COVID-19 Update: All SAM Locations Currently Closed »

Muse/News: Painting in Motion, Jimi’s Anthem, and Museums’ Role

SAM News

All SAM locations are currently closed until further notice, but we’re still dancing about paintings.

As City of Tomorrow: The Art That Shaped a New Seattle will not reopen to the public, we asked Seattle-based dancers Michele Dooley, Nia-Amina Minor, and Amanda Morgan to reinterpret a work from the exhibition, Cross Section (1956) by Franz Kline. The Stranger’s Jasmyne Keimig shared the video and her reactions (including a perfect soundtrack suggestion).

“In particular, I love the frame above where the crook of Dooley’s elbow and bent hips capture the left side of the painting, while the verticality of Minor’s body captures the right. It’s a dynamic and fun reinterpretation of work that brings new life to Kline’s black and white original.”

Local News

Roxanne Ray for International Examiner interviews Northwest Film Forum executive director Vivian Hua on her two years there bringing together art and social justice.

The Seattle Times’ Michael Rietmulder and Brendan Kiley gather reflections from members of Seattle’s cultural community on last week’s violence at the Capitol Building.

And for her weekly editor’s letter, Crosscut’s Brangien Davis fires up Jimi Hendrix’s iconic Woodstock performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

“Hendrix sometimes called his anthem adaptations ‘This Is America.’ The Woodstock edition is almost straightforward — albeit on a Fender Stratocaster, an American innovation itself — until he reaches ‘the rocket’s red glare.’ That’s when it rips open to reveal the pain and suffering of a nation at war with others, and within.”

Inter/National News

Dance Magazine shares its “25 to Watch” for 2021; on the list are Seattle-based dance artists Amanda Morgan of Pacific Northwest Ballet and The Seattle Project and Nia-Amina Minor of Spectrum Dance Theatre. Don’t miss the embedded video of Minor’s dance response to SAM collection work Trapsprung by Lynette Yiadom-Boakye.

What is the future of museums? Artnet shares excerpts from András Szántó’s forthcoming book in which he interviews museum directors and curators from around the world.

Following last week’s violent events at the Capitol, the American Alliance of Museums, along with a number of affiliates, made a statement about the role museums play in the moment.

“At this dark junction in our nation’s history, museums must lean into their missions and step up to the challenge ahead of us by fighting against white supremacy through educating our communities, building empathy, combating disinformation, and uplifting the stories and voices that have endured in the margins.”

And Finally

The return of Viennetta.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Image: Cross Section, 1956, Franz Kline, American, 1910–1962, oil on canvas, 53 1/2 x 63 in. Seattle Art Museum, Gift of the Virginia and Bagley Wright Collection, in honor of the 75th Anniversary of the Seattle Art Museum, 2020.15.17. © Artist or Artist’s Estate, Photo: Paul Macapia.

Muse/News: Dawn Cerny Wins Award, Venus Suggests Life, and RBG’s Love for Operas

SAM News

SAM announced last week that Dawn Cerny is the winner of the 2020 Betty Bowen Award, an annual juried award for Pacific Northwest artists. Cerny will receive $15,000 and a solo exhibition at SAM in 2021. The Stranger’s Jasmyne Keimig shared the news, as did Artdaily.

Beverly Aarons for South Seattle Emerald interviews Barbara Earl Thomas about her upcoming exhibition at SAM, The Geography of Innocence, which features cut-paper portraits of Black children, many from the artist’s life.

“But she didn’t want to just capture them exactly as they were — she wanted to answer in her work the question, ‘What do I wish for them?’ Thomas didn’t want to talk about what she didn’t want — racism, violence, tragic deaths — but she wanted the work to embody the hope for the children’s futures.”

Tamara Gane for The Washington Post on “art alfresco,” recommending the best sculpture parks in the US to commune with art outside—and leading with SAM’s Olympic Sculpture Park.

Local News

The Stranger’s Jasmyne Keimig and Chase Burns previews four “don’t-miss” documentaries at the upcoming Local Sightings Film Festival.

“Washington State Is All Over the National Book Awards Longlist,” reports Seattle Met’s Stefan Milne. Get reading!

Muse/News really can’t take one more story about penguins visiting locked-down museums. Where are the penguins for SAM?? Anyway, here’s Crosscut’s Brangien Davis with her weekly editor’s letter, where she talks life on Venus, penguins in museums (sob!), and art classes for your health.

“I would argue that the Venus discovery is cultural, in the vein of Carl Sagan’s assertion that we’re all ‘made of star stuff.’ The mystifying connections across our vast universe contribute to the culture we humans create, even if subconsciously, or via some microscopic cellular nudge.”

Inter/National News

Yinka Elujoba for the New York Times on Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle, which “succeeds in making visible, and even visceral, America’s history with the struggle for racial and political equality.” The exhibition is now on view at The Met and heads to SAM early next year.

The Brooklyn Museum made headlines last week when it announced it would sell twelve works from its collection at auction, to support the “management and care” of its full collection. They are the first major museum to take advantage of loosened regulations—due to the difficulties brought on by the coronavirus—around deaccessioning of works.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has passed away at the age of 87, leaving an immense legacy as a scholar, jurist, human—and opera lover. This tribute offers insights into the legal scholar’s intense advocacy for the arts.

“…those kinds of cases she made her career of are the stuff of opera. The underdog, the ill-served character: Manon Lescaut, Violetta, women who have to struggle their way to the top for survival. They connected to her sense of right and wrong and what is a humane way of living.”

And Finally

“A good time for thinking about Francisco Goya is while the world stumbles.”

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Image: The farm that was there and then not, 2020, wood, handblown glass, plaster tape, wire, paint, clay, 27 x 22 x 14 in., Courtesy of the artist, © Dawn Cerny

Muse/News: Basquiat on Film, Poetry on the Radio, and the Digital Hereafter

SAM News

The New York Times’ Glenn Kenny reviews Sara Driver’s new documentary on the young Basquiat. Boom for Real premieres at the Seattle Art Museum on May 18 in partnership with Northwest Film Forum.

“Basquiat’s art — raw, inventive, socially engaged — continues to speak to us even as the artist himself cannot. Near the end of the movie, one of Basquiat’s friends refers to him as ‘a true investigator.’ In Ms. Driver, the artist finds a kindred spirit, a fellow investigator who pays him proper and enthralling tribute.”

Jeffrey Gibson: Like a Hammer opened at the Denver Art Museum on Sunday; Cultured Magazine visits the artist’s studio to discuss his artistic goals and methods. Save the date: the exhibition opens at SAM on February 28, 2019.

“’It’s always been about using my personal narrative to complicate the popular notions of being queer, being gay, being Native American—any of these singular adjectives,’ says Gibson.”

Local News

The Seattle Times’ Moira Macdonald previews this year’s edition of the Seattle International Film Festival—and shares the colorful, analog way the massive schedule is built.

Seattle radio is beautiful this week: KEXP announces OCnotes as their new Sunday night DJ, playing soul, funk, and R&B, and KUOW launches #NewsPoet, which features PNW poets waxing about a news story.

The Station coffee shop on Beacon Hill has new digs, and in their old space across the street will be Estelita’s Library, a “justice-focused community bookstore and library” from UW professor Edwin Lindo.

“’You’ll find books on Latinx identity next to a book about Harriet Tubman, next to Karl Marx, next to a first edition John Steinbeck,’ he says, gesturing toward a packed shelf. Though some of the titles have Dewey Decimal stickers (‘They’re really hard to remove!’ he marvels), the books aren’t arranged in any particular order. Lindo hopes instead that people will make discoveries by proximity, or perhaps by suggestion from someone sitting at the next table.”

Inter/National News

Lessons From the Institute of Empathy artist Jacolby Satterwhite has a solo show at NYC’s Gavin Brown’s Enterprise; Blessed Avenue is a “mythical place created by the fantasies of cyborgs — possibly a digital hereafter.”

Artnet on a new grad program created by LACMA and Arizona State University that allows students to pursue studies while working at the museum—its purpose is to increase diversity in museum leadership, especially curation.

Donald Glover, AKA Childish Gambino, debuted the video “This is America” and everyone watched it (and watched it…); Interview Magazine spoke with the video’s choreographer, Sherrie Silver.

“The video is full of madness and reflects what’s going on in America and around the world right now. The kids and the choir are supposed to be the happy part of that, so there are two different worlds at the same time. Multiple parts of the video are meant to catch the viewer off-guard, with people smiling and enjoying themselves before it goes dark.”

And Finally

Hoping everyone had a wonderful Mother’s Day on Sunday: mothers, departed mothers, in-all-but-name mothers, unjustly absent mothers.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Image: Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

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

SAM News

Lots of love for SAM’s Olympic Sculpture Park: Rachel Gallaher for Surface Magazine sang its praises, Artsy named it one of the world’s greatest sculpture parks, and new Stranger contributor (I better update my press list!) Seth the Miniature Pinscher deems the park a nice place to do his business in the paper’s inaugural dog issue.

KCTS interviewed Catharina Manchanda, SAM’s Jon & Mary Shirley Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art—as well as artist Marita Dingus and gallerist Greg Kucera—for this story on the historical context of the Basquiat painting now on view at SAM.

And here’s a must-read from Emily Pothast for Art Practical on the embarrassment of riches that is two Sondra Perry installations in the Pacific Northwest: ours, and another at Disjecta Contemporary Art Center in Portland.

“Virtual space ‘allows one to build digitally what one cannot build in reality,’ she says in her statement about the Seattle show. The role of science fiction has always been to imagine new possibilities for the future. Once they are imagined, the only remaining challenge is how to build them.”

Local News

Misha Berson for Crosscut asks, “Where are the plays by women?” and answers: right here in Seattle, with a bevy of works by female dramatists debuting this spring.

After five fantastic years, Courtney Sheehan has announced that she’ll be departing as executive director of Northwest Film Forum, says City Arts’ Brett Hamil.

Calling all aspiring, soulful DJs: Jeff Albertson of the Seattle Times reports that KEXP is searching for a DJ for their new Sunday evening show. Also: Shake the Shack is being retired, with Michele Myers and Stas THEE Boss taking over Friday nights.

Inter/National News

The Art Newspaper and others reported on the hiring of Max Hollein as the next director of the Met; here’s a dissenting opinion from Dr. Liza Oliver in the New York Times.

Hyperallergic on the news that ICA Boston has closed an exhibition of Nicholas Nixon photographs early, following allegations of sexual harassment raised by some of his former students.

“Perhaps if you truly want to understand a drawing,” he said, “you have to just eat it.” The New York Times chats with Eduardo Navarro about his new show at the Drawing Center.

And Finally

Spring is here and that means one thing.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Photo: Robert Wade

Pictures and Words: National Gallery by Frederick Wiseman

One of the abiding pleasures of my job is that I get to spend so much time in museums—not just the Seattle Art Museum, but great institutions throughout Europe and the United States. That’s where I spend my business trips, and many vacations too. Working in a museum, I am familiar with the teamwork and myriad decisions that go into creating collection installations and exhibitions. Now a gorgeous new film, Frederick Wiseman’s National Gallery (playing December 5-11 at the Northwest Film Forum), invites viewers to watch the activity behind the scenes at one of the finest collections of European art in the world, London’s National Gallery.

Wiseman edited down hundreds of hours filmed on-site to craft a paean to the art of looking. We observe masterpiece after masterpiece–close-up, within the grand architecture of the galleries, and unframed in the attic conservation studio. We observe people—the professional staff of the Gallery, which includes the director Nicholas Penny, curators, educators, marketing specialists, scientists, framers, conservators, art handlers, maintenance staff—as well as studious visitors who scrutinize these paintings looking for answers or just marveling at the talents of great artists of the past.

In contrast to many documentaries, there is no narration, no interviews, and no identification of the speakers. We take a fly-on-the-wall position and watch the business of the museum unfold in a non-hierarchical way. The closest thing to a dramatic crisis is a series of conversations among museum staff about whether the august Gallery should succumb to marketing opportunities to appear more hip and reach a broader audience. I was fascinated to recognize that the National Gallery–which has free admission and welcomes over five million visitors annually—is as concerned as we are at SAM to understand our audiences and develop programs with their needs in mind. But in a film that lasts nearly three hours, this is just one of many activities that hum through the museum, seemingly no more or less important than installing a new lighting system, managing a blockbuster Leonardo da Vinci exhibition, or conserving paintings.

The curators and conservators have unparalleled knowledge about the works of art in their care, but their conversations here are often quite insular and subtle. For me the heroes of the film are the talented and passionate gallery educators who are marvelously effective in helping visitors to understand what the artist was trying to do all those years ago under circumstances that feel quite foreign to us today. All of these dedicated professionals prize active looking, as does Wiseman. He lets scenes unfold in real time, which will require an adjustment from viewers used to quick-paced, plot-driven films. But patience has its rewards, and in the final scene the film achieves poetry as a pair of dancers perform in an empty gallery before two of the most moving works that Titian ever painted. These wordless moments where music, dance, and painting come together resonate with a power beyond all of the eloquent words that came before.

–Chiyo Ishikawa, Susan Brotman Deputy Director for Art and Curator of European Painting and Sculpture

Image: Courtesy of Zipporah Films.