Did you know that SAM Gallery has been around for 45 years?! In 1973 the Seattle Art Museum’s Rental/Sales Gallery was started by a visionary group of docents led by Jackie Macrae. They operated out of a space in the Seattle Center, selling the work of local artists in order to raise money for SAM’s volunteer programs. When the gallery turned out to be successful, a part-time employee was hired in 1989. That person was Barbara Shaiman, a local ceramics artist who also ran Shaiman Contemporary Craft. Shaiman worked for the Seattle Art Museum for 24 years and continues to attend openings, as well as show her own work. In 2000, Jody Bento began to work for Shaiman at SAM and today, Bento continues to oversee the gallery. In the 45 years that SAM Gallery has rented and sold Northwest contemporary art, it has mounted hundreds of shows including thousands of Northwest artists. Check out the current roster of SAM Gallery artists.
To celebrate this milestone, we’re sharing some photos from over the years. Join in the success of the gallery and spend time with some of SAM Gallery’s Northwest artists at the opening for the 45th Anniversary Show on First Thursday, November 1.
Images: Photo: Natali Wiseman. Jody Bento, left, Barbara Shaiman, right, pictured with paintings by Deborah Bell. Photos: Ben Benschneider. Attendees at SAM Gallery opening, 2017. Jody Bento, Associate Director SAM Gallery, pictured in the gallery’s Seattle Tower location. Photo: Jen Au.
The days are officially getting darker and the work on view the current SAM Gallery show is embracing it. Hanging in the ground floor SAM Gallery is Darks and Lights, featuring Enid Smith Becker, Deborah Bell, Nick Brown, Nichole DeMent, and Barbara Shaiman. The artists in this show contrast darks and lights as autumn turns to winter. Nature’s cycles, retreating to our roots, and finding home are all explored by our premier Northwest artists. Hear from two of the featured artists on what living and working in Seattle means to them and see the show yourself before it closes on November 19. SAM Gallery represents many local artists whose work you can rent or buy. This is one of the numerous ways that Seattle Art Museum supports the arts—by supporting artists.
Enid Smith Becker
My work explores our relationship with the land, time, and space. Despite the different ways each of us approach a place, the land and its beauty is always there. As I paint, I begin with the natural space and into that I layer the rectilinear forms that represent human impact on nature and the different ways that each of us sees the world. One of the things that draws people to Seattle is its natural beauty. As a Northwest native I spend a lot of time outdoors. The paintings in the show Darks and Lights are inspired by places in Washington that we visit on the weekend.
In my work, I am inspired the colors and textures of the natural world. I work in acrylic, but I also build real texture through the inclusion of art paper, junk mail, plant matter, loose-weave cloth, and thread. The constructive nature of combining paint and collage appeals to me. The layering of paint, natural and man-made materials becomes a kind of a metaphorical rebuilding of the land.
As a ceramic artist whose work references our natural environment and the affect of human activity on it, living in the Northwest plays a pivotal role in my imagery and ideas. Memories of the rock forms, arches, and cave entrances found in La Push and other areas of the Northwest coastline greatly influence my work.
Our relatively easy access to the ocean and mountains is a major part of my love of Seattle, but I also value the intellectual and artistic stimulation of the city. Environmental justice issues are important to me, as are climate change and sustainability. While being at the coast inspires my awe and my imagery, an evening talking with friends in the city reminds me that we have a lot of work to do to conserve the beauty of our area and enable our neighbors and future generations to enjoy it as well.
While referencing issues such as climate change and the intersection of natural and human-made environments, I prefer the work to be enigmatic, not to try to supply answers but to encourage us to think about our relationship to the environment with a somewhat altered vision.
Image: Planes, Enid Smith Becker, acrylic on canvas, 36 x 48 in. Transition Arch, Barbara Shaiman, glazed stoneware, 15.5 x 16 X 5 in. Photo: Hernan Celis