All posts in “Figuring History”

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

SAM News

Boom for real! SAM announced last week that a famed and rarely seen painting by legendary artist Jean-Michel Basquiat is headed to the museum beginning March 21. The Seattle Times shared the news, and KUOW’s The Record hosted a conversation about the painting’s rarity and impressive auction price with KUOW’s Marcie Sillman and City Arts’ Margo Vansynghel.

Diana Cherry of ParentMap reviewed Figuring History with an eye towards kids and families, declaring that “the message is undeniable: Black is beautiful — in art, in history and in this country.”

“To tell you that these paintings made my heart sing would be an understatement. I found it truly uplifting to see Seattle Art Museum center black people—especially black women—and their stories with art that includes, but isn’t limited to, slavery, black suffering and black oppression.”

The Bellevue Reporter previewed the upcoming installation by artist Jono Vaughan at SAM, sharing quotes from the artist.

“We’ve become de-sensitized to violence, and violence against the trans community in particular,” Vaughan said. “Project 42 is an opportunity to share space with that life that was lost, engage with each other, and elevate the discussion. I feel really humbled to be a part of it.”

Local News

For Crosscut, Double Exposure artist Tracy Rector offers her reflections on the allegations against Sherman Alexie and recommends an impressive list of female Native authors for your reading list.

Seattle Times columnist Nicole Brodeur profiles photographer Eddie Rehfeldt, whose new photography show at The Piranha Shop in Sodo tackles ideas about isolation and technology.

City Arts’ Margo Vansynghel reviews the Ko Kirk Yamahira exhibition, now on view at the Frye.

“In his first solo museum exhibition, Yamahira builds beautifully on this minimalist-modernist legacy with deadpan reverence and delicate sensuality.”

Inter/National News

The New York Times on Billy Graham, the “Renaissance man and bon vivant” who was largely unknown, even though he was the first Black artist for Marvel to draw Black Panther and Luke Cage.

Artnet on the “showstopper” booth of new work by British-Liberian artist Lina Iris Viktor at New York’s Armory Show from Seattle’s own Mariane Ibrahim Gallery.

Jonathan Jones of The Guardian with a powerful write-up of Sondra Perry’s latest gallery show, Typhoon, now on view in London. Her show at SAM is now on view.

“Perry juxtaposes the shallowness of our media-saturated lives with the power of true art and properly held memory. If we carried the bloodstained Atlantic that Turner painted in our hearts, maybe we could address the crimes and wrongs of the present. Yet forgetfulness is winning. There is a typhoon coming on.”

And Finally

“Place your ‘Left Ring Finger’ in the undulating bug next to your keyboard.” David Lynch teaches typing.

– Rache Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Image: “Untitled,” 1982, Jean-Michel Basquiat, American, 1960–1988, acrylic, spray paint, and oilstick on canvas, 72 1/8 x 68 1/8 in., Yusaku Maezawa Collection, © 2018 The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat / ADAGP, Paris / ARS.

Layering Histories in SAM’s Collection

The Seattle Art Museum collection spans ancient and contemporary art across continents—perfect for examining historical artworks through the critical framework of Figuring History: Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas. While you’re here, listen to new collection audio tour additions from creative community members on objects from our collection or use the question and information below as way of looking again at the works you see at SAM regularly.

How does the narrator of a story change how the story is told?

Susanna and the Elders, an oft-painted Old Testament tale, is recast in a contemporary context by Robert Colescott in the image of his painting, above. This subject is popular throughout art history for featuring the nude female figure and also allowing viewers to morally condemn the lecherous elders. Colescott inserts himself in this scene as a Peeping Tom in the window to show how, in his presentation of the nude female form, the artist is complicit with the elders, as are the viewers as they too watch Susanna bathe.

Albert Beirstadt had not visited inland Washington when he painted Puget Sound on the Pacific Coast in 1870. It was likely commissioned by a shipping magnate making money from the West coast who wanted a painting to get America imagining where their future modern seaport might soon arise. Because of the patron, this pioneering painting of the past is actually a new maritime civilization’s prologue.

Louis-Philippe Crépin depicts lives lost in the name of discovery in Shipwreck Off the Coast of Alaska. At the right are two Tlingit witnesses who helped search for survivors of the La Pérouse expedition. The French expedition and the shipwreck became part of the Tlingit oral tradition. However, when La Pérouse named this the Bay of the French, it was clear from the trading skills of the Tlingit, that this expedition was not the first to find this bay.

– Chelsea Werner-Jatzke, Content Strategist and Social Media Manager

Photos: Installation view of Close Ups at Seattle Art Museum, 2018, photo: Natali Wiseman. Puget Sound on the Pacific Coast, 1870, Albert Bierstadt, born Solingen, Prussia, 1830; died New York City, 1902, oil on canvas, 52 1/2 x 82 in., Gift of the Friends of American Art at the Seattle Art Museum, with additional funds from the General Acquisition Fund, 2000.70, photo: Natali Wiseman. Installation view of Extreme Nature at Seattle Art Museum, 2018, photo: Natali Wiseman.

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

SAM News

Wall Street Journal Magazine features Figuring History: Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas; Sara Morosi interviewed SAM curator Catharina Manchanda and artist Mickalene Thomas for this preview of the exhibition that “retells America’s past.”

Margo Vansynghel of City Arts lauds the exhibition’s “dazzling brilliance” in her review, which includes interviews with both Kerry James Marshall and Mickalene Thomas, conducted while the artists were in Seattle for the opening.

“…filled to the brink with visual sumptuousness. Chambers to remember. Spaces filled with Black joy and Black books. Behind every corner, there’s texture and depth, and dazzling brilliance.”

Brendan Kiley of the Seattle Times reports on the recent launch of Beyond the Frame, the regional initiative marking the 150th anniversary of Edward S. Curtis’ birth, which also includes SAM’s upcoming exhibition Double Exposure: Edward S. Curtis, Marianne Nicolson, Tracy Rector, Will Wilson.

Local News

Donald Byrd, choreographer and executive artistic director of Spectrum Dance Theater, shares his experience seeing Black Panther and its “beautiful, awe-inspiring Afro-futuristic vision.”

Rich Smith of the Stranger posted this update on the recent hearing at King County Council chambers on a proposed bill to expand the council’s authority over 4Culture.

Seattle Magazine profiles the Seattle Artist League, a new “people come first” art school in Northgate.

Inter/National News

Artnet with a peek at Basquiat. Boom For Real. now on view at the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, which shows the artist’s work in context with the music, text, and city that inspired him.

In what’s definitely the most fascinating interview I read this week, Artnet spoke with Arthur Jafa about intersectionality, blackness, and “not going for ‘good.’”

Hyperallergic reviews the Monarchs exhibition, now on view at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, which features work by “people native to the Americas,” including Jeffrey Gibson, Nicholas Galanin, and Wendy Red Star.

And Finally

What DOES one get Rihanna on the occasion of her 30th birthday?? One artist decided on this.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Photo: Installation view of Figuring History: Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas at Seattle Art Museum, 2018, photo: Stephanie Fink.

Figuring History Facts: Robert Colescott

What do you know about the three artists in Figuring History: Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas? Take a minute to learn more about the people behind the paintings currently on view at SAM as we share 10 surprising facts about each of them. This month we’re focused on Robert Colescott. Colescott’s work is bold, colorful, often satirical, and packed with meaning.

  1. Colescott’s parents were accomplished musicians who played jazz, blues, and classical music. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, Colescott also had musical talent—growing up he played the drums and always kept a drum kit in his studio.
  2. Despite painting and drawing from a young age, Colescott originally wanted to go into international relations. He decided to pursue his passion for art since he was told at the time there wouldn’t be a future for him in the field as an Black person.
  3. Robert Colescott married five times.
  4. Colescott was thrust into international spotlight as the first Black painter to have a solo exhibit at the Venice Biennale in Italy.
  5. Robert Colescott’s older brother Warrington Colescott is an also an artist best known for his etchings.
  6. Oski wow wow! Colescott graduated from the University of California, Berkeley where he received both his bachelors and masters.
  7. A world traveler, Colescott spent an year in Paris at an atelier studying with artist Fernand Léger.
  8. In the early 1950s, Colescott moved to Seattle and taught junior high school in the Seattle Public School District.
  9. Colescott was a veteran—he volunteered to serve in the US Army after graduating High School in 1942 and fought in the 86th Blackhawk Division during World War II.
  10. Colescott has five sons and a grandson. His grandson, Colescott Rubin, is also a jazz musician and played at the opening celebration of Figuring History in front of his grandfather’s painting, Les Demoiselles d’Alabama: Vestidas.

See Colescott’s work in person at the Seattle Art Museum. Figuring History: Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas will be on view until Sunday May 13!

– Nina Dubinsky, Social Media Coordinator

Image: Installation view Figuring History: Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas, 2018, at Seattle Art Museum. Photo: Natali Wiseman

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

SAM News

Last week, we announced the hiring of SAM’s first-ever Chief Technology Officer (CTO), Manish Engineer, who will oversee technology and digital efforts across the institution. Artdaily and Geekwire shared the news.

Figuring History artist Kerry James Marshall is this month’s cover story in Juxtapoz. Don’t miss their wide-ranging interview with him—plus their online story on SAM’s exhibition.

Local News

The Stranger’s Charles Mudede reviews Everyday Black at the Northwest African American Museum, which features a portrait that he calls “the masterpiece of the show” of SAM’s Public Programs Coordinator David Rue.

Capitol Hill Times reports on the efforts of The Friends of the Benson Trolleys, who hope to retrofit the abandoned vintage trolleys to run on Seattle’s streetcar line.

City Arts’ Margo Vansynghel sits down with Zhi Lin, whose incredible solo show about the 1885 forced expulsion of Chinese inhabitants from Tacoma is on view until February 18 at the Tacoma Art Museum.

“Originally, I wanted to create an old history painting with old buildings, tailors, saloons and so on. I decided not to. Instead, I re-staged the scene in a contemporary setting, with the light rail track, skyscrapers, traffic signage nearby. To say, we are repeating history. Literally.”

Inter/National News

I know we’re all ready for spring, but let’s just enjoy Hyperallergic’s collection of dreamy Instagrams taken during the recent snowstorm in Paris. Scroll and le sigh.

Artnet’s Javier Pes reports on the happenings at art fairs Salon Acme and Material in Mexico City; Everyday Poetics artist Fritzia Irízar is named one of seven memorable artists from Material.

Artnet’s Ben Davis focuses in on the merits of Basquiat’s Untitled, which is now on view at the Brooklyn Museum.

“Untitled (1982) is built to be what it has become, a high-energy icon that can spread easily as a media image. But at the same time it also whispers that it doesn’t want to be reduced to just that; it doesn’t just want to be looked at, it wants to be seen.”

And Finally

Meet Banda Didá, the all-female Brazilian drum group.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Image: Souvenir I, 1997, Kerry James Marshall, acrylic, collage, and glitter on unstretched canvas, 108 x 157 in., Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Bernice and Kenneth Newberger Fund, 1997.73, © MCA Chicago, photo: Joe Ziolkowski.

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

SAM News

Kimerly Rorschach, SAM’s Illsley Ball Nordstrom Director and CEO, is featured in the February edition of Seattle Met as one of the “50 Most Influential Women in Seattle.”

The Stranger put together a list of all the best Black History Month events: SAM exhibitions Figuring History: Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas and Sondra Perry: Eclogue for [in]HABITABILITY both make the cut.

The Seattle Times’ Moira Macdonald recommends seeing Oscar nominees on Cinerama’s big screen—as well as two upcoming SAM Films events: “Alfred Hitchcock’s Britain” series and “David Lynch’s First Seven Films: From The Alphabet to Eraserhead.”

Local News

Seattle Sketcher Gabriel Campanario visited the new Amazon Spheres and came away underwhelmed.

The King County Council has proposed an ordinance that would involve more control over arts and cultural agency 4Culture.

Seattle Times’ Jerry Large introduces the new leader at Northwest African American Museum, LaNesha DeBardelaben; City Arts recently reported on the celebratory opening of their current exhibition, Everyday Black.

‘”Once I stepped foot in this museum, I immediately knew that this is the place for me,’ she said. ‘NAAM has so much potential and so much dynamism to it.’”

Inter/National News

The New York Times on responses from the National Gallery and Seattle University following accusations of sexual harassment against Chuck Close; ARTnews reports on Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts’ plan.

“It’s often difficult to know which way up a painting should be.” A Morris Lewis painting at the Jewish Museum is on view with a new name—and a new orientation.

Joyce J. Scott’s sculptures, quilts, and necklaces are on view in her most comprehensive exhibition to date at New Jersey’s Grounds for Sculpture; one of the exhibition’s curators is Lowery Stokes Sims, who contributed an essay to the Figuring History catalogue.

“’My work is politically and socially oriented because that’s what keeps me up at night,’ Scott added. ‘It’s important to me to use art in a manner that incites people to look and carry something home — even if it’s subliminal — that might make a change in them.’”

And Finally

What happens when an artist and her emotional support peacock simply try to get from here to there.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Photo: Robert Wade

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,


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

SAM News

“Lust and death”? Sign us up! The Stranger’s Charles Mudede features the upcoming Ingmar Bergman film series in the latest edition of the paper.

“Look at it this way: A film like The Commuter, which must not be missed, is your fat-rich steak, and a movie like Bergman’s Through the Glass Darkly or Silence or Persona is your broccoli. You just can’t eat steak all of the time. You will die from just eating steak. You need your veggies. You can almost live forever on a diet of just films of the great Swedish director Ingmar Bergman.”

Tiffany Y. Ates featured the “redefining art history” work of Mickalene Thomas in the January/February edition of Smithsonian Magazine. Thomas will be one of three artists featured in Figuring History: Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas.

Le déjeuner sur l’herbe: Les Trois Femmes Noires (The Three Black Women), part of a new group exhibition at the Seattle Art Museum, depicts the subjects in a mosaic of vibrant colors, fragmented shapes, rhinestones and glittered Afros. ‘These women are so grounded and perfectly comfortable in their own space,’ says Catharina Manchanda, a curator at the museum. ‘While we might be looking at them, they are also sizing us up.’”

Local News

City Arts released their annual Future List: the “artists and trailblazers who will illuminate the year to come.” On the list are some SAM friends: Sculptured Dance alum Randy Ford and Wyeth Film Sprint fan favorite director Claire Buss.

Gayle Clemans of the Seattle Times takes note of the recent growth of galleries in homes, garages, and Airbnbs, as artists and curators try to work around rising rents.

The Stranger’s Emily Pothast features Natasha Marin (of the project) and her latest collaboration at CORE Gallery, BLACK Imagination: The States of Matter.

“It’s home-baked bread with butter for a stomach tight with growling. BLACK Imagination is for black people first. It’s a celebration of ourselves.”

Inter/National News

Major news: The Metropolitan Museum of Art abandons its pay-what-you-wish policy for out-of-towners, requiring those visitors to pay a mandatory admission fee of $25.

Artsy has an appropriately visual feature highlighting 25 people who defined the visual culture of 2017, including Agnes Gund, Beyonce and Solange, and da Vinci (still got it!).

Victoria L. Valentine of Culture Type recalls “the year in black art,” including Sondra Perry winning SAM’s Knight Lawrence Prize among many other moments.

And Finally

Please enjoy Moonlight director Barry Jenkins’ recent epic Tweetstorm as he watched his seatmate on an airplane watch Notting Hill.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Image: Courtesy of Photofest.
Installation view of European art galleries at Seattle Art Museum, 2017, photo: Natali Wiseman.

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

SAM News

Like the suddenly falling leaves, fall arts happenings are swirling all around. The Stranger offered their “complete guide” to the best of October—including SAM picks like Andrew Wyeth: In Retrospect, the Jean-Pierre Melville film series, and the (sold out!) Diwali Ball.

Noted architect Tom Kundig leads a tour of the best Seattle architecture in this CNN Travel video; the Olympic Sculpture Park is one of his picks.

We enjoyed this Architects Newspaper salute to Denise Scott Brown on her 85th birthday; in which they share notable stories of her general awesomeness. Scott Brown—along with her partner, Robert Venturi—designed the original Seattle Art Museum that opened in 1991.

“There’s a million ways to be a woman. There’s a million ways to be a mother. And there’s a million ways to be an architect.” –Denise Scott Brown.

Local News

Watch this lovely KCTS tribute to ceramicist Akio Takamori, featuring interviews with his former UW colleagues and students, including Patti Warashina and Jamie Walker. His Blue Princess (2009) is currently on view at SAM.

“The boundary between the figurative and the abstract is erased in curious ways,” says the Seattle Times’ Michael Upchurch in this glowing review of the Frye Museum’s two new photography shows.

Farewell to Jon Rowley, the “fish missionary” whose art form was teaching us to appreciate perfect things like Copper River salmon and Olympic oysters.

Inter/National News

Author Kazuo Ishiguro was awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Literature. You really need to read Tacoma bookseller/Ishiguro Superfan Kenny Coble’s tweetstorm when he heard the news.

The Art Newspaper takes you inside two new recently opened museums: the Zeitz Mocaa in Cape Town and the Yves Saint Laurent museum in Paris.

What’s the most iconic artwork of the 21st century? Artnet asked experts to weigh in. Mentioned: Mickalene Thomas’s Le Déjeuner sur L’herbe: Les Trois Femmes Noires, coming to SAM’s walls in February as part of Figuring History: Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas.

And Finally

We can now listen to ripples in space-time. (Really!)

– Rachel Eggers, Public Relations Manager

Image: Installation view of European art galleries at Seattle Art Museum, 2017, photo: Natali Wiseman.