I made my first trip to China in 1986. I wanted to see China before it changed, I had no idea it would completely alter my life. It opened a world of wonder, curiosity, and endless adventure for me that continues to this day. By 1990 I had become so obsessed that when an opportunity arose to study Asian art at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, I jumped at it. Since then, I have traveled extensively to see remote areas of Asia and visited hundreds of museums to quell my curiosity.
One of the reasons for my move to Seattle in 2000 was that there was this jewel box museum dedicated entirely to Asian art. There, in that perfect little building was a stunning collection. Many pieces from SAM’s collection had been referenced during my studies in London. And much to my surprise, each time I visited the Seattle Asian Art Museum, the curators had completely rotated the collection to display yet another aspect or region of the collection. In many museums, the collections never rotate and I go back to visit some objects like old friends. At the Asian Art Museum it was always a new wonder and delight.
For so many reasons, it has been my great pleasure to support the continuation of this remarkable institution. And thanks to everyone at the Seattle Art Museum for their enormous contribution to Seattle.
Thank u, next: Seattle press reflected on the year (was it just a year?) that was 2018. Both Seattle Magazine and The Seattle Times gave shout-outs to Double Exposure, SAM’s major summer exhibition that explored the complicated legacy of a celebrated photographer and the dynamic present of Indigenous arts.
“Through her use of material and symbolism, Partington explores the multi-faceted history of the international tea trade, including issues of appropriation, colonialism, slavery, and the gendered roles associated with tea.”
“As you move through the labyrinth, things become simultaneously clearer and muddier. You encounter real books, fake books and books half-obscured. You have to look closely to tell what’s real, and even then, you’re not always certain.”
Hyperallergic’s Jasmine Weber on a recently discovered silent film, Something Good, which is believed to be “the earliest cinematic depiction of affection between a Black couple.”
“This artifact helps us think more critically about the relationship between race and performance in early cinema,” Field tells UChicago. “It’s not a corrective to all the racialized misrepresentation, but it shows us that that’s not the only thing that was going on.”
Last Friday, SAM presented another edition Remix, its creative late-night out featuring music, tours, and art-making. And as per usual, the beautiful people of Seattle showed up and showed out: Check out these colorful photo slideshows from Seattle Refined and Queerspace Magazine. See you at the next edition of Remix in March!
“Lawrence depicting Bush’s migration is a convergence of two important pioneers. Bush, in the literal sense as he moved out west a century before The Great Migration, and Lawrence because of the barriers he broke within the art world. The series is an opportunity to learn more about two people who thrived in spite of entrenched barriers.”
“The early images and figures might have illustrated stories contained vital information for how to survive in hard times, Dr. Conard said. Or perhaps the drawings helped joined people as a group, encouraging them to cooperate—‘a kind of glue to hold these social units together,’ he said.”
Don’t miss part two of Michael Upchurch’s write-ups for Crosscut on smaller installations now on view at SAM: this week, he highlights New Topographics, featuring photographs of “man-altered landscapes,” and American Modernism, which includes two incredible paintings from SAM’s collection by Georgia O’Keeffe and Marsden Hartley.
The fall edition of The Stranger’s Art & Performance Quarterly is out! Lots of SAM shows and events are among their critics’ recommendations, including the exhibitions Peacock in the Desert and Noble Splendor, the annual Diwali Ball, and film events Night Heat: The 41st Film Noir Series and Indian Film Masterpiece: The Apu Trilogy.
Double Exposure: Edward S. Curtis, Marianne Nicolson, Tracy Rector, Will Wilson closes at SAM on September 9, but here are 8 places you can visit in Seattle (and beyond) where you can continue to widen your lens on Native culture. Indigenous peoples have been living in the Puget Sound area for well over 4,000 years making for a rich but complex history that has left a lasting mark on the region. Despite the hardships faced by Native communities, Native culture continues to thrive.
After decades of planning and fundraising, the Duwamish Longhouse & Cultural Center opened its doors to tribal members, visitors, and the community in 2009. Located at a historic archeological site along the Duwamish river in West Seattle, the lobby displays archeological materials from the site and has a resource center filled with photographs, interviews, field notes, and other literature about the Duwamish and coastal Salish people. Visit the longhouse’s gallery and exhibit area—it’s free! In addition, the longhouse holds monthly special events as well as ongoing workshops, demonstrations and lectures.
Located on the University of Washington Seattle campus, the wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ – Intellectual House, pronounced “wah-sheb-altuh,” aims to provide a welcoming space and a supportive educational environment for all Native students. Though this longhouse-style facility is on a college campus and many events are reserved for UW students, it also hosts a variety of different events like film screenings and concerts that are also open to the public. Check out their Facebook page for details on upcoming events.
If you’re in Neah Bay be sure to stop by the Makah Cultural & Research Center—the center includes the Makah Museum, as well as the Museum store, Makah Language Program, Archives and Library Department, Makah Education Department, and Tribal Historic Preservation Office. Their permanent collection boasts 300-500 year old artifacts recovered from a Makah village in Ozette, Washington. The Makah Museum also offers demonstrations and lectures by Makah Tribal Leaders plus workshops where you can learn to make crafts from Makah tradition.
Located in Seattle’s Discovery Park, Sacred Circle Gallery is a gallery space inside of Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center. Along with a permanent collection of Native American art, they show curated exhibits featuring contemporary and traditional Native American Art by global and local artists.
This Port Angeles heritage center is the home of a permanent exhibit of Kallam Village artifacts along with contemporary works by local tribal members. Across the street from the Heritage Center you’ll find The Carnegie Museum, managed by The Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, the space displays cultural and historical artifacts of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe and other tribes of the Olympic Peninsula.
Located on the Evergreen State College campus in Olympia, “House of Welcome” Longhouse Education and Cultural Center’s mission is promoting Indigenous arts and cultures through education, cultural preservation, creative expression, and economic development. Come to the longhouse to learn about indigenous arts and cultures through Native art markets, exhibitions, performances, films, and other public events.
Learn about the legacy of the Tulalip Tribe and people via interactive displays and stories told in both Lushootseed and English at the Hibulb Cultural Center. In addition to the museum’s permanent collection and rotating special exhibitions, they host public events and workshops from weaving and beading classes to salmon bake fundraisers. And, to top it all off, the Cultural Center also happens to be located on a 50-acre natural history preserve, with a research library and a longhouse!
– Nina Dubinsky, Social Media and Communications Coordinator
Images: Photo courtesy of the Longhouse at Evergreen. Photo courtesy of the Hibulb Cultural Center & Natural History Preserve.
2. A master of many mediums—Marshall has made work in collage, drawing, murals, and even comic books.
3. Marshall created Rythm Mastr in reaction to the absence of black superheroes in comics growing up. His comic book series features black superheroes with powers derived from gods in the Yoruba pantheon.
4. The first time Marshall saw an original artwork was on a field trip to LACMA in the sixth grade.
5. Black social realist painter Charles White was a mentor to Marshall who considered seeing White’s studio for the first time “a life-altering experience.”
6. Marshall considered a career in children’s book illustration.
7. Ralph Ellison’s novel The Invisible Man inspired Marshall to make his painting Portrait of the Artist as a Shadow of his Former Self.
8. Painted in 1980, two years after Marshall’s college graduation, Portrait of the Artist as a Shadow of His Former Self was the first painting he ever made of a Black figure.
9. Marshall received the MacArthur “Genius Grant,” for exceptional merit and creative works.
10. He knew in kindergarten he wanted to be an artist after his teacher Mary Hill showed the class a scrapbook full of greeting cards, pictures, and other imagery.
Don’t miss Marshall’s work in Figuring History: Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas. These three artists are shaped by distinctive historic events, unique in style, and united in questioning the narratives of history through Black experience. On view until Sunday May 13!
– Nina Dubinsky, Social Media Coordinator
Image: Installation view Figuring History: Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas, Seattle Art Museum, 2018, photo: Natali Wiseman.
With President Carter’s announcement that the nation must mobilize its vast coal resources to solve the energy crisis, we are entering an era of potentially irreconcilable conflict between the pressures of energy and the pressures of environmental concern.
– John D. Spellman, Earthworks: Land Reclamation as Sculpture, 1979
We find ourselves in a critical and precarious moment: our impact on the environment has caused irreparable harm. With this in mind, it is incredible to look back nearly forty years ago, when the King County Arts Commission brought together a roster of internationally recognized artists to re-imagine post-industrial sites in King County, such as gravel pits, surface mines, and abandoned airstrips. The 1979 initiative and its attendant symposium—Earthworks: Land Reclamation as Sculpture—was a progressive city-backed project meant to envision earthworks as a tool for environmental recovery.
Among the group of accomplished artists—which included Robert Morris, Dennis Oppenheim, Mary Miss, and Herbert Bayer—was Beverly Pepper, who worked with the University of Washington to develop her proposal for Montlake Landfill, part of the University of Washington’s East Campus.  Measuring approximately 80 acres, the landfill site proposal contained two main elements: the first, rendered in the lower right-hand corner of the plan, a 100-foot circle of white-capped posts that would, over time, reveal changes in land levels and be a resource for University of Washington students; the second, an intervention into the landscape that would reveal (through a glass wall) decades of waste disposed at the site, as well as a layer of gravel to again indicate the earth’s movement over time.
While it is not the responsibility of artists to respond to political, social, or cultural events, it is often the case that artists are in the unique and privileged position to call attention to contemporary issues, respond to our increasingly complex world, and, most importantly, effect change. Though Pepper’s Montlake Landfill proposal never came to fruition (Robert Morris and Herbert Bayer’s plans were selected by the jury panel), it remains a radical gesture that will hopefully serve to inspire future artists, environmentalists, and civic leaders alike.
– Elisabeth Smith, Collections Coordinator
Images: Engineering Drawing for MontLake Landfill Proposal, 1979, Beverly Pepper, Collage of graphite on vellum, 30 1/4 x 54 3/4 in., King County Office of Cultural Resources, 98.3.47, Beverly Pepper. Cover of Earthworks: Land Reclamation as Sculpture catalogue, 1979.
 The Montlake Landfill operated as a burn dump and, eventually, as landfill between the years 1926 and 1966. In 1971, the landfill was closed, and covered with two feet of clean soil. According to a report published by the University of Washington’s Environmental Health & Safety Department, “Municipal solid waste, primarily consisting of residential wastes, was disposed in the landfill. Some limited amounts of industrial waste that could be considered hazardous were also disposed at this location.” As for the location: “Although the exact limits of the Montlake Landfill are not definitively known, available documentation suggests that the landfill is generally bounded by Montlake Boulevard NE to the west; NE 45th Street to the north; Laurel Village and the Douglas Research Conservatory to the east; and Canal Road, the Intramural Activities Building, and Union Bay to the south.” For the entire report, please see: https://www.ehs.washington.edu/system/files/resources/montlake.pdf
In 27 short years artist Jean-Michel Basquiat has left a legacy far from the same-old same-old. Learn more about the artist’s life and career with 10 facts that might surprise you before you come see the one-work exhibition Basquiat—Untitled at the Seattle Art Museum, on view for the first time on the West Coast through August 13.
3. Aside from painting and drawing, Basquiat was also a musician. He started the industrial sound band, Gray, and produced a hip-hop track called “Beat-Bop” featuring artist Rammellzee and rapper K-Rob. Original vinyl of this track featuring artwork by Basquiat sells for thousands of dollars and it’s named one of the most valuable hip-hop records of all time.
4. Basquiat hung out with a lot of celebrities, including pop artist Andy Warhol. Though some questioned the integrity of the friendship between this seemingly unlikely pair, Warhol and Basquiat were close friends and collaborated on a plethora of works and projects until they had a falling out.
5. Growing up in Brooklyn with a Puerto Rican mother and a Haitian father Basquiat was trilingual and spoke English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole.
6. Bought at a whopping $110.5 million dollars by Japanese art collector Yusaku Maezawa, Basquiat’s painting Untitled broke the record for the most expensive American artwork ever auctioned.
7. For a period of time while Basquiat was homeless he was able to support himself by dealing drugs and selling postcards and clothing with his art on it.
8. A man of many talents, Basquiat also starred in the 1980s movie Downtown 81 also known as New York Beat Movie. Due to financial reasons, the film was abandoned in the mid-80s only to be released in 2000 at the Cannes Film Festival.
9. Basquiat dated Madonna in 1982 when she was still an aspiring entertainer. In an interview Madonna said that after they broke up he asked for all the paintings he gifted her back then painted them black.
10.Blondie fans you may have seen a familiar face in the “Rapture” music video. In addition to Basquiat making a cameo in their music video, Debbie Harry and Chris Stein bought his first painting for $200.
—Nina Dubinsky, SAM Social Media Coordinator
Image: installation view Basquiat—Untitled at Seattle Art Museum, 2018, photo: Natali Wiseman.