All posts in “Kehinde Wiley”

Muse/News: Baroque drama, soap bubbles, and Colescott’s good trouble

SAM News

Are you ready for DRAMA? SAM’s trailer for the major fall exhibition is here in all its glory. Flesh and Blood: Italian Masterpieces from the Capodimonte Museum opens October 17; both Seattle Met and Seattle Magazine recommend it.

Jeffrey Gibson, whose solo show Like a Hammer graced SAM’s walls earlier this year, is officially a genius. He, along with 25 other noteworthy doers, was named a MacArthur Fellow last week. Congrats, Jeffrey!

Local News

The Seattle Times’ Brendan Kiley reports on the conflict within Intiman Theatre between the board and staff, as the organization again comes under threat. The Stranger’s Rich Smith also reported on the rumblings.

The Frye just opened three new shows. Seattle Met’s Stefan Milne loved Pierre Leguillon: Arbus Bonus, calling it “direct, elegant, inquisitive, multitudinous.”

And the Stranger’s Jasmyne Keimig loved Unsettling Femininity, their first thematic show from the founding collection that explores male and female gazes—and one ensorcelling soap bubble—amid newly lavender walls.

“It’ll last forever. It’s been here since before my grandparents were born and will be here for longer than my grandchildren. This bubble with outlast my life as a symbol of how my own life is fleeting. Amongst all that oil paint!”

Inter/National News

GRAY Magazine’s Tiffany Jow on Andrea D’Aquino’s new collage book on Ruth Asawa, which explores the artist’s fascinating personal history. It’s directed at readers age 5-8—but I think you’ll want a copy, too.

Reggie Ugwu of the New York Times reports on last week’s unveiling in Times Square of Kehinde Wiley’s bronze sculpture Rumors of War, of a man and “the horse he rode in on, from a previous century, perhaps, or was it a future one?”

Artnet’s Taylor Dafoe reviews Art and Race Matters: The Career of Robert Colescott, now on view in Cincinnati’s Contemporary Arts Center. Lowery Stokes Sims and co-curators grapple with his amazing work—and his underappreciated status.

“He misbehaved,” she explains matter-of-factly. “He did not conform to any of the canonical ideas about painting, about depictions, about points of view—he just misbehaved and we’re all better for it.”

And Finally

It’s been a month. Farewell, September.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Atalanta and Hippomenes, ca. 1620–1625, Guido Reni, Italian, 1575–1642, oil on canvas, 75 9/16 x 103 15/16 in., Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte.
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Muse/News: Beauty at SAM, Juneteenth lessons, and a huge statue from Kehinde Wiley

SAM News

The Victorians Radicals are here! Here are reviews from Gary Faigin for the Seattle Times and Stefan Milne of Seattle Met on the exhibition’s beautiful objects and historical richness.

Fayemi Shakur profiles Zanele Muholi and their work photographing Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex South Africans. Muholi’s stunning self-portraits arrive at SAM on July 10.  

“I want the next generation of young queers and non-queers to know that we are here, that we were here. We owe it to ourselves to make sense of our lives and living.”

Local News

“Almost free is unfree”: LaNesha DeBardelaben, Executive Director of the Northwest African American Museum, shares the story—and lessons—of Juneteenth. (And Real Change’s Lisa Edge wrote up their current exhibition!)

The Stranger’s Jasmyne Keimig on the “disco balls, closed-circuit cameras, and colored lighting” in Give It or Leave It, Cauleen Smith’s solo show at the Frye Art Museum.

The Seattle Times’ Brendan Kiley talks with Greg Lundgren about empty spaces, collective billionaires, and the forthcoming Museum of Museums (MoM).

“I’ll keep saying the same thing I’ve said for years: Any time you have a concentration of talent, wealth, innovation and quality of life, you’ve got all the ingredients for a renaissance, of a revolution, of a movement. But somehow, we just haven’t been mixing them right.”

Inter/National News

NPR reports that poet, writer, and musician Joy Harjo will be the next poet laureate of the United States. Learn more about her with this great conversation from BOMB Magazine between Harjo and fellow poet Sherwin Bitsui.

Artforum reports: “The Association of Art Museum Directors’ board of trustees has passed a resolution that calls on the more than two hundred museums it represents to end unpaid internship programs.”

A new republic, set in stone: The Virginia Museum of Arts announced the acquisition of Kehinde Wiley’s largest sculpture to date, a 30-foot-tall bronze of a Black man on a horse, modeled after Richmond’s Confederate statues.

“Art and violence have for an eternity held a strong narrative grip with each other … To have the Rumors of War sculpture presented in such a context lays bare the scope and scale of the project in its conceit to expose the beautiful and terrible potentiality of art to sculpt the language of domination.”

And Finally

A dilemma of inheritance, a question of citizenship.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Image: Beata Beatrix, begun 1877 (left unfinished in 1882 and completed by Ford Madox Brown), Dante Gabriel Rossetti, British, 1828–1882, oil on canvas, 34 1/8 × 26 7/8 in., Lent by Birmingham Museums Trust on behalf of Birmingham City Council, Purchased, 1891P25, © Birmingham Museums Trust, Courtesy American Federation of Arts



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Muse/News: First Thursday, drawing darkness, and a monument to Shirley Chisholm

SAM News

The Seattle Times includes this week’s First Thursday on their community calendar; it’ll be the last one at which to see Jeffrey Gibson: Like a Hammer! Don’t miss this exhibition.

SAM is included in this CNN Travel story on Pike Place Market and what to see and do nearby.

Local News

Fill up that calendar: The Seattle Times has collected all the best arts events launching in May.

Lisa Edge of Real Change reviews Soy yo at Vermillion, one of the many satellite shows of yəhaẃ̓; she notes “the works have an overarching theme of the care and nurture that femme and female folks provide.”

The Stranger’s Jasmyne Keimig on Bad Gateway at Bellevue Arts Museum, the first museum exhibition of graphic artist Simon Hanselmann; every single hand-painted page of his forthcoming book will be on view.

“It’s impossible to read the whole story just standing there (though do try, if you wish). But stepping back, you get a sense of the artist’s ambition and vision, his diligence in exploring the dark recesses of his visual imagination.”

Inter/National News

Jets to Dakar! Artsy takes a look inside Kehinde Wiley’s just-launched artist residency in Senegal; called Black Rock, he says it will offer artists “the opportunity to rub up against sameness and difference at once.”

Cartoonist Sarah Glidden draws her obsession with the Guggenheim’s recent Hilma af Klint exhibition, finding a kindred spirit and a dizzying array of insights and questions.

Famous for firsts, the late Shirley Chisholm marks another: the first female historical figure with a public monument in Brooklyn. The New York Times has the details on the design by Amanda Williams and Olalekan Jeyifous.

“It allows you to be enveloped in a conversation about interacting and bringing others along. This approach to a monument is that it’s an invitation to participate.”

And Finally

A journalistic project to tuck into (save room for spumoni!).

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Image: Installation view Jeffrey Gibson: Like a Hammer at Seattle Art Museum, 2019, photo: Jen Au
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Muse/News: Arts News from SAM, Seattle, and Beyond

SAM News

The solo exhibition of Jono Vaughan, winner of the 2017 Betty Bowen Award, is now on view. Project 42 raises awareness of a persistent pattern of extreme violence against transgender people by commemorating 42 murdered individuals. The show was recently highlighted by both City Arts and Seattle Weekly.

“When Jono Vaughan accepted the Betty Bowen Award at the Seattle Art Museum, she opted not to speak about her own work, as is custom. Instead, she invited three local artists with Native heritage to memorialize Fred Martinez, Jr., a trans-identified Navajo teen who was murdered in Cortez, Colo., in 2001.”

The Evergrey features artist April Soetarman’s Museum of Almost Realities, about objects “from the life you might have had.” The project popped up at March’s edition of Remix.

Local News

For the Seattle Times (and all the nerds), writer Paul Constant and novelist G. Willow Wilson preview MoPOP’s MARVEL: Universe of Super Heroes, which opened last Saturday.

Crosscut’s Brangien Davis interviews Pacific Northwest Ballet artistic director Peter Boal about a controversial work that premiered in their recent program.

Margo Vansynghel of City Arts reviews the Tacoma Art Museum’s retrospective of Seattle photographer Ella McBride (1862-1965).

“If the flower in the vase of the 1925 black-and-white gelatin silver print ‘A Shirley Poppy’ could speak, it might say, My heart is wide open. I’ve unfurled my petals so you can see it all. Tracing the valleys of light within the crepe-like petals, one imagines photographer Ella McBride responding from behind her single-lens reflex camera, I notice you.”

Inter/National News

Last week, TIME magazine published its list of the year’s 100 most influential people; Kehinde Wiley, Judy Chicago, and JR were three visual artists selected.

Beychella was certainly the event of the last couple of weeks (year? life?), but don’t miss Solange’s video and dance performance that recently took place at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles.

The Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice—“the first public museum and memorial to the victims of racial terror in the US”—will open next week in Alabama.

“There is still so much to be done in this country to recover from our history of racial inequality,” says Bryan Stevenson, the founding director of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), which spearheaded the project. “We can achieve more in America when we commit to truth-telling about our past.”

And Finally

He doesn’t do it for the gram—or the Pulitzer. But this was all of us when rapper and songwriter Kendrick Lamar won the prestigious award this week.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Image: Installation view of Jono Vaughan: Project 42 at Seattle Art Museum, 2018, photo: Natali Wiseman.
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10 Surprising Facts About Artist Mickalene Thomas

If you’ve visited Figuring History: Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas you’re probably as enamored as we are with the larger-than-life paintings hanging in our galleries right now. This month, we’re putting the spotlight on Mickalene Thomas! Learn more about the woman behind the bright patterns, bold colors, and rhinestones with 10 surprising facts about the artist.

1. She painted First Lady Michelle Obama’s first individual portrait in 2008; the painting, titled Michelle O, subsequently went on view at the National Portrait Gallery.

2. Thomas’ mother Sandra Bush, was a fashion model and influenced her aesthetic.

3. In 2011, she participated in an artist’s residency at Monet’s home in Giverny, France.

4. Growing up in the 1970s, Thomas drew inspiration from the bright colors and patterns from her childhood in her art.

5. Her first short-film, Happy Birthday to a Beautiful Woman: A Portrait of My Mother, was about her mother.

6. Fellow artist Kehinde Wiley painted Mickalene Thomas’ portrait for his painting series Trickster.

7. Thomas did a number of odd jobs to support herself in her 20s including fashion modeling.

8. Mickalene Thomas originally pursued a career in law.

9. Thomas ended up getting a BFA in painting at Pratt in Brooklyn and her MFA at Yale.

10. Her commissioned portrait of Solange Knowles was used for the cover of the R&B singer’s 2013 EP True.

If you haven’t visited Figuring History yet, see Thomas’ work through Sunday May 13!

— Nina Dubinsky, SAM Social Media Coordinator

MT Headshot — Topical Cream, 2016, Courtesy of Lyndsy Welgos
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Poster for "Andrew Wyeth: In Retrospect"

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

SAM News

“See Wyeth whole and re-evaluate his stature as an artist,” says Michael Upchurch in his exhibition preview featuring an interview with curator Patricia Junker that appeared in Sunday’s print edition of the Seattle Times. Andrew Wyeth: In Retrospect opens this Thursday.

“Because reproductions of his work circulated far more widely than the paintings themselves, Junker says, few people in recent years have had a chance to take true measure of his achievement. Younger people she talks to know his name, but don’t know the art. The SAM show promises to change that.”

Welcome the return of layers with SAM’s video featuring Haida artist/fashion designer Dorothy Grant talking about her exquisite Raven Great Coat, now on view on the third floor.

Local News

City Arts’ Margo Vansynghel on Pantry by Joey Veltkamp and Ben Gannon, which ran for one night only as the final show of Calypte Gallery.

“The jam became a personal metaphor for loss, and the act of making jam a means of preserving something inevitably slipping through their fingers—‘canning the memory of something that was,’ as Gannon says.”

Seattle Times’ Gayle Clemans invites you to get “[UN]contained” at CoCA’s new artist residency site held in three shipping containers; the first three artists were Anastacia Renee Tolbert, Anissa Amalia, and Edward Raub.

Darren Davis of Seattle Met interviews the inimitable Waxie Moon on the eve of his (non-singing) opera debut in The Barber of Seville at Seattle Opera.

Inter/National News

Behold, 24 newly minted geniuses. OK, they prefer to say “MacArthur Fellows.” Amongst the ranks are painter Njideka Akunyili Crosby, photographer Dawoud Bey, and two authors soon visiting Seattle.

Yes, wire hangings! The innovative wire sculptures of mid-century artist Ruth Asawa are now on view at David Zwirner. Artnet asks: why did this re-appraisal of her work take so long?

Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald will paint the official portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama for the National Portrait Gallery. They are the first black artists commissioned to paint a presidential couple.

And Finally

I think we can all agree that GIFs are an important and moving art form. Now, there’s an instant camera that creates GIFs you can hold in your hand.

– Rachel Eggers, Public Relations Manager

Photo: Natali Wiseman.
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Get to Know SAM’s VSOs: Greg Thompson

A Seattle native, Greg found his way to the Seattle Art Museum after working as a Brick Mason and attaining his Mechanical Engineering degree. His love of art and personable nature make him a popular guard in the galleries. Tabaimo: Utsutsushi Utsushi opened on November 11 at the Asian Art Museum. Her works are mostly digital animation, with four pieces made specifically for this exhibition. Those pieces are based off SAM’s permanent collection pieces that are also displayed throughout the exhibition. Many artists take inspiration from the world around them, including Greg. In the galleries, he’s often drawing depictions of the works currently on display or making caricatures of other VSOs.

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

Thompson: The Italian Room on the fourth floor. The crazy thing about that room is that it was shipped from Italy piece by piece. I could take a nap in there.

Who is your favorite artist?
Kehinde Wiley and Gordon Parks.

What advice can you offer to guests visiting SAM?
Take your time and enjoy the experience.

Tell us more about you! When you’re not at SAM, what do you spend your time doing?
Well when I’m not at SAM, I like to do stuff in my studio like make mix tapes. I like to watch movies and spend time with friends and family. I’m also studying to be a ventriloquist—I can talk while drinking water now!

Katherine Humphreys, SAM Visitor Services Officer

Photo: Natali Wiseman.
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Kehinde Wiley’s Galvanizing Impact

“The history of painting by and large has pictured very few black and brown people, and in particular very few black men. My interest is in countering that absence.”

Kehinde Wiley

Experiencing a meteoric rise on the art scene, Los Angeles native Kehinde Wiley has assumed his place as an influential contemporary American artist. Graduating from the influential Yale School of Art, Wiley received his MFA from the program in 2001. The artist went from the Ivy League to a leading art program—residency at The Studio Museum in Harlem. It was there that a lot of things came together for Wiley in the context of the show he was working on: he found inspiration in the assertive and self-empowered young men of the neighborhood. This kicked off the artist’s serious work in portraiture on modes of representation and the black body.

Installation view of Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic

“It’s almost like he’s looking back into history to envision a new present and a new future,” said Catharina Manchanda, Seattle Art Museum’s Jon & Mary Shirley Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art. Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic is a 14-year retrospective of the artist’s work that features 60 works, including his signature portraits of African American men reworked in the grand portraiture traditions of Western culture, as well as sculptures, videos, and stained glass windows.

Installation view of Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic

The Brooklyn Art Museum organized the exhibition, which is traveling to a number of cities around the country, experiencing a rousing reception. “He’s received a great amount of attention in part because the work is so captivating, but perhaps what adds special urgency to the work are the political discussions Americans have been having over the course of the last year regarding the lives of black men and women in this country,” Manchanda said. “There is so much possibility in this moment. It’s my hope that this exhibition will engage viewers in an important conversation, as well as create a galvanizing experience that will last long after they leave the galleries.”

Installation view of Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic

Wiley does not copy traditional portraiture styles from the 18th and 19th centuries, but rather creates mashups where he’s drawing from many sources, like a jazz artist improvising or a hip hop artist mixing pieces of songs together using different ideas and references. The same process—mining elements and then combining them from various sources—fuels Wiley’s work: classic portraiture styles and floral wallpaper designs from the 19th century, among others, serve as inspiration. Altered in color as much as detailing, these compositions frame and elevate his contemporary subjects.

Also on view in the exhibition is the full length film, An Economy of Grace, which documents Wiley as he steps out of his comfort zone to create a series of classical portraits of African-American women for the first time. The exhibition includes works from this project and highlights Wiley’s collaboration with fashion designer Riccardo Tisci at the couture firm Givenchy to design gowns inspired by 19th- and 20th century paintings.

Don’t miss this exhibition— which closes very soon on May 8! We also invite you to hear from scholar and independent curator Tumelo Mosaka, who will be at Seattle Art Museum on Thursday, April 14, to explore topics related to the exhibition and Wiley’s unapologetic ability to address the historical absence of the black figure by creating portraits of his own desire.

Images: Photo: Stephanie Fink. Installation views of Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic at Seattle Art Museum, Photos: Elizabeth Crook, © Seattle Art Museum.
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Object of the Week: Anthony of Padua

You simply can’t miss the eye-catching posters and banners all over Seattle advertising our next special exhibition, Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic. When you come for the free opening celebration this week—and do come!—you’ll see huge paintings from private and public collections across the world, including a gem from SAM’s own collection.

Anthony of Padua, a painting in the very traditional method of oil on canvas, measures six feet tall by five feet wide. The figure is imposing, the decoration bright and busy. His is an empowering posture borrowed from the aristocratic patrons of art history and conferred to a young person of color. The rococo frills that surround him speak of the joy of excess.

He brings together, as Kehinde Wiley’s work often does, two worlds of swagger. The original swagger portrait (a real term in art history used even by stuffy academics) developed in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries. At the time, those who had the funds to do so might pay an artist to paint them in a very flattering pose, wearing elegant and expensive dress, accompanied by symbols of their knowledge or power. The idea was to show off your status, wealth, and noble character. You wanted to impress those around you and those who would see your painting long after you were gone.

More recently, swagger has been mostly informed by looks, attitudes, and language developed in street culture. Kehinde Wiley’s work picks up on both points of reference, which, when we think about it, are not so different. Urban Dictionary’s top definition describes swagger as “How one presents him- or herself to the world. Swagger is shown from how the person handles a situation. It can also be shown in the person’s walk.” The way to attain it has changed across cultures and across time, but swagger has always been about getting respect by portraying self-confidence. It’s always played out through language, body language, and dress.

To build his new swagger portraits, Wiley has developed a practice of “street-casting” to choose the models for his portraits. Wherever he might find himself looking—and Wiley has taken subjects from places as diverse as Brooklyn and Brazil, India and Israel—he strolls the streets, more or less living his life, but also waiting for a moment of connection with another individual. He’s allowing chance to play a role in selecting who makes it into these paintings, and then onto the walls of a gallery or museum. The models come to the artist’s studio with the instruction to wear everyday clothing and express their personal style. That’s just how the model for Anthony of Padua posed and is portrayed here: with his own coat and patches, teal pants, and octopus necklace.

Anthony of Padua in Seattle Art Museum's European Galleries

Anthony of Padua arrived at SAM in 2013, shortly after he was painted. Here, he was not destined for the Modern and Contemporary galleries, but found his home right away in the European Baroque galleries, surrounded by the likes of Veronese and Anthony van Dyck—one of the most successful to ever do a flattering portrait.

The historical figure who informs the title of SAM’s Kehinde Wiley painting is Anthony of Padua, who lived 1195-1231, and who was canonized in 1232. I like to think that SAM’s painting, if only because it shares his name and a resemblance to another artist’s depiction of him, carries some of the presence and virtues of the saint. In life, Anthony of Padua became known as a devoted student, one with a remarkable memory, and as a convincing, charismatic orator. In the Catholic tradition, he cares for, and hears prayers from, the poor, the elderly, expectant mothers, travelers, and seekers of lost things. Fittingly for us here in Seattle, he is also the patron of fishermen, domestic animals, and mariners.

—Jeffrey Carlson, SAM Collections Coordinator

Images: Anthony of Padua, 2013, Kehinde Wiley (American, born 1977), oil on canvas, 72 x 60 in. Seattle Art Museum, Gift of the Contemporary Collectors Forum, 2013.8, © Kehinde Wiley. Photo: Robert Wade.
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