All posts in “Art”

Two Sculptural Pair & A Next 50 Affair

There is a display in SAM Downtown’s Wright & Runstad Gallery for African Art holding two pairs of sculptures that provide a transcendent view of “togetherness” and what it means for the spiritual to be connected with the earth. The first is a pair of “Male and Female figures” made by the Baule of central Cote d’Ivoire. The painted wood sculptures represent spirit spouses that inhabit another world parallel to this one, and are prescribed by diviners to promote a healthy living situation between spouses. Imbued with power by the diviner each sculpture is given individual attention by its client in order for the power to be activated. Beside this pair resides a set of Congolese harps carved with faces at the end of their long curving necks to keep their players company and watch their every move. Atop flexed, carved legs their bellies would be filled with sound as the harp couple was played by two musicians travelling as a pair. During their travels the performers recited history as their livelihood and sang legendary epics.

Taken together these objects bring to mind the exhibit Theaster Gates: The Listening Room where objects form a collective history and repurposed materials find new meaning as art. The collection of records taken from Chicago’s now defunct Dr. Wax record store reminds me of the spirit spouses who are deserving of more attention. Giving attention to the records in SAM’s twice monthly DJ sets in the Listening Room (come listen next week May 3 & 6!) has allowed people in our community to come together at SAM through music. Although the spirit spouses must be decommissioned of their power by the diviner before they enter the museum the enduring coolness in their expressions continues to give meaning to their remedial function. Similarly the decommissioned fire hoses lining the walls of the Listening Room evoke memories of the civil rights movement in the 1960s where protestors were sprayed with these high pressure hoses during race riots. Our collective memory is jarred by Theaster Gates who saw value in an art object where others saw scrap material.

 

 

 

Considering this communal environment brings up another project Theaster Gates is involved with – the upcoming performance of “red, black & GREEN: a blues” coming to the Intiman Theater for Seattle Center’s Next 50 festival 30 May – 2 June.  The performance is collaborative and interactive, written for the stage by performer, activist, and educator Marc Bamuthi Joseph. Bamuthi is working with a host of talented artists including set design by Gates. Click here to learn more about Marc Bamuthi Joseph and the Living Word Project and watch videos on the performance “red, black & GREEN: a blues.”

 

 

The central question addressed by Bamuthi is, “what sustains life in your city?” This is something he asked many people through the Life is Living festivals he has curated since 2008 in various U.S. cities and forms the inspiration that went into writing “red, black & GREEN: a blues.” By incorporating “the voices of people often left out of discussions about living green,” this conversation on the environment succeeds where others have fallen short, and actively seeks a reimagining of where we place value in our community.[i] This forms a collective experience that, through the stories Bamuthi has engaged and the recycled materials of Theaster’s set inspired by row houses, express our social ecology with power, grace, and rhythm.  The success of this performance comes from the belief that “ultimately we are interdependent and stronger through collaboration,” which, like the Congolese harps and Ivorian spirit spouses, helps us maintain good relations and feel connected with the earth.

-Ryan R. Peterson, Curatorial + Community Engagement Intern


[i] Source: Mapp international productions website. Artist proframs, artists and projets, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, red, black & GREEN: a blues. Last accessed 24, April, 2012. http://mappinternational.org/programs/view/214

Top photo: “Male and Female Figures,” wood, paint, Ivorian, Baule & “Pair of Harps,” wood, skin, fabric, Congolese, Ngbaka. Photograph by the Author. Taken 4/24/12. JPEG file.

 

 

 

Share

SAMart: A Man on a Prow

This may be your final week to see Gauguin and Polynesia: An Elusive Paradise (it closes on Sunday), but don’t despair. SAM’s collection of Oceanic art remains on view.

A heroic guardian, this figure was strategically placed precisely at the water line of a decorated canoe’s prow. Dipping into the water as the large canoe navigated the seas, it kept watch for hidden reefs and enemies. As a lieutenant in 1897 recorded, its purpose was: “to keep off the kesoko or water fiends which might otherwise cause the winds and waves to upset the canoe, so that they might fall on and devour its crew.”

Shell inlay swirls over the face in a pattern like those found on the painted faces of warriors. Beneath the chin of this figure is a head that is being clutched–although whether the warrior is protecting it or presenting it as a fallen enemy is unknown.

Canoe prow figure (Nguzu Nguzu), 19th century, Solomon Islands, Melanesian, wood, nautilus shell, 10 5/8 x 7 7/8 x 5 in., Gift of Katherine White and the Boeing Company, 81.17.1443. Currently on view in the Oceanic art gallery, third floor, SAM downtown.
Share
Reclining Tahitian Women (The Amusement of the Evil Spirit) Arearea no varua ino, 1894, Paul Gauguin, French, 1848-1903, oil on canvas, 23 5/8 x 38 9/16 in., Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Photo: Ole Haupt

Your Last Chance to See Gauguin & Polynesia!

The landmark show Gauguin & Polynesia: An Elusive Paradise at the Seattle Art Museum closes Sunday, April 29! SAM will be open extended hours the final week of the show, April 23-29 from 10 am – 9 pm. The museum will also host the following events:

  • April 24: A Night at the Museum with KING 5
    Enjoy a cash bar, photo booth, giveaways and the chance to meet KING 5 personalities, including Jesse Jones, Jim Dever and Tracy Taylor. This fun event is free and open to the public! RSVP>>
  • April 27: South Seas Dreams: Tahiti as a Cinematic Paradise 
    In Oviri (The Wolf at the Door), Donald Sutherland gives a passionate portrayal of Gauguin. Get ticket info>>
  • April 28 & 29: Tahitian Dancing and Drumming 
    Enjoy Tahitian dancing and drumming brought to you by Te Fare O Tamatoa and their performance group Te’a rama. Be prepared to experience a Marquesan haka (a Polynesian traditional welcome) followed by additional performances. Watch a preview>>
On April 28 and April 29 at the Seattle Art Museum, enjoy Tahitian dancing and drumming brought to you by Te Fare O Tamatoa and their performance group Te’a rama.

Photo by Dan Bennett

Gauguin & Polynesia at the Seattle Art Museum is the only U.S. stop for the exhibition. Don’t miss your chance to see Gauguin’s brilliantly hued paintings, sculptures and works on paper, which are displayed alongside major examples of Polynesian art. Reserve your tickets online now>>

-Madeline Moy, Digital Media Manager

Top photo: Reclining Tahitian Women (The Amusement of the Evil Spirit) Arearea no varua ino, 1894, Paul Gauguin, French, 1848-1903, oil on canvas, 23 5/8 x 38 9/16 in., Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Photo: Ole Haupt
Share
Artist Sandra Cinto at work on her wall drawing at the Seattle Art Museum's Olympic Sculpture Park

This Time Drawing on the Walls is Allowed

Brazilian artist Sandra Cinto is bringing a literal sea change to the Olympic Sculpture Park.

At the beginning of April, Cinto and two assistants started work on a site-specific installation titled  Encontro das Águas (Encounter of Waters), an expansive wall drawing in the park’s PACCAR Pavilion. In addition to her two assistants, Sandra wanted to involve people from SAM’s community, so 20 volunteers and three SAM preparators have helped complete the piece.

Volunteers assist artist Sandra Cinto with her new installation at the Seattle Art Museum's Olympic Sculpture Park

Here is more detail on the installation from Marisa C. Sánchez, SAM’s Associate Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art:

The Seattle Art Museum unveils Brazilian born, São Paulo–based artist Sandra Cinto’s site-specific installation for the Olympic Sculpture Park’s PACCAR Pavilion. Influenced by artists as diverse as Sol LeWitt and Regina Silveira, and the woodblock prints of Japanese artists including Katsushika Hokusai, Cinto’s Encontro das Águas (Encounter of Waters) includes an intricate wall drawing, whose ambitious proportions convey a mesmerizing view of an expansive waterscape. Through humble materials—including blue paint and a silver paint pen—Cinto works directly on the wall and transforms a single line, repeated at different angles and lengths, into a titanic image of water that expresses both renewal and risk. As a counterpoint to this unbridled seascape, Cinto incorporates stories about individuals who were rescued at sea, to show the endurance of the human spirit in difficult circumstances.

Progress on Sandra Cinto's installation "Encontro das Águas" at the Seattle Art Museum's Olympic Sculpture Park

Cinto’s work has been shown internationally, including Argentina, France, Portugal, Spain and the United States. She was included in the XXIV Bienal Internacional de São Paulo, in 1998; Elysian Fields, a group show at the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, in 2000; TRANSactions: Contemporary Latin American and Latino Art, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia, in 2007–08; and the second Trienal Poli/Gráfica de San Juan: Latin America and the Caribbean, San Juan, Puerto Rico, in 2009; among other solo and group shows. She is represented by Casa Triângulo Gallery, São Paulo, Brazil, and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York.

Artist Sandra Cinto at work on her installation "Encontro das Águas" at the Seattle Art Museum's Olympic Sculpture Park

Artist Sandra Cinto

Encontro das Águas will be on view at the Olympic Sculpture Park’s PACCAR Pavilion April 14, 2012 to April 14, 2013.

-Madeline Moy, Digital Media Manager

Photo Credit: Robert Wade

Share

Lumber-Made Listening

Theaster Gates’ Listening Stools, one of the sculptural forms in the exhibit The Listening Room, have helped transform SAM’s Knight-Lawrence Gallery into an open space for music and ideas. Their design may be simple and made from recycled wood, coming from the floorboards of a Chicago police station, but the stools invite visitors to sit, relax, and engage with the art, music and each other. They often lead guests to converse about a record they’re currently holding, and I can’t say how many people have learned to play their first 33 1/3” vinyl record on a turn table while sitting in one of these modest wooden chairs.

Although his artistic training is in ceramics Gates’ sculpted pieces for The Listening Room draw from his seemingly endless resources using recycled lumber as a medium that allows him to transcend artistic traditions and place focus on social engagement through discarded materials-come-art. The Listening Stools are one of these unlikely art objects carrying a history in their structure. Other lumber materials present in the exhibit are the ware board record crates (see below), the original sandwich board from Dr. Wax’s record store made to look like a Japanese Shoji screen, and the entirely recycled wood deejay table faced with a carved wooden altar screen sourced from a defunct Chicago church.

Another example of Gates’ material repurposing is his Temple Exercises (2009) at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, which constructed a temple-like structure from modular ware boards from the abandoned Wrigley Gum factory in the heart of Chicago. This became a site for spiritual exercises and performance by groups such as Gates’ own ensemble,  the Black Monks of Mississippi. The same Wrigley ware boards are used in the Listening Room for the record crates that accompany the turntable in the middle of the gallery in which visitors are invited to peruse records and listen in on headphones at any time during museum hours.

“I’m one person,” says Gates, “one whole person who thinks about friendship and neighborliness and God as much as I think about object making.”[1] His chairs achieve the sense of transformation that Gates’ work self-consciously seeks to convey. Inherent in this transformation is the vinyl vertebrae lining the back wall of the gallery: Dr. Wax’s Record Archive. Entering the gallery for the first time viewers are perhaps not expecting to see a long shelf of records and deejay table. Set into the back wall Dr. Wax’s records are joined with the musical sounds that can be heard emanating from the gallery before visitors even enter the space. They are immediately faced with the aural and visual qualities of this kinesthetic installation and find themselves asking the question “How do I engage with this art?” By the time visitors reach the Listening Stools, they have intoned through osmosis the intertwining themes of music, history, politics, and space that are addressed by the exhibit. It is the music’s audio ability to communicate cultural, political, and artistic history to a public willing and able to engage that brings meaning to the lumber-made objects present in the gallery and comes full circle to connect the archive of cultural knowledge to its listeners.

-Ryan R. Peterson, Curatorial + Community Engagement Intern 


[1] Art In America, December 2011, p. 126

Last photo: SAM patrons Faye Peterson and Mike O’Brien browsing records in the Listening Room. Photograph by author. JPEG file.

 

Share
Teen Night Out at the Seattle Art Museum April 13, 2012

From Shy Teen to Arts Leader

Here’s a guest post by Maddie Thomas, of SAM’s Teen Advisory Group!

Three years ago I was strolling through SAM’s Olympic Sculpture Park and saw a poster for an event called “Art Attack – Teen Night Out.” The title of the event seemed appealing, but the poster design is what really caught my attention: an abstract, romantic depiction of a teenage Rapunzel-esque girl with billowy swirls of hair. Fascinated by the uniqueness of the occasion’s advertisement, I marked my calendar with the date and time and was excited to attend. I had only been to the SAM a handful of times before and loved it, so going to a teen focused event there seemed great.

There was only one problem. Three years ago also marked my first year of high school. As a freshman I was fairly timid. I’d grown up loving art but none of my friends at the time were artistic. I couldn’t think of anyone to invite who would appreciate the event. The evening Teen Night Out rolled around, I didn’t end up going. I was too scared attend an event of that scale on my own and never found anyone to go with me.

Filled with regret, the following summer I checked SAM’s website to see if there were any other upcoming teen events. I realized Teen Night Out only happens twice a year, once in fall and once in the spring. But while browsing the website I discovered a teen program at the museum called the Teen Advisory Group (TAG). The website described TAG as a group of teen leaders who were “highly opinionated, creative, visionary, loud, committed, etc.” It also revealed that TAG did the planning for Teen Night Out! Mystified, I immediately filled out an application for the program online. A few months later as a sophomore, I got an email informing me about an approaching meeting for teens who were interested in the program. I attended the meeting, and a few other interviews, then received a confirmation email saying I’d been accepted into the program. I was ecstatic!

At the very first meeting, I felt an energy and common ground with the other teens in TAG I had never experienced before. Everyone seemed united. Even though there were over 20 of us, we all had mutual creative interests and a strong appreciation for art. Additional meetings and various “ice-breaker” games revealed that we shared even more collective interests. I was finally making up for the lack of artistic friends that I had freshman year.

Making new friends was a definite bonus of TAG, but it wasn’t why we were there. Members of TAG get to interact with the community through volunteering at local events, be creative with art activities and occasional lessons from SAM Teaching Artists, and are granted opportunities to meet and interview artists. While the Nick Cave: Meet me at the Center of the Earth exhibition was at the SAM, TAG members got a preview of the exhibit. Three days before it was open to the public, Nick Cave himself came to the museum and gave us a personal tour of his work. The tour with Nick was stunningly intimate; wet paint signs covered the walls, various sculptures still needed to be unpackaged and assembled. The raw version of the exhibit was the most fascinating time I viewed that show (I probably saw it over 20 times): I never had been part of something so exclusive. SAM provides amazing opportunities for teens, that moment in the galleries with Nick being a fine example. Though volunteering and special opportunities are wonderful, the major focus of the group is curating Teen Night Out.

I’m a junior this year. I have returned for a second year to be part of TAG, and I’m currently in the process of helping to plan our next Teen Night Out on Friday, April 13. The event is being organized to show off the museum’s special exhibition: the fabulous Gauguin & Polynesia, as well as showcase local musicians, dance groups and artists. The focus of the event will be to bring teens into the museum and prove that SAM breaks traditional museum stereotypes: the notion of museums being boring places with stuffy security guards telling you not to touch things. That image doesn’t fit SAM in any way. SAM is a friendly, modern, energetic museum full of diversity, which will be showcased at Teen Night Out.

As an efficient way to plan for Teen Night Out, we’ve divided our TAG group into specific committees to focus on individual elements of the event. These committees include: promotion, tours & event operation, interactive activities, and performance. I am on the performance committee and will be stage managing the event with my fellow TAG member Chris Cosby. Stage managing will give me the chance to interact with the performers by helping them load in, make them comfortable in their green room spaces, make sure all goes well with sound checks and set up, as well as load out. I stage managed during last year’s Nick Cave focused Teen Night Out; it can be rather stressful, but I know everything will go smoothly this year with help from Chris.

Looking forward to the upcoming event has also caused me to reflect on my entire experience with TAG so far and how much I’ve changed. Being a member of TAG has boosted my self-confidence tremendously. I’m now a better leader and more efficient when working with a team. At our weekly meetings I’m exposed to a wide range of perspectives, which has helped me grow as a person and look outside of myself. Though I get the added bonus of service learning hours for school through TAG, my main motive for being a member is to participate in new experiences. I especially valued being a summer counselor at SAM Camp, and speaking at an Art Education Forum this past March with Mayor McGinn and other passionate youth. Being a TAG member has further increased my interest in the art world. I would love to be on a public relations or marketing team for an art museum someday. Most importantly, thanks to SAM I’m no longer that timid little freshman who felt like she had no artsy friends and was afraid to speak up for herself. I am now a powerful junior with a bright and creative future ahead, and enough confidence to inspire other teens to get involved.

-Maddie Thomas, Teen Advisory Group Member

Share
Tumba Francesca Album Cover

Faith In Analog

Until recently my attachment to records has been more or less superficial, but when I started buying ethnographic records a couple years ago I began to see how they are loaded with cultural significance for both the listener and the cultures producing them. On one such recording, entitled Afro-Cuban Music from the Roots: Tumba Francesca la Caridad de Oriente (subtitled “percussion and voices traditional and experimental”), I heard how a musical performance can be hugely influential to both the tangible and spiritual elements of a culture’s identity. Now, after being a part of the Record Store project and meeting luminaries such as Seattle’s own DJ Riz, known for his role in the independent radio station KEXP, I can firmly say, and I don’t think I’m alone here, Records are my religion.

Afro-Cuba – Tumba Francesca. 2006. Soul Jazz Records. Personal photograph by author. JPEG file.

Records are an audio phenomenon in a vinyl medium. Vinyl is a medium formatted to articulate a musical vision and in exchange the music acts as the idea-force behind the record. The idea of the neighborhood record store, now often a rare survivor of a former era, is a space with the power to put these receptacles of music’s most essential qualities into the world.

Records are indeed objects of beauty, and I would go further to say they are objects with allure and seduction. We are drawn to the music and what it evokes in us when we put a record on a turntable. Through the attraction we are able to relive familiar moments from the past or become familiar with new musics of the world. Part of this draw is how records allow us to derive pleasure from a listening experience and the recognition of our own “place” in that moment in time.

In the same vein architectural space may be viewed as “a setting into work of truth through recognition and orientation.” To quote the architectural historian Alberto Pérez-Gómez, “the space of architecture, always elusive and mysterious, is the space in which we may perceive ourselves, if only for a moment, as whole.”[1] In his Timaeus Plato names this space the “chora,” or the third element of reality in which we encounter our “other half.” I saw this happen in the Record Store all the time, especially when a slow jam like Bobby Womack’s T.K.O. made its way onto the speakers.

 1983. The Listening Room, Seattle, WA. 2 March 2012. Personal photograph by author. JPEG file. 

Love Wars by the R&B duo Womack & Womack. 1983. The Listening Room, Seattle, WA. 2 March 2012. Personal photograph by author. JPEG file.

What I see as the real beauty of SAM’s Record Store project is its freedom from monetary distinctions and ability to fully create a Platonic “chora” for anybody who walked through its door. In my own Platonic view – record stores give form to this third dimension of reality in which time becomes endless and determined only by a continuous rotation of sound waves.  The neighborhood record store allowed its patrons this perception of completeness through music. I saw this potential realized by one patron of the Record Store who visited almost every day during extended “breaks” away from his job cleaning the streets in Pioneer Square. For him and the rest of us the Record Store became, in the words of Alberto Pérez-Gómez, “a site of resistance against the collapse of desire that drives Modernist technological utopias.”[2]

Reflecting on my time at the Record Store there is no place I could have better pictured myself after coming out of the ethers of academic life. Although the storefront Record Store is in the process of transformation the idea, like the song, remains the same. In fact you will be able to see the Record Store “popping up” again in the future so stay tuned in to the music.

-Ryan R. Peterson, Curatorial + Community Engagement Intern 


[1] Holl, Steven. 1996. Intertwining. pp. 9-10

[2] Ibid.

Share

Get Ready for Remix!

Erin Langner and Greg Sandoval

SAM’s quarterly late-night party Remix is right around the corner and preparations are underway here at SAM. The masterminds behind Remix, Greg Sandoval, Manager of Adult Public Programs, and Erin Langner, Assistant Program Manager in Education and Public Programs, are busy finalizing the exciting programs for this Friday’s festivities.  In this interview, the two give a sneak peek of what you’ll find at this Remix!

Continue Reading…

Share

For the Love of Art

Valentine’s Day 2012

Like many couples looking for the perfect Valentine’s Day date, Gary and Dannie Bollinger-Smith came to the Seattle Art Museum this morning to see the Gauguin & Polynesia exhibition.  However, what makes these two unique is that it’s their 26th Valentine’s Day together.

Continue Reading…

Share
Share