All posts in “SAM Volunteers”

Volunteer Spotlight: Charlotte Beasley

Volunteer Spotlight: Charlotte Beasley

We can’t imagine what SAM would be without our hundreds of volunteers. Besides making the museum run, our volunteers are a talented bunch! Charlotte Beasley, for instance, is a robotics wiz at school and a coat check volunteer at SAM. One of our youngest volunteers, we asked Charlotte to answer a few questions about what it means to her to volunteer at SAM. Read below and share your reaction to the art at SAM with her the next time you pick up your umbrella at the end of your visit!

SAM: What is your current role?

Charlotte Beasley: I am a coat check volunteer at the downtown location.

How long have you been volunteering at SAM?

Since December 2016 (almost a year!)

If you could give only one reason, what do you most like about volunteering at SAM?

My favorite thing about volunteering at SAM is getting happy reactions of guests first hand. At the coat check, I am the first and last person people see, and I can chat with them on how much they loved the exhibits. I love that art makes people happy, and we do a good job of making people happy at the SAM.

Is there a favorite short story relating to volunteering at SAM you would like to share?

There are so many good stories, even though it’s been less than a year. I am on my high school’s robotics team, Reign Robotics. I was working coat check when a group of kids from Top Gun Robotics came in, wearing their team t-shirts. We got chatting about this year’s season, and we ran into each other again at a competition. They remembered me, even when I was out of team uniform when we first met! Small world, huh?

What is your favorite piece of art in SAM’s collection, and why?

I can’t just choose one piece of art, there are too many good ones! I was a huge fan of  Yves Saint Laurent: The Perfection of Style  last year. I visited with my AP French class shortly before I actually started volunteering at the SAM and the different outfits were so colorful and interesting! My family and I are also huge fans of going through European Renaissance art and giving each piece funny alternate titles based on the poses (we love when paintings and statues look like they’re taking selfies).

When not at SAM, what do you do for fun?

I make my own art in my free time (when I’m not playing video games). If you come to SAM on a slow day, you might see me sketching on my Surface. I do a lot of cute, digital art inspired by games, books, movies, etc., and have recently created my own website. Go check it out!

What is something that most people might not immediately know about you?

I am a tiny pacifist, but I also know Kung Fu (only for self-defense purposes, don’t worry!)

What is a simple hack, trick, or advice that you’ve used over time to help you better fulfill your role?

I am just shy of five feet tall, which can make getting large bags out of cubbies or the overhead bins difficult, but not impossible. My strategy is to grab what I can and use gravity and the edge of the cubby to make the bag fall into my arms. This can scare people, since I’m so tiny, but if I do it right, I can carry a lot of bags to the counter. People always apologize for the weight of their bags, but it’s honestly fine; my school books are heavier anyways, so I have lots of practice lifting heavy things!

What are the some steps you take to ensure that you are most effective during your shift?

Charlotte’s Coat Check Plan:

Step One: Look outside to see if it’s raining. If so, expect umbrellas (and lots of them).
Step Two: Sign in.
Step Three: Say “hi” to your fellow volunteers!
Step Four: Analyze the number of bags in the cubbies and ask yourself if you will have to get creative with bag placement or not.
Step Five: Get to work!

– Jenny Woods, Manager of Volunteer Programs

Share
Volunteer Spotlight: Chris Karamatas

Volunteer Spotlight: Chris Karamatas

Because SAM relies on it’s nearly 500 volunteers to make the museum run, we’re taking the time to share a bit about them with you, the adoring art lovers that interact with our volunteers every time you enter our doors, whether you realize it or not. Volunteers at SAM lead tours, check coats, staff the information desk, and more. This month we spotlight Chris Karamatas, a SAM volunteer since 2015.

SAM: What is your current role?

Karamatas: I am excited to be the incoming Chair for the Seattle Art Museum Volunteer Association (SAMVA) Executive Committee. We try to address the needs, and improve effectiveness of each of the dozen volunteer groups, in support SAM’s mission—and ultimately improve our patrons’ experience and appreciation of SAM and art. I am also part of the SAMbassador program, so on Saturdays you might find me in the galleries interacting with visitors.

What are your current favorite pieces?

I’m a bit reluctant to say because it seems every time I really like a piece, that is the harbinger for it being swapped out with one of the other 25,000 pieces in the SAM’s catalogue. My favorites change almost weekly. My current Top 10 pieces of the permanent collection that I am really liking are (in no particular order):

10) Canoe Breaker by Robert Davidson

SAM had a beautiful exhibit of Robert Davidson a few years back, so I am grateful to Barbara, and all the curators who have introduced me to so many artists who I would not otherwise have ever known. I appreciate the form lines of Native American art, and the associated stories. In this piece Davidson merges modern art with traditional native techniques (of form lines and the ovoid and u-shape, ); add those great colors: wow!

9) The Triumph of Valor Over Time by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo

I especially like the freer preparatory sketch we have on display, but then going in to the Porcelain Room and looking up at the ceiling at the finished fresco is stunning. I like the depiction of Valor prevailing over Time (who watches helplessly from the shadows below, his scythe overturned), and over Ignorance (in the lower corner).

8) Aphrodite Torso

Within the stiffness of rock one is able to capture, movement and flow. I am always in awe that over 2,000 years ago as a species we humans were able to create such beauty, and aspire towards certain high ideals. I sometimes wonder what beauty we will leave behind that our descendants will similarly admire 2,000 years from now.

7) Takpekpe by El Anatsui

Based on traditional Kente cloth from Ghana, El Anatsui creates these beautiful glimmering regal textiles from discarded metallic materials like old can pieces, bottle caps, and parts from liquor bottles. I appreciate the reference to his African culture: the significance of cloth which traditionally commemorates significant events, as well as the reference of libations to honor ancestors. But also perhaps a commentary on refuse, abuse, and consumerism.

6) The Orders of the Night by Ansleim Keifer

I am drawn to its scale and textures. In this work the sunflowers represent the stars, and the connection between heaven and earth. There is a companion piece where Keifer is laying on the ground with a star filled sky above.

5) How My Mother’s Embroidered Apron Unfolds In My Life by Arshile Gorky

Gorky created a series of these abstracts helping usher in abstract impressionism here in America. It was a brief moment of relative happiness in an otherwise tragic life, as he recalls memories of his past.

4) Dark Figures with Green by Lester Johnson

Primal, intense, minimal, powerful . . . I can almost picture the artist carving into his canvas in a subtractive manor, perhaps partly influenced by action art of the abstract impressionists, or a reaction to their color fields. And living though the dark times of the Vietnam War, assassinations, etc.

3) Tumbleweed by James Rosenquist

The different materials, overloaded with symbolism. But the cold metal barbed wire, wooden hedgehog barrier, and the light shining within (perhaps spelling something) is like a visual poem to me.

2) Libation by Andre Masson

It’s fresh, it’s colorful, whimsical, and fun. The abstract shapes convey a feeling of perhaps overindulging. I like how Masson experimented with altered states of consciousness and certain fundamental human impulses.

1) Gathering Storm by Lin Onus

The unique perspective (water, land, sky), and how the artist captures dusk—I would love to see the other 11 paintings he did of this same location, but at different times. The combination of different themes, western and Aboriginal in this case, makes this piece special.

(Of course, now that I’ve listed these, another 10 come to mind:

Fishing Boats at Etretat – Claude Monet

Middle Fork – John Grade (not part of the collection, but currently on view)

Puget Sound on the Pacific Coast – Albert Bierstadt

Saint Sebastian Tended by Saint Irene – Georges de la Tour

The Baptism of Christ – Giovanni Foggini

Boys Blowing Bubbles – Michaelina Woutiers

Saint Augustine in Ecstasy – Bartolome Esteban Murillo

Wheat Field – Paul Camille Guigou

Thermometer – Jasper Johns

Two Figures – Emilio Amero

Beyond visual arts, what else inspires you?

When I first moved to Washington I was introduced to local poet Sam Hamill and his collection Destination Zero is still one of my favorites. Films like Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire also move me. The cinematography is beautiful, and his examination of what makes us human and the divine is poetic. I also play guitar and love music. Musician Nick Cave appeals to me (he also appears in the above film). I like a lot of the late 70’s British scene, bands like The Jam. Also like the Icelandic band Sigur Ros.

What is a simple hack, trick, or advice that you’ve used over time to help you better fulfil your role?

I try to always listen, I have learned so much from visitors. I try to be aware of my body language (from not crossing hands, to smiling). Treat people with care and act as if they are guests visiting my house.

Anything else you wish to share?

I just want to express my gratitude to all the outstanding people that make the Seattle Art Museum such a great place; all the volunteers, my SAMbassador colleagues, the SAMVA board, Visitor Services Officers, SAM staff (especially Jenny and Danie), the curators, and of course our director Kimerly. I am always impressed with their generosity, kindness and dedication.

– Jenny Woods, Manager of Volunteer Programs

Share
Lekha Bhargavi

Volunteer Spotlight: Lekha Bhargavi

SAM’s 469 volunteers bring the museum to life in many ways. In return, we want to share a little bit of the lives of our volunteers with you! Volunteers at SAM lead tours, check coats, staff the information desk, and more. Our monthly volunteer spotlight continues with Lekha Bhargavi, a SAM volunteer since 2015.

SAM: What is your current role?

Lekha Bhargavi: I volunteer as a  SAMbassador and currently I’m also the treasurer for SAM Volunteer Association .

How long have you been volunteering at SAM?

I have been volunteering with SAM since October 2015.

How did you become a SAMbassador?

I moved back to Seattle in early 2015 and found a place close to the Olympic Sculpture Park. During one of my first weeks discovering my neighborhood I happened to take a docent tour at the park that was fascinating. Unfortunately, the docent could not show us Neukom Vivarium, since it wasn’t open on that day. Volunteers keep the vivarium open. I went home to look up volunteer openings at SAM and it has been one of the best impulsive thing I ever did. I have been back to the vivarium multiple times since then; we have some amazing volunteers there.

If you had to give only one reason, what do you most like about volunteering at SAM?

The countless opportunities to encounter beauty in people and pieces alike.

Why is volunteering at SAM important to you?  

My day job, while creative, is as far removed from the classical definition of art as one could possibly get. SAM allows me to explore an area of myself that I don’t get a chance to do otherwise. The few hours I spend volunteering gives me a disproportionate amount of pleasure.

What is your favorite piece of art in SAM’s collection, and why?

That’s a really hard question. I have many many favorites, but one that comes to mind today is the “Smoky Sunrise, Astoria Harbor” by Cleveland Rockwell. I find myself going back there a lot to stare at the warm colors, the life on the sea; the quiet of the morning seems tangible when I look at that piece—a quiet gently broken by people on the boats and birds beginning their day.

When not at SAM, what do you do for fun?

I enjoy a lot of things—I love to read,  travel, go to Town Hall lectures, take long walks, and discover the history of places around me. I recently decided to get back to trivia nights (with Catherine, who shares my volunteer shift) and though I find myself woefully, painfully ignorant, I plan to do more of these. I think they are loads of fun! Oh! I also went to my first opera this year, thanks to Laurie, another SAMbassador. Discovering the opera has been a sheer delight.

What is a simple hack, trick, or advice that you’ve used over time to help you better fulfill your role?

I liked the piece of advice my mentor gave me when I first started volunteering; to pick a favorite area in the museum and learn everything about it over time. I chose the porcelain room—though I am a long ways away from knowing everything about the 1,000 pieces in there, I find that I can engage better when I am there. I like walking around the floors and knowing what changed, what was added so that I can help direct our patrons better. I love learning from my fellow volunteers—everyone’s got such a unique perspective and method for their shifts. The great thing is, I’m still learning.

– Chris Karamatas, SAM Volunteer Association Vice Chair

Share
Share