New Perspectives on Porcelain in Claire Partington: Taking Tea

“Initially I was asked to make a piece that responded to the room but that also looked at the human cost of the porcelain trade.” – Claire Partington

Get a new perspective on SAM’s popular Porcelain Room through the site-specific work of contemporary British ceramic artist Claire Partington. Claire Partington: Taking Tea features an installation referencing Baroque painting and European porcelain factories, as well as a panel mounted with fragments from 17th- and 18th-century shipwrecks. The Porcelain Room is a SAM favorite for visitors with more than 1,000 European and Asian porcelain pieces from SAM’s collection grouped to evoke porcelain as a treasured commodity between the East and the West. See it on view through December 2020.

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Spring Brings Trans Plants to Saturday University Lecture Series

Are you gearing up your garden for spring? Think about plants in all new ways when you attend the Gardner Center’s Spring Saturday University Lecture Series.

Join us for five talks by speakers who think about plants in Asia from different perspectives. First, on March 16, we’ll hear about penjing—the Chinese predecessor to bonsai—plus how and why a Southern Chinese style inspires contemporary bonsai artists across the world. Our speaker Aarin Packard, curator of the Pacific Bonsai Museum, explains how he first became interested in bonsai: “As a kid I was exposed to bonsai by my father and by Mr. Miyagi [from “The Karate Kid”).

Next, on March 30, Jerome Silbergeld will share his art historian’s perspective on Chinese gardens, and what they meant to their creators.

Clearly, bonsai and gardens are both art forms that are constantly changing.  The series continues through April with talks on matsutake mushrooms, eucalyptus plantations, and botanical collecting in the mountains of Yunnan Province in Southwest China—one of the world’s richest places in biodiversity.

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

Images: Photo: Pacific Bonsai Museum. Photo: Jerome Silbergeld
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Muse/News: Jeffrey Gibson’s iconic forms, Tschabalala Self’s avatars, and a maybe-Caravaggio

SAM News

Reviews for Jeffrey Gibson: Like a Hammer continue to hit! The Seattle Times, GRAY Magazine, KEXP’s Sound and Vision, UW Daily, The Spectator, and family blog An Emerald City Life all wrote up the exhibition. What they’re saying:

“Rather than offering an evolutionary tour of style, the exhibition exudes a feeling: a bold, fluid simultaneity, grounded in striking pattern, color and craftsmanship and provocative references to music, personal stories and indigenous practices.” – Gayle Clemans

“Personal, brilliantly hybridized, and seriously eye-catching.” – Blake Peterson

“It’s the type of honest, colorful, modern and inclusive art that speaks to your heart and I really want my kids to see it.” – Terumi Pong

In honor of his 50th anniversary at SAM, UW grad and SAM Films curator Greg Olson is the cover story of the alumni magazine Columns, with a profile by Sheila Farr and a photospread worthy of the big screen.

Artist Jacolby Satterwhite created an animation sequence for Solange’s film that accompanies her new album; Complex speaks with the artist, whose Country Ball 1989-2012 is now on view at SAM.

Local News

Crosscut’s Agueda Pacheco Flores spoke with students who learned yesterday that their school, The Art Institute of Seattle, would be permanently shut down—today.

The Stranger has a round-up of 15 Pioneer Square gallery shows to see this month, including Mary Coss at METHOD and Ryna Frankel at 4Culture.

Hyperallergic’s Jasmine Jamillah Mahmoud spoke with artist Tschabalala Self about her Frye Art Museum show and her avatars of Black womanhood.

“You can choose your identity through an avatar. This freedom is power. This freedom subverts subjectivity and allows an individual to escape the cultural attitudes they are subject to.”

Inter/National News

Artsy shares the news that the arts and cultural sector contributed over $763.6 billion to the American economy in 2015, making the case for the economic impact of the arts.

Hyperallergic shares the 43 extraordinary nominees for the 2019 World Press Photo Contest, including Finbarr O’Reilly’s “Dakar Fashion” and John Moore’s “Crying Girl on the Border.”

Unveiled in London this week: a 17th-century canvas of Judith and Holofernes that may be a Caravaggio—but there is no consensus among experts. The New York Times’ Scott Reyburn zooms in on the details.

“It’s perhaps not what an auctioneer—or a billionaire collector—wants to hear about a painting valued at more than 100 million. The market demands that geniuses like Caravaggio work alone.”

And Finally

Nothing made me happier last week than Alston’s singing mice.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Image: Installation view Jeffrey Gibson: Like a Hammer at Seattle Art Museum, 2019, photo: Natali Wiseman.
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Square bowl

Object of the Week: Square Bowl

In honor of Women’s Herstory Month, I would like to give a shout out to two awesome Asian women. First is 34-year-old Marie Kondo, an entrepreneur who turned her passion for tidying into a consulting business starting at age 19. Her method of organizing is known as KonMari method. After watching Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix, I appreciated her philosophy that everything from a container to a t-shirt has a purpose if it sparks joy.

This idea of everyday objects having purpose and sparking joy reminds me of the folk art movement, mingei 民芸. Mingei celebrates beauty in everyday ordinary and utilitarian objects. A few criteria of mingei are that the objects are produced by hand, used by the masses, functional in daily life, and representative of the regions in which they were produced.

To me, this square bowl, ca. 2000, is mingei.

Square bowl

The second awesome Asian woman is Kim Yik Yung 김익영.  At 84 years old, she is one of Korea’s most celebrated and respected ceramic artists, and a pioneer in the ceramic arts. In the museum, this bowl is art, and it certainly is—it’s beautiful, flawless, made with ancient techniques, but with modern sensibilities. However, if I brought this home to my mom, this bowl would be a banchan 반찬 (small side dish) dish. I love that that’s the first thing that came to mind when I saw this object. It brings wonderful, tasty memories of eating at home with my family, or eating at Korean BBQ restaurants with my friends. In our culture, all dishes are served at once to share, rather than in courses. So the table is filled to the edges with lots of simple and flawless small dishes and bowls!

In an interview with Seoul Magazine on the future of Korean ceramics, Kim Yik Yung said Koreans need to protect and develop this culture. “We don’t need to protect and preserve things just because they are old. We need to protect and develop things because they have value. This Korean culture is a global idea we can share with all humanity.”

I think Kim and Kondo and I should go out for KBBQ and soju.

#toastingwithtina

– Tina Lee, Exhibitions and Publications Manager

 Image: Square bowl, ca. 2000, Kim Yik-yung, porcelain with clear glaze, 2 1/4 x 8 3/4in., Gift of Frank S. Bayley III, 2008.15 © Kim Yik-yung.
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Get to Know SAM’s New American Art Curator, Theresa!

Give a warm SAM welcome to Dr. Theresa Papanikolas who joined SAM’s staff last month as our new Ann M. Barwick Curator of American Art. Theresa is an expert in 20th-century American art who will oversee the development, research, presentation, and care of SAM’s collection of American art and connect it to the contemporary moment. “We’re thrilled that Theresa has joined us,” says Kimerly Rorschach, Illsley Ball Nordstrom Director and CEO. “She’s an inspired curator who will continue to build on the wonderful American art program started in 2004 by Patricia Junker.”

Theresa comes to SAM from the Honolulu Museum of Art, where she served as Deputy Director of Art and Programs and Curator of European and American Art. She previously held positions at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; National Gallery of Art; Rice University; and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. We asked her a few questions so you can learn a little more about what she has planned for SAM’s American art collection in the near future!

SAM: What are your first impressions of Seattle?

Theresa: Well, I got here in December, late at night, although it might have been at about 5 pm. The thing that struck me the most is how early it got dark in the middle of December. I thought I would really struggle with that, but it was no problem. I find Seattle to be such a warm and welcoming city and I’m just so happy to be here.

What has your experience of the art community been so far?

I’ve just started to explore it. I’ve found the immediate community around the museum to be highly professional and very engaged in what’s going on in the world, the art world, and Seattle. Everyone, from the curators to the support staff, is here because they love the museum and they support art. That, to me, has been very energizing. The larger art scene—I’m just starting to get a handle on it.

What do you have planned coming up at SAM?

Right now, I am working on an exhibition that will focus on and celebrate the recent acquisition of Georgia O’Keeffe’s Music – Pink and Blue No. 1, a gift from Barney Ebsworth. One of my long-range plans is to reinstall the gallery of American art to tell the story of American art in a way that seems relevant to a contemporary audience and reflects a diverse and multifaceted America.

Tell us about the Georgia O’Keeffe installation!

It’s scheduled for spring 2020. It will be a small show, about 20 works that will look at a moment in O’Keeffe’s early career where she was practicing abstraction rather than flower and desert scenes. I think visitors will find it interesting that she practiced abstraction. This installation will include pretty significant loans.

You’ve focused on O’Keeffe in the past, can you talk a little more about that?

I have done two O’Keeffe exhibitions that reflect time she spent in Hawaii. The Honolulu Museum of Art, where I previously worked, has five O’Keeffe paintings that were all painted in Hawaii. She went there on commission from an advertising firm to do pictures for Dole pineapple juice ads. I was told that she hated Hawaii and was there for only a short period and couldn’t wait to go back to New York. But looking at the pictures, I could not believe that she did not like Hawaii. In the short time she was there she made a connection with the landscape and the things she saw and discovered there. So, I decided to do an exhibition of her work in Hawaii. I was also looking for major artists to show in Honolulu to drive audiences for the museum, and I found out that Ansel Adams had also gone to Hawaii, 20 years after O’Keeffe. He and O’Keeffe were friends. So, I  organized a show of these two artists, both of whom relate to specific places in their work—O’Keeffe with New Mexico and Adams with California and the Southwest—to see what happens when they find themselves in an environment with which they are not familiar, to explore how they developed a sense of place with their work. The show was called Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams: The Hawaii Pictures. It opened at the museum in 2013 and it traveled to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. A few years later, I was guest curator for Georgia O’Keeffe: Visions of Hawaii for the New York Botanical Garden. In the installation at SAM, I’m excited to focus on an earlier moment in O’Keeffe’s life.

Let’s talk about the collection a little bit.

I’m really looking forward to looking more deeply into the American art collection. I was familiar with SAM’s collection from afar in Honolulu and it has a lot of gems and potential for growth. There are several collectors in town that are dedicated to American art. That’s part of what the reinstall of the collection is—find what is out there, in term of SAM’s collection and local collections, and put together something that speaks to Seattle, American art, and the museum.

Walking around the the American art galleries, is there anything that has jumped out at you?

Certainly Albert Bierstadt’s Puget Sound on the Pacific Coast. It’s just so romantic and big and dramatic. It sucks you in and is obviously a popular piece. I want to build a show around it. It is particularly interesting that the piece tries to evoke a sense of place even though the artist did not visit the location. So, I’ve been thinking about a 19th-century landscape exhibition. One thing that really strikes me about the gallery is the disconnect, the clear separation between the 19th century and the modernist galleries. I have been trying to think about ways to bridge that connection and create more continuity in the chronology of American art.

As an art lover, what else are you excited for at SAM?

I am thrilled about Jeffrey Gibson: Like a Hammer. The way Jeffrey’s work treads on all these different areas: identities, communities, is very interesting to me.

Is there anything else that you want to share? Your new favorite restaurant or…?

Well, I will say that I have been having fun building a wardrobe from scratch. It’s a very different mode of dress in Hawaii—we don’t even wear coats. I live in First Hill so I’m so close to everything and walkability is great. I haven’t had to drive my car once in the two months that I’ve been here!

Photo: Natali Wiseman
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Muse/News: Manyness at SAM, nuclear paintings, and the Whitney list

SAM News

Jeffrey Gibson: Like a Hammer is now on view! The Seattle Times featured photos from opening events in their print edition, and Seattle Met, The Stranger, Crosscut, Seattle Gay Scene, and new-to-Seattle art blog The Eye all wrote up the exhibition. What they’re saying:

“Like a Hammer has a manyness, a simultaneous quality that instead of diffusing into some fractured postmodern identity coheres into something singular.” –Stefan Milne

“His practice is largely informed by the ‘in-betweenness’ of the fixed points of identity. And there it blossoms.” –Jasmyne Keimig

“The artist has created a kind of gumbo of new associations, igniting things as disparate as old song lyrics and ab-ex white-boy modernism and indigenous craft with the most vital and urgent of sensations.” –Casey Arguelles Gregory

Seattle Met has their eye on another SAM show, highlighting the upcoming Gentleman Warrior: Art of the Samurai as one of “14 Seattle Events to Catch This Spring”.

Carrie Dedon, SAM’s Assistant Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art, contributed her thoughts on painter Sam Gilliam to this Artsy editorial in honor of Black History Month looking at “The Most Influential Living African-American Artists.”

Local News

Crosscut’s David Kroman and Dorothy Edwards follow Doug Latta during his last delivery of the Seattle Weekly; the paper announced this week that after 40 years, it will cease publication.

Special to the Seattle Times, Becs Richards sits down with Jody Kuehner, AKA Cherdonna Shinatra, to discuss her show DITCH, now on view—with daily performances!—at the Frye Art Museum.

The Stranger’s Jasmyne Keimig reviews Nikita Ares’ solo show of “so-bright-they’re-nuclear” paintings in Sugar Babies Only, now on view at Specialist Gallery.

“Bright, vivid, frenetic hues take precedence above all in her paintings, the oiliness of the pastels are rich, creamy, and dirty. They give off their own heat, resembling the energy she puts into it. There’s no tedium to it nor perfection, just like her.”

Inter/National News

Here’s one more celebration for Black History Month: Hyperallergic’s Jasmine Weber asks seven notable arts figures to name Black artists overlooked by the canon who they cherish.

This year’s Venice Biennale will host Ghana’s first national pavilion. It’s designed by celebrated architect David Adjaye and will feature work by John Akomfrah, El Anatsui, and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye.

The 75 participating artists in this year’s Whitney Biennial were announced this week; the list includes Jeffrey Gibson and Disguise artist Brendan Fernandes.

“To its curators, the 2019 biennial feels very much like a product of its time, with artists ‘grappling with questions about race, gender, financial inequality, gentrification, the vulnerability of the body,’ said Ms. Panetta. But she added that the work in the show mostly strikes a tone that’s less ‘agitprop-like or angry’ than one might expect in 2019. ‘It’s really work that feels more productive, forward looking, with a kind of optimistic and hopeful tenor to it.’”

And Finally

Alert: The Prince Estate has released a library of Prince GIFs. You’re welcome.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Image: Installation view Jeffrey Gibson: Like a Hammer at Seattle Art Museum, 2019, photo: Natali Wiseman.
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Object of the Week: Moon Jar

In honor of Women’s History Month, Object of the Week will—throughout the month of March—highlight works by women artists in the SAM Collection.

Though its surface appears to be seamless, Park Young-sook’s Moon Jar is actually made from joining two halves in the heat of the kiln. The process dates back to the Choson period (1392–1910) in Korea, when spherical porcelain moon jars decorated the imperial court and the homes of the nobility. In alignment with the Choson royalty’s Confucian practices, the simplicity of these jars symbolized purity and austerity.[1] Through integrating the techniques of this period, Park has created her own moon jars, which infuse the traditional ceramic form with her own contemporary artistic vision.

In addition to referencing imperial tradition, Moon Jar also reflects Park’s upbringing. She grew up near Bulguksa, a historic Buddhist temple. “If you dig just inches into the ground, the earth was full of ancient ceramics,” she discusses in a 2016 interview. “Bulguksa was my childhood playground. As a child, I’d explore all the ancient histories that surrounded me, which had an enormous impact on who I was to become.”[2] While studying those histories and experimenting with materials as an emerging ceramicist, she connected with mentors in the field. She cites their guidance as essential to the creation of her world-renowned moon jars.

Though Park honors the Choson vessels of the past, Moon Jar is not an exact recreation. She spent years developing her practice and choice of materials in order to produce jars that are more elongated with thinner walls. Drawn from specific deposits to produce the desired white hue of her jars, the clay she uses takes six to 10 years to mature. She is also highly attentive to conditions in the kiln, monitoring aspects such as air flow and variations in temperature. Owning and operating her own kiln since 1982, Park has carefully perfected her methods.

However, she speaks frankly about the precarious undertaking of creating a single moon jar, even when everything is done correctly. Nine out of ten jars will not survive in the high temperatures of the kiln due to splitting or collapsing. As a finished product, Moon Jar appears effortless in its resemblance to the full moon. Though unseen, the immense amount of labor and history that undergirds the work only adds to its luminosity. This work is not currently on view but it will be exhibited when the Seattle Asian Art Museum reopens in late 2019.

Yaoyao Liu, Museum Educator

[1] Lee, Soyoung, “In Pursuit of White: Porcelain in the Joseon Dynasty, 1392–1910,” Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History, October 2004, http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/chpo/hd_chpo.htm.
[2] Kim, Hong Nam. “A Conversation With the Artist Young Sook Park in Her Studio, A White Porcelain Story,” July 29, 2016, http://www.yspceramicart.com/interview/2016/7/29/u8ic37xwa0djfi2qvct8jic2hs51h6.
Image: Moon Jar, 2007, Park Young-sook, porcelain with clear glaze, 20 x 19 1/2in., Gift of Frank S. Bayley III, in honor of the 75th Anniversary of the Seattle Art Museum, 2007.86 © Young Sook Park
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Muse/News: The hammer hits, post-analog art, and fun at Frieze Los Angeles

Jeffrey Gibson: Like a Hammer opens this Thursday! Seattle Magazine features the exhibition as part of their spring arts preview; the story also appears in the March print edition.

“The resulting collection is a riot of color and texture that playfully draws the viewer into a world—the experience of another human being—impossible to ever fully know, but commanding one’s full consideration anyhow.”

Nancy Guppy included Like a Hammer and the community celebration on Thursday in this New Day NW segment highlighting local arts happenings.

Fashion: Turn to the left! SAM’s own Priya Frank and David Rue are both one of “7 Seattleites in outfits that say something” in this KUOW piece by Marcie Sillman and Megan Farmer.

Local News

How’d your Oscar ballot turn out? Add to your Oscar trivia with Brangien Davis of Crosscut’s story on Margaret Herrick, a former librarian in Yakima who ended up becoming the first female executive director of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Special to the Seattle Times, here’s Gayle Clemans on the importance of artist residencies in an inequitable Seattle; she visits Mount Analogue and the Jacob Lawrence Gallery.

The Stranger’s Jasmyne Keimig also explored the residency project Ultra Light Beams at Mount Analogue, noting that the work in the show “falls loosely within the genre of post-analog art.”

“Each artist presented here grapples with this meeting of the human hand and technology as we understand it today.”

Inter/National News

Allison Meier for Hyperallergic on Tamiko Thiel’s Unexpected Growth, now on view at the Whitney; in it, the artist continues her groundbreaking AR work, an example of which appeared at the Olympic Sculpture Park in 2016.

Artnet shares the findings of a report on fundraising in the arts that included some encouraging news: average individual contributions rose each year from 2014 to 2017.

The New York Times’ Jori Finkel visits the inaugural edition of Frieze Los Angeles, as well as the new Felix LA art fair; for those who missed it, Graham Walzer took lots of great photos, too.

“’I don’t ever remember Frieze New York actually being fun — and this was,’ he said. ‘My sense is this will be the first of many Frieze fairs out here.’”

And Finally

This one goes out to all my fellow southpaws.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Image: CAN’T TAKE MY EYES OFF OF YOU, 2015, Jeffrey Gibson, Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians/Cherokee, b. 1972, high fire glazed ceramic, repurposed tipi poles, wool, acrylic paint, wool blanket, glass beads, artificial sinew, copper jingles, and nylon fringe, 72 × 29 × 38 in., Collection of Vicki and Kent Logan, image courtesy of Jeffrey Gibson Studio and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles, California, photo: Peter Mauney.
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Object of the Week: Dug Up from Kitchen Weeds

Ebony G. Patterson wanted to be an artist from a young age. Born in Jamaica to parents raised in rural poverty, Patterson credits her parents for encouraging her to follow her dreams. “Allow her to express herself,” her father said when young Patterson argued with her mother. “Don’t tell her to shut up.” Today the artist is widely recognized for her accomplished work, and last January she was named a recipient of the United States Fellowship Award in the visual arts.

The mixed-media artist explores issues of race, class, and gender. First motivated by the treatment of Tivoli Garden’s working-class community during the 2010 incursion in West Kingston, Jamaica, Patterson is especially concerned with the visibility of social injustices and the value of black and brown bodies.

In Dug Up from Kitchen Weeds,* colorful, patterned paper, and fabric come together with rhinestones and glitter to create a monumental collage garden, measuring seven-by-five feet. Its effect is mesmerizing. In the center of the overgrown flower bed, a figure lies hidden and obscured. Patterson doesn’t offer a face, just a striped t-shirt, animal-print pants, yellow Chuck Taylors, and a red bandana. Remnants of a life. The body itself is present, and yet . . . invisible.

With her highly ornamented works, the artist’s love for fashion and bling is clear. She wants to lure viewers into this beautiful world, then challenge them to look closer. Who is—or was—this person? It is a memorialization to those living on the margins, the viewer’s opportunity to bear witness to this death. When asked about the seemingly dark theme, Patterson responds, “Is it simply dark because we choose not to acknowledge it? . . . Well I’m choosing to turn the light on. . . . Violence happens everywhere. . . .  That’s the truth, and it’s all our problem.”

This is reality, seen through Patterson’s eyes, and she argues for attention and empathy.

– Jenae Williams, Curatorial Associate

*Read the poem that inspired this work: “Brief Lives” by Jamaican poet and short story writer Olive Senior.

Image: Dug Up from Kitchen Weeds, 2014, Ebony G. Patterson, mixed media photo collage on paper, 62 1/2 x 91 1/2 x 2 1/2 in., Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Art Acquisition Fund, 2016.6 © Ebony G. Patterson
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