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COVID-19 UPDATE: ALL SAM LOCATIONS CURRENTLY CLOSED. LEARN MORE »

Muse/News: We heart Asian art, holding down the fort, and a zoo-riffic museum visit

SAM News

The May/June issue of Hong-Kong based magazine Orientations is out, and the reimagined Asian Art Museum is the cover story. “Flip” through the digital edition to page 46 to read the essay by SAM curators Foong Ping and Xiaojin Wu, along with consulting curator Darielle Mason.

This week, Stay Home with SAM sends love letters to Seattle’s Chinatown-International District, explores the major-ness of Kehinde Wiley, and gathers under the light installation of Kenzan Tsutakawa-Chinn.

Teen Tix reviewers spend some time navigating the “well-written” and “brilliant” SAM Blog and share this review.

“The piece was captivating. This sentence put what I originally thought were just a couple whimsical cement radios into a bizarre and uncanny context, something that, without an entire article to accompany it, a run of the mill museum exhibit could not have done.”

Local News

Crosscut’s Margo Vansynghel talks with artist Monyee Chau, who created a poster to buoy up the Chinatown-International District in response to an increase of anti-Asian racism.

Seattle Met’s Steve Luikens has some great recommendations for “what to stream in Seattle this week,” including herstory lessons, dystopian film, and Samantha Irby.

Real Change’s Ashley Archibald on Totem Star, a recording studio and music workshop for youth, and how it’s continuing to mentor its young artists remotely.

“Opening the online platform has helped with the isolation of the lockdown, giving structure to a week when days blur together in a miasma of monotony. ‘It’s a consistent thing we look forward to in our days,’ Amina said. ‘It’s been hard, but they’ve been making it easier, for sure.’”

Inter/National News

23 mayors across the US—including Seattle’s Jenny Durkan—signed a joint letter to Congress urging the government to provide more aid to artists, arts workers, and cultural organizations in the next federal stimulus package, reports Artforum.

“Holding down the fort”: Artnet’s Sarah Cascone looks at the guards, groundskeepers, and collection managers still working on-site at closed museums.

The New York Times’ Thomas Rogers explores how some European museums are reopening and reinventing themselves during the pandemic.

“It has largely been up to the institutions to iron out the details, including whether to require masks. For museum directors, this involves balancing public safety against the desire to allow people to freely engage with art; for visitors, this means navigating a patchwork of new rules.”

And Finally

“They seemed to react much better to Caravaggio than Monet.”

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Photo: Robert Wade

Inside SAM’s Asian Painting Conservation Center

“Without the periodic conservation of these works, they simply wouldn’t exist anymore. So this work is really critical and we are conserving our collections so that they are lasting in perpetuity for generations to come.”

– Nick Dorman, SAM Chief Conservator

When the Asian Art Museum reopens, you’ll be able to stop by to learn about the conservation of Asian paintings by peeking through the public viewing window into the conservation space to see the progress! Through a $3.5M challenge grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, a new Asian Paintings Conservation Center at the Asian Art Museum is devoted to the conservation, mounting, and study of Asian paintings. The new conservation center serves the museum’s collection as well as institutional and private collections in the region. This is the first museum center of its kind in the western United States. We hope to have it completed by 2021.

If you value the ways SAM connects art to your life, consider making a donation or becoming a member today! Your financial support powers Stay Home with SAM and also sustains us until we can come together as a community and enjoy art in the galleries again.

Inside the Reinstalled Asian Art Museum with SAM’s Curators

Be prepared to be surprised when you are next able to visit today’s Seattle Asian Art Museum! Our curators are here to share the thinking and process behind offering a thematic, rather than geographic or chronological reinstallation of SAM’s Asian art collection.

You will no longer find galleries labeled China, Japan, or India. Instead, vibrant artworks from Vietnam to Iran, and everywhere in between, come together to tell stories of human experiences across time and place. From themes of worship and celebration to clothing and identity, nature and power to birth and death, the new collection installation reveals the complexity and diversity of Asia—a place of distinct cultures, histories, and belief systems that help shape our world today.

If you value the ways SAM connects art to your life, consider making a donation or becoming a member today!

Muse/News: We heart Asian art, keepers of the dream, and Parasite’s art

SAM News

The Seattle Asian Art Museum is officially reopen! Thank you to the thousands of people who streamed through the reimagined galleries at the free housewarming event last weekend. The museum starts regular hours on Wednesday, February 12.

“I felt freed, well, just to look”: Stefan Milne examines Boundless at the Asian Art Museum and The American War at ARTS at King Street Station, which both “explore how we see Asia.”

Seattle Refined shot a recent episode from the museum, including a fantastic segment with SAM curators Foong Ping and Xiaojin Wu (starts at :40).

And ParentMap’s JiaYing Grygiel has this charming look at the museum through the eyes of kids and families.

Local News

I Google this every Oscars season. Here’s a breakdown from the Seattle Times on those harder-to-understand categories.

The Stranger’s Charles Mudede on the work of Marisa Williamson, who has two shows on view in Seattle at SOIL Gallery and Jacob Lawrence Gallery.

Crosscut’s Margo Vansynghel on the new local documentary, Keepers of the Dream: Seattle Women Black Panthers, which premiered last Friday at Northwest Film Forum and will screen again on February 20.

“Women were critical to the survival of the organization,” [Robyn] Spencer says. “They were the movers, the shakers, the theorists, the thinkers, the organizers — they were keeping the party going.”

Inter/National News

Artist Beverly Pepper died this week at 97. Two of her works grace the Olympic Sculpture Park. Here’s Artnet’s obituary for the legendary sculptor.

Here’s Artnet on director Bong Joon-ho’s use of suseok, or “scholar’s rocks” in his Oscar-winning film Parasite.

The New York Times’ Roberta Smith on the late, Seattle-born painter Noah Davis, whose work is again on view in a “big, beautiful exhibition” at David Zwirner.

“Your eyes and mind enter them easily and roam through the different layers of brushwork and narrative suggestion. There’s an unexpected optimism to all this. The paintings also dwell in silence, slow us down and hypnotize.”

And Finally

Did you know that the Asian Art Museum will screen this film on February 26? Well, we will!

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Photo: Jueqian Fang

Reimagining the Galleries at the Seattle Asian Art Museum

When the Seattle Asian Art Museum reopens next year, visitors will experience the museum’s renowned collection of Asian art in a whole new way. Most of the original galleries will showcase the museum’s collection, while the building’s new gallery—housed in the expansion—will focus on rotating special exhibitions. SAM’s curatorial team saw the renovation process as an exciting chance to rethink how visitors engage with the Asian art collection. “How often does a museum go offline and move everything out?” notes Foong Ping, Foster Foundation Curator of Chinese Art. She continues, “This was an opportunity to dream a little bit.” 

The curators convened groups of scholars and community advisors to explore approaches to displaying SAM’s artworks. Moving away from the chronological and geographic organization of most museums, they took a thematic approach instead. Each gallery of Boundless: Stories of Asian Art, the new collection installation, focuses on a theme central to Asia’s diverse arts and societies, ranging from worship and celebration, to visual arts and literature, to clothing and identity. For instance, a gallery titled Spiritual Journeys brings many objects together, from a Pakistani Bodhisattva, to an Indian Stupa, to a Chinese demon, to explore spiritual imagery through unifying ideas such as spiritual guides and guardians. The reinstallation provides an experience of great diversity and a broad context within which to engage with artworks.

Boundless also presents varied voices and perspectives on artworks to offer visitors a wide array of approaches to appreciating SAM’s collection. Along with traditional curatorial texts, artists and Seattle community members also offer their perspectives. The Color in Clay gallery presents a large selection of ceramics from China as well as vibrant works from Vietnam to Iran in a natural light-filled gallery without any contextualizing text. Monitors with more information will be available, but Foong’s hope is for visitors to be immersed in looking closely at subtle differences in tones and textures in the clay and the glazes. “I’m particularly excited about this display because it represents a completely different experience than we’ve ever had at the Asian Art Museum,” she says.

The first special exhibition Be/longing: Contemporary Asian Art also draws primarily from the museum’s collection. It brings together works by 12 artists born in different parts of Asia—Azerbaijan, Iran, India, Thailand, China, Korea, and Japan—who have all lived outside of Asia and are exploring their Asian heritage from global perspectives. Be/longing features Some/One by Do Ho Suh—a sculpture so large that we were previously unable to exhibit it at the Asian Art Museum. SAM’s Curator of Japanese and Korean Art Xiaojin Wu explains, “Some/One is an imposing work that compels the viewer to think about identity and our relationship with society—issues we all care about.” Positioning Some/One alongside works by other contemporary artists, visitors will encounter its powerful resonance in a new exhibition, a new gallery, a new building, in the new year.

Images: Some/One (detail), 2001, Do Ho Suh, stainless steel military dog-tags, nickel-plated copper sheets, steel structure, glass fiber reinforced resin, rubber sheets, diameter at base: 24 ft. 4 in.; Height: 81 in., Gift of Barney A. Ebsworth, 2002.43, © Do Ho Suh. Dish with Foliated Rim, late 15th–early 16th century, Vietnamese, blue and white ceramic, 13 1/4″ diameter, Mary and Cheney Cowles, the Margaret E. Fuller Fund, and the 1999 Maryatt Gala Fund, 2000.118. Seated demon figure, 14th century, Chinese, bronze with gilt, 3 1/4 x 2 x 1 7/8 in., Eugene Fuller Memorial Collection, 52.45. Lined robe (detail), 20th century, Japanese, plain weave silk crepe with paste-resist stencil decoration (Oki., bingata) lined with modern replacement silk broadcloth, 47 3/4″ long (from collar) x 43″ wide, Gift of the Virginia and Bagley Wright Collection, 89.155, © Artist or Artist’s Estate. Bodhisattva, ca. 2nd–3rd century, Pakistani, Gandhara region, dark gray schist 45 x 15 x 7 in. Eugene Fuller Memorial Collection, 44.63.

Muse/News: A princely statue, a punning pie artist, and the eternal queen of soul

SAM News

The Seattle Times’ Brendan Kiley interviews curator Xiaojin Wu about the new installation Noble Splendor: Art of Japanese Aristocrats. Discussed: An exquisite statue of a two-year-old prince, a 300-year-old clam shell matching game, and the mysterious ballot box stationed outside the installation—and what it will tell us.

We miss her art already: Molly Vaughan was featured in this week’s edition of Real Change. Reporter Lisa Edge discusses the just-closed Project 42 at SAM, Vaughan’s recent Seattle Art Fair performance and Neddy Award nomination, and what’s next for the artist.

Kimerly Rorschach, SAM’s director and CEO, was interviewed by Eileen Kinsella of Artnet about the new tariff on Chinese art coming into the U.S., which has many in the art world concerned.

“It’s overall not good and not helpful,” said Kimerly Rorschach, director of the Seattle Art Museum, which also oversees the city’s Asian Art Museum. “It makes work more expensive, it constrains the market and thus constrains us in bringing these works to our audiences and educating and promoting the cultural exchange that is the museum’s mission.”

Local News

Mason Bryan of Crosscut reports on the disturbing vandalism of Jasmine Iona Brown’s series of adhesive paintings around Capitol Hill called Black Teen Wearing Hoodie.

Erica C. Barnett for Seattle Magazine with an in-depth update on the efforts to “save” SAM neighbor the Showbox from being torn down for a 44-story apartment tower.

The Seattle Times’ Zoe Sayler speaks with Lauren Ko, whose intricate, geometric pie designs created for her @lokokitchen Instagram have catapulted her to a new career—and she doesn’t even have a sweet tooth!

“It’s the great irony of our life,” Ko says. “For the most part, if they’re sweet, we’re just like, ‘get them out of the house’ … If I had somehow gotten into pizza making, then we would be in trouble.”

Inter/National News

Hyperallergic’s Claire Voon on the National Portrait Gallery’s new show about silhouette portraits, which “democratized portraiture long before the advent of photography”—although their history also outlines many ugly truths.

Helen Stoilas, editor of the Art Newspaper, joined in the effort spearheaded by the Boston Globe asking newspapers across the country to run editorials decrying assaults on a free press; Helen connected the issue to the arts.

RIP to the Queen of Soul. Here’s the New York Times’ Wesley Morris on the just a little bit of respect still due, Dream Hampton for NPR on how Aretha embodied Detroit, and the New Yorker’s David Remnick on her legacy.

“Prayer, love, desire, joy, despair, rapture, feminism, Black Power—it is hard to think of a performer who provided a deeper, more profound reflection of her times. What’s more, her gift was incomparable.”

And Finally

Be the change you want to see in the world: Robocop is now an art historian.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Image: Installation view of Noble Splendor: Art of Aristocrats of Japan at Seattle Art Museum, 2018, photo: Natali Wiseman.

Muse/News: New visions, final bows, and happy little Zzzz’s

SAM News

Double Exposure: Edward S. Curtis, Marianne Nicolson, Tracy Rector, Will Wilson is now on view! Last week, Kim Holcomb of KING5’s Evening Magazine got a sneak peek of the exhibition, interviewing Barbara Brotherton, SAM’s Curator of Native American Art, and featured artist Tracy Rector.

Brangien Davis of Crosscut looks at both our show and the Deconstructing Curtis show at the Suquamish Museum.

“These added perspectives emphasize that Native Americans are contemporary Americans. They continue to adapt while preserving a long legacy of strength and struggle.”

Fred Wong of The International Examiner interviewed curators Xiaojin Wu and Ping Foong about their transformative vision for the future Asian Art Museum. If you’re a SAM member, hopefully you’ve reserved your spot to hear more at their sold-out Conversations with Curators lecture this Wednesday.

“It promises to be a mixture of old and new treasures: the magnificent Art Deco building, the vast Asian Art collections, and the bold re-imaging of the objects’ stories by Drs. Xiaojin Wu and Ping Foong, the two new treasures at [Seattle Asian Art Museum].”

Local News

After 16 years with the company, dancer Karel Cruz took his final bows with Pacific Northwest Ballet. The Seattle Times’ Moira Macdonald offers this farewell to this “master of partnering.”

Aileen Imperial and Stephen Hegg of Crosscut take us into the growing Ball and House culture of Seattle with this video story.

Here’s City Arts’ Brett Hamil on Chad Goller-Sojourner’s live multimedia memoir, Marching in Gucci: Memoirs of a Well-Dressed AIDS Activist, coming to Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute June 21–23.

“More than a remembrance of those he lost, it’s an expression of his determination to make art out of those frantic years, in which he fought to save others while doing harm to himself. It’s an account of improbable survival.”

Inter/National News

Happy little Zzzz’s: Laura M. Holson of the New York Times on the voice—which can only ever be described as “dulcet”—that’s now lulling users of the Calm app to sleep.

I miss having Kerry James Marshall’s work on view at SAM, so I enjoyed this Vancouver Sun review of his new solo exhibition at the Rennie. Also, his Vignette (The Kiss), which debuted in Figuring History, sold this week at Art Basel.

Speaking of the Swiss fair “best known for presenting the bluest of blue-chip European art,” Julia Halperin of Artnet notes the eager interest of buyers for works by African American artists.

“It’s great people are interested,” the dealer Jack Shainman says. “But the big question is why did it take so long, and why was it so hard to get here?”

And Finally

Contemporary art space SITE Santa Fe announced the lineup for their SITElines.2018 Biennial in a most melodic way. Could this be the future for press releases?

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Image: Installation view Double Exposure: Edward S. Curtis, Marianne Nicolson, Tracy Rector, Will Wilson at Seattle Art Museum, 2018, photo: Natali Wiseman

Donor Spotlight: Carol Frankel Supports Seattle Asian Art Museum

We’re not the only ones excited about the renovation of our Asian Art Museum! Hear from the donors that are making the preservation of SAM’s original home possible for the benefit of generations to come. Learn more about the project and show your support!

There is no place in Seattle that means more to me than the Seattle Asian Art Museum in Volunteer Park. Many, many years ago when it was the entire Seattle Art Museum and I got my first drivers license at age 16, the first place I drove by myself was to the Seattle Art Museum to see a Van Gogh exhibition. I felt very grown up and very sophisticated!

Some decades later when I retired from the faculty of the University of Puget Sound, I decided to become a docent. I had not been an art major. For me art was always “the road not taken,” but through my university work, I had become very interested in Japan. The year of my docent training, the downtown location was being remodeled and all our training was the Volunteer Park site. Needless to say, by this time I was hooked on Asian art and deeply in love with the Asian Art Museum. I was so delighted when Xiaojin Wu and Ping Foong brought their new vision to my old friend. I have experienced Song landscape painting, which formed the basis for the background in Disney’s Bambi and waded through the rubble of Live On, Mr’s post-tsunami installation. I was completely overjoyed to hear that the Asian Art Museum was being renovated. Contributing to help make that possible became one of my highest priorities. I am so proud of that site and can hardly wait to wander those new galleries!

– Carol Frankel

Illustration: Natali Wiseman

Inside the Seattle Asian Art Museum Renovation: Plan Today, Exhibit Tomorrow

During the few months between the Seattle Asian Art Museum closing its doors and the start of the renovation and expansion, our staff was keeping busy. While the entire Asian art collection was relocated to our downtown location to store and protect it during the construction, the curatorial staff began thinking about how to display it when the museum opens again in fall 2019. Xiaojin Wu, SAM’s Curator of Japanese and Korean Art, and Ping Foong, Foster Foundation Curator of Chinese Art made use of the empty museum walls to brainstorm how the future of the galleries will be organized.

L to R: Xiaojin Wu, Ping Foong

One traditional method of curation is to group objects according to the region they come from. When the museum reopens, the goal is to move beyond this method and explore new ways of integrating and presenting the eclectic artworks. “The challenge,” says Wu “is attempting to create accessible art while embracing how complex art and history can be.”

 

Cross-cultural display is interesting but it can be confusing to present as a museum and to understand as a visitor. “We’re more concerned about boredom,” Says Wu. “The key is excitement—making people want to learn.”

L to R: Rachel Harris, Amelia Love

There are 13 galleries in the Asian Art museum to use for the collection works and the items within them will need to rotate regularly since all Asian paintings and textiles are light sensitive and every six months, or so, they need to rest, sometimes for years at a time!

Ping Foong organizing our collection

It’s hard to gain a sense of scale from print outs, but planning how the rich and diverse piece of our Asian Art Museum will fit back together again is underway! Learn more about the entire renovation and expansion process on our website or, if you’re a SAM member, don’t miss Ping Foong and Xiaojin Wu discussing their plans for the museum in more detail at Conversations with Curators, June 20. From large Buddha sculptures to delicate hair clips, how you would place these priceless objects in the newly upgraded museum when it reopens?

– Chelsea Werner-Jatzke, Content Strategist & Social Media Manager

Images: Xiaojin Wu