All posts in “John Grade”

Muse/News: Victorian extra-ness, tree art, and what happens when artists curate

SAM News

Crosscut’s Brangien Davis recommends that you “judge for yourself … and consider just what makes art radical” in her write-up of Victorian Radicals.

And GRAY Magazine’s Rachel Gallaher chats with curator Chiyo Ishikawa about the exhibition on “what’s so radical” about it.

“Rich in saturated color and minute detail, the works sit in bold contrast to the zeitgeisty minimalism and pastel palettes of the past few years. It’s a rather refreshing aesthetic twist, and a veritable feast for the eyes.”

Watch Evening Magazine’s thoughtful story on Hear & Now, featuring interviews with artist Trimpin, poet Pam Winter, and Path with Art director Holly Jacobson.

Comedy Gold from the American Cinema kicks off this week; with classics like The Thin Man and The Awful Truth it’s no wonder the series is included on Seattle Magazine’s list of “21 Best Things to Do in Seattle in July 2019” and is one of the Seattle Times’ “hottest Seattle events for July 2019.”

Congrats! SAM trustee Charles Wright has been named Middle Market Family Business Executive of the Year by the Puget Sound Business Journal. 

Local News

Crosscut’s Agueda Pacheco Flores (just named New Journalist of the Year by the Society of Professional Journalists [Western Washington]!) visits The Beacon, Columbia City’s new single-screen cinema.

The Stranger’s Rich Smith wrote about Seattle’s newest “pretty dreamy” dance company, Seattle Dance Collective; their first show, Program One, premieres at Vashon Center for the Arts this weekend.

An SOS, a lofty reminder, a memento mori: Crosscut’s Brangien Davis visits Ted Youngs’ new Smoke Season installation and looks at some other trees in art, including John Grade’s Middle Fork at SAM and the Neukom Vivarium at the Olympic Sculpture Park.

“They peer up at the tree, which stands parallel to the Space Needle — one conceived as a beacon of humanity’s bright future, the other an urgent message from the here and now.”

Inter/National News

You love to see it: As part of NPR Music’s exploration of the Seattle music scene, they look at “11 Visual Artists Creating The Look Of Seattle Music.” 

Who knew this was such a rich genre? Artnet’s Caroline Goldstein brings you the “Finest Artistic Depictions of Totally Wasted People Ever.”

The New York Times’ Roberta Smith on Artistic License at the Guggenheim, a show curated by six artists—one for each of the ramps of the museum’s rotunda.  

“Artists look at a collection more freely and greedily than most of us, from odd angles. They often ferret out neglected or eccentric treasures, highlighting what museums have but aren’t using; they can also reveal a collection’s weaknesses, its biases and blind spots.”

And Finally

A world of cages.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Image: Installation view “Victorian Radicals: From the Pre-Raphaelites to the Arts & Crafts Movement” at Seattle Art Museum, 2019, photo: Natali Wiseman.

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Muse/News: Pie art, Seattle style, and obvious plants

SAM News

Lauren Ko creates stunning pie art on her @lokokitchen Instagram—check out the pie she made inspired by SAM’s show! There’s more details here. Get yourself to SAM: Jeffrey Gibson: Like a Hammer closes this Sunday, May 12!

Ring in wedding season—you know you love it!—with this Seattle Bride look at a beautiful wedding at the Olympic Sculpture Park. Aww.

Local News

The Seattle Times’ Moira Macdonald takes a look at the new fashion exhibit at MOHAI on—yes, really—Seattle style.

Watch the Seattle Channel’s CityStream story about the forthcoming return of the historic Louisa Hotel, including the fate of their rediscovered Prohibition-era murals.

Seattle Magazine’s Gavin Borchert and Gwendolyn Elliott on Amazon’s internal creative program, Expressions, which gives employees opportunities to get creative.

“Reverberating beyond the badge-required halls of Amazonia is a bigger conversation about the company’s contributions—or lack thereof—to Seattle’s creative community as a whole, considering how much it’s altered the city’s physical and cultural footprint.”

Inter/National News

John Grade does it again: Check out this stunning installation by the artist set in a clearing of an Italian forest, which turns rainwater into the droplets of a natural chandelier.

An appreciation for the “guardian of Black cinema” by the New Yorker’s Doreen St. Felix of the director John Singleton, who passed away this week at the age of 51.

Artnet’s Melissa Smith talks with Black artists about the paradigm shift of increased interest in their work—and the attendant pressures, including stress, burnout, and exploitation.

“Navigating the limited existing roles for [black artists] is exhausting, and never-ending,” Jemison says. “And black artists are very aware that being selected is super arbitrary and predicated on partial understanding of the work.”

And Finally

All Alone Bert. Pre-Cracked Egg. Funeral Kazoo. They’re all an Obvious Plant.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

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Muse/News: SAM director honored, food art pops up, and photos that puzzle

SAM News

Double Exposure: Edward S. Curtis, Marianne Nicolson, Tracy Rector, Will Wilson opens June 14! A photo by the Seattle Times’ Alan Berner of our First Avenue lightbox appeared in print on May 19. The exhibition was also their visual arts pick for the “hottest events for June” in last Friday’s Weekend Plus section.

“June will launch a series of shows about famous and troubling photographer Edward S. Curtis, his weird way of staging what Native American culture looked like and responses from contemporary artists. The flagship exhibit of this thorny flotilla will happen at Seattle Art Museum — the cultural struggle, using various art-weapons, is still raging.”

In their June issue, Seattle Met Magazine presents Light a Fire 2018, shining a light on the city’s most impressive nonprofits and the people who run them. This year, our SAM Director and CEO Kimerly Rorschach has been awarded Extraordinary Executive Director!

Esquire profiles Middle Fork artist John Grade, who has a new work in an unexpected location: Nordstrom’s new men’s store in Manhattan.

Local News

Did you catch Danai Gurira’s Familiar at the Seattle Rep? Two takes on the play ran in advance of the play’s final weekend from City Arts’ Gemma Wilson and The Stranger’s Charles Mudede.

You will find me NOWHERE NEAR those glass benches. But for those without fear, check out Seattle Magazine’s look at the Olson Kundig revamp of the 56-year-old Space Needle.

Mac Hubbard for Seattle Met on the launch of Sunday Salons, the latest gallery around town to pop-up in an apartment; this one hosts the FoodArt Collection of Jeremy Buben.

“This ability to approach and resonate with our relationship to food is part of Buben’s perpetual interest in this work. And the room for creative license is apparent from the trappings of the apartment: a nude with parts shielded by pancakes and a waffle wedge, neon indicative of diners, a mold of a Cheetos bag housing an air plant.”

Inter/National News

Eileen Kinsella for Artnet on a show about sports and social justice opening in September at the High Museum in Atlanta; it will feature works by artist Glenn Kaino in collaboration with Olympic athlete and activist Tommie Smith.

Artnet’s Sarah Cascone on the shuttering of the much-troubled and once-beloved Interview Magazine.

Ksenya Gurshtein for Hyperallergic on an exhibition of early American photography at the J. Paul Getty Museum that reveals much about the complexities of American life during the 1840s to the 1860s.

“It’s necessary to look to such images as a reminder that evil has long been done in the name of national interests and that photography was as suspect at its inception as it is today, in the age of fake news and truthiness.”

And Finally

This is something I can get behind: Lunch at 11 am. It’s OK to be hungry! Eating is good!

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Photo: Natali Wiseman
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VSO Kay Dien Fox

Get to Know SAM’s VSOs: Kay Dien Fox

Kay Dien Fox was born in China and moved to Seattle with her adoptive parents when she was nine months old. The nickname her parents gave her, Kay Dien, not only fits her personality but also represent her culture and ancestral heritage. It originated from a combination of her legal name Katherine (Kay) and her Chinese name Dien Dien. Since graduating in March of this year, she took a road trip along the West Coast and travelled to Spain. After returning, she realized she should probably get a job and, fortunately, a friend sent her a link to SAM’s career page. She applied to become a Visitor Services Officer (VSO) and could not be happier that she did.

SAM: What are your thoughts on Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors?

Kay Dien: It’s an incredible exhibition and it doesn’t surprise me that it sells out every day. My favorite piece is The Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity. The lights inside the infinity room are on a cycle so the visitor doesn’t know what part of the cycle they will get to experience. The room evokes various responses from the visitor, many exclaim how awesome the room is and some use the room to have a meditative experience.

What is your favorite piece of art currently on display at SAM?

John Grade’s Middle Fork. I didn’t initially read the description of this piece, but I got enough questions about it that I figured I should know more (other than that it looks like a big tree trunk). After reading the description of Middle Fork, it instantly became my favorite piece on display. Grade combined two wonderful aspects of life: art and nature, to make this prominent piece that hovers over the forum.

Who is your favorite artist? 

My favorite artist at the moment is the band The Antlers because of their album Hospice. It’s a beautiful album and not quite as depressing as the title would make it seem.

What advice can you offer to guests visiting SAM? 

Take your time—unless we give you the 15 minute warning, then please make your way towards the door.

Tell us more about you! When you’re not at SAM, what do you spend your time doing?

When I’m not at SAM I like to spend time outside and hanging out with people I care about. I also enjoy film photography and traveling. I’m still figuring out what I want to do in the future, but I am planning a 100 day road trip next year.

– Emily Jones, SAM Visitor Services Officer

Photo: Natali Wiseman.
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Docents Defined: Celeste Ericsson

Get more intimate with SAM’s collection by becoming a docent! Docents will learn about our global collection of artwork and then share their knowledge and passion for art with a diverse range of visitors. No experience necessary! SAM docents have a wide range of reference points and experiences that they each bring to the art in SAM’s collection and that is what makes our public tours so unique. Making room for new perspectives is how we continue to offer engaging and informational tours throughout the year. Here’s a chance to get to know Celeste Ericsson, just one of our many docents who volunteers their time at the museum. Are you interested in becoming a SAM docent and leading tours of the museum? Apply now! Applications are accepted through July 12 and new docents start training in fall 2017!

SAM: Tell us about yourself. Why did you become a docent?

Celeste Ericsson: I’ve always loved art museums ever since I was a child growing up in New York City. My favorite New York museums were/are the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Cloisters. I have always been interested in history in general, and in symbolism/iconography. As an illustrator and a graphic designer, a knowledge of art history and art movements both inspires me and helps me to communicate in my artwork.

What’s the best part of being a docent?

I get to share my interests with others, and I love doing it with kids. I’m constantly adding their insights to my tours. I do like talking with adults also. In order to communicate clearly, I have to figure out the most important things I believe about art and art philosophy. And in order to make things relevant I need to figure out the connections and the contexts for the art I’m touring so that the pieces do not become disembodied objects. In other words my docent work clarifies my own understanding of art.

What work of art is your favorite to tour?

The works of art that are my favorite to tour definitely differ from the works I’m personally drawn to. I’m drawn to the Archaic Greek Antefix with Medusa or Akio Takamori’s Blue Princess. For art to tour I liked Cai Guo-Qiang’s Inopportune Stage One, definitely a favorite before it was deinstalled last winter. Aesthetically, I found it horrifying, but it tells the story of art so clearly. I can’t think of even one class that it did not connect to, or who failed to figure out the story of a car flipping and exploding.

I’m finding that kids are really drawn to John Grade’s Middle Fork also. My favorite description from a third grader is that it looks like a Jenga game.

What’s your most memorable touring experience?

My favorite touring experience lately was Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series for kindergarten, no less. I hadn’t expected the kids to get it, but the themes of having to leave home and everything familiar, and the theme of fairness really resonated with them. They created the most amazing drawings afterwards. A couple were very personal, and the kids were kind and appreciative of each other’s creations.

What advice do you have for people considering applying to the docent program?

This is a hard one to answer, but I’d say to be in it for how art can be inspiring. Really try to find those paths of wonder and fun for the kids. Discover your own genuine voice. Finally, it’s great to not take oneself too seriously, and to have a sense of humor.

– Kelsey Donahue, Museum Educator, School & Educator Programs

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Personal Landscapes

What’s your personal landscape? Watch our video series, Personal Landscapes, to hear from creatives, scientists, and an athlete on what draws their eye in Seeing Nature: Landscape Masterworks from the Paul G. Allen Family Collection. The exhibition features 39 historically significant European and American landscape paintings from the past 400 years. From Brueghel’s allegorical series of the five senses painted in the 15th century to David Hockney’s The Grand Canyon, completed in 1998, there’s something for everyone in Seeing Nature. See it yourself before it closes, May 23! Get $5 off between now and closing by using the code SEE$5OFF at check out.

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Be A Part of Something Big: Volunteer for Middle Fork

Artist John Grade is looking for volunteers to help sculpt the 60-foot addition to his sculpture, Middle Fork, which will be installed in SAM’s Brotman Forum in January. SAM employees have been helping out in Grade’s studio over the last few months and we all agree, you should consider volunteering as well.

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John Grade’s studio is large and located at the fringes of Seattle. It’s easy to understand why he would require a space as large as an airplane hangar if you’ve experienced his artwork. Grade creates organic shapes from the natural world at life size and impresses viewers with the grand scale of everyday objects such as, in the case of Middle Fork, trees.

Expect a warm welcome from Grade’s crew of studio assistants, though you may have to venture pretty far into the space before you’re noticed over the sound of the electric sanders. In an open room with several workstations scattered towards the back, you’ll notice sections of the original 40-foot long Middle Fork sculpture bubble wrapped and arranged unceremoniously around the room.

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More than a view behind-the-scenes, this is an experience you can inhale—quite literally if you’re not wearing your dust mask. Particles of the artistic process will coat your clothes, so dress for sawdust and be prepared to focus in on the details for a few hours. “It’s fun to be part of something big by doing something small,” said Natali Wiseman, senior designer at SAM. And small is right—the four-hour minimum volunteer shift flies by and you’ll be impressed by the section of the sculpture that you’ve created—how much, or how little you’ve gotten done, depending on your outlook.

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“Volunteering for Middle Fork is a great opportunity to get an insider’s look into John’s creative process,” says David Rue, public programs coordinator. “It’s refreshing to see how many helping hands are responsible for such a beautifully large-scale project, and it feels great to integrate community building with hands-on art making.” When John Grade began Middle Fork in 2014 it was being constructed at Mad Art in South Lake Union. The store-front gallery space was open to the public and passerbys were welcome to lend a hand in laying a couple, or a couple hundred, blocks of the sculpture.

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Far from the inaccessible side of the art world, Middle Fork has been touched and built by toddlers, teenagers, and Amazon employees alike. Megan Peterson, assistant registrar for exhibitions describes the process as “an honor. I appreciate how open John is to allowing each person the freedom to put their unique stamp on the work they do.” Don’t worry about being too precise or technically skilled. The sculpture is sturdy and, like nature, difficult to mess up. Each inches-long cedar piece you place is only one part of what will eventually be a 100-foot long whole, hanging at SAM.

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“It’ll be a particularly special feeling once Middle Fork is installed knowing that my hands helped contribute to its existence,” Rue added. If you’re interested in volunteering, contact Lauren at John Grade’s studio: volunteer@johngrade.com.

—Chelsea Werner-Jatzke, Copywriter & Content Strategist

Photos: Natali Wiseman.
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