The Other Washington: At the Second International Mount Making Forum, Smithsonian Institution Washington D.C.

Mannequin: a form representing the human figure used esp. for displaying clothes

Mountmaker: An individual who conceives, fabricates and installs specialized hardware for the display, security, and earthquake mitigation of works of art for museums, galleries, and private collections.

The need to revive our mannequin building program this last year coincided with a second meeting of museum mount makers this May in Washington D.C. A call for papers was impetus to document my first efforts and learning process within a twenty minute presentation format. Shelly Uhlir, exhibit specialist at the National Museum of the American Indian put together a two day conference involving 200 participants, presenters and posters. All of the Smithsonian Museums were available for behind the scenes tours.

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June 4 SAM REMIX KEXP playlist

Last Friday, June 4th, SAM Remix was held at SAM Downtown. With a sold-out crowd of over 2,000 people (many of them in wigs), art-making, music, tours and more activated every corner of the building. All night long in South Hall, a playlist curated by Kevin Cole, senior programming manager and DJ at KEXP 90.3 FM, responded to the exhibitions kurt and love fear pleasure lust pain glamour death – Andy Warhol Media Works. Cole crafted this eclectic playlist to include everything from Grace Jones to Le Tigre, while KEXP DJ El Toro gave a “My Favorite Things” tour in the galleries and DJ Riz spun beats in the Forum. Visit The KEXP blog to see the entire tracklist and to hear a sample of the music from Friday night.

The next Remix will be held on Friday, August 27th at the Olympic Sculpture Park from 8 pm–12 am. Buy your tickets online early before it sells out!

Caroline Walker, Education & Public Programs Coordinator

KEXP DJ Riz spinning beats in the SAM Forum. Photo: Robert Wade

 

Letters from the Road: Atami, Japan

SAM Exhibition Designer, Chris Manojlovic, recently returned from two weeks in Japan, where he and Collection Care Manager, Julie Creahan, were traveling with SAM’s exhibition, Luminous Jewels: Masterpieces of Asian Art from the Seattle Art Museum. The show, comprising highlights from SAM’s Asian art collection, is currently on tour in Japan. As couriers, Chris and Julie’s role was to oversee the safe handling of the collection during its de-installation and packing at one venue, transportation, and installation at the next host institution. This is correspondence we received from Chris when he was on the road.

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Family Fun: kids respond to Heide Hinrichs

Family Fun workshop participants age 5-12 and their guardians explore Heide Hinrichs installation, Borrowed Tails, with teaching artist Ben Waterman. For these young people and their families this was the first time viewing and making art in response to a contemporary art installation. The potential confusion that occurs when entering an artful space such as Hinrich’s installation was short lived for these youngsters and quickly turned to wonder as they searched for clues and discovered the latent connections within the exhibition. The excitement rose as the group approached the Chase Open Studio to create their own installations.

Using similar materials as Hinrichs children play and work at their own installations.

Using similar materials as Hinrichs, children play and work at their own installations. Photo: Nate Herth

The creation of a collaborative installation asked children to consider the choices of others as well as their own. Photo: Nate Herth

The creation of a collaborative installation asked children to consider the choices of others as well as their own. Photo: Nate Herth

 Nate Herth, Museum Educator, Teen, Family & Community Programs

Top photo: “This is no ordinary school desk” Family Fun workshop participants get into Heide Hinrichs’ installation Borrowed Tails in the SAM Next Gallery. Photo: Nate Herth

K-12 Student Responses to Calder

Nothing is more rewarding to a museum educator than seeing the positive impact of your programs on students. During the six month run of Alexander Calder: A Balancing Act more than 9,300 students visited the SAM’s galleries and experienced Calder’s work in person. Students learned about how he used geometry and math to create beautify balanced sculptures and created their own works of art out of wire and recycled materials in the museum’s art studio spaces. Here are some of our favorite thank you notes and quotes from students who visited the exhibition.

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SAM’s list of must-see SIFF films

When you are in Seattle and the weather changes from 65 and sunny to thunderstorms and lighting within the hour, you know it’s…SIFF time! Otherwise known as the time of year when you most want to go into a movie theatre and stop trying to figure out if summer has arrived yet (it hasn’t). If you are as overwhelmed as I am by the 250+ page book of films that SIFF has put out, you’ll want to peruse other people’s lists of “must-see” movies, like this one, focused on the theme of visual arts. As suspected, they mostly fall into the documentary category, but there’s at least one other mixed in. Enjoy! And let me know which ones I forgot – I got a little bleary-eyed by page 235.

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Behind the Scenes: Unconventional Portrait Workshop

As SAM’s summer exhibitions Kurt and love fear pleasure lust pain glamour death—Andy Warhol Media Works opened last week, the Adult Public Programs team has been working hard to get ready for all of the affiliated lectures, performances, tours and  June 4th SAM Remix.  The simultaneity of these two exhibitions is exciting from a programmatic standpoint because we have the opportunity to use educational experiences to explore some of the conceptual connections between works in both.  One of the projects I have focused on developing in recent months is a set of three classes that are part of our adult workshop series “SAM Creates.”

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Why Kurt?

Kurt and love fear pleasure lust pain glamour death — Andy Warhol Media Works, two upcoming special exhibitions, open two weeks from today.  Here is “Why Kurt?” the first of a series of 6 videos featuring local artists whose work is central to the exhibition, as well as KEXP DJ and Seattle Weekly columnist Hannah Levin and Jacob McMurray, senior curator at EMP I SFM. This video gets to the heart of the exhibition, articulating Kurt Cobain’s historical impact on our culture, and zeroing in on the influence he has had on artists working today.

 

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Like to vote? Make it count.
$1 million dollar grant available for local historic preservation sites.

Make your voice heard – there’s a local opportunity for one of 25 eligible historic locations to be granted $1 million dollars by American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation through a joint initative called Partners in Preservation. The cash is distributed according to an on-line voting system – according to the PIP website, “At the end of the voting period, the site with the most votes is guaranteed funding from a total of $1 million that American Express will give away to support the preservation of historic places in the Seattle-Puget Sound area.” There are so many great projects – it’ll be hard to narrow down just one.  

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Conversation with the Collector: Living with Mobiles

Do you collect art? Why do you do it? While conversations could go around and around about potential investment value, etc., most who collect do so because they have encountered something that moves them in a way that nothing else can. And living with original works of art for which you feel such attachment enriches every day of your life.

I’ve heard Jon Shirley speak of his first encounter with the work of Alexander Calder. He was drawn to the sculptor’s work at a very young age. It was many years before he would purchase his first Calder piece, but since that first encounter he and his wife Mary have built one of the greatest collections of Calder’s works in existence and have learned a great deal about the artist’s work. (For instance, did you know that no two Calder mobiles are exactly alike?)

What happens when passion becomes a collection? What is it like to live with a house full of Calder sculptures?

 

You only have five more days to feel the glow of these spectacular works. Alexander Calder: A Balancing Act is gone after April 11.

– Nicole Chism Griffin, Associate Manager of PR at SAM

Hammering Man: Surgery is Underway

Hammering Man went into surgery without incident this morning. The docs are hard at work , performing the delicate operation to reattach his errant arm. Despite the wind, prognosis is good, and it seems he may be re-armed and back in the swing by later this afternoon. We’ll be here in the waiting room (AKA, the SAM development department windows), and will keep you all posted on the Man’s progress.

Meanwhile, we’re completely out of fresh puns for this one and could use your help. Let us know what you can come up with.

-Nicole Chism Griffin, Associate Manager of PR at SAM

Conversation with the Collector: World War II and Calder

During World War II, Americans at home were left to negotiate and adjust their lifestyle to food rations and other sacrifices – including the conservation and recycling of metal for the war effort.

What did this mean for Alexander Calder, an artist whose groundbreaking works were based on sheet metal and metal wire?

During the war, it meant experimentation with other materials such as wood. (You can see this playful Hen from 1943 in Alexander Calder: A Balancing Act for only 7 more days!)

Once the war was over, it meant the opening of a floodgate of creativity and one of the most productive periods of the artist’s career.

– Nicole Chism Griffin, Associate Manager of PR at SAM

Olympic Sculpture Park and Kids

Today’s New York Times article by William Yardley highlighted the sculpture park’s no touching of art policy as an example of how Seattle is struggling to  become kid-friendly as the population of children here grows. As a mother of two extremely active and curious little girls, I can honestly say that my kids love playing at the Olympic Sculpture Park.  I am admittedly a little biased because I work for the museum but the park has a special sense of place that I know kids can sense.

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It’s Free First Thursday!

Any day is a good day to visit a museum, but on this Free First Thursday we’re making it pretty hard NOT to pay us a visit:

Come join the fun!

Mauses und Dancers und Crowds, Oh, my! (Katharina Fritsch, Mann und Maus, 1991-92, Polyester resin and paint, 90 1/2 x 51 1/2 x 94 1/2 in. Gift of the Virginia and Bagley Wright Collection, in honor of the 75th Anniversary of the Seattle Art Museum.

Mauses und Dancers und Crowds, Oh, my! (Katharina Fritsch, Mann und Maus, 1991-92, Polyester resin and paint, 90 1/2 x 51 1/2 x 94 1/2 in. Gift of the Virginia and Bagley Wright Collection, in honor of the 75th Anniversary of the Seattle Art Museum.

-Nicole Chism Griffin, SAM PR

First Thursday enthusiasts surrounding/surrounded by Cai Guo-Qiang’s Inopportune: Stage One (Cai Guo-Qiang, Inopportune: Stage One, 2004, Cars and sequenced multi-channel light tubes, each car: 16 x 6 ft. © Cai Guo-Qiang)

 

Conversation with the Collector: Tiny Works By Alexander Calder

It’s amazing how many visitors to Alexander Calder: A Balancing Act have been drawn to the cases of tiny little sculptures, which seem to mirror what Calder was doing in a larger scale. At first glance, many think that these must be studies or models for later, larger works. It would be easy to picture them recreated in a giant mobile or big outdoor sculpture, but they are actually unique works of art in the own right.

Calder often played with variations on certain themes – such as red tripod bases with arcing cantilevers on top – in a range of sizes and media. It’s fun to look closely at these tiny Calders, as you can often discern the actual hand-pounding and forming of metal and the strokes of the master artist’s paintbrushes.

In this video, collector Jon Shirley talks a little more about these surprising pieces.

 

– Nicole Chism Griffin, SAM PR

Conversation with the Collector: Alexander Calder

“I think all Calders tend to make someone happy. That is the universal appeal of his art.” – Jon Shirley

Click on the video link below to hear more from Jon Shirley about the only adjustable Calder mobile ever made and what it’s like to live with Red Curly Tail (which has endured a snowball fight or two). 

Alexander Calder: A Balancing Act closes on April 11th. 

-Cara Egan, SAM PR

Take Pictures at SAM – You Spoke, SAM Listened

Photography inside a museum’s art galleries can be a touchy touchy issue. From conservation (yes, repeated “flashing” does damage art over time) to super serious legal matters (most 20th and 21st century art is under copyright by an artist or an estate), the issues surrounding the seemingly simple act of taking a picture are complex and abundant.

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Derrick Cartwright Talks Football

It’s Art Museum Directors gone wild as Max Anderson, director of the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and E. John Bullard, director of the New Orleans Museum of Art, break out the art historical smack talk, wagering art-against-art in the race for Super Bowl XLIV.

Tyler Green’s coverage of the heated negotiations is a must-read. But what does SAM’s own director, Derrick Cartwright, have to say about his esteemed colleagues, Super Bowl XLIV and the Seahawks? The Seattle Weekly’s Caleb Hannan asked the same question.

Nicole Chism Griffin, Associate Manager of Public Relations, SAM

SAM’s Shrinking Carbon Footprint

As the Environmental Coordinator who has stepped into place here at SAM after our Environmental Steward recently, Jackie White moved on, I am pleased to report that SAM has reduced its carbon emissions by 30% between 2008 and 2009. This is an amazing achievement! I’d have to say the credit goes not only to the SAM Goes Green Program but all of the staff at the museum as well as the volunteers, members, and visitors.

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Notes from the Electronic Frontline

As one of the webmasters at SAM I am witness to all sorts of emails—from basic visitor inquiries to requests to send a SAM representative to judge girls on their inner beauty at pageants. These emails have taught me a lot about human communication and the human tendency to only provide feedback when they have something negative to say. In this day and age of faceless electronic communication, more often than not, this means people feel that they can be informal, not use spell check or punctuation and in some instances, be as rude as they want.  The following emails have been reproduced as written, with errors and misspellings left uncorrected.

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Michelangelo Wednesdays

A couple of weeks ago I gave a tour in the “Michelangelo Wednesdays” series. (Quick overview: SAM curators—including myself, the curatorial lead for Ancient Mediterranean and Islamic art—give a short tour of the Michelangelo exhibition every Wednesday afternoon.) I am not a Renaissance scholar, though I do have a soft spot for Florentine art. Would I fake my way through the show, using the knowledge and vocabulary gleaned from the amazing Professor Evelyn Lincoln in my Renaissance art classes in college? Would I simply do an overview of the show, basically taken straight from the catalogue and Chiyo Ishikawa’s overviews? Maybe I would just take people around and point them toward my favorite stops in Gary Radke’s charismatic audio tour? What, oh what, was I going to do?

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What it takes

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it takes to put a work of art on view.  To our visitors, it should seem oh-so-easy: You see painting A (something you love) one day, and on your next visit it’s replaced with painting B (something you love even more). But behind the scenes, it’s anything but. As you relax and take in the holidays, here’s a little piece of our frenetic world to consider. (And as a little holiday bonus from me to you, all images are from 1983—enjoy!)

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Heide Hinrichs: borrowed tails

Heide Hinrichs is the fourth artist in our SAM Next series, a contemporary art exhibition program at the museum. Borrowed tails, which opened in November, is a body of work the artist developed specifically for this installation, making it the first time these drawings and sculptures are presented to the public. While she was at the museum installing her show we had the opportunity to talk to her about her work.

 

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New Old & New New

I have a meeting today at the Seattle Asian Art Museum to discuss the Getty Online Scholarly Catalogue Initiative. While I am there I plan to check out the New Old and the New New. A pair of installations featuring new acquisitions, it opened last Sunday, Dec. 12.

The New Old: Recent Acquisitions of Chinese Painting features 15 works of art produced between 1629-2009, many of which were recently donated to the museum in honor of director emerita Mimi Gates.  This installation also features key works by 17th century painter Bada Shanren (1626–1705) as explained in this video excerpt from last week’s members art history lecture by SAM’s Chinese Art Curator, Josh Yiu.

 The focus of New New: Recent Acquisitions in Contemporary Asian Art is to introduce visitors to the work of 17 artists that have come into the SAM collection since 2002. They represent China, Japan, Korea, Canada and the United States.

Christina DePaolo
New Media Manager

Behind the Scenes: The SAM Remix Tattoo Parlor

“Behind the scenes” responsibilities at an arts organization are not always the most glamorous work. In Public Programming at SAM, back-end work includes contracts, stage set-up, power point preparation, and many late-nights, among other things.  The latest of my nights, but also one of the most exciting to work on, is the quarterly SAM Remix program.  During Remix, my department has the opportunity to program the entire building in an effort to create a unique experience that engages audiences with the art on view through a more interdisciplinary and interactive approach.

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