All posts in “Museum”

Tumba Francesca Album Cover

Faith In Analog

Until recently my attachment to records has been more or less superficial, but when I started buying ethnographic records a couple years ago I began to see how they are loaded with cultural significance for both the listener and the cultures producing them. On one such recording, entitled Afro-Cuban Music from the Roots: Tumba Francesca la Caridad de Oriente (subtitled “percussion and voices traditional and experimental”), I heard how a musical performance can be hugely influential to both the tangible and spiritual elements of a culture’s identity. Now, after being a part of the Record Store project and meeting luminaries such as Seattle’s own DJ Riz, known for his role in the independent radio station KEXP, I can firmly say, and I don’t think I’m alone here, Records are my religion.

Afro-Cuba – Tumba Francesca. 2006. Soul Jazz Records. Personal photograph by author. JPEG file.

Records are an audio phenomenon in a vinyl medium. Vinyl is a medium formatted to articulate a musical vision and in exchange the music acts as the idea-force behind the record. The idea of the neighborhood record store, now often a rare survivor of a former era, is a space with the power to put these receptacles of music’s most essential qualities into the world.

Records are indeed objects of beauty, and I would go further to say they are objects with allure and seduction. We are drawn to the music and what it evokes in us when we put a record on a turntable. Through the attraction we are able to relive familiar moments from the past or become familiar with new musics of the world. Part of this draw is how records allow us to derive pleasure from a listening experience and the recognition of our own “place” in that moment in time.

In the same vein architectural space may be viewed as “a setting into work of truth through recognition and orientation.” To quote the architectural historian Alberto Pérez-Gómez, “the space of architecture, always elusive and mysterious, is the space in which we may perceive ourselves, if only for a moment, as whole.”[1] In his Timaeus Plato names this space the “chora,” or the third element of reality in which we encounter our “other half.” I saw this happen in the Record Store all the time, especially when a slow jam like Bobby Womack’s T.K.O. made its way onto the speakers.

 1983. The Listening Room, Seattle, WA. 2 March 2012. Personal photograph by author. JPEG file. 

Love Wars by the R&B duo Womack & Womack. 1983. The Listening Room, Seattle, WA. 2 March 2012. Personal photograph by author. JPEG file.

What I see as the real beauty of SAM’s Record Store project is its freedom from monetary distinctions and ability to fully create a Platonic “chora” for anybody who walked through its door. In my own Platonic view – record stores give form to this third dimension of reality in which time becomes endless and determined only by a continuous rotation of sound waves.  The neighborhood record store allowed its patrons this perception of completeness through music. I saw this potential realized by one patron of the Record Store who visited almost every day during extended “breaks” away from his job cleaning the streets in Pioneer Square. For him and the rest of us the Record Store became, in the words of Alberto Pérez-Gómez, “a site of resistance against the collapse of desire that drives Modernist technological utopias.”[2]

Reflecting on my time at the Record Store there is no place I could have better pictured myself after coming out of the ethers of academic life. Although the storefront Record Store is in the process of transformation the idea, like the song, remains the same. In fact you will be able to see the Record Store “popping up” again in the future so stay tuned in to the music.

-Ryan R. Peterson, Curatorial + Community Engagement Intern 


[1] Holl, Steven. 1996. Intertwining. pp. 9-10

[2] Ibid.

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My Internship Backyard Sculpture and Daily Companion

Dear SAM: A Love Letter From a Summer Intern

Dear SAM,

I usually begin letters more eloquently than this. There’s usually a smooth intro, a “how do you do,” a nifty tidbit about my life. But brutal honesty is all that’s coming to mind now and I think we’re now close enough for that. So here it goes: I am going to miss you immensely. And here’s why…

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Submitted by Emily Hicks, SAM's visitor services officer. "Daily commute into downtown."

Beauty Shot Fridays!

From the PR Office at SAM comes a new and fun project called “Beauty Shot Fridays.” In order to promote Beauty & Bounty and Reclaimed, we are asking our Facebook Fans to send us photos in response to a weekly question that is based on themes in the exhibitions.

We will update our question on the SAM Facebook page every Monday by 3pm and submissions will be uploaded to the page every Friday by 4pm. If you’d like to send a photo submission (captions are welcome too!), please email beautyshots@seattleartmuseum.org

Our question this is week is: where do you find beauty and bounty in your day?

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Madeleine on camel outside Seattle Asian Art Museum on June 23rd during Mandala Demonstration

A SAM Intern’s First Visit to the Seattle Asian Art Museum

Monks from Gaden Shartse Monastery in Fuller Room of Seattle Asian Art Museum for Mandala Demonstration

Within the Fuller room, visiting monks from the Gaden Shartse monastery were creating a mandala and will do so over the next few days. Mandalas are a Buddhist form of sacred art that carry spiritual significance. They are made by layering colored sands in an intricate design which usually relates to the dwelling of a diety. The monks vigorously run one chakpur (a bronze funnel that holds colored sand) over the ridges of another chakpur in order to direct the sand into the design.

Gaden Shartse monk making mandala as part of Seattle Asian Art Museum and Dechenling collaboration

Monk prepping chakpur for mandala making.

Once the design is complete, the monks will sweep the sand into a container which will be placed in moving  water such as a river or ocean. So four days of concentrated, intricate work gone in about thirty minutes. Quite a reminder of beauty and its impermanence.

Gaden Shartse monks using chakpurs and colored sands to make a mandala at Seattle Asian Art Museum in collaboration with Dechenling

Continuing through the museum, I repeatedly viewed objects made of nephrite. Upon later research, I learned that nephrite is one of two kinds of jade and usually comes in shades of green, grey, and brown with varying degrees of translucence. My favorite object was a dragon and tiger plaque, made of nephrite in the Ming period (1368-1644). It’s a decorative object, and it made me think about how there was a time that anything functional was expected to be beautiful, that functionality and beauty are not mutually exclusive.

Dragon and tiger nephrite plaque from Ming period at Seattle Asian Art Museum.

Dragon and tiger nephrite plaque.

The displays of ceramics, sculptures, and scrolls were lovely and accessible. The labels gave clarity to the objects they described but still left me with room to interpret and understand the works on my own. I most appreciated this when admiring a woman’s robe from China, ca. 1875-1908. The label mentioned that garments in this era were seen as descriptors of one’s true nature as well as indicative of socioeconomic status. I found this idea inspiring and refreshing as much of what I’ve studied with fashion discusses garments as an act of display of wealth or a purposeful effort to control how others’ interpret us, not necessarily as an indication of our nature.

Chinese, woman's robe from 1875-1908 at Seattle Asian Art Museum.

Woman’s robe.

I definitely enjoyed my time at the Seattle Asian Art Museum. It’s a manageable museum with space that facilitates easy movement from exhibition to exhibition and that contains a diverse range of work characterized by unique perspectives. I enjoyed something in each exhibition: plaques, robes, kimonos, prints, ceramics, and contemporary prints juxtaposed with sculptures and paintings. I plan on going back there and taking some people I know that will likely enjoy it as well.

Front entrance of Seattle Asian Art Museum with camels and art deco doors.

Seattle Asian Art Museum

 

 

Top photo: First camel ride ever.
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