquerades that take place in African communities. Such events vary dramatically from village to village, but masquerades incorporate masks, costumes, sound, and performance to explore human nature, spirituality, and social relationships. This notion of masking and disguise allows performers to distance themselves from both player and audience, an escapism facilitated by activated personification. This Okpesu Umuruma mask by Nigerian artist Chukwu Okoro, with its asymmetrical and contorted features, is meant to frighten children—its very presence a symbol and cautionary tale of greed and self-interest. (I wonder what they would have to say about selfies . . . ) Worn during the Afikpo play known as Okumpka, the mask becomes just one of a large cast of characters that satirically expose the actions—both good and bad—of members in the Afikpo community.

No doubt the history of masquerade is a long one, with contemporary examples taking place on occasions such as Halloween, Día de Muertos, Purim, Mardi Gras—the list goes on. The Google Arts & Culture app, a by-product of the selfie age in which we currently live, underscores the degree to which self-interest drives much of our digital lives these days. In fact, I wonder if these activities, in which so many of us participate, point to a deeper desire for truly shared experiences such as masquerades and parades—activities which require an active and communal participation in person.

– Elisabeth Smith, Collections Coordinator

Image: Mask Okpesu Umuruma (Frighten Children), 1960, Chukwu Okoro, Mgbom village, Afikpo, wood with raffia backing, pigment, 10 x 5 3/4 x 5 1/2 in., Gift of Simon Ottenberg, in honor of the 75th Anniversary of the Seattle Art Museum, 2005.50 © Chukwu Okoro
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Japanese Photobooks from the Collection of Chris Harris, Part 3

This is the third in a series of posts about an extraordinary photobook collection donated to the McCaw Foundation Library for Asian Art by collector, Chris Harris. Photobooks are photography-illustrated books which may or may not include additional text. The photography drives the content, rather than being supplemental to the written word. Often handmade, self-printed, or published in limited editions, these books are often considered works of art themselves.

People and Places in Dissonance
Continuing our exploration of the Harris collection of photobooks in the McCaw Foundation Library’s holdings, two photobooks in the collection bear witness to the lasting effects of human technological constructs on forest and farmland in rural Japan.

Ruin and Regeneration
Places can change in an instant, and for all time.

Mushrooms from the Forest 2011 by Takashi Homma

Mushrooms from the Forest 2011 by Takashi Homma (Blind Gallery, 2014), present a serene yet evocative pictorial commentary on life in Fukushima prefecture after the 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and subsequent nuclear disaster.

Page from <em>Mushrooms from the Forest 2011</em> by Takashi Homma

Page from Mushrooms from the Forest 2011 by Takashi Homma

 

Page from <em>Mushrooms from the Forest 2011</em> by Takashi Homma

Page from Mushrooms from the Forest 2011 by Takashi Homma

 

Page from <em>Mushrooms from the Forest 2011</em> by Takashi Homma

Page from Mushrooms from the Forest 2011 by Takashi Homma

 

Page from <em>Mushrooms from the Forest 2011</em> by Takashi Homma

Page from Mushrooms from the Forest 2011 by Takashi Homma

Foraging for wild mushrooms in the forests of Fukushima was once a common pastime for many people in the region. Many species grow robustly throughout the microclimates within the forests. Due to dangerous levels of radiation, foraging and ingestion of these plentiful fungi has been banned indefinitely. Still, the mushrooms themselves appear to flourish, even in the face of invisible, widespread, pervasive, sometimes invisible devastation.

Preservation vs. Progress
In the early 1960s, the Haneda Airport, or Tokyo International Airport, was struggling to support an ever-increasing volume of jet traffic. The growing number of flights—and the noise that accompanied the new jet engines that powered them—caused the Japanese transport ministry to seek an alternative location for a new high-capacity international airport.

A large farming area near the village of Sanrizuka, in Chiba Prefecture, was selected for the development plan. Construction of the Narita International Airport began in the late 1960s. This endeavor forever altered the abundant pastoral quality of life that had thrived there for generations.

<em> Sanrizuka Plegaria A Un Labrador (Sanrizuka: Kitai Kazuo shashinshu)</em> by Kazuo Kitai

Sanrizuka Plegaria A Un Labrador (Sanrizuka: Kitai Kazuo shashinshu) by Kazuo Kitai

Sanrizuka Plegaria A Un Labrador (Sanrizuka: Kitai Kazuo shashinshu) by Kazuo Kitai (Waizu Shuppan, 2000), is a beautiful photobook that honors Sanrizuka’s traditional rich rural lifestyle, the bountiful agricultural landscape, and documents the protest to save it.

Page from <em> Sanrizuka Plegaria A Un Labrador (Sanrizuka: Kitai Kazuo shashinshu)</em> by Kazuo Kitai

Page from Sanrizuka Plegaria A Un Labrador (Sanrizuka: Kitai Kazuo shashinshu) by Kazuo Kitai

 

Page from <em> Sanrizuka Plegaria A Un Labrador (Sanrizuka: Kitai Kazuo shashinshu)</em> by Kazuo Kitai

Page from Sanrizuka Plegaria A Un Labrador (Sanrizuka: Kitai Kazuo shashinshu) by Kazuo Kitai

The decision to build the airport on top of the agricultural land was opposed for years by a group of residents and ideological activists. However, construction went forward and what was once farmland eventually became an airport. This photobook poignantly honors the struggle of the people of Sanrizuka and the beauty of the agricultural lifestyle and land they hoped to preserve.

These photobooks are available for consultation at the Dorothy Stimson Bullitt Library at the Seattle Art Museum downtown by appointment while the Asian Art Museum at Volunteer Park is undergoing renovation. When the Asian Art Museum and the McCaw Foundation Library reopen, the photobooks will be available there as an ongoing resource.

– Kate Nack, Library Volunteer, McCaw Foundation Library for Asian Art

Photos: Natali Wiseman.
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Muse/News: Arts News from SAM, Seattle, and Beyond

SAM News

As a farewell to Andrew Wyeth: In Retrospect, enjoy this SAM video featuring Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw, author of the exhibition catalogue essay that explores the importance of Wyeth’s portraits of the black community in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania.

Culture Type takes a look at what’s on the horizon for African American art in 2018, including SAM’s exhibition Figuring History: Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas, which opens February 15.

February also brings the return of Seattle Museum Month, during which visitors to participating downtown hotels get half-price admission to area museums (including SAM!). For that, Travel + Leisure and Architectural Digest both included Seattle among their winter travel recommendations.

Local News

KUOW’s Marcie Sillman talks with artists and arts leaders Vivian Phillips, Dani Tirrell, and Tim Lennon to ask the question: can art save the soul of Seattle’s Central District?

Does this count as “art news?” I say YES: Former Zig Zag barman Erik Hakkinen is turning the basement of the Lusty Lady into a cozy cocktail bar—conveniently located across the street of the Seattle Art Museum.

City Art’s Margo Vansynghel interviews Seattle/Baltimore artist Paul Rucker, who was just named one of 20 TED Fellows for 2018.

“There’s nothing that I’ve created in the gallery that’s more horrifying than what’s outside those doors. The lynchings have not stopped, they’ve merely changed forms—from rope to guns. I created a new piece called ‘You Might be Disturbed by Images Beyond This Point.’ I’ll place it at the exit of every gallery I show at, because I can’t make anything more disturbing than reality.”

Inter/National News

Who’s a good museum employee? The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston gets a 12/10 for hiring Riley, a Weimaraner puppy, who will learn how to detect insects and bugs in order to help protect the art.

Artsy tells the fuzzy story behind the first work by a female artist to be acquired by the Museum of Modern Art for its permanent collection.

Hyperallergic interviews Daniel Weiss of the Met about its new admissions policy and how it affect visitors.

And Finally

Everyday Africa is a project that shares images of the ordinary, nuanced, and beautiful in Africa in order to combat harmful, racist clichés.

— Rachel Eggers,

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