COVID-19 Update: All SAM Locations Currently Closed »

Muse/News: Suiting up, speaking out, and making art

The Seattle Art Museum wants to acknowledge the lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and other Black people killed by police. We share in the grief, anger, and frustration that their friends, families, and communities are feeling, which has spread across the country and the world. Read more of our response to the recent events.

SAM News

Last week, Stay Home with SAM serves up social justice binge watch recommendations and freeze dances with Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s Trapsprung.

Local News

UW’s The Daily shares that the Jacob Lawrence Gallery has launched the fourth issue of the art journal, MONDAY. All pieces were commissioned and edited by resident artist Danny Giles and tackle the relationship of art to race and democracy.

Seattle Met’s Allecia Vermillion recommends ordering takeout from several Black-owned Seattle restaurants.

The Seattle Times has ongoing coverage of this weekend’s protests of the killing of George Floyd, which had their team of reporters and photographers in the streets covering it as it happened. Reporters spoke with Andre Taylor, Rev. Dr. Leslie Braxton, Girmay Zahilay, and other protest attendees. They are also asking protestors to share their stories. And columnist Naomi Ishisaka called for police reform.

“Isn’t the midst of a pandemic — especially one that puts extraordinary stress on people experiencing homelessness and poverty, and people of color — exactly when we need more community responsiveness from the police?”

Inter/National News

Watch this short film, commissioned by the Archives of American Art, in which five contemporary artists—Mickalene Thomas, Jacolby Satterwhite, Maren Hassinger, Shaun Leonardo, and Elia Alba—respond to eight questions for Black artists, first posed by Jeff Donaldson in a historic 1967 letter.

Nick Cave’s Soundsuits debuted in 1992 as a response to the beating of Rodney King. In 2016, he recorded an interview with Art21 in which he talked about a new Soundsuit created in honor of Trayvon Martin. Lately he’s been sharing short videos on his Instagram. Read and watch all about his “suits of armor” in this Artnet story. SAM’s collection includes one of Nick Cave’s Soundsuits.

Artist Carrie Mae Weems is launching a new initiative, reports Artnet’s Taylor Defoe, that “draws attention to how the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately hurts African American, Latino, and Native American communities.”

“The death toll in these communities is staggering. This fact affords the nation an unprecedented opportunity to address the impact of social and economic inequality in real time. Denial does not solve a problem.”

And Finally

Dreaming about reading outside together.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Image: Installation view of Lessons from the Institute of Empathy at the Seattle Art Museum. © Seattle Art Museum, Photo: Natali Wiseman. 

Muse/News: New art at SAM, a lavender palette, and Donald Byrd’s America

SAM News

Two installations debut at SAM this week:

Susan Delson previews Exceptionally Ordinary: Mingei 1920–2020 for the Wall Street Journal, interviewing curator Xiaojin Wu about the movement’s “intimate beauty of honest craft.” The show opens on Saturday.

Aaron Fowler: Into Existence “gleefully disrupts standard boundaries between painting and sculpture,” says Seattle Met, recommending the solo show of the 2019 Gwendolyn Knight and Jacob Lawrence Prize-winner as one of the “Top Things to Do This December.” The show opens on Friday.

Local News

Seattle Met’s cover story for December is “The 30 Women Who Shaped Seattle,” including women with connections to SAM such as Guendolen Carkeek Plestcheeff and Zoë Dusanne.

Crosscut’s Agueda Pacheco Flores reports on the Snoqualmie Tribe’s acquisition of Eighth Generation; it was announced concurrent with Governor Inslee’s proclamation of Native Arts Week in Washington State.

The Seattle Times’ Brendan Kiley reviews The Lavender Palette, a new exhibition at Cascadia Art Museum curated by David Martin. It features early- to mid-20th-century gay and lesbian artists from the Pacific Northwest.

“Honestly, I wanted to avenge them,” Martin said. “At Cascadia, you will never see wall text that says ‘Morris Graves and his close friend’ like a lot of museums do — even in New York and Los Angeles, even in Seattle. No. Here you will always see ‘Morris Graves and his boyfriend’ or ‘and his partner.’

Inter/National News

Artnet’s Taylor Defoe reports: The four artists nominated for the 2019 Turner Prize—Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Helen Cammock, Oscar Murillo, and Tai Shani—will receive the award as a collective, at their request.

Artsy gives us a look at Mickalene Thomas’ celebratory new show, Better Nights, at The Bass in Miami Beach, replete with her signature installations and the work of her fellow artists.

“Can Dance Make a More Just America? Donald Byrd Is Working on It” is the fantastic headline in this New York Times profile of choreographer Donald Byrd, timed to the exhibition at the Frye Art Museum.

“Despite the proliferation of dance in museums over the past decade, exhibitions focused on the work of a single living choreographer remain rare. The America That Is to Be presents an in-depth portrait of a bold, enigmatic artist.”

And Finally

Scrolling the deep sea.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Image: Derion, 2018, hot tub cover, wood, children’s cotton and nylon coats, cotton balls, enamel paint, acrylic paint, broken mirrors, theater seats, concrete cement, 115 x 95 x 28 in. Photo: Robert Wedemeyer. Image courtesy of the artist © Aaron Fowler.

Muse/News: SAM on The Advocate, what libraries can do, and a farewell to Gold

SAM News

Project 42: Molly Vaughan is featured on The Advocate! Their post includes the SAM-produced video featuring behind-the-scenes footage of Molly Vaughan in her studio and moments from the pop-up performances held throughout the show’s run. Catch the solo exhibition of the 2017 Betty Bowen Award-winner before it closes on Sunday, August 5.

“A vast and at times splendid show.” Margo Vansynghel of City Arts reviews Double Exposure, exploring its themes of flux, ambivalence, and narrative ownership.

And Frank Catalano of Geekwire explores three examples of how museums are incorporating virtual and augmented reality, including “mesmerizing” examples at Double Exposure.

Local News

Michael Upchurch of Crosscut on what Mickalene Thomas’s mother said that will make you cry at the Henry Art Gallery’s current exhibition.

If you enjoyed the schooling provided by #LibraryTwitter last week, don’t miss Ambreen Ali’s story for Seattle Magazine on how the Seattle Public Library has reinvented itself to be “the community’s great equalizer.”

Cultured Magazine interviews director Nato Thompson on what to expect at the Seattle Art Fair’s fourth edition.

“I feel like this fair will demonstrate a unique blend of sardonic humor, dystopic futurism, historical imagination, indigenous radicalism and a homespun dreaminess.”

Inter/National News

Zachary Small of Hyperallergic reports on the controversy surrounding a Vogue Paris fashion editorial by Juergen Teller that uses the signature aesthetic of Mickalene Thomas.

Lou Cornum for Art in America reviews On Whiteness, the Kitchen’s current show created in collaboration with Claudia Rankine’s Racial Imaginary Institute.

RIP to the beloved Pulitzer Prize-winning food writer Jonathan Gold; Janelle Zara of Artnet offers this remembrance that reminds us that Gold’s poetic writing was partly informed by experiences as a performance artist.

“I had fully intended that, in fact, I would kill the chicken in the midst of this performance. But chickens aren’t that stupid.”

And Finally

If Timothée Chalamet had posed for Caravaggio.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Muse/News: Love at the museum, Afrofuturistic visions, and painting the blues

SAM News

Travel + Leisure was among those sharing the results of OkCupid’s 2018 Dater’s Choice Awards; in Seattle, SAM was singled out as the “Spot That Sparks Conversation.” Come fall in love at the museum!

Wall Street Journal subscribers: Don’t miss this review by photographer William Meyers of New Topographics, an installation now on view on the museum’s third floor.

Jeffrey Gibson: Like A Hammer is now on view at the Denver Art Museum and heads to SAM early 2019; Kealey Boyd of Hyperallergic dives into questions found in the exhibition.

“Does it make sense to distinguish Native American art today from other contemporary art? Does the category perpetuate generalizations and patterns of thinking? By blurring Native and non-Native elements, Gibson keeps these questions alive and insures that the art remains central to our answers.”

Local News

If you miss Mickalene Thomas like we do at SAM, go see the new show at the Henry Art Gallery. Margo Vansynghel of City Arts interviewed the artist about her intimate show that features photography, video, and one of the artist’s signature “living room” installations.

Brangien Davis of Crosscut on Coming Soon, an installation appearing across several Central District parks of construction notice-like signs that appear like “Afrofuturistic visions of a dream deferred.”

Emily Pothast has a fantastic story on Hyperallergic about AFTER LIFE (what remains) at Alice Gallery, a recent group show featuring Indigenous and Asian Pacific American artists.

“What does it mean to own the land? In a nation founded on violence against indigenous peoples, the question invites us to examine our own complicity in perpetuating that violence. Ownership is a powerful designation, and yet it is ultimately fleeting when we consider the possibility of mass extinction. Perhaps the only way to truly inhabit a place forever is to haunt it.”

Inter/National News

The New York Times continues its important Overlooked obituary series, revisiting the fascinating and tragic life of Amrita Sher-Gil (1913–1941), who they call a “pioneer of modern Indian art.”

“That was Sacha Baron Cohen? What a nutcase. God bless him.” I gotta give this round to Christy Cones. Artnet’s Naomi Rea on how the Laguna Beach art consultant fared on the comedian’s new show, “Who Is America?”

Antwaun Sargent for Artsy interviews Henry Taylor, the 60-year-old Los Angeles-based artist whose first major monograph about his work (once called “the visual equivalent of the blues”) is due out this fall.

“Throughout his career, Taylor has remained committed to uncovering stories—about his family, about black people, about power and despair. ‘My painting is about…trying to be about some love shit, you know what I mean?’ the artist said.”

And Finally

Barbara Kruger for New York Magazine.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Photo: Robert Wade

Muse/News: Storme’s cover, Mickalene’s inspirations, and Artemisia’s revenge

SAM News

Hot off the press! On the cover of the current edition of Real Change: Will Wilson’s tintype portrait of artist Storme Webber. Don’t miss Lisa Edge’s review of Double Exposure inside the paper.

“Displaying Curtis’ work alongside contemporary Native artists is part of a growing shift among art institutions, which are becoming more critical of themselves and inviting visitors to do the same. They are becoming more conscious of who is telling the narrative.”

And the exhibition and SAM are both referenced in this New York Times story by Ted Loos on changes at the Art Gallery of Ontario spearheaded by their curator of Indigenous art—and how they reflect changes happening at museums across the U.S. and Canada.

Also: Seattle Business Magazine interviewed SAM director and CEO Kim Rorschach for this feature story on how to collect art; SAM Gallery is also included as a resource for art buyers.

“Most galleries are happy to let you pay over time. And you may need to try out something at home before committing. Says Rorschach: ‘It’s just about having an honest and forthright conversation.’”

Local News

Brendan Kiley of the Seattle Times reports on the future of Pivot Art + Culture, which once presented works from Paul Allen’s private art collection; it will soon house a “putt-putt pub.”

City Arts has a great round-up of visual arts picks, including quilts of Gee’s Bend at the San Juan Islands Museum of Art and photography by and inspiring to Mickalene Thomas at the Henry Art Gallery.

John Stang of The Globalist on The Sea Mar Museum of Chicano/a Latino/a Culture, set to open early 2019 in south Seattle. It will be the “first major museum devoted to Latino history in Washington State.”

“’Latinos have made incredible contributions, not only to the economy, but to the citizens of Washington state,’ said Erasmo Gamboa, a professor emeritus of history at the University of Washington and one of the leaders of the museum project.”

Inter/National News

Those production values tho! Watch this “My Favorite Artwork” video by the New York Times Magazine in which artist Glenn Ligon discusses a self-portrait by Adrian Piper.

Artnet’s Sarah Cascone reports that the Association of Art Museum Directors has launched a paid internship program at museums across the U.S. in an effort to diversify museum staffs.

The Telegraph announces that the National Gallery has acquired a self-portrait by Renaissance artist Artemisia Gentileschi; it is only the 21st painting by a female artist in the gallery’s permanent collection of 2,300 works.

“One of a handful of women who was able to shatter the confines of her time, she overcame extreme personal difficulties to succeed in the art of painting. This picture will help us transform how we collect, exhibit and tell the story of women artists throughout history.”

And Finally

Seattle Met on the local champions of French fry artistry. (Ed. note: The ones at Presse are best.)

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Photo: Nina Dubinsky.

Muse/News: Basquiat Unpacked, Public Poetics, and The Magic of The Shirelles

SAM News

The latest episode of Seattle Channel’s ArtZone features their interview with curator Catharina Manchanda about Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Untitled.

Artsy debuts their “Vanguard” series, recognizing influential contemporary artists at various points in their careers. Gwendolyn Knight and Jacob Lawrence Prize-winner Sondra Perry is included among the “newly established”—artists at “crucial tipping points in their careers.”

Los Angeles-based magazine Riot Material reviews Figuring History, in advance of its closing on May 13.

“Figuring History is as visually stunning as it is historically significant. For Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall and Mickalene Thomas, the show is validation that they succeeded in their passionate quest to make themselves visible. These artists matter and their art will be a beacon for us all, for those who write the histories and create the shows and for those are able to see themselves represented in museums for perhaps the first time.”

Local News

Seattle Times has the first look at the Nordic Museum as it prepares for its grand opening this weekend.

The Stranger staff picks their top 15 art shows in Pioneer Square for the month of May.

City Art’s Margo Vansynghel reviews A LONE, a series of 10 public artworks across the city co-curated by Vignettes and Gramma Poetry.

“Dealing with themes such as gentrification and the mass media’s (biased) coverage of the events in Charlottesville, the works in A LONE blend poetry and visual art and speak to the intricacies of being alone in a big city full of people. ‘You’re alone together,’ Stinson says. ‘That’s kind of a fascinating thing.’”

Inter/National News

The fun we’re not having at Frieze: Roberta Smith of the New York Times goes on the hunt for “artistic gems” at the annual art fair. (There’s a shout-out to Everyday Poetics artist Sonia Gomes!)

The American Antiquarian Society has digitized 225 photographs of Native people; taken decades before Edward S. Curtis began his project, these photos “represent the chapter one of the photographic history of Native people.”

The Baltimore Museum of Art has an “absolutely transformative” plan for their collection: deaccessioning works by artists such as Andy Warhol, Franz Kline, and Robert Rauschenberg in order to acquire works by contemporary artists who are women and artists of color.

“’The decision to do this rests very strongly on my commitment to rewrite the postwar canon,’ Bedford told artnet News. And while institutions sell art to fund new acquisitions every so often, the BMA’s latest deaccession stands out. ‘To state it explicitly and act on it with discipline—there is no question that is an unusual and radical act to take,’ Bedford says.”

And Finally

I will still love them tomorrow—and forever. The New Yorker’s Elon Green interviews Beverly Lee of The Shirelles about a “magical ten seconds” of the legendary group.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Photo: Installation view of Basquiat—Untitled at Seattle Art Museum, 2018, photo: Natali Wiseman.

Poet Morgan Parker on Mickalene Thomas, Beyonce, and Figuring History

As National Poetry Month comes to a close, if you’re not sure what to read, visit the library inside of the exhibition Figuring History: Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas, closing May 13. While there you’ll notice a book of poetry by Morgan Parker titled There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé (Tin House, 2017). It’s a recent favorite read of this particular copywriter and the cover of the first edition (now sold out) featured a Mickalene Thomas artwork. More importantly, within the pages of this smart, irreverent, and deeply personal collection of poetry is a piece inspired by Thomas, reprinted below! Morgan Parker simultaneously brings great depth to listening to Drake and immense weight to racial discrimination as she fearlessly invokes generations of social injustices within her powerful and playful prose. Parker stopped by the exhibition while visiting Seattle and shared some thoughts on Figuring History as well!

We Don’t Know When We Were Opened (Or, The Origin of the Universe)
after Mickalene Thomas

By Morgan Parker

A sip of liquor from a creek. Saturday syndicated
Good Times, bare legs, colors draped like
an afterthought. We    bright enough to blind you.
Dear anyone, dear high-heel metronome, white
noise, hush us, shhhhh, hush us. We’re artisinal
crafts, rare gems, bed of leafy bush you call
us           superfood. Jeweled lips, we’re rich
We’re everyone. We have ideas and vaginas,
history and clothes and a mother. Portrait-ready
American blues. Palm trees and back issues
of JET, pink lotion, gin on ice, zebras, fig lipstick.
One day we learned to migrate. One day we studied
Mamma making her face. Bright new brown, scent of Nana
and cinnamon. Shadows of husbands and vineyards,
records curated to our allure, incense, unconcern.
Champagne is how the Xanax goes down, royal blue
reigning. We’re begging anyone not to forget
we’re turned on with control. We better homes and gardens.
We real grown. We garden of soiled panties.
We low hum of satisfaction. We is is is is is is is is
touch, touch, shine, a little taste. You’re gonna
give us the love we need.

SAM: Reading We Don’t Know When We Were Opened there’s a lot of assonance that creates repetition and fragmentation that feels to me like a sonic equivalent to Mickalene’s visual fragmentation. What in Thomas’ work inspired you and this poem, formally or thematically?

Morgan Parker: I’ve always loved Mickalene’s work, for the glitter and the color and the attention and the audaciousness. Her work is a celebration, and it’s also a politically intentional decolonization of the art history canon. She builds new worlds and revels in those worlds. I wanted my poem to reflect her work and add to it, translate it in my own words.

How do you think the persona poem and the way that Mickalene Thomas casts her models as art historical figures and tropes relate? Mickalene’s figures are looking right at you and this alters their role—makes them dimensional, such as in a painting like Tamika sur une chaise longue avec Monet. Where do you think that same dimension lives persona poems?

God I love this painting. I like to think of all my first-person poems as playing with dimensionality. I’m interested in using the singular figure, or voice, to call up cultural figureheads and historical tropes. Persona poems are an extension of that—they have two first-person speakers.

What stuck with you from your visit to the exhibition? Any lingering or new thoughts?

Kerry James Marshall’s Souvenir I always makes me cry. It was also fantastic to see Robert Colescott’s work in person, as I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. I love the way it engages stereotypes and recasts history so playfully and comically. In a different way than Mickalene, there’s trickery in acknowledging the audience’s gaze—that’s something I’ll be thinking over for a while.

 

Morgan Parker is the author of There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé and Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me Up at Night. In 2019, a third collection of poems, Magical Negro, will be published by Tin House, and a young adult novel will be published with Delacorte Press. Her debut book of nonfiction will be released in 2020 by OneWorld. Parker is the recipient of a 2017 National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship, winner of a Pushcart Prize, and a Cave Canem graduate fellow. She is the creator and host of Reparations, Live! at the Ace Hotel. With Tommy Pico, she co-curates the Poets with Attitude (PWA) reading series, and with Angel Nafis, she is The Other Black Girl Collective. She lives in Los Angeles.

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

Images: Photo courtesy of Morgan Parker. Photo by Nina Dubinsky. Video: Tamika sur une chaise longue avec Monet, 2012, Mickalene Thomas, Sydney & Walda Besthoff, Courtesy of the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong, © Mickalene Thomas. Photo courtesy of Morgan Parker.

Personal Histories: Community Connections to Figuring History

“So often Black women are made small and the idea of expanding into an exhibition that is so large and so inviting and welcoming is incredible and awe inspiring to see a reflection of myself so large in the world.” – Imani Sims, poet and Central District Forum for Art and Ideas curator

Figuring History: Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas is a chance to reflect on your personal history as well as art history and American history. Take a tip from our Personal Histories video series and spend some time at SAM thinking about how you connect to the work on view because of the history that impacts you. Figuring History brings together three generations of contemporary American artists, whose work challenges a Western painting tradition that underrepresents people of color. The vibrant and monumental paintings by these artists offer bold perspectives on Black culture and representation. Presented together for the first time, the figurative paintings of ColescottMarshall, and Thomas are shaped by distinctive historic events, unique in style, and united in questioning the narratives of history through Black experience. The exhibition closes May 13, so don’t delay!

Looking for more videos related Figuring History? Check out Youtube to hear from the artists!

“Storytelling is very important in hip-hop and I feel like with [Kerry James Marshall’s] pieces that he has in this room, he’s taking the stories and interpreting it in his way and then also giving the next generation something to look at.” – Stasia Irons, rapper and KEXP DJ

“I immediately recognized what I was seeing as happening in my own neighborhood back home in Mississippi.” – Marcellus Turner, City Librarian of Seattle Public Library

Featured artworks: Tamika sur une chaise longue avec Monet, 2012, Mickalene Thomas, rhinestones, acrylic, oil, and enamel on wood panel, 108 x 144 x 2 in., Sydney & Walda Besthoff, Courtesy of the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong, © Mickalene Thomas Memento #5, 2003, Kerry James Marshall, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri, © Kerry James Marshall. School of Beauty, School of Culture, 2012, Kerry James Marshall, Birmingham Museum of Art, © Kerry James Marshall

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

SAM News

Artnet interviewed Catharina Manchanda, SAM’s Jon & Mary Shirley Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art, for this piece on the different paths to success as a curator of contemporary art.

KOMO’s Seattle Refined also interviewed Catharina for this story about the Jean-Michel Basquiat painting now on view at SAM.

AFAR Magazine highlighted Figuring History: Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas on their list of “10 Art Exhibitions in the U.S. Worth Traveling for This Spring.”

Blaxploitation films, Carrie Mae Weems, and the female gaze: Dazed profiles Figuring History artist Mickalene Thomas.

Local News

“I’ve seen orcas. Twice!” City Arts’ Margo Vansynghel reports that the next arts hub might be just across the water—in Bremerton.

Brangien Davis of Crosscut talks with Victoria Haven about Banner Year, an installation in the windows of her South Lake Union studio that beams out messages to passing motorists like “MONEY BALL” and “CULT CLASSIC.”

Lisa Edge of Real Change on the Tacoma Art Museum’s current exhibition, Native Portraiture: Power and Perception, which addresses issues of identity by juxtaposing older and contemporary works alongside each other.

“’We can say, let’s look at this artwork and appreciate the work that the artist has done to create this, but let’s use a contemporary lens to unpack where these artists were coming from and why they painted the work in this manner,’ said curator Faith Brower. ‘Thankfully our views have now changed over time so we can see this work and critique it in a way that they weren’t capable of critiquing it in the time it was made.’”

Inter/National News

Still “seat of the Muses”? Mitchell Kuga of Hyperallergic explores the trend of adopting the name “museum” to describe commercial enterprises.

Sara Cascone of Artnet interviews author Joy McCullough about her novel on the incredible life of Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi; notably, McCullough used the 400-year-old court records of the trial of the artist’s rapist.

Jason Farago of the New York Times on Beyond the Fall, the current show at New York’s Neue Galerie that explores connections between art and German political history.

“Such was the reality of German and Austrian art, and German and Austrian society, in the initial years of Nazi rule: the awkward coexistence of fascists, democrats and Communists, who heard the rhetoric, who witnessed the hatred, but who still could not see how much horror lay ahead.”

And Finally

“How are we meant to feel about art that we both love and oppose?”

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

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