First things first, no rollerblading and don’t sell vape juice in the galleries.
Seriously though, we want you to have a great visit to SAM and with Remix (SAM’s late-night, creative night out that is definitely not a party) coming up on Friday, November 15 (tickets are still available, FYI), Weird Dog Productions is here to help outline how to behave at our museum.
Don’t touch the art, leave your selfie sticks at coat check, stay hydrated at the water fountains, and you’ll be an art influencer in no time. And remember, the Seattle Art Museum appreciates you!
Chagall was a prolific artist, producing numerous pieces in a variety of media.
Renowned for his richly colored, idiosyncratic style of painting that weds
abstraction and Cubism, some of his lesser-known masterpieces revolved around
the theater. Chagall’s relationship with the stage began in 1911, when he
worked on set designs for the Ballets Russes. He continued to contribute to
Russian-based stage designs throughout the ‘20s, before moving to Paris in
this was an artistically productive period for Chagall, the Nazi occupation of
France made living in Paris unsafe for the artist, who was Jewish. With the
assistance of organizations working to extricate artists and intellectuals from
Europe, Chagall and his wife immigrated to New York for the duration of World
War II, arriving in the United States in 1941.
1942, Chagall was hired by the Ballet Theater of New York to design the ballet
costumes and sets for a new play. Based on the poem “The Gypsies,” by Alexander
Pushkin, the ballet Aleko featured music
The ballet follows the story of Aleko, the protagonist who falls in love with a
Romani girl named Zemfira. Their love is not everlasting, however, and by the
fourth act Aleko kills Zemfira and her new lover in a fit of jealous rage. While
Chagall had worked on set designs before, this was the first time he applied
his skills to a ballet. He ultimately designed four backdrops—one for each act—and
over 70 costumes. While the ballet’s production was to be completed in New
York, union rules forbade Chagall from painting his own sets. As a result,
production moved to Mexico City, an environment which greatly influenced
Chagall’s designs. Heavily inspired by both Russian folklore and Mexican art
and architecture, Chagall produced beautifully whimsical hand-painted ballet
costumes and backdrops, including numerous design studies.
Study for Aleko’s Horse is one such
study, merging images from both the second and fourth acts of the play. The
study’s rich, vibrant colors and whimsical subject matter capture the dynamic
and psychological aspects of the story. In the second act, which revolves
around a lively carnival, Aleko and Zemfira are still in love. By the fourth
act, Aleko dreams of strange and nightmarish fantasies, with images that twist
and swirl before his eyes. Aleko’s nightmares take him to the brink of insanity—and,
jealous and enraged, he kills Zemfira, in love with another man.
The juxtaposition of these two scenes represents the dramatic turn of events, synthesized
in Chagall’s study as a densely layered, colorful dreamscape.
Image: Study for Aleko’s Horse, 1953-56, Marc Chagall, Oil on canvas, 18 × 24 in. (45.7 × 61 cm), Gift of Gladys and Sam Rubinstein, 2014.26.9 Estate of Marc Chagall/Licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY
Check out the October SAM Gallery show, Mapping the Grid before it closes October 31! Nina Tichava is one of four artists featured, all of whose work responds to maps, grids, and geometry. Tichava uses painting and printmaking techniques, to interweave drawing and collage with a variety of media, including paint, charcoal, ink, tape, ballpoint pen, canvas, and metal. She is a process painter, who creates paintings without a set plan or narrative.
In the works from her Mapping Series at SAM Gallery, Nina says “I was able to source nautical maps of the Pacific Northwest sound, and I had two large, vintage maps of Washington State in my studio. I’m a constant and compulsive collector of vintage maps, papers, postcards, wallpaper, photographs, posters . . . it goes on and on. I’m always searching thrift stores, garage sales and vintage shops, especially when traveling. I also hunt for materials on eBay, mainly when I’m looking for something specific.” Many of the maps in her work at SAM Gallery feature Pacific Northwest locations, such as downtown Seattle, Gray’s Harbor, and the Hood River. As an environmentalist and conservationist, Tichava is also working to help protect the locations shown in her maps. Tichava sells works on her website to support environmental charities, such as the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council. She was raised by hippy parents in rural New Mexico and Northern California and spent most of her adult life on the West Coast, where awareness of things like water conservation, clean air, and environmental impact are part of the culture and prioritized. She believes that “as climate change intensifies, and everyone is thinking about how to handle the complexities, I feel like it’s a small but tangible way I can participate and contribute to a solution.”
On top of the maps, Tichava applies numerous overlapping layers of stripes, painstakingly painted with a brush and individually applied strips of tape. “Reproduction and repetition being central themes, my paintings are responses to things mass-produced and processed to an ideal. My paintings are, by nature, imprecise and hand-made objects. Perfection is unattainable therefore each piece is unique—it is this inherent quality that continues to engage me in painting.” The Mapping Series was developed in collaboration with SAM Gallery and for many years was exclusive to the gallery. The idea came from a design project Tichava began in South Lake Union, and grew from there, encouraged by Jody Bento and the many collectors who have supported this series for years. See it for yourself!
In addition to their
booth-to-booth coverage of this past weekend’s Seattle Art Fair, Crosscut has
pieces by Emily Pothast and Margo Vansynghel examining the various outcomes of the Fair on
the local art scene.
“The festival will
highlight ‘artist-driven portraits of identity,’ which will take many forms
including visual art and performance, according to co-curator and dance artist
David Rue. ‘We’re using this approach so that artists can provide a
counterpoint to the dominant narrative told about people that look like them
while celebrating the power of culturally responsive rigor.’”
“What Does Radical Love Look Like?” Hyperallergic’s Seph Rodney explores that
question at the Ford Foundation Gallery’s latest show, featuring work by
Athi-Patra Ruga, Lina Puerta, and Ebony G. Patterson.
‘”This is someone
becoming — finding themselves, finding their voice, finding their practice,’
Ms. LaBouvier said. ‘I didn’t want to make him into a myth, or make him into a
sort of trauma-porn story either. And I thought the best way to do that was to
take a step back and let him speak for himself.’”
“I’ll keep saying the same thing I’ve said for years: Any time you have a
concentration of talent, wealth, innovation and quality of life, you’ve got all
the ingredients for a renaissance, of a revolution, of a movement. But somehow,
we just haven’t been mixing them right.”
“Art and violence
have for an eternity held a strong narrative grip with each other … To have
the Rumors of War sculpture
presented in such a context lays bare the scope and scale of the project in its
conceit to expose the beautiful and terrible potentiality of art to sculpt the
language of domination.”
“I needed to let go
of whether I was an artist or not, and I needed to pursue the things that I
want to see existing in the world that don’t exist. What are the things that
would leverage this world that didn’t meet my expectations?”
Celebrated Brazilian artist Regina Silveira has debuted a new
site-specific installation at the Olympic Sculpture Park’s PACCAR Pavilion
called Octopus Wrap. A glimpse of the
installation process was captured by the Seattle Times’ Alan Berner. Seattle Met and Crosscut also previewed the
installation, which features a series of tire tracks wrapping around the walls,
windows, and floor of the building, looking like the arms of an octopus.
change to the familiar park building embodies elements of play, but also
reminds us of the luxury of presuming our surroundings will always stay the
“By the top of the stairs, the macaron begins to bobble; on the
penultimate step, it leaps to its death, in its final act somehow managing to
shatter on the soft carpeting. A man seated at one of Canlis’ well-spaced,
snowy-white-linened tables regards me with a mixture of pity and horror.”
But is it CAMP? The
Met’s latest exhibition—and attendant over-the-top Gala—has everyone reaching
for their undergrad copy of Sontag. Herearesomethoughts.
“She said her
legacy is in the work of her students,” notes Ikemoto. “Even when they didn’t
have money to buy their own art supplies, she let them use hers. She often
said, ‘I know much I was put down and denied, so if I can teach these kids
anything, I’m going to teach it to them.’”
“Approach the art, do not cross the line, look, turn to your friend and say, ‘my kid could do that,’ and then walk away!” – Carla Rossi
Follow Carla Rossi, an immortal trickster and your unofficial tour guide through Jeffrey Gibson: Like a Hammer. Gibson’s contemporary art combines powwow, pop culture, and punching bags to explore what modernity means within Indigenous cultures. Carla Rossi combines drag, clowning, and entitlement to address complacency, and the confusion of “mixed” identities. See through Carla’s eyes when you visit Like a Hammer.
This video is one of a series presenting Northwest Native American artists responding to Gibson’s work. The character of Carla was created by Anthony Hudson, a multidisciplinary artist, writer, performer, and filmmaker. Hudson, a member of the Grand Ronde tribe, started performing as Carla as an art project in 2010 and has since turned Carla into a full-fledged persona, body of work, and occupation. Hudson prefers the term “drag clown” over “drag queen” because he’s not trying to emulate women. Carla is a tool for critique. When he performs as Carla, Hudson wear whiteface in direct allusion to whiteness, clowning, and as a critical inversion of blackface.
Jeffrey Gibson believes, “everyone is at the intersection of multiple cultures times, histories. . . . that there’s a lot more to be gained at the space in between mapped points then there is at the mapped points. . . . I’m always looking for these in-between spaces of things.” Similarly, Anthony Hudson (Grand Ronde), is interested in “in the edge – that line between satire and sincerity, between critique and reification—as a site where transgression and transformation occur.”
Jeffrey Gibson is of Cherokee heritage and a citizen of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. He grew up in urban settings in Germany, South Korea, the United States, and England, and his work draws on his experiences in different cultural environments. In his artwork, materials used in Indigenous powwow regalia, such as glass beads, drums, trade blankets, and metal jingles, are twined together with aspects of queer club culture as well as the legacies of abstract painting. Jeffrey Gibson: Like a Hammer is a major museum exhibition presenting a significant selection of this contemporary artist’s exuberant artwork created since 2011. The presentation in Seattle closes on May 12.
Ancient Andean cultures used complex recording devices known as quipu, fashioned from tally cords, which
allowed for the communication and recording of information essential to daily
life. The quipu were essential tools
for many Andean communities: they were a medium that enabled reading, writing,
and, importantly, remembering. Such Indigenous practices nearly disappeared due
to colonial suppression. Not unlike the quipu,
the Cuna mola—or blouse—produced in
the San Blas Islands represents the resilience of a community in the face of
The Cuna Indians are an Indigenous people who live along the Atlantic
coast of Panama and Colombia. In the 16th century they were driven by the
Spanish from their original home in Colombia, and moved west toward the coast. Mola, as we know them today, evolved from
elaborate body painting. In the mid-18th century, when European settlers
introduced cloth to the region, women began to wear simple blouses, painting
them with natural dyes in the same manner they had previously decorated their
To make these elaborate blouses, an artist—importantly a woman—begins
with multiple pieces of different colored cloth, and bastes one on top of the
other. After cutting multiple designs, the maker then hems the edges with fine
stitches. From there additional elements are added, such as embroidery,
positive appliqué, or incisions that reveal the layers of cloth below. This
reverse appliqué technique is an intricate and time-intensive process that has
been mastered and handed down from generation to generation.
The history of the mola is
inextricable from the history of colonialism in Latin America. It evolved in
spite of European contact and continues to be shaped by contact with non-Native
people today. For example, traditional Cuna designs—on both the body,
originally, and the blouses—include abstracted linear patterns, stylized flora
and fauna, and figures from Cuna mythology. When interactions with outsiders
increased due to the construction of the Panama Canal, motifs such as
trademarks, slogans, and American products appeared. Further, in the first
decades of the 20th century, the Panamanian government tried to ban many Cuna
customs, including their language and traditional dress. A resistance was
mounted, and in 1925 the Dule Revolution resulted in the autonomy of the Cuna
people, granting them the right to govern their own territory and culture
autonomously. The mola can thus be
seen as a vibrant textile tradition that represents the strength and resilience
of the Cuna people.
– Elisabeth Smith, Collection & Provenance Associate