All posts in “New Topograchics”

Muse/News: Man-altered landscapes, erasure poems, and a neon-hued restoration fail

SAM News

Don’t miss part two of Michael Upchurch’s write-ups for Crosscut on smaller installations now on view at SAM: this week, he highlights New Topographics, featuring photographs of “man-altered landscapes,” and American Modernism, which includes two incredible paintings from SAM’s collection by Georgia O’Keeffe and Marsden Hartley.

The fall edition of The Stranger’s Art & Performance Quarterly is out! Lots of SAM shows and events are among their critics’ recommendations, including the exhibitions Peacock in the Desert and Noble Splendor, the annual Diwali Ball, and film events Night Heat: The 41st Film Noir Series and Indian Film Masterpiece: The Apu Trilogy.

Local News

Sarah Anne Lloyd of Curbed Seattle tracks the important news of the Mystery Coke Machine’s sudden public appearances following its recent Capitol Hill dislocation.

Seattle poet Quenton Baker’s Ballast opens at the Frye Art Museum on October 6; Seattle Met’s Stefan Milne interviews Baker about his erasure poems examining the 1841 revolt aboard the Creole slave ship.

Brangien Davis of Crosscut interviews surgical nurse and artist Andrea Gahl about the doctor portraits lining UW’s surgical department hallway—and her new portraits that combat stereotypes about what a surgeon looks like.

“I hope my portraits not only illustrate the diversity of the surgeons I work with,” Gahl says, “But also the myriad ways that that diversity enriches us.”

Inter/National News

TIME Magazine highlights “31 People Who Are Changing the South,” including Bryan Stevenson of the National Memorial for Peace and Justice and Christy Coleman of the American Civil War Museum.

Artnet’s Caroline Goldstein with a round-up of the best and worst of the art world this week, including the discovery of hidden treasure (best) and an eye-popping restoration fail (worst).

The New York Times’ Holland Cotter reviews Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power, which opens today at the Brooklyn Museum and explores expanding definitions of “black” art.

“The stakes were high, the debate could be bitter. But the results were win-win. What we see in the show itself is not suppression but florescence.”

And Finally

Finally some genius made the Pizza Patio Set.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Image: Installation view of New Topographics at Seattle Art Museum, 2018, photo: Stephanie Fink.
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Muse/News: Small but mighty, a black velvet jaguar, and the definitive moment

SAM News

Don’t sleep on SAM: Now on view are several small but mighty installations. Michael Upchurch of Crosscut offers this excellent write-up of In This Imperfect Present Moment, and Seattle Magazine features New Topographics on its list of “13 Best Things To Do in Seattle in September 2018.”

Why, thank you! SAM was voted “Best Art Museum” in Seattle Weekly’s annual “Best of Seattle” readers’ poll.

Sarah Bloom, SAM’s Senior Manager for Teen, Family & Multigenerational Programs and Learning, was interviewed for this ParentMap feature that combines fall arts recommendations for the family with the reasons why exposure to the arts is so important.

“Building the skill of close looking is something we try to instill in children and caregivers together,” Bloom says. “Looking at art is a skill that you build over time.”

Local News

Margo Vansynghel of City Arts speaks with Maja Petrić, whose installation We Are All Made of Light is now on view at MadArt; it’s the latest of her “immersive experiences that get at the core of shared experience.”

Crosscut’s Brangien Davis on the Bellwether Festival, which debuts a revamped format this year with more happenings and a companion show at Bellevue Art Museum; I definitely want to see Tariqa Waters’ giant pack of Quilted Northern.

Emily Pothast of the Stranger reviews Pocket Full of Posies, Juventino Aranda’s first solo museum exhibition, now on view at the Frye Art Museum.

“Aranda’s work follows the magic all the way to its source, pointing to a reality where every manufactured object may be read as a text containing layers of history and meaning.”

Inter/National News

The United States Tennis Association has commissioned artist-designed tennis courts in celebration of the US Open’s 50th anniversary.

Manhattan’s High Line will debut a section devoted to art, with a new commission every 18 months. Up first: Simone Leigh’s Brick House, a 16-foot-tall bronze bust of combining human and architectural elements.

LaToya Ruby Frazier contributes to The Guardian’s “My Best Shot” series; the winner of the 2013 Gwendolyn Knight and Jacob Lawrence Prize talks about how she captured this photo of her “guardian angel” grandmother.

“I set up the camera and the moment she came into the frame, I moved in, sat next to her and asked her to look at the lens. I had no idea what her expression was, I just turned and pressed the shutter release – you can see it in my right hand.”

And Finally

The Louvre can have Beyoncé and Jay-Z; SAM has Saeed and Isaac! Keep an eye out in September for Buzzfeed’s AM2DM road trip stories from Seattle, including their visit to the museum.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Image: Installation view of In This Imperfect Present Moment at Seattle Art Museum, 2018, photo: Natali Wiseman.
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Object of the Week: Aerial View, Tulsa, Oklahoma

There is something peculiar about the way we attribute the clarity of some photographs to the world itself. I try to reinforce that paradox by making photographs that convince the viewer that those revelations, that order, that potential for meaning, are coming from the world and not the photograph.

– Frank Gohlke, 1979

Aerial View, Tulsa, Oklahoma is a photograph by American photographer Frank Gohlke, taken in 1981. One of 10 artists included in the groundbreaking 1975 exhibition New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape, Gohlke emerged as an important voice challenging then-prevailing trends in modern photography.[1] Working against romanticized depictions of nature, Gohlke and others in the exhibition produced photographs described by the curator, William Jenkins, as “eschewing entirely the aspects of beauty, emotion and opinion.”[2]

Though Jenkins felt otherwise, one could certainly argue that Gohlke’s Aerial View, Tulsa, Oklahoma is in fact a beautiful and emotive image. Sure, it is far from the Platonic ideal of nature, but the photograph’s composition—with its nested and overlapping arcs, dramatic shadows, and abstract patterning—contains within it a certain beauty. It might not be Ansel Adams’s Half Dome, but it is a photograph that elevates otherwise banal and unattractive subject matter, poetically calling attention to man’s impact on the natural world.

Importantly, Gohlke and his New Topographics cohort reinforced the notion of landscape as a manmade concept. It is a word and idea predicated on a human subject who turns the land into an object and, artistically, into an image. The very definition of the word hinges on an aestheticized understanding of nature. In Aerial View, Tulsa, Oklahoma, Gohlke deftly mobilizes photography to highlight the extent to which the landscape is indeed a manmade image, as well as an object—or resource—to be taken and transformed.

The “new” American topography on offer in 1975’s New Topographics was no longer unspoiled or pristine wilderness, but a country comprised of suburban sprawl, connecting interstates, and parking lots. Whether or not we find that beautiful is up to us to decide. Luckily, this work and others from SAM’s permanent collection are on view in the upcoming New Topographics exhibition on view in the third floor Modern and Contemporary Galleries.

– Elisabeth Smith, Collections Coordinator

Image: Aerial View, Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1981, Frank Gohlke, gelatin silver photograph, 6 1/8 x 16 in., Pacific Northwest Bell, the Photography Council, the Polaroid Foundation, Mark Abrahamson, and the National Endowment for the Arts, 83.69.5 © Frank Gohlke
[1] The other artists featured in the exhibition were Robert Adams, Lewis Baltz, Joe Deal, Nicholas Nixon, John Schott, Stephen Shore, Henry Wessel, Jr., and Bernd and Hilla Becher.
[2] William Jenkins, New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape (Rochester, New York: International Museum of Photography at the George Eastman House, 1975), n.p.
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