The Seattle Asian Art Museum is reopening in May! Find out more about visiting »

Muse/News: Art from Home, Making space, and the John Waters Closet

SAM News

Two months after reopening the downtown museum, all SAM locations are once again closed until further notice. While our doors are closed, we invite you to stay home with SAM as we present live virtual events and engaging content on SAM Blog, including Muse/News.

From bilingual culture-loving site Ici Seattle, notre amis offer this review of City of Tomorrow, currently closed again but waiting for you when SAM reopens.

“More than anything this exhibition shows a highly intelligent woman with a strong love and curiosity for art and artists who chose to share this love with the city of Seattle. An exhibition not to be missed.”

Local News

The Stranger’s Rich Smith on the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s second digital premiere and how they’re “embracing the camera.”

And Seattle Opera held an online premiere for their production of Donizetti’s “The Elixir Love.” Thomas May reviews for the Seattle Times. 

Crosscut’s Margo Vansynghel on the launch of the Cultural Space Agency, a new public development authority (PDA) linking the cultural sector, city government, developers, and donors to “create, purchase, manage and lease property for arts and cultural spaces.” This is the PDA created by the City of Seattle since 1985, to develop the downtown Seattle Art Museum.

“‘The public development authority brings the power of government, the nimbleness of the independent sector and the partnership opportunities of social impact investment all to bear on the same problem,” [Matthew] Richter says.”

Inter/National News

Hilarie M. Sheets for the New York Times on the appointment of Klaudio Rodriguez as director of the Bronx Museum of the Arts; he joins a “growing group” of Latinx art museum directors across the country—including SAM’s director and CEO, Amada Cruz.

Artnet’s Taylor Defoe on a dispute in upstate New York over a mural created by artist Nick Cave for the façade of Jack Shainman outpost The School. Saying “TRUTH BE TOLD” in 25-foot-high black vinyl letters, the mural does not please the village’s mayor, who contends that it is merely a sign and in violation of a local code.

Filmmaker and artist John Waters will give 375 artworks to his hometown Baltimore Museum of Art; his collection includes works by Diane Arbus, Lee Lozano, Christian Marclay, Cindy Sherman, and more. As part of the gift, Waters asked that their restrooms be named in his honor.

“They thought I was kidding and I said, ‘No, I’m serious.’ It’s in the spirit of the artwork I collect, which has a sense of humor and is confrontational and minimalist and which makes people crazy…I have a lot of art that would work in a bathroom.”

And Finally

“A memorial to bad artistic impulses.”

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Installation view of City of Tomorrow: Jinny Wright and the Art That Shaped a New Seattle at Seattle Art Museum, 2020, photo: Natali Wiseman.

Curators Dialogue: City of Tomorrow

Learn more about the new exhibition, City of Tomorrow: Jinny Wright and the Art that Shaped a New Seattle in this talk between SAM curators past and present who worked closely with Jinny Wright over the years in building the museum’s collection of modern and contemporary art.

SAM’s current Curator of Modern of Contemporary Art, Catharina Manchanda, talks with Patterson Sims and Lisa Graziose Corrin. Amidst their ongoing, distinguished careers both Sims and Corrin served as curators of modern of contemporary art at SAM in years past, and offer unique and personal perspectives on Wright’s legacy and the building of support for contemporary art in Seattle. City of Tomorrow features 64 works created between 1943–2003 that define bold and experimental art movements across the United States and Europe. The artworks on view are a fraction of the many works that Jinny and her husband Bagley gifted to SAM over the years, many of which have not previously been displayed at SAM. The exhibition will also include archival photographs, ephemera, and other materials that trace the transformation of SAM, the city, and Washington state. Get timed tickets online to visit this new exhibitions, it closes January 18.

About the Presenters

Lisa Graziose Corrin is the Ellen Philips Katz Director of The Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University. Her previous positions include Director, Williams College Museum of Art, Deputy Director of Art/Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Seattle Art Museum, where she was the artistic lead for its new waterfront Olympic Sculpture Park, Chief Curator at the Serpentine Gallery in London and Assistant Director/Curator of The Contemporary in Baltimore. She has published widely on contemporary art, public art, and critical museology. Her book Mining the Museum: An Installation by Fred Wilson was given the George Wittenborn Award by the North America Libraries Association in 1994. She has written extensively on Mark Dion’s work including contributing to Phaidon’s monograph on the artist. Most recently she was co-curator of A Feast of Astonishments: Charlotte Moorman and the Avant-Garde, 1960s–1980s.

Catharina Manchanda is the Jon & Mary Shirley Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art at the Seattle Art Museum. Prior to joining SAM, she was the Senior Curator of Exhibitions at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio. During her career, she has also worked in curatorial positions at the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, St. Louis; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. She has won a number of prestigious international awards including an Andy Warhol Foundation grant, Getty Library Research Grant, and a German Academic Exchange Scholarship (DAAD), among others.

Patterson Sims serves as President of the Leon Polk Smith Foundation, Managing Director of The Saul Steinberg Foundation, and Secretary of CALL (City as Living Lab), set up by Mary Miss. He is also a member of the boards of the Woodman Family Foundation, the Fanny Sanin Trust, and the Jennifer Wynne Reeves Trust. He previously worked as the Assistant Director of O.K. Harris Works of Art and at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Seattle Art Museum, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Montclair Art Museum. He is co-chair of the board of Independent Curators International and works as freelance art curator, writer, and consultant.

Image: Installation view of City of Tomorrow: Jinny Wrights and the Art That Shaped a New Seattle at Seattle Art Museum, 2020, photo: Natali Wiseman

Saturday University: The Colors of Space & Time

Although the Asian Art Museum is closed until further notice, the Gardner Center for Asian Art and Ideas is still offering their popular Saturday University Lecture Series. This season, like all SAM programs, Saturday University is being offered virtually. Another unusual thing about this season is that it’s free! Tune in on Facebook live or Zoom every Saturday through November 21 for talks on Color in Asian Art: Material and Meaning such as The Color of Space and Time presented by Marco Leona, the David H. Koch Scientist in Charge of the Department of Scientific Research at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Marco Leona speaks on recent findings on the materials and techniques of Edo and Meiji Period paintings and prints in the recording of this lecture from October 10. Japanese painters and printmakers of the Edo (1603-1868) and Meiji (1868-1912) period achieved a rich visual language within a narrow range of pigments. Yet artists such as Jakuchu, Korin, and Hokusai produced evocative possibilities in ways far more complex than generally thought, especially in experiments with new synthetic color.

Leona shows how technological developments were not only readily embraced, and often prompted by artists and their audiences, but also that they in turn created new forms of expression.

The Saturday University Lecture Series is presented with the University of Washington’s Jackson School of International Studies and the Elliott Bay Book Company.

SAM Connects You to City of Tomorrow for Free

City of Tomorrow: Jinny Wright and the Art That Shaped a New Seattle opens October 23! See works from one of the best collections of modern and contemporary art in the country—all thanks to one visionary Seattleite, on view through January 18. Art by major American artists includes Helen Frankenthaler, Philip Guston, David Hammons, Jasper Johns, Franz Kline, Robert Rauschenberg, Mark Rothko, Frank Stella, Cindy Sherman, and Andy Warhol in this extraordinary exhibition. You can’t tell the story of Seattle’s art world without telling the story of Jinny Wright. Learn more about Wright’s legacy when you visit, and check out all the ways to see City of Tomorrow for free:

  • Free community passes are available to any requesting individual, family, or group as passes are available, especially those for whom the cost of a ticket is prohibitive, and groups who have been historically excluded from the museum space due to systematic oppression, including communities of color, immigrant and refugee communities, low income communities, queer communities, and the disability community.
  • First Thursdays mean discounts to City of Tomorrow!
    Adult: $9.99
    Seniors 65+, Military (w/ID): $7.99
    Students (w/ID): $4.99
    Ages 19 & younger: Free
  • First Friday: Admission to City of Tomorrow is $7.99 for anyone 65 years and older.
  • UW Art Students, fill out our customer service form to request free tickets.
  • Members of City of Seattle’s Gold and FLASH card program can get free tickets for caregivers by filling out our customer service form.

SAM is for everyone and we’re here to make sure anyone can see the art they love! Don’t forget, entry to SAM’s permanent collections is always suggested admission! You can experience our global collection year-round and pay what you want.

Asia Talks: Artist Hung Liu with Laila Kazmi

Learn about the art and experiences of Chinese contemporary artist Hung Liu in this virtual artist talk. Hung Liu immigrated to the U.S. as a young adult to attend art school. Her life and artwork offer incredible perspectives on identity and migration, especially in the way she brings together China’s past with American experiences. While the Asian Art Museum remains closed, the Gardner Center for Asian Art and Ideas continues to offer thought-provoking virtual events featuring prominent contemporary artists speaking on some of today’s most pressing topics. Our hope for this series is that the work and words of the artists can help to sustain us through this difficult time.

Hung Liu is a primarily a painter who works with photography as part of her practice. Recently she has also worked with shaped canvases for painting that are assembled to create 3-dimensional work. She is also Professor Emerita at Mills College, where she began teaching in 1990. The National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC organized a large-scale retrospective exhibition of her work that was planned for this summer, but had to be postponed because of the virus closures. Instead it will be on view there next year, from May 2021 thru Jan 2022, titled Hung Liu: Portraits of Promised Lands, 1968-2020.

Laila Kazmi worked with SAM’s Gardner Center to organize and host this talk. She is an Emmy-award winning filmmaker, a producer, and co-founder of Kazbar Media.

Coming up, the Gardner Center’s popular Saturday University Lecture Series begins October 3. Color in Asian Art: Material and Meaning features eight free talks that dip into dimensions of color and pigment. From legend and ritual, to trade and cultural exchange, to technical innovation and changing artistic practices—the use of bold colors has been considered alternatively excessive, precious, or brilliant throughout history. What rare pigments and closely guarded techniques produced some artworks, and what artistic innovations and social changes produced others? Join us to enjoy a spectrum of talks on colors produced from the earth, sea, fire, plants, and insects.

Asia Talks: Helen Zughaib with Laila Kazmi

“As an Arab American, I hope through my work, to encourage dialogue and bring understanding and acceptance between the people of the Arab world and the United States. Especially since 9/11, our wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the more recent revolutions and crises in the Arab world, resulting from the ‘Arab Spring’ that began in late 2010, have led to the civil war in Syria and the massive displacement of people seeking refuge in Europe, the Middle East and America.”

Helen Zughaib

Watch as Helen Zughaib discusses her family’s experiences in Syria and Lebanon, and her current work including “The Syrian Migration Project,” a painting series inspired by “The Migration Series” by artist Jacob Lawrence. In conversation with Laila Kazmi, Kazbar Media, this talk is part of a series of virtual events hosted by SAM’s Gardner Center for Asian Art and Ideas focusing on artists who have immigrated to the US from Asia and the Middle East, on their art, heritage, and coping with the present moment.

Helen Zughaib was born in Beirut, Lebanon, living mostly in the Middle East and Europe before coming to the United States to study art at Syracuse University. She currently lives and works as an artist in Washington, DC. Primarily, she paints in gouache and ink on board and canvas. More recently, she has worked with wood, shoes, and cloth in mixed media installations.

Her work has been widely exhibited in galleries and museums in the United States, Europe, and Lebanon. Her paintings are included in many private and public collections, including the White House, World Bank, Library of Congress, American Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, and the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Helen has served as Cultural Envoy to Palestine, Switzerland and Saudi Arabia.

Haida Meets Manga with Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas

We are sharing selections from SAM’s Conversations with Curators member-only series online with everyone! This talk took place live between the artist behind “Carpe Fin,” SAM’s most recent and largest, commission, Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas, and SAM’s Curator of Native American Art, Barbara Brotherton.

Due to some technical difficulties, SAM members got a little tour of the artist’s quarantine studio at the beginning of the talk. We hope you enjoy this happy outcome of the challenges of moving our programs online!

Far away, past the point of no return, sits Lord’s Rock, an indistinct protuberance in an archipelago of windswept islands. It is from this auspicious place of hardship and wonder that Yahgulanaas’ large-scale Haida manga refreshes an ancient Haida tale. Several artistic and cultural influences form this innovative, hybrid style. Using Pop Art, Japanese manga, and Northwest Coast Indigenous formline art, the artist calls for action to save our one small planet. Hear about Yahgulanaas’ journey from politician and environmental activist to a leader in contemporary Haida art.

Find out more about the Conversations with Curators series and join SAM as a member today for upcoming events!

SAM Creates: Inventions for Empathy

Look & Make Activities are designed as grade-specific lesson plans for remote learning. Find more information and artworks to inspire creative learning through these activities available for download on our website in English, Spanish, and Chinese.

This artwork is an installation created by the contemporary artist Saya Woolfalk. If you were to visit this work at the Seattle Art Museum, you could walk into this space and move, meditate, or just observe. Rhythmic music plays and a video of rotating leaves, eyes, hands, and patterns projects onto the wall and floor. The colors are mostly blues, greens, and purples. This  artwork is surrounded by a blend of cultures, symbols, ideas, experiences, and life forms and shows us what a better future for all living creatures might look and feel like. Hear from the artist in the video below as she discusses this installation when it was first exhibited as part of Disguise: Masks & Global African Art.

Woolfalk created this work to help fix a real world-wide issue: lack of empathy. Empathy is understanding how someone else is feeling because you have been in a similar situation or felt that way before. If you have ever felt sad because your friend was sad or excited because your friend was excited about something, you have felt empathy! You can show empathy for someone by thinking about their perspective. In this space, the three figures are called Empathics. The Empathics are imaginary alien beings that were transformed by fusing their cells with cells of animals and plants. The Empathics believe that the world would be a better place if more people were able to develop empathy for each other. It is their job to help guide this process.

LOOKING QUESTIONS

  • What’s going on in this artwork? What do you see that makes you say that? What more can you find?
  • If you were to put yourself in this work of art, where would you go? How would you want to move around? 
  • What do you think it would feel like to be there? What do you see that makes you feel that way?

ART ACTIVITY

Design and create a prototype for an invention that will help the Empathics spread empathy in the world. A prototype is a simple model that helps you test out your idea.

What You’ll Need

  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Eraser
  • Cardboard
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Optional: markers, aluminum foil, wire, string, other available materials
  • If you prefer to draw in a computer program, you can design your invention on the PBS Kids Design Squad website.
  • Check out this video for tips on different ways to use cardboard.
  1. You have been chosen by the Empathics to create an invention that will help people have more empathy for others. They want this invention to be something that people can carry with them—either in their hand or on their body. Write down your task on a piece of paper!
  1. Imagine: Write about and/or draw at least 3 possible inventions. Circle your favorite one.
  1. Plan: Create a detailed drawing of your favorite invention. Give it a title, label each part of your invention, and write notes about how it will help spread empathy.
  1. Create: Use cardboard, scissors, and tape to create a prototype of your invention. Create this prototype to-scale, or the same size that you want your invention to be.
  1. (Optional) Add decorations or designs to your prototype. You can even add sound if you want! Think about all of the visual and sound elements that Saya Woolfak uses in her artwork to spread the message of empathy.
  1. When you’re done, share your prototype with a friend, family member, or teacher. Describe your task and tell them how your invention works. What do they particularly like about your invention? Do they have any ideas on how to make it even better?
  1. You can refine your idea and create new versions of your invention to share with people you know. What do they think about when they use your invention? Does it change how they think about other people?

KEEP LEARNING WITH A STORY

Read a classic book about empathy in a new form by borrowing the e-book graphic novel adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle (original story) and Hope Larson (graphic novel adaptation) from King County or Seattle Public Library. Or listen to the audio book version of Shuri: A Black Panther Novel #1, by Nic Stone and be inspired by Shuro as she uses her science and technology skills to create a better future for her homeland of Wakanda.

CHIMATEK: VIRTUAL CHIMERIC SPACE (Installation View), 2015–16, Saya Woolfalk, American, born 1979. Multi-media installation, 15 x 25 x 5 ft. Projection: 3:59 minutes, Purchased with funds from Josef Vascovitz and Lisa Goodman, Alida and Christopher Latham, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Art Acquisition Fund, 2017.16 Provenance: The artist; [Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects]; acquired March 15, 2017. Photo: Nathaniel Willson.

Rising Up with Daedalus

Listen in as DJ Riz Rollins discusses Daedalus/Upliftment by Fahamu Pecou. During SAM’s special exhibition, Figuring History: Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas, the in-gallery audio tour featured Seattle area community members discussing works of art in SAM’s collections by Black artists.

In 2019 Rachel Kim, SAM’s Curatorial Intern unpacked this painting as part of our Object of the Week series. Kim writes: Daedalus/Upliftment alludes to the Greek myth of Daedalus and Icarus. Daedalus built wings of feathers and wax for himself and his son, Icarus, to escape their prison. Despite Daedalus’ warning, Icarus flew too close to the sun, melting the wax on the wings, falling and drowning in the ocean. Pecou reinterprets this classic tragedy and questions the actions of Daedalus as Icarus’ father. Daedalus/Uplifting provokes a meditation on paternalism and masculinity, in the artist’s own words, through “the breakdown of intergenerational communication and the emotional complexities within the Black male experience that trouble the desire and ability to take flight.”

We highly recommend following Pecou on Instagram to see more of this artist’s paintings and to hear directly from him on his work and current events.

Image: Daedalus/Upliftment, 2016, Fahamu Pecou, acrylic, gold leaf and spray paint on canvas, 84 × 48 in., Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Art Acquisition Fund, 2016.20 © Artist or Artist’s Estate