All posts in “Visitor Services Officer”

David Yamato, SAM VSO

Get to Know SAM’s VSOs: David Yamato

Ever wonder what it’s like to be a Visitor Services Officer (VSO) at SAM? Well, our VSOs are here to tell you. Learn about these familiar faces in the galleries and find out what artworks they spend the most time looking at. This month, we speak with David Yamato! Originally from Houston, Texas, Yamato earned his bachelor’s degree in Illustration from the California College of the Arts in San Francisco. After his graduation, he returned to Houston and worked as an art teacher in the public school system. He decided to start a new career when he moved with his family to Seattle. Inspired by the experience of being surrounded with artwork on the many field trips he took his students on, he jumped at the chance to join the SAM team two years ago.
SAM: Andrew Wyeth: In Retrospect opened October 19. What were you drawn to or surprised by in this exhibition?
David Yamato: The first thing that surprised me is the number of works that are in this exhibition. Looking at a painting felt like meditating to me and there sure is a lot to meditate on here. The second surprise was how much thought and emotion Andrew Wyeth put into every single painting. I highly recommend everyone who comes to see the show joins one of our tours.
What is your favorite piece of art currently on display at SAM?
Although I’m deeply in love with every painting from our Australian Aboriginal collection, I still have to say my favorite thing at SAM is the museum itself. The 2004 to 2007 downtown expansion credited to architect Brad Cloepfil is my favorite part of all. While the building masterfully focuses on and showcases the museum collection, the architecture itself is also a masterpiece of light and space. I really hope more people will notice and talk about the building.
Who is your favorite artist?
My favorite is Vincent van Gogh because behind all the glory, fame, and perfection, the life of an artist can be a very very difficult path to take. As a practicing artist, the story of his life helps and inspires me to keep doing my work. I can’t tell you how many times I have cried when I have seen his paintings in real life.
What advice can you offer to guests visiting SAM?
I remember a patron once asked me the meaning behind some minimalist art on view. I’m still asking myself this question about everything in the museum. Although we might very well find a direct answer in books or from a curator, I think it is very rewarding to search for a personal answer to that question. If you ever feel lost surrounded by all the artworks in the museum, it is time to do some detective work! Look for hints, not just from the artwork and its description, but also in terms of the time period it was made in and its relationship with other works in the museum.
Tell us more about you! When you’re not at SAM, what do you spend your time doing?
I’m a comic book artist who works under a pen name which I prefer to keep secret (If you’re one of the rare few who know who I am, don’t go ruining the fun for everyone!). The styles I’m working in range from mystery to historical fiction to slices of life. I’m also conducting independent research on art censorship with a focus on comics and sequential art around the world. The world of comics is huge and I’m still discovering news and issues from places and countries that I never expected to have this problem. Drop me a note if you know anything interesting in regards to art censorship!
– Emily Jones, SAM Visitor Services Officer
Photo: Natali Wiseman
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Get to Know SAM’s VSOs: Adera Gandy

Meet this month’s Visitor Services Officer (VSO), Adera (uh-dare-uh) Gandy, an actress, performance artist, and muse raised in the small waterfront suburb of Des Moines, Washington. After high school, Adera moved to Washington DC to study acting at Howard University. After two years of higher education, she chose to leave school to explore the city while working a receptionist job and paying for acting classes at The Studio Theatre Acting Conservatory. She moved back to Seattle in 2014 to be close to her family and the refreshing landscape of the Pacific Northwest. Prior to working as a VSO at SAM, Adera worked in admissions at the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPop), formerly known as the Experience Music Project (EMP).

SAM: What are your thoughts on Troy Gua on view at TASTE Café in SAM?

Adera Gandy: Troy Gua’s work is stunning. At first glance I’m sure my pupils dilated. I love how rich the pigments are and the silky texture. The pieces on display are hard NOT to look at. I especially like Mana 2  for the shades of blue and the gradient effect. Every time I’m in TASTE Café, I walk up to that piece and get as close as I can respectfully. It’s nice to have digital print work in the museum for a change and I hope visitors and staff take the time to check it out.

What is your favorite piece of art currently on display at SAM?

Currently, my favorite piece on display is Holy Family with St John the Baptist and Saint Catherine by Antonio Guardi. It’s breathtaking. This painting glows and I love the jewel tones. The image is so soft and pillowy and gold and silver all at once. It seems to be shrouded in mystery, yet so inviting. I often wonder if a secret is being shared and what the figures sound like. It’s just so beautiful.

Who is your favorite artist?

Beyoncé, definitely.

What advice can you offer to guests visiting SAM?

Lose the judgement and open your mind. It’s so easy, as the viewer, to look at a piece of art as if it has to prove something to you. We actually do this with people too. This is something I try to practice while viewing myself: Let the piece be what it is. The artist behind whatever work you’re looking at is human, just like you. Their own thoughts, feelings, memories, experiences, traumas, doubts, dreams, passions, prejudices, fantasies, fears, and wishes went into their creation. Relieve yourself of the burden of “understanding” artworks and simply allow them to live. Resist the temptation to judge what a complete stranger has made as “good” or “bad.” And if you find yourself slipping, challenge your own thoughts and feelings; be honest with yourself about what part of your life’s story has led to feeling angered, aroused, or at peace while viewing a particular painting or sculpture. You might discover something within yourself and develop a more meaningful relationship with the work and the artist behind it.

Tell us more about you! When you’re not at SAM, what do you spend your time doing?

When I’m not working at SAM, I’m traveling, journaling, reading, auditioning, plotting my next Instagram performance art piece, and working on collaborations with other Seattle artists. I am looking to get into art modeling as well. Right now, I’m developing a website and blog with a friend of mine who lives in LA called Sacred Souls, which is intended to promote practices meant to spread love, cultivate compassion, and heal the collective mind and spirit. I’m really excited for it! I’m also nurturing honeydo, the theatre/movement performance duo I’ve formed with one of my best friends and collaborators, Lindsay Zae Summers. We are debuting at Kitchen Sessions at the Bellevue Art Museum the evening of Friday, November 10.

– Emily Jones, SAM Visitor Services Officer

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