Muse/News: Party crashers at SAM, Seattle’s Instagrammable library, and Zanele Muholi’s self-portraits

SAM News

Claire Partington: Taking Tea is now on view! This site-specific installation brings out the untold human stories of the 1,000 European and Asian porcelain pieces in SAM’s Porcelain Room, reminding viewers of the reality of precarious ocean voyages and human exploitation. Brangien Davis of Crosscut offers this review of this “intervention” that will be on view for the next two years.

“Now, smack in the middle of the room — unprotected except by a guard at the door — stand six ceramic people in old-fashioned dress, positioned as if having tea. Suddenly, our focus is shifted to the figures, who don’t have any teacups in hand, but seem to get their pick of the room. These party-crashers might just change the space forever.”

This Thursday, light up the dreary days of December with SAM Lights. The Seattle Times has all the details on this annual event in their feature, “Holiday sights light up the night.”

Local News

The Seattle Times’ David Gutman talks with artist Laura Hamje about why she can’t stop taking pictures—and making paintings—of the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

Volunteer Park Trust and Kaiser Permanente announced a new partnership in support of programming at the Capitol Hill park that also houses the Seattle Asian Art Museum.

Brangien Davis of Crosscut has a great story about the Central Library, which was just named the “most Instagrammable library” in the world.

“A recent Tuesday afternoon at the library didn’t turn up a single photo snapper. Instead, people could be found using the lofty building for a range of purposes: a man excitedly picking up a stack of books that had just come available; a chatty cluster of folks having coffee at the cafe; people with all their belongings in bags using the computer stations in the so-called Mixing Chamber; a young adult practicing violin in one of the reservable music rooms; one woman seeking documentation of the Alaskan Way Viaduct’s debut; another in search of a name steeped in Seattle history for a new restaurant.”

Inter/National News

Roberta Smith, Holland Cotter and Jason Farago of the New York Times look back at “The Best Art of 2018,” including Hilma af Klimt at the Guggenheim, Charles White at MoMA, and Delacroix at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Hyperallergic broke the news that a board member of the Whitney owns a company that produces tear gas that’s been used at the border; both the Whitney staff and its director have offered their powerful replies.

Yrsa Daley-Ward of the New York Times reviews Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness, the new book on South African artist Zanele Muholi; the portrait exhibition comes to SAM in 2019.

“If storytelling is one of humanity’s most powerful gifts, then visual activism feels like alchemy. Especially when the work in all of its detail, subtle or overt, moves you in a way you don’t all the way understand.” 

And Finally

The most wholesome content on the Internet last week happened at SAM.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Image: Installation view of Claire Partington: Taking Tea at Seattle Art Museum, 2018, photo: Natali Wiseman

Textiles with a life of their own: Parekh Bugbee at SAM Shop

We are obsessed with all things Peacock in the Desert: The Royal Arts of Jodhpur, India! Even SAM Shop is getting in on it and is bringing second-generation Indian textile designer Parekh Bugbee for an in-store trunk show on December 8. We sat down with Payal Parekh Bugbee to discuss the tradition of textiles in her family, sustainability, and spectacular colors. See these beautiful scarves in person while you chat with the designer and sip on some complimentary chai courtesy of Jaipur Chai. drop by anytime between noon and 4 pm and get a jump on holiday shopping!

SAM: How did Parekh Bugbee first start and where does the name come from?

Payal Parekh Bugbee: The initial roots of Parekh Bugbee began in 2011 when I met my husband-to-be during a work trip to Thailand. He’s a photojournalist and also does projects for global health NGOs. I didn’t know how our relationship would blossom but before long he traveled to India to formally meet my father and ask for my hand in marriage. At the time, I’d returned from living in New York City where I did undergrad studies at the Fashion Institute of Technology and had re-located to Mumbai to train under my father. Since the 1960s, my father had worked on collections made for many international designers. These were big name, well-known design houses and they put their labels on everything produced, so at the end of the day customers really wouldn’t know that the pieces were initially designed and manufactured by him. To this day he is a very humble artisan and doesn’t mind. Growing up in India, I spent many years observing his print mastery and artisan skillset. As such, I developed a real zeal for a career in textiles.

Parekh Bugbee, is a combination of my maiden and married names, the fusing of East and West cultures merged into one company. The prints and textiles we make merge traditional and evergreen Indian designs with modern and contemporary motifs.

Have you always wanted to be involved in your family’s business?

In truth, I always had a gut feeling at a very early age that I was destined to carry forward what my father had created but the mystery was what precise form it would take. As a teenager in the early 90s, my parents sent me to New York City to join my elder sister to study and pursue a career. Photography initially grabbed me passionately and I became adamant that I wanted to be a fashion photographer. These skills later proved useful to document and promote my father’s textile works and that was personally rewarding. When I returned to India after college, I worked as a photographer shooting textiles. It was an interesting journey—in India, the boy children usually inherit the duties of a families business but my father never had a male offspring, so it was natural that he wanted his daughters to understand his industry and carry it forward.

After spending one month in the office agreeing to work with him, I realized that it was connected to so many lives and it gave so much back to everyone who was involved in producing these fine textiles. I came to understand it as an ecosystem within itself from concept to completion. Most of the artisans are from different cities and villages around India. In simple terms, the work and the skills they employ make it possible for their kids to have a good education, a solid home, and modest savings for the marriage of their children. My father over the years built apartment units on the acreage around the factory so the artisans and their families could live close. A mango orchard was planted not long ago and he started a sustainable organic garden as well. To look at the whole picture is necessary to understand what goes into making these textiles.

I understand Parekh Bugbee uses organic and natural dyes. How do you get the spectacular colors?

We have a long process for drying the fabrics. My father refers to it as ‘cooking the textiles.’ After the silkscreen printing process, which is accomplished by a meticulous application of layers upon layers of color, the fabrics are run through an extremely high-temperature steam and then dried in direct sunlight for at least two days. This direct sun exposure ensures best results for fastening the color onto each textile.

Do you see changes in the way textiles are produced in India that are considering environmental implications?

Textiles in Asia are a very large and complex industry and even in India there are many approaches to this art, but in our practice, we try our best to be very environmentally conscious. Our entire factory is made out of recycled materials—floor to ceiling—and for as long as I can remember my father has been all about ‘zero wastage’ when it comes to the production line. A while back he created a sophisticated water filtration system which essentially recycles all the water used in the textile printing process to eventually be used in the vegetable gardens.

All of the scarves are so beautiful! How many do you keep for your personal collection?

These textiles have a life of their own and a story behind them. I feel that with time they will only be more valuable as most wearable textiles are now produced cheaply by machine only. These are made by hand every step of the way. That is now rare. And that is why they will retain their special nature.

Honestly, I do have a very wide range of my favorite silk scarves and shawls. I  have them tucked away in a closet and someday it will be a great honor to pass them on to my child. I really believe that these textiles are not just mere pieces of fabrics, they are textile jewels that will never go out of fashion.

Images: Courtesy of Payal Parekh Bugbee

SAM Films: Night Heat – 41st Film Noir Series

Who can sleep when the night is a fever of perfume and gun smoke, the wails of saxophones and police sirens, when acting on impulse is better than a dream? Called “the best series in Seattle film history” by Charles R. Cross, this is the world’s longest-running film noir celebration. Get your series tickets online now or try your luck day of for standby tickets on a first-come, first-served basis.

September 27: White Heat
(Raoul Walsh, 1949)

A tense, wound-up gangster’s (James Cagney) inner demons are always threatening to boil over. He’s got a beautiful wife (Virginia Mayo), but his heart, his tormented emotions, are all tangled up with his mother (Margaret Wycherley). He sits in her lap while she soothes his pounding headaches. A robber and a killer, Cagney’s sent to prison, where he doesn’t know that his cellmate (Edmond O’Brien) is an undercover cop trying to ferret further incriminating information from him. On the outside, Mayo’s falling in with Cagney’s hunky rival (Steve Cochran). Behind bars, Cody’s cut off from his consoling and advising mother, and he rages out of control in a famous mess hall scene. O’Brien’s a simpatico cellmate, but Cagney’s just got to crash out and become the man Ma wants him to be: grasping, destroying, making it to the top of the world. In 35mm, 114 min.

October 4: Leave Her to Heaven
(John M. Stahl, 1945)

The sensuous, saturated visuals of this film convinced everyone that a knockout film noir could be in Technicolor. It’s novelist Cornell Wilde’s lucky day. On the train he meets a stunningly beautiful woman (green-eyed Gene Tierney), who’s reading, and enjoying, his latest book. Within a few days Wilde and this most romantic woman are deeply in love. In record time she scatters her beloved father’s ashes to the winds, riding fast through the New Mexico desert, jilts her fiancé, (Vincent Price) and announces her coming betrothal to Wilde. Tierney’s ardor for him is absolute, but it’s a weaponized devotion. She wants to command his attention and affection, and sometimes she wishes that his typewriter, his crippled brother (Darryl Hickman), and her sweet sister (Jeanne Crain) would just go away. Luscious 1940s art direction gives us a Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired desert house, a Maine forest retreat and a comfy New England cottage. As Martin Scorsese says, “a lost paradise, its beauty ravished by the heroine’s perverse nature.” Critic-author David Thomson calls the film “a mad goddess creation; if you want a wild thrill one night, I know which way I’d go.” In 35mm, 110 min.

October 11: Force of Evil
(Abraham Polonsky, 1948)

Director Polonsky and actor John Garfield, both Bronx-born, both scarred by the anti-Communist witch hunts, crafted this gritty blank-verse poem of the urban jungle, that conflates a soul’s and a society’s corruption. America is devoted to making money and strategizing to make more. Nothing new there, but there are gradations of commitment and devotion to the pursuit. Corporate racketeer Ray Roberts is all in, scheming to monopolize the symbiotic relationship between illegal betting and the banks that provide the winnings, and lawyer Garfield will make it happen. He arranges for the July fourth lucky number seven-seventy-six to win all over New York, so all the small-time betting banks will have to borrow money from Roberts to pay so many winners, and then he’ll take them over. Garfield will make a cool million, but his conscience troubles him. His estranged brother Thomas Gomez is one of the little guys who’ll get squeezed. Is it too late for Garfield to act on his better nature? Or is he too far on a path “going down and down, to the bottom of the world.” Music by David Raksin (“Laura”). In 35mm, 87 min.

October 25: On Dangerous Ground (Nicholas Ray, 1951)

Nicholas Ray is the cinematic poet of human alienation, and the saving grace of connection. He studied architecture with Frank Lloyd Wright, and understands the shaping influence of the places we inhabit. Tough cop Robert Ryan is brutal with himself and others in New York’s concrete labyrinth. His youthful sports trophies? Who cares? When he breaks the rules and savagely beats a suspect, he yells, “Why do you punks make me do this?” To keep from getting fired, he’s sent from the dark city to pristine snow fields upstate. But human wildlife is everywhere, and he helps track a child-killer with a man (Ward Bond) bent on illegal vengeance. Is there any way Ryan can see a different way of being? The suspect’s sister (Ida Lupino), herself isolated geographically and in her blindness, tells Ryan, who trusts no one, that she has to trust everyone. Music by Alfred Hitchcock’s favorite composer Bernard Herrmann (Psycho). In 35mm, 82 min.

November 1: Sudden Fear
(David Miller, 1952)

Wealthy Broadway dramatist Joan Crawford rejects actor Jack Palance as the lead in her new play, but falls for him big-time on a train trip to San Francisco. They marry, and Crawford is deliriously happy: she’s found her leading man for life. But Palance is secretly writing his own life script, which features a major part for his smoldering ex-flame Gloria Grahame, who’s got her eyes on Crawford’s substantial bank balance. Add some newfangled 1950s technology, and the elements for one of film noir’s most suspenseful climaxes are firmly in place. In 35mm, 110 min.

November 8: Wicked Woman
(Russell Rouse, 1953)

This seedy, down-and-dirty gem features luscious B-movie siren Beverly Michaels as the new waitress at the bar where muscular Richard Egan mixes the drinks. She can’t keep her hands off him, he responds in kind, and she concocts a scheme to have him sell the bar and carry her off to Mexico. But there are complications. Egan’s alcoholic wife (Evelyn Scott) is the one who owns the bar. And toad-like little Percy Helton, who’s always had lustful eyes for Michaels, can ruin everything. Maybe there’s something she can do to keep her dream alive. In 35mm, 77 min.

November 15: The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955)

Film noir usually presents the shadow side of the human psyche in adult terms. But Laughton’s masterpiece immerses us in a child’s view of a grown-up world of greed, violence and twisted sexuality that’s almost overwhelming, where adults loom like monsters and angels, and reality, fairy tale and nightmare merge. Via cinematographer Stanley Cortez’s searing images, Laughton floats us into a world where playing kids find the molested body of a woman in a cellar, and a dead woman sits at the bottom of a river, her hair streaming in the current. Where a Bible-crazed preacher with a knife (Robert Mitchum) tries to get little Billy Chapin and Sally Jane Bruce to tell him where some money’s hidden. They won’t say, and they have to get away, floating on that river, watched by innocent animals. Laughton’s aesthetic of power-through-simplicity was inspired by D.W. Griffith’s seminal films, and Griffith’s great heroine, Lilian Gish, provides a sanctuary for lost children. She’s got a spine of steel, but Mitchum, worse than any boogey man, just keeps coming. With Shelley Winters, Peter Graves. Screenplay by James Agee and Laughton. In 35mm, 93 min.

November 29: Lilith
(Robert Rossen, 1964)

In the Bible and the Talmud, Lilith is a female demon, a destroyer of men. In film noir, femme fatales can be brash and harsh, or as softly seductive as a spider web in a beautiful meadow. A young man (Warren Beatty) with a war-wounded soul returns to his home town. He needs to rediscover who he is and find a purpose in life. Working at a park-like mental hospital, he comes under the spell of Lilith (Jean Seberg), an artistic woman who wants to share her love with the world. But Seberg’s golden aura casts shadows, ensnaring patient Peter Fonda, who touchingly speaks of the life he’ll lead after he’s released. Beatty goes home to sleep at night, but home is where the heart is. Great acting all around, with Beatty trying to gather, and find himself in his pauses and hesitations, and Gene Hackman tense and wonderful in his first film. But Seberg is the sun. With Kim Hunter. In 35mm, 114 min.

December 6: Heat
(Michael Mann, 1995)

Two men in L.A. Both hunters, both prey. One takes money that isn’t his own, the other tries to stop him. A criminal, a cop. Robert de Niro and Al Pacino. Ice and fire, coming to a boil. Cool and controlled, De Niro and his pals (Val Kilmer, Jon Voight, Tom Sizemore) pull off big robberies with military precision. Steamed-up, swaggering Pacino uses intuition and manpower to track them down, with limited success. Master stylist Michael Mann gives this monumental crime saga irresistible forward momentum, but everything stops so two great American actors, De Niro and Pacino, can appear together for the first time and have coffee. The outlaw and the lawman are both doing what they’re best at, and it’s their nature to keep on with it. But for moments out of time they talk about the fullness and emptiness of their lives, person to person. This isn’t a truce, there will be skirmishes, machine gun fire on downtown streets, people lying dead. They’ll meet again at the airport at night, out in the field, where planes glide like souls, some coming in, some leaving, on the soft sultry air. With Diane Venora, Amy Brenneman, Ashley Judd, Natalie Portman. Digital Cinema, 172 min.

– Greg Olson, Manager of Film Programs

Photos: Courtesy of Photofest

Appreciation Without Appropriation: Trickster Company at SAM Shop

Did you know that SAM Shop has a store on the museum’s fourth floor with objects specifically selected based on the artwork in our special exhibitions? During Double Exposure: Edward S. Curtis, Marianne Nicolson, Tracy Rector, Will Wilson we’re working with Native artists and companies to stock the shelves. SAM Shop buyer, Renata Tatman interviewed Native artists and the co-owners of one of these retailers: Crystal and Rico Worl are siblings and they started Trickster Company with a focus on Northwest Coast art and themes and issues in Native culture. SAM recently launched a brand new web store for SAM Shop where you can order playing cards and stickers from Trickster Company. Better yet, stop by the special exhibition store on the fourth floor when you visit Double Exposure (closing September 9!) for more products by this innovative Indigenous product design company, or check out the Trickster Company site after learning more about this dynamic duo right here!

SAM: Do you remember how old you were when you first started to work on projects together?

Crystal Worl: When we were kids we used to build little towns out of Lego. There were shops filled with tiny paper books, and clothes made out of fabric. We had a very elaborate plan. Playing and making things was the way we had fun. We were given a lot of love and nurtured by family. We were encouraged to be creative. We are really blessed to have parents that believe in our art business.

Rico Worl: Crystal was always the artist. I never considered myself an artist until I returned from college. I started to work on a brand around 2010. At that time we started to think about the concept of Trickster together.

 

Do you collaborate on most projects, or do you each come up with your own ideas and work independently?

Crystal: It depends on the project. Sometimes I’ll say to Rico, “Hey I have this project, do you want to do it with me?” I’m often juggling up to 20 different projects. Some are collaborations with our community or other artists. We try to share opportunities with each other when they come up. Often times when I have an exhibition I invite Rico to submit work.

Rico: It’s a mix. We share a lot of the designs. Other times we help take on projects the other needs help with.

How and when were you inspired to explore a more contemporary design esthetic?

Crystal: I knew I needed to practice drawing everyday, and study formline from works done by the masters. After college I had to decided to find a mentor for an apprenticeship in carving and design. Robert Davidson came to Juneau to give a lecture about formline art. One part of his lecture he said that you need to start with 10,000 hours of practice to begin. He encouraged me to write him a letter and send in my portfolio. I am now in a two-year apprenticeship with Robert. Robert’s work inspires me to learn the principals of formline, practice 10,000 hours, develop intuition, and then expand on it.

Rico: I consider myself more a student of traditional formline design. Though I must also note that I feel that formline evolves—labeling it traditional or contemporary is not accurate. We are using contemporary mediums though and placing designs in a different context. I do this to represent my own modern identity.

How did you learn about doing business and selling your designs?

Crystal: When I showed my dad what I made, he would get really excited and tell me that it was good, and that we should try to sell it. My Mom would purchase supplies for me and give me books about art. She taught me how to bead. Both of my parents wanted me to do what I loved to do and make a living doing it.

Rico: It sounded fun. I was working at Sealaska Heritage doing anthropological work. I started to learn about commerce when people wanted to buy my artwork. I read a lot about being an entrepreneur, it became a game to me.

In the Pacific Northwest most people are familiar with formline and Native design. Do you sell to other parts of the country where they may not have seen this design work before?  

Crystal: Formline is naturally pleasing to the eye. It looks good on anything and opens the door to educate people about our art and culture.

Rico: We sell around the world off our website. One of the goals of the Trickster Company is to make the art accessible and give people a chance to appreciate without appropriating. People are excited to make the connection with Native culture.

 

 

 

Get Worldly with The Seattle Women’s Steel Pan Project

Catch The Seattle Women’s Steel Pan Project playing a free concert outdoors as the first musical act in our World Music Series. Throughout the summer months SAM’s Gardner Center for Asian Art and Ideas presents four free concerts in the Volunteer Park Amphitheater that bring music from all over the world to Seattle. Find out more about the female-focused music group and mark your calendars for their performance, July 13!

The sounds of steel pan music enliven a summer evening outdoors! Originally from Trinidad, the steel pan is a testament to the resilience and ingenuity of the descendants of slaves brought to the Caribbean from Africa who created this instrument from oil drums and other discarded metal containers. Steel pan can now be found all over the world and captivates the hearts of all those lucky enough to get a chance to play it.

Michael Shantz and I formed The Seattle Women’s Steel Pan Project (SWSPP) in 2013 as a collaboration. The project started as a weekly beginner steel pan class and within the first year students performed at the Women Who Rock UnConference in Seattle’s Washington Hall. Since then, over 100 women have taken classes and, of that, at least 20 have played in the performance group.

The performance group consists of women with an array of musical backgrounds. Some pan players such as Ceda Clemmons and Miho Takekawa have been playing steel pan for over 20 years, while many others had never played with a musical ensemble before joining SWSPP. The beauty of steel pan is that it’s a highly accessible instrument, you can come into class having had no prior experience playing an instrument and leave being able to play a song as an ensemble 4-6 weeks later, which is the typical duration of the beginner class series. The mission of SWSPP is to give women and girls the opportunity to experience the energy and joy that playing music gives us. The music scene tends to be heavily dominated by male musicians—a boys club of sorts. This project gives women an opportunity to enter the arena of musical performance in a fun and accessible way.

Tashie LeMaitre says of her experience as a group member, “Being a part of this project has been like joining another family. I’ve learned so much since I started playing with The Seattle Women’s Steel Pan Project and have seen so many new places that I might never have gotten the chance to see. I’ve always loved pan, but have since fallen in love with it even more. I look forward to what the future holds for us.”

SWSPP frequently collaborates with other seasoned musicians in Seattle, both female and male, for larger shows and productions. Ann Reynolds, Marina Albero, Obe Quarless, Makala Romero, Otieno Terry, Adriana Giordano, Teo Shantz  and Kate Olson are just a few of the local musicians with whom the group has partnered. You can catch the group performing on stages all throughout King County!

– Oriana Estrada, Administrative Director, Seattle Women’s Steel Pan Project

Photo: Courtesy of The Women’s steel Pan Project.

Donor Spotlight: Yucca and Gary Support Seattle Asian Art Museum

The renovation and expansion of our Asian Art Museum is about more than the preservation of art. We’re also furthering our mission to connect our Asian art collection to the life of our community for generations to come. Our donors are sharing how important art is to them in making connections to both the past and the future and the importance of SAM in creating those connections. Learn more about the project and show your support!

We are very pleased to support the Seattle Asian Art Museum and the mission of greater understanding between the US and Asia. We lived several years in Japan and over ten years in China, and feel that art and culture play a major role in more deeply appreciating the history, achievements, and challenges of the Asia-Pacific region.

Seattle is uniquely positioned as a true gateway to the Asia-Pacific, with a number of the industries and technologies that are at the core of the next decades of development. Integrating art and culture into the mix in a more direct way through SAM is something we are very excited to support.

– Yucca & Gary Rieschel

What do you want to do when you grow up? SAM can help with the answer!

Remember when you were in school and everyone nagged you about what you wanted to do when you grew up? You may have known, you may not have known, you may have thought you knew and ended up changing your mind. SAM’s High School Career Day programs differ from others by rejecting the notion that 15 and 16 year-olds need to know what they want to do for the rest of their lives. Instead we explore the vast career options within a museum whilst creating a space for students to feel okay with the unknown.

SAM’s Equity Team’s Career Days center the interests of aspiring youth while involving staff from across departments and shedding light on the real people who navigate the creative, interesting, and sometimes odd, world of nonprofits, art, and museums. Students have heard from folks in SAM’s Education, Curatorial, Security, and Development departments, as well as from teaching artists, and more!

Our last Career Day on April 25, 2018 was with Mount Rainier High School and 85% of students said this experience helped them better understand their future career interests and plans for after high school. Nearly 70% of students said this experience helped them think about school in a new way, or motivated them to do better in school. Some of the students shared their thoughts with us after their visit!

“I thought about how it would be an interesting job but it made me realize I need to do better in school to become what I want.”

“Learning about the history of some of the art made me understand and find a deeper appreciation for history in school I don’t enjoy.”

“We saw a figures in history exhibit where old paintings had been re-imagined to represent a larger modern community. I’d like to work harder to later represent youth and help educate about identity expression at school.”

Our next Career Day is in November and we will continue to offer this program in the future. If you would like to bring your group to the museum for a Career Day experience, please email us!

– Rayna Mathis, School and Educator Programs Coordinator

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

Gardner Center: Making Shawl Talk

This spring SAM’s Gardner Center for Asian Art and Ideas is out and about, hosting happenings in Bellevue and Columbia City! Please join us on March 29 for a SAM members’ reception and public program at the Bellevue Arts Museum. Featuring Rosemary Crill on Kashmir Shawls and the West, she will speak in conversation with historian Prof. Anand Yang, University of Washington

Kashmir shawls launched an amazing global fashion phenomenon. When introduced to Europe from India in the late 18th century, the soft goats’ wool (“cashmere”) was a new sensation, as were their paisley patterns. Even the word, “shawl’,” was introduced to English from the Persian term also used in India.

British and French textile producers rushed to invent ways to make cheaper imitations—and lo and behold, it’s the Industrial Revolution and colonial enterprise in action. Once the British shawls not only replaced imports from Kashmir but were exported in huge quantities to India, Kashmir’s highly-skilled and specialized weavers were doomed.

This colonial dynamic paralleled the much larger-scale damage to India’s cotton weavers. Protest in India and a social movement to boycott foreign goods led in time to the independence movement—think of Gandhi and his spinning wheel. As Crill points out in The Fabric of India exhibition catalogue (Victoria and Albert Museum, 2015), “the effect of this reversal in the direction of trade . . . was to affect the subsequent history of South Asia and the world as a whole.”

Rosemary Crill, former Senior Curator for South Asia at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, is a legend in the textile world. As part of the discussion, an unidentified old textile piece from India from a Washington museum collection will be shown to Crill for her assessment. Be there to find out more!

Shawls

Can you tell which of these are from Kashmir and which are the British versions?

– Sarah Loudon, Director, Gardner Center for Asian Art and Ideas

Images: Early Kashmir Shawl, early 19th century, Indian, cashmere, 128 x 49 in., Gift of Mrs. Reginald H. Parsons, Seattle Art Museum 36.52. Shawl, 1856, Scottish, wool, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1994.327. image in the public domain. Shawl, 1865–75, Scottish, wool and silk; Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Catherine Courtney, 1933; 2009.300.3010 image in the public domain. Shawl, mid-19th century, Attributed to India, Kashmir; Wool, silk; double interlocking twill tapestry weave, embroidered, pieced; Gift of H. de B. Parsons, 1923; Metropolitan Museum of Art 23.126.1. image in the public domain. Kashmir shawl, ca.1830, Kashmir, for the Western market, woven pashmina wool, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, IS 96-1948. Muslin dress and Kashmir shawl. Dress, Indian muslin made up in England, ca.1805-10. Shawl, Kashmir for the western market, ca.1750-60. Victoria and Albert Museum, London, Circ. 30-1958 (dress); IM 17-1915 (shawl).Victoria and Albert Museum. Preliminary sketch design for paisley shawl, Scotland. Plate XI in Matthew Blair, The Paisley Shawl and the Men Who Produced It, Alexander Gardner: 1904. Detail, top image. Early Kashmir Shawl, early 19th century, Indian, Kashmir, 128 x 49 in., Gift of Mrs. Reginald H. Parsons, Seattle Art Museum 36.52. Kashmir shawl, after 1865, Indian, wool with embroidery, 82 x 81 in., Eugene Fuller Memorial Collection, Seattle Art Museum 40.87

SAM Film: Alfred Hitchcock’s Britain

In the 1930s before he came to America, young London-born Alfred Hitchcock (1899–1980) was already a world-acknowledged master of cinema, a sublime orchestrator of images and emotions. Often with story contributions from his wife Alma Reville, Hitchcock thrilled viewers with engrossing mystery, gripping suspense, intimate romance, psychological insight, witty British humor, and droll cameo appearances. Even after settling in America, he continued to portray his homeland with deep affection. Get your tickets to this series before they sell out!

March 22: The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934). Hitchcock’s youthful mastery of suspense, humor and a compelling story move this thriller at an enthralling pace. A vacationing couple (Leslie Banks, Edna Best) are told of a plot to assassinate an international diplomat; their daughter (Nova Pilbeam) is kidnapped to keep them quiet; and the evil shooter (Peter Lorre) is in position at a Royal Albert Hall concert, waiting for his cymbal-crash cue. With atmospheric production design by Alfred Junge, who worked on Michael Powell classics like The Red Shoes. Digital restoration, 84 min.

March 29: Sabotage (1936). Based on Joseph Conrad’s novel The Secret Agent, with script contributions by Hitchcock’s wife Alma Reville, Sabotage centers on a woman (Sylvia Sidney) who doesn’t know that her husband (Oscar Homolka) is the saboteur wreaking havoc in London. Scotland Yard and Sidney’s little brother (Desmond Tester) get involved, but Sidney is the one with righteous agency. Features one of Hitchcock’s most intense suspense sequences. In 35mm, 76 min.

April 5: The 39 Steps (1936). Adapted from John Buchan’s novel, with script work by Alma Reville, this is one of Hitchcock’s masterpieces. Vacationing in London, an innocent man (Robert Donat) finds a murdered woman in his bed, and flees for Scotland when the police assume he’s the killer. Spies are chasing him too, and on a quest to track down the master villain, he’s handcuffed to a feisty beauty (Madeleine Carroll), and must rely on the help of many flavorful characters. Hitchcock liked to say, “Other directors’ films are slices of life; my films are slices of cake.” Bon appetite! In 35mm, 81 min.

April 12: Young and Innocent (1937). A woman’s body washes ashore, and an innocent young chap (Derrick De Marney) is accused of murder. A tense situation, but charm abounds as he enlists the reluctant help of a policeman’s teenage daughter (Nova Pilbeam) to help him flee and sleuth out the real killer. The couple is humorously waylaid by a children’s party, and Hitchcock propels us towards the real culprit with a stupendous, unbroken shot that traverses a hotel lobby and ballroom, right up to a most guilty face. Screenplay co-written by alma Reville. In 35mm, 80 min.

April 19: The Lady Vanishes (1938). A favorite film of everyone from Orson Welles to author James Thurber, The Lady Vanishes is a perfect blending of thrills and laughs. On a Balkan train trip a dear old lady (Dame May Whitty) is suddenly not there anymore. Young Margaret Lockwood had befriended Whitty, and reports her disappearance. But no one believes her, because the woman is right there—but it’s some other woman, eerily wearing Whitty’s clothes. Won’t someone—maybe that whimsical musician Michael Redgrave—help Lockwood solve one of the cinema’s most entertaining mysteries? In 35mm, 97 min.

April 26: Rebecca (1940). This haunting romantic mystery finds the shy, unworldly Joan Fontaine marrying the dashing Laurence Olivier and moving to Manderly, his house on the Cornish coast. Fontaine must live in the shadow of Rebecca, Olivier’s dead first wife, to whom her sinister housekeeper Judith Anderson was more than professionally devoted. And by the way, how did Rebecca die? From Daphne Du Maurier’s novel. In 35mm, 130 min.

May 3: Suspicion (1941). Joan Fontaine won the Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of a woman who defies her stuffy parents and marries notorious playboy Cary Grant. He’s irresponsible, charming and lovable, but Fontaine starts putting together bits of evidence that spell lethal danger. With Nigel Bruce, and script work by Alma Reville. In 35mm, 99 min.

May 10: Stage Fright (1950). Stage star Marlene Dietrich gets her boyfriend Richard Todd to help cover up her self-defense killing of her abusive husband, and Todd becomes murder suspect number one. Drama student Jane Wyman, who’s crazy about Todd, gets her father (the delightful Alastair Sim) to help him, and Wyman does her own sleuthing while pretending to be Dietrich’s maid. Hitchcock’s wife adapted the screenplay, and his daughter Patricia plays Wyman’s chum. In 35mm, 110 min.

May 17: Dial M For Murder (1954). Suave Ray Milland is nervous. He’s married to gorgeous, wealthy Grace Kelly, but she like writer Robert Cummings. Milland needs to do something drastic now, before Kelly makes Cummings her insurance beneficiary. Stunningly, Kelly kills her attacker, but is accused of murder. Can Cummings and Scotland Yard’s John Williams figure out how to trap the true guilty party? In 35mm, 88 min.

– Greg Olson, Manager of Film Programs

Images: Alfred Hitchock Presents (CBS) TV Series (1955–1962), CBS/Photofest © CBS. Rebecca (1940), United Artists/Photofest © United Artists

 

 

 

Encountered in Orbit: Artists in Residence at Olympic Sculpture Park

“We look to a blue dot on our phones to locate ourselves,” Tia Kramer points out. “Orbiting Together offers a new way engage with unseen objects that make that technology possible. Through text messages we instruct participants to poetically enact gestures that respond to the function of the satellites orbiting overhead.” Orbing Together is the participatory experience of the current Olympic Sculpture Park artists in residence, Tia Kramer, Eric Olson, and Tamin Totzke. When you opt in to Orbiting Together you get texted instructions, or scores, on how to orient yourself to the space around you once or twice a day, wherever you are, at the same time as anyone else signed up, according to satellite movement over the park. The residency culminates in a final Art Encounter, a participatory experience and performance, at the Olympic Sculpture Park, Friday, February 23.

The functions and properties of the satellites triggering the text messages inform the scores you receive. Some of the messages are sent along with images and information on the satellite that sends them. When writing the scores, the artists are considering binaries. Both the binaries of computers that direct satellites across the skies above us as well as, “how to hold divergent concepts in your mind and body at the same time,” Kramer says.

The three artists in residence bring unique backgrounds to the project. Tamin Totzke, with an MFA in choreography, offers movement practices that inform the scores. Tia Kramer is a site-specific performance artist, educator, and social choreographer interested in gestures and actions of human connection in the everyday. Eric Olson uses his programming and technical skills to create participatory art practice and social engagement. They all consider the Art Encounter portion of their residency as making the irony of the project clear.

“We’re asking people to consider the somatics of our relationship to technology, while using technology to create connection,” Olson points out. Somatics is the making of meaning through intentional movement that allows you to perceive yourself and the world around you. While the project points out how we isolate ourselves from each other and our environments by referring to satellites thousands of miles away to tell us the name of the street we are on, it also uses cell phones and social media to prompt group actions.

Because it requires your phone to take part, the balance between documenting and experiencing is also an inherent tension to the project. Orbing Together is at once a chance to re-orient in space outside of your phone, while using your phone to facilitate that orientation. “We’re playing with parody. We’re using an ad agency technology to facilitate personal agency.” Eric Olson says.

By creating a database of all the satellites that move over Seattle daily (most pass over multiple times a day), tracking which zip codes they travel through, and using advertising technology that sends text messages, Orbiting Together is bridging space through simultaneity.

With people opted in across the world, the Olympic Sculpture Park becomes a location that people the world wide are orienting themselves by, while paying closer attention to their immediate surroundings. For the final Art Encounter at the Olympic Sculpture Park there will be a blend of visitor participation and performers in attendance. It will not be immediately apparent who is a performer and who is an audience member. The performers will create a complete presentation of the gestures that have been texted throughout the project. There’s still time to take part, text “TOGETHER” to “206 IN 01 SKY.” Also coming up this weekend is a send off celebration and artist tour of the Olympic Sculpture Park, Sunday February 25, 10:30 am–noon. Meet in PACCAR Pavilion to join the artists in residence for a tour of the park with inspired exercises.

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

Images: Jen Au, Nina Dubinsky, Jen Au

Boundaries of Belonging with the Gardner Center

Debating critical issues over immigration and refugee issues, and the security of national borders in the US can escalate quickly or quickly become tiresome. But, through inquiry, SAM’s Gardner Center offers an alternative way of engaging with, and thinking about, global events that impact us all. The Saturday University Lecture Series beginning this week, is a chance to reflect and discuss how some of these issues manifest around the world. Six outstanding speakers will consider various ways that national borders and other boundaries are created, maintained, and crossed in different parts of Asia in the winter lecture series, Boundaries of Belonging.

Two major events of the mid-20th century that resulted in new national borders—between India and Pakistan, and the formation of North and South Korea—still have resonance in international tensions. Our first speaker, David Gilmartin, looks at the Partition of India and Pakistan in terms of dividing the Indus River Basin, which was then the site of the world’s largest integrated river irrigation system. Next up is the DMZ that separated the members of so many families between North and South Korea. Suk-Young Kim considers that heavily militarized border as a site of intense emotion over the conflicting bonds of family and nation, and discusses various forms of border crossing.

Meanwhile in the Philippines, President Duterte has declared war on marginalized communities within their own nation. While most Filipinos are removed from the violence, Vicente Rafael discusses the work of photojournalists who aim to bring national and international attention to the victims of this “drug war.”

 In a comparison of the treatment of Koreans living in Japan and Japanese Americans in the US during World War II, Tak Fujitani uncovers how both governments recruited among these communities for military service as their duty to the nation, while at the same time denying them full rights.

How to imagine a refugee camp of over 650,000 Rohingya people in Bangladesh? Azeem Ibrahim shares his research conducted over several visits to Bangladesh and Myanmar.

Our final speaker, Lucinda Ramberg, considers issues of religion, caste and gender among a Buddhist community in South India.

Join us and consider the many questions raised during the Saturday University Lecture Series. Tickets are still available to the series and individual lecture tickets are sold at the door, day-of.

– Sarah Loudon, Director, Gardner Center for Asian Art and Ideas

Photo: NASA

Winter Light: The Films of Ingmar Bergman

Seattle Art Museum and the Nordic Heritage Museum celebrate the centennial of Swedish writer-director Ingmar Bergman (1907–2017), focusing on the mid-20th century decade when the world discovered one of the supreme masters of cinema. Bergman, the secular son of the Swedish Royal Court’s pastor, ponders the essential human questions. What gives life meaning? How do we find intimacy and love? Are we sustained beyond death? Bergman’s mesmerizing storytelling and family of superb actors answer with the eloquence of the human face. Films are in Swedish with English subtitles.

 

Jan 11: Summer With Monika (1952)
Bergman’s films often center on women, Monika (Harriet Andersson) being a well-known example. Monika and her boyfriend become lovers during an idyllic island summer. They’ve left their responsibilities behind, but what will happen when they return to Stockholm? In 35mm, 97 min.

 

Jan 18: Smiles of a Summer Night (1955)
With quicksilver wit and tenderness, Bergman invites us to a country house weekend, where the hostess (Eva Dahlbeck) has filled the rooms and lush grounds with former, present, and would-be lovers. Smiles inspired Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music. In 35mm, 108 min.

 

Jan 25: The Seventh Seal (1957)
A returning 14th-century knight (the majestic Max von Sydow) finds his homeland plagued by physical and moral corruption. When the figure of Death comes for him, he proposes playing a game of chess for his life, with a secret strategy in mind. In 35mm, 95 min.

 

Feb 1: Wild Strawberries (1957)
A patch of strawberries prompts an elderly professor (pioneering Swedish director-actor Victor Sjostrom)  to movingly re-examine his life with his parents, his current family, and himself. There are painful truths to consider, but the fruit is sweet. In 35mm, 90 min.

 

Feb 8: The Magician (1958)
This dark Gothic comedy wonders if rationality alone can explain the mysteries of life. In the 1840s, a man of logic and science (Gunnar Bjornstrand) gets more than he bargained for when he challenges and provokes a traveling magician (Max von Sydow). In 35mm, 100 min.

 

Feb 22: The Virgin Spring (1960)
Inspired by a 14th-century ballad, this film portrays a world still under the sway of pagan folklore. A girl curses her half-sister, and the cursed one is murdered. When the father (Max von Sydow) discovers the culprits, his desire for vengeance makes him question his new Christian faith. Digital restoration, 88 min.

 

Mar 1: Through a Glass Darkly (1961)
On a remote island a young woman (Harriet Andersson) waits and waits to see God. Her husband (Max von Sydow) and her father are detached observers, but her brother is emotionally present, and will grow from their filial bond. Digital restoration, 91 min.

 

Mar 8: The Silence (1963)
A cool intellectual (Ingrid Thulin), her sensual sister (Gunnel Lindblom), and the sister’s young son arrive in a strange city, where they can’t understand what people are saying. Bergman presents the lack of communication as a modern hell, but the boy wanders as in a wonderland, perceiving traces of grown-up sexuality and death, and learning three words: spirit, anxiety, joy. Digital restoration, 96 min.

Mar 15: Persona (1966)
Bergman’s most tantalizing masterpiece is a meditation on the subjectivity of reality and the personas, the aspects of ourselves that we show the world, the characters that actors create. On a secluded island, a talkative nurse (Bibi Andersson) cares for an actress (Liv Ullmann) who’s retreated into muteness. They’re both blonde and beautiful, and somehow they begin to merge. Persona is a stunning, poetic summation of Bergman’s lifelong obsession with character and story. Digital restoration, 84 min.

Get your series tickets before they sell out!

Images: Summer with Monika, 1953, Hallmark Productions/Photofest. Persona, 1966, Lopert Pictures Corporation/Photofest.

Community Gallery: WA State High School Photography Competition

Way back in the 1980s, when photographs were made with film, and gas was less than a buck a gallon, the Washington State High School Photography Competition began as the brainchild of a few photography instructors committed to elevating their students’ skills, and celebrating their creativity. Since then, this competition has blossomed into the largest event of its kind in the United States, receiving nearly 4,000 entries every year.

The competition is open to students enrolled in grades 9–12 in a public, private, or alternative high school in Washington State. In 2017, there were twelve categories in which students could enter. The exhibition includes the top three photographs from each category. The categories and rules are reviewed every year and approved by our advisory board of five active high school photography instructors.

Our event relies on the volunteer efforts of high school students and instructors, and the support of a handful of dedicated sponsors including Museum Quality Framing, Kenmore Camera, Canon, Jones Soda, Photographic Center Northwest, Key Bank, and Seattle Sounders FC. We also enjoy a wonderful partnership with the Seattle Art Museum. Since 1995, SAM has showcased our annual exhibit to help celebrate the exceptional talent emerging from our high schools. This collaborative effort helps us achieve our mission to provide a prestigious public platform for student photography.

This year our judges were photographers Chris Bennion, Claire Garoutte and Spike Mafford. They dedicated an entire day to review the thousands of entries. We very much appreciate their time and expertise.

You can see this impressive exhibit at SAM through December 31. For more information contact WSHSPC executive director Kelly Atkinson or visit us on Facebook.

– Kelly Atkinson, Executive Director Washington State High School Photography Competition

Images: Nicole Knittel, Inglemoor H.S. Best in Show. Abby Sandefur, Tacoma School of the Arts, 1st in Portrait.

Get Your Winter Glow On: SAM Lights

If you live in Seattle, now is about the time when you might find yourself feeling lethargic, despondent, and perhaps a bit irritable. SAM’s got the fix for your Seasonal Affective Disorder and it’s not vitamin D, it’s SAM Lights! Thursday, December 14, 6–9 pm get outside despite the cold and join us at the Olympic Sculpture Park for a luminous evening amidst iconic sculptures. There’s something for everyone with performances, food trucks, art activities, and Z Path lit by luminaria. Here’s a preview from two of our partners who will be bringing interactive art activities into the park just for you.

Sensebellum, a company specializing in blending interactive art and tech, is proud to present the Arborealis Tree Lighting System! Over 120+ light fixtures placed in 14+ trees around the Olympic Sculpture Park will light up the night as patrons walk around the grounds.

All of the trees are synchronized by custom software and are driven by an interactive kiosk where a map of the park becomes the interface. Press this button here and you hear a sound and see some light dance from branch to branch. What about that one over there? Better grab a friend because a good ol’ jam session just might occur! Whatever your style, it will sure to be a sight to see and we are sure very excited to bring out one of our favorite installations for all to enjoy!

Bop Bags is an interactive inflatable installation by the Seattle Design Nerds. Partly inspired by fungi that sprout in the wet season these inflatables appear to have burst forth in colorful bloom and are a reminder that our rainy season is still a vibrant one. These eight cuddly orbs invite touch and play by shifting color when tapped or “bopped.” Visitors are encouraged to tap on the surface of this series of gigantic cuddly lanterns which respond by changing colors.

Work together to create a symphony of illumination! As visitors descend through the Gates Amphitheater, the inflatables lure passersby from the path with their subtle glow and bubbly personality. Placed in a sympathetic arrangement to Richard Serra’s Wake, the orbs reward both play and patience. The Seattle Design Nerds are an all volunteer non-profit organization dedicated to design in the public realm. We focus on making exciting things for the public that can be experienced in unexpected locations and ways.

Images: Courtesy of Seattle Design Nerds & Sensebellem.

In The Studio: Molly Vaughan, 2017 Betty Bowen Award Winner

Molly Vaughan, winner of the 2017 Betty Bowen Award, comes from an academic background, however the background noise of a visit to her studio is the sound of a sewing machine. Vaughan is embroidering Four Corners, a poem written by one of her collaborators, Natalie Ann Martinez onto the fabric she will use to make the sleeves for her current garment in the ongoing series, Project 42. Though she didn’t study textile art, Molly Vaughan’s recent work includes the production of colorful and carefully crafted, hand-made garments.

Project 42 is named for the short life expectancy of transgender individuals in the United States. The age 42 is based on Vaughan’s own research since no official study can currently verify the average life expectancy of trans people. The National Transgender Survey was conducted two years ago and will be published soon as the most comprehensive analysis of the transgender community, Vaughan tells us.

For each work in the series, the artist designs a garment that begins with an image of a murder location, which is digitally manipulated to create an abstract textile print. The garment is then activated by a collaborator or by the audience and visitors to the installation, as it will be when installed at SAM for Molly Vaughan: Betty Bowen Award Winner, in April 2018. Molly Vaughan describes this practice as rooted in the belief of labor as memorialization and in the physical object as tribute.

Help us celebrate the 2017 Betty Bowen Award Winner during the Award Ceremony and Reception on November 9 featuring a collaborative performance memorializing Fred Martinez Jr. by Natalie Ann Martinez, Catherine Uehara, and Amanda Pickler, and a talk by this multi-talented artist.

Heavier than it looks, this top includes fabric from every garment Molly Vaughan has made. This is the only piece Molly has made for herself and she intends for it to continue to grow.

SAM: Tell us how Project 42 got started.

Molly Vaughan: Project 42 began as a with a grant from Art Matters Foundation. I proposed a series of painting that were abstract paintings of locations where trans people had been murdered. Many people don’t want to have conversations about violence against trans people. Most people don’t know what abstract painting is about. They don’t know the history and the conceptual violence behind it. I wanted to use abstract painting to speak to that idea of something misunderstood, which ‘transness,’ I think, is very misunderstood.

How did you begin working with textiles?

The paintings were too static. They weren’t memorializing the individual in the way that I wanted them too. For a long time, I’d been talking to a dancer about collaborating, and I reached out to her to ask if I printed this pattern on fabric and made a garment, would she dance in it? That’s where it began. I stepped outside of my boundaries to make something outside of my traditional production and comfort zone.

How did do you decide how to abstract these geographical locations? Is there a specific school of abstraction or artists you’re influenced by as you create the patterns?

It’s responsive. Sometimes the patterns start with colors from photographs like skin tones or colors of clothing. Sometimes the patterns utilize screenshots of Google Earth street views where someone was murdered. They each include some type of symbolic action. In one garment many layers of lines are combined to form the pattern, each with 105 lines, a reference to the room number the individual was murdered in. There is also the design content—creating something that is visually appealing as a way to pull people into a discussion that they don’t recognize they want to have.

What role do your collaborators play in the creation of the garment?

I think of myself as the director of the project. The collaborators can engage in any type of action that they wish to share but we work closely to make sure that their memorialization is respectful and considered. Sometimes I do performance work too but I try not to be the focus. The last one was the result of a requirement by Anna Conner that couldn’t be facilitated unless the dress was cut off of her. Then I began to recognize the symbolic significance of sewing the dress back together as part of the performance. So that’s what we did.

The activations of these garments have taken place across multiple continents. Are these connected to the murder locations or otherwise location specific?

One of the original goals of the project was to offer stolen opportunities to the spirits of the people who were murdered. And an original conceptual element was the idea of travel. The first garment I made went to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam to be performed in by Emily Navara who wore the dress to her favorite park in the city. The second dress was sent to New York City and my friend Mia D’Avanza went to her favorite swing dancing club wearing it after sharing a large meal with her friends.

As a white artist, it would be inappropriate for me to dictate how the majority of these people are memorialized because the majority of these people are people of color. Though one part of my identity represents a shared experience, my experiences are so different than many of these individuals because of the intersectionality of their identities. This is more about the retuning of humanity and the sharing of missed opportunities. Eating at a cafe in Rome in one of these garments is a symbolic gesture, but is a symbolic gesture focused on the humanity of individuals who were treated so inhumanely.

Work in progress for collaboration with Natalie Ann Martinez. Inkjet printed cotton poplin, antique lace, Navajo Churro sheep wool.

Will the installation at SAM in April include performance?

The installation at SAM will include three or four new pieces. They will be more sculptural since they will be on display for such a long period. The center piece will be a collaborative sculpture that visitors can contribute to by tying or manipulating fabric that has been prepared for them that will then be either sewn on to the garment by me or may actually be tied onto the garment by the museum goers themselves.

I’m pretty emotionally overwhelmed by the idea that to create these new pieces since the process requires me to immerse myself in the murders. I select who to memorialize by looking at the photographs of the individuals, and allowing them to step forward and ask, to speak to me. You have to get into a certain space to do that.

How much research do you do about these people’s lives or is it just the incident of their murder?

The amount of available information is dictated by the size of a person’s community. I want to treat everybody the same, so I decided not reach into, or out to, the communities the people were directly from. In some ways that sounds a little wrong, and in some ways, it is. But some of these individuals were prominent and well-known, and others nobody knew. I want to make sure everybody is treated with the same level of compassion, care, and respect no matter who they were.

Fred Martinez Jr., who we’re memorializing at the Betty Bowen Awards Ceremony and Reception, has had a documentary made about him (all research points to Fred’s use of male pronouns). How do I give the same amount of attention and respect to every individual? There’s also the question of me, as a stranger, impacting family and friends by revisiting the murder of their loved ones. This is not an easy project. And at times the critiques I place upon myself of how the project functions almost stops the process, but then another murder occurs, and I question how can I help to stop this violence. Raising awareness is important but so is considering the roles that we may all play in the larger questions of institutionalized violence, particularly against people of color.

Work in progress from a series re-creating every drawing in “The Drawings of Francois Boucher” by Alastair Lang.

What else are you working on?

I just wrapped up Safety in Numbers for Disjecta in Portland. It’s focused on anonymity and its relationship to safety for myself as a trans person. I create anonymity for myself by turning people into clones of me through physical haircuts. I’ve done this twice now and in both cases, the haircut selected was based on a contemporary trend. This time it was the tasseled bob. The bob, in a historical context addresses notions of gender identity and freedom of gender cultural constructs.

In addition to that I’m working on a series of drawings and etchings. I’m re-creating every drawing in The Drawings of Francois Boucher by Alastair Lang and inserting trans bodies as a way to create a visual history for myself, which doesn’t exist. We know that trans people did exist, and in some cases, had very prominent roles in courts. I’m creating this history for myself through these drawings and they also include anamorphic creatures that I’ve been using for a number of years that hint to the disorientation that I had growing up about my identity.

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

Images: Courtesy of the artist. Studio photos: Natali Wiseman. Molly Vaughan, Documentation of Project 42 performance by Anna Conner at the Henry Art Gallery, 2016, Commissioned by the Henry Art Gallery, Seattle, Washington, Photograph by Jonathan Vanderweit, Courtesy of the artist, © Molly Vaughan.

Andrew Wyeth’s Dramatic Genius

Andrew Wyeth’s studio was an old schoolhouse near his childhood home in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. His bookshelves there hold numerous titles on film. From movie rental catalogues to a Marlon Brando biography, to Classics of the Silent Screen, this view inside the American icon’s creative space sets Wyeth against a backdrop of the movies.

Film books in Wyeth's library

Wyeth is sometimes considered a realist in an abstract art world; however, this limited focus on his realism glosses over his strange and eerie images. But on the 100th anniversary of the artist’s birth, Andrew Wyeth: In Retrospect examines what creates Wyeth’s haunting effect on us and shows the influence of cinema on his art through his 75-year career. This major exhibition presents more than 100 of the artist’s finest paintings and drawings, including rarely seen loans from the Wyeth family.

“In the 1950s and ’60s, critical favor was given to abstraction and formal investigations into painting. Exhibitions and critical thinking about fine art didn’t include media, like films,” Patricia Junker, SAM’s Ann M. Barwick Curator of American Art points out. “Now that our concepts of fine art have broadened, Wyeth can be understood in the realm of modern filmmaking, as well as painting. He connected with an art form that used the human figure as a form for storytelling and was not abstract.”

Betsy Wyeth likened her husband to Swedish director Ingmar Bergman: “He’s creating a world they [his models] don’t realize and they’re acting out a part without any script.” In the 1989 painting Snow Hill, Wyeth’s Chadds Ford models, living and dead, dance on Kuerner’s Hill—a meaningful motif in Wyeth’s paintings—and recall Bergman’s dance of death from the iconic final scene of The Seventh Seal. Just as Death dances the players off to their graves in the film, Wyeth danced his characters off to their art-muse graves, and he would never use them again.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=abusPM-9mqQ

An owner of King Vidor’s 1925 silent masterpiece, The Big Parade, Wyeth claimed he watched these film reels hundreds of times. A young man running down Kuerner’s Hill in Wyeth’s Winter 1946 echoes the film’s hero hobbling down a hillside into the arms of a lost love. The Big Parade used objects to convey emotional states and inspired Wyeth to depict belongings and interiors as portraits, as in a pair of weathered doors that represent the deceased brother and sister in Alvaro and Christina (1968).

“Think of Wyeth’s paintings as movie stills—each as a frozen moment within some ongoing action,” says Junker. “What story do they tell?” Andrew Wyeth: In Retrospect offers a chance to piece together the story of Wyeth himself—his figures are characters acting out a role in the artist’s life, allowing us to understand him. The exhibition is an epic, the story of a great American artist told through the people and places he portrayed.

Widen your view into Wyeth’s World through SAM’s screenings of these, and other, films that either influenced Andrew Wyeth or vice versa. The Big Parade will be screened on November 15 and The Seventh Seal is presented as part of an Ingmar Bergman series on January 25. Find out more about all of SAM’s upcoming film events and get inspired.

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

All Walks of Life: Public Programs at the Olympic Sculpture Park

The radiant clouds that stretch across the bridge of Teresita Fernández’s Seattle Cloud Cover look different every time you encounter them. On a rainy day, the site-specific work at the Olympic Sculpture Park offers a shelter of saturated colors that pop against the surrounding gray sky. When you witness a freight train moving beneath it, the train’s cargo becomes part of the art, washed over in its rainbow assortment of hues. As you stand beside it to watch the sunset over the Puget Sound, your body appears in silhouette to onlookers across the Park. As Fernández describes, Seattle Cloud Cover “…blur[s] the lines between your presence as participant and observer.”

Woman gives a tour in front of Fernandez's Seattle Cloud Cover during Remix at Olympic Sculpture Park

The blurred line that Fernández refers to between participation and observation is integral to the art at the Olympic Sculpture Park, as well as to SAM’s Education Department as they design programs to engage visitors from all walks of life. “It’s amazing to have the Sculpture Park as a free resource located in the heart of Seattle and to think of how we as educators can maximize that opportunity for the community by creating programs that challenge visitors to rethink the relationship between art and environment,” says Regan Pro, SAM’s Kayla Skinner Deputy Director for Education and Public Programs.

Easels set up for art marking during Summer at SAM at Olympic Sculpture Park

Pro continues, “I love thinking about all of the different ways we have had visitors interact and engage with Alexander Calder’s The Eagle over the last ten years and how people have come to think about all of the permanent sculptures in new ways.” Every year, all second graders from Highline School District explore the land and art around The Eagle during the free tours and art workshops offered as part of SAM’s School Programs. Dogs and their owners walk along the path at its base during Dog Night. Revelers dance into the night beneath its wingspan during Remix, which moves to the Sculpture Park for its summer iteration. Dancers from the Pacific Northwest ballet perform new work beneath its steel limbs as part of Summer at SAM for Sculptured Dance, a night of site-specific performances. These are only a few of the many programs that offer a chance for the public to participate and think about The Eagle and other works in the park in new ways.

Child participates in light mural during SAM Lights at Olympic Sculpture Park

In recent years, SAM has expanded the programming in ways that stretch ideas about what art museum experiences can be. This fall, the museum will partner with Tiny Trees to offer an outdoor preschool at the Sculpture Park that focuses on art and the environment. In the winter, SAM Lights illuminates the landscape with temporary light installations and hundreds of luminarias. And, the PACCAR Pavilion temporarily becomes an artist residency space, where performers create new projects in response to the artworks and landscape.

Essential to all of the educators’ work is the participation of departments from across the museum and beyond, including community organizations like Pacific Northwest Ballet and Forterra. “This is work that incorporates ideas of so many people,” emphasizes Pro. “It’s this shared vision that’s made the programs at the park successful.” Similarly, it’s the coalescence of elements—the art, the design, the environmental achievements, the landscape, the programming and the community—that together create the Olympic Sculpture Park as we know and celebrate it now, on its tenth anniversary.

— Erin Langner, Freelance Arts Writer and Former SAM Adult Public Programs Manager

This post is the final installment in a series of stories exploring the history of the Olympic Sculpture Park in celebration of its 10th anniversary.

Images: Photo: Robert Wade. Photo: Jen Au. Photo: Robert Wade. Photo: Sasha Im.

SAM Shops: Take Infinity Home with You

Probably the first thing that pops to mind when you think of Yayoi Kusama is, polka-dots! And, yes, there’s plenty of those in Kusama’s work. But it’s what those polka dots represent that weaves a clear thematic thread through everything she makes. And we mean everything, including the Kusama-studio products in the SAM Shop on the 4th floor and on the ground floor. To Kusama, a polka-dot is a way toward the infinite: “Our earth is only one polka dot among a million stars in the cosmos.” So it will come as no surprise that items produced by Kusama’s studio, from scarves to glasses cases, are covered in polka-dots. We’ve also got Kusama-inspired jewelry that makes use of this visual refrain in unique and surprising ways. Take a look at some of these items and don’t miss the SAM Shop during your visit to see Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors, closing September 10!

 

Yayoi Kusama eye glass case, $16.95

Yayoi Kusama vinyl pouch, $15.95

Yayoi Kusama puzzle, $75

Red Coco neoprene bracelet, $72

Kusama Pumpkin

Kusama soft sculpture pumpkins, $250/$450

Photos: Natali Wiseman

Drop-in during Kusama: Infinite Reflections

All summer long we’re activating your creative side with free drop-in studio hours every Sunday at SAM. Led by local artists and designed for all ages, the art activities taking place between 11 am and 1 pm during Drop-In Studio: Infinite Reflections will touch on themes and ideas behind Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors and how the artwork in the exhibition connects to their own work and process. We’ve asked each of our teaching artists to share what about the Kusama exhibition has inspired them and the art activities that they will be leading.

This Sunday, July 30, features artist Junko Yamamoto.

There are a few things that I can relate to Kusama’s work conceptually and aesthetically.  She is interested in the relationships between people and the world by creating infinite imagery of nature and our society. Kusama’s Phalli’s Field has been one my favorite installations of hers since I was young. Organic, white, phallic-shaped soft sculptures with red polka dots in a reflection mirror room create an infinite reality that gives me a chill. All of her paintings are incredible, but I’m always mesmerized by her older paintings from the 1950s to ’70’s. Repetitions of scale- or cell-like small round shapes continues almost outside of the frames. Both installations and paintings can relate to my repetitive shapes and textures.

In my work, I explore space, memories, the space between atoms, cells, between people, objects, air, stars, water and sky; the cosmic glue which holds us and the universe together. My repetitive imageries are often inspired by cell divisions or clusters of atoms. Everything that exists in this world is part of us, we are all related to one another, just like how small atoms accumulated to forms entire universe. Unity, as a whole, is my foundation.

Celeste Cooning, August 3 & 20

In the spirit of Kusama’s process-based studio practice, we’re going to make collaborative cut paper “Infinity Nets.” As this collective infinity net grows into an immersive installation, elements of form, movement, positive/negative space, light, and shadow will all come into play. 

I feel a kinship to Kusama’s emphatic nature and I strongly identify with the inherent necessity to keep creating throughout one’s life. Since childhood, I’ve always sought solace through the act of art making. Come explore the resonant power of repetition and accumulation using scissors as your drawing tool!  

Regina Schilling, August 27, September 3 & 10

Kusama has artistically given me permission to create my own world and live inside it infinitely. As a painter, I’ve been exploring invisibility using large colorful canvases to create worlds where the invisible is seen. Despite hiding, the women in my paintings are still there. It’s a world where women, daisies, jack-o-lanterns and textile structures can all exist together. Apart from working on this series, I began the publication, Hey Lady, a collection of art honoring one woman per issue. In two years, it has included hundreds of artists internationally, highlighted eight crucial women in various fields, held exhibits around the country, and created a world where women experience a creative outlet that is nurtured, validated, and celebrated. With my workshop at SAM, you’ll be able create your own world exploring your reflection, obsessions and inspiration from the exhibit by making and filling up a handmade zine!

Ellen Ziegler, July 16 & 23

My Vermilion Series is a collection of drawings searching out the interface between the psyche and its influences, between inner and outer worlds. The drawings result from my visceral responses to sensation, emotion, and reaction. The use of the color vermilion began as an investigation of childhood memory and has morphed into a practice of working with only this one color for three years. The drawings are made with acrylic forms painted on paper, which I then draw on with white marker. The circular marks transform the flat forms to three dimensions. I intend to suggest the body with its urges, transformations, and ultimate transcendences.

In a time when we are increasingly distanced from our corporeal selves by technology and stress, this work attempts to bring to the surface powerful and peculiar sensations, emotions, and reactions, so we may act authentically in this shifting world.

The projects we’re doing in the Drop-In Studio begin with the circle or dot, echoing Kusama’s extravagant use of that form. Her focus originated with the hallucinations that caused her to exteriorize her obsessions and fears. Many artists have this phenomenon in common: what would seem to be a departure from sanity or normalcy comes to be the fertile origin of our work. Standing in the center of a black field of tar paper (9’ x 20’), participants draw circles with themselves as the center. Making a mark of chalk on tarpaper is immensely satisfying and is a visceral moment of art made with the body. At the worktables, we’ll use black paper to draw on with opaque markers and circle templates, creating their own take-away artwork.

Images: Manifestation, 2017, Junko Yamamoto, 36 x 36 in., oil on canvas. Still Here, 2016, Regina Schilling, oil on canvas, 4 ft x 4 ft., photo: Regina Schilling.Over the River, 2016, Celeste Cooning, installation, screenprint on hand cut Tyvek, paint, mylar, and light. Untitled (vermilion), Ellen Ziegler, 2017, acrylic and white marker on paper, 15 x 11 in.

Summer at SAM Celebrates 10 Years of the Olympic Sculpture Park

It’s the 10th anniversary of the Olympic Sculpture Park and Summer at SAM is bringing you entertainment and activities around art at the park, all summer long. Mingle, make, and move until the sun goes down over the Puget Sound. Inspired by SAM’s special exhibitions, Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors at the Seattle Art Museum and installations by Christopher Paul Jordan and Spencer Finch at the Olympic Sculpture Park, Summer at SAM explore place-making, cultural confluences, and learning from our local environment.

Like the sculpture park itself, all Summer at SAM programs are free, open to the public, and all-ages. So check us out Thursdays and Saturdays, July 13 through August 31 and get active in your city with concerts, art making, food trucks, and fitness. In their own words, get to know two of Summer at SAM’s partner organizations for events such as the Kickoff next Thursday, July 13 from 6–8 pm produced in partnership with Black & Tan Hall and our Saturday art activity led by artists of the Lion’s Main Art Collective.

Black & Tan Hall, is the premier cultural event space that the south end has been waiting for. Its unique business model with over 20 community partners has given birth to a consensus-run establishment that prioritizes healthy, delicious food, fair pay to artists, and quality events. We want to give you a reason to dress up for a night on the town.

Our upcoming partnership with SAM gives Seattle a small taste of what Black & Tan Hall will be producing when our doors open at the end of the summer. Chef Tarik Abdullah will be serving his eclectic North African inspired dishes made with fresh Northwestern ingredients on the lawn, while bands like New Triumph, Peace & Red Velvet, and the Mockingbirds light up the stage with hip-hop afro-caribbean beats, and DJ Toya B keeps the crowd lively throughout the evening.

Black & Tan Hall will be open for breakfast during the week, brunch on the weekends, and dinner with select music, theatre, film, and dance events. We are also available for private rentals, and co-producing opportunities. We are “the people’s” establishment for diversity, community, creativity, and simply a good time!

– Black & Tan Hall

Lion’s Main Art Collective is a Seattle-based community of queer and trans artists that showcases innovative interdisciplinary art. Participating artists are excited to present From the Foundation, an installation created from fabric and wood exploring private and public experiences of home. Combining screen printing, photography, painting, text, and zines, this project is takes a cumulative approach by gathering images and reflections from individuals in the LGBTQ+ community. Trinkets, pictures, recipes, and stories are screen printed on the walls entwining personal experiences into a communal web.

Lion’s Main is excited to partner with SAM and bring together communities through visibility and engagement. Park goers are invited to share their own stories and reflections. What does home feel/look/taste like? What do you keep from past homes? What memories and sensations do you associate with it? Visitors are invited to write their experiences on fabric which will be sewn together to create a “ceiling.”

Participating Lion’s Main artists

Sofya Belinskaya, a Ukrainian-born visual artist, creates works on paper that oscillate between dreams and reality. She is compelled by the void, magical realism, and emotive narratives. She is a teaching artist and organizer based in Seattle.

Jax Braun is a poet/writer, biologist, crafter, and performance artist. Their works are informed through the structure of biological worlds and dwell on interpreting personal histories and experiences.

KEM_C is a Seattle-based printmaker/tapemaker/clubscum, specializing in etchings, screenprints, & VHS tapes. Ask her about a cozier alternative to safe/r spaces.

Sequoia Day is a Seattle-raised queer arts organizer, photographer, painter, and full spectrum doula. They are drawn to the soft places that exist in people and home. Their work often touches on care, debris, and maintenance in the home space, and what spills forth from the places we build and inhabit.

Emma Kates-Shaw is a fiber/found object/tattoo/paint/pen/pencil worker, fascinated by light, time, space, and the beauty of the early early morning.

Markel Uriu is an interdisciplinary artist in Seattle. Her work explores the quiet intimacy of inner worlds, feminine labor, impermanence, and the unseen. Drawing from mythology and rituals, she explores these concepts through ephemeral botanical narratives and two-dimensional work.

Established in 2013, Lion’s Main Art Collective is a non-profit organization curating multidisciplinary events and festivals, including Transience at King Street Station (2016), QTONE Shorts in collaboration with TWIST: Seattle Queer Film Festival (2016), and Othello Quartz Festival at John C. Little Park (2016). They have received funding from the Office of Arts & Culture and the Pride Foundation. Past partnerships include Henry Art Gallery, Gender Justice League, Gay City, and Three Dollar Bill Cinema.

– Sofya Belinskaya

Photo: Robert Wade. Photo: Tarik Abdullah.

Support Art for All: Vote Yes for Proposition 1–Access for All

Proposition 1–Access for All is on the August ballot and it could have big implications for SAM. If you’re just becoming familiar with what Access for All is, here’s the proposition in a nut shell: If approved by voters, the measure will provide increased funding for arts, science, and heritage organizations in our communities—expanding access to arts and music in our public schools, and to diverse cultural experiences throughout King County. You can find more in-depth information on the Access for All website.

In line with our mission to connect people with art, Access for All funding for SAM will help support educational programming and museum visits for school children from around the county. It would also allow us to offer free or reduced-cost museum admission for more lower-income families and seniors.

With Access for All funding, SAM could

  • Provide more free admission opportunities for all King County residents
  • Increase the number of free and reduced-cost educational programs
  • Make all museum tours free for King County public schools, students, and educators
  • Greatly expand bus subsidies for King County public schools visiting SAM
  • Advance the museum’s equity initiatives, including expansion of its work with under-resourced communities
  • Amplify SAM’s impact beyond its walls through increased partnerships and collaborations with other King County cultural organizations

The deadline to vote is August 1 and you should get your ballot in the mail on July 12.  Please consider voting yes for Access for All.  But don’t take it from us—our community partners feel strongly about Prop. 1–Access for All passing as well and below you can hear from two of them.

“When we began our partnership with SAM over four years ago, we were responding to the families in our schools who had shared their interest in the arts. Over the years, parent voices and staff and student engagement has helped increase the value of the arts in our school community. Enrichment opportunities, such as the arts, has helped to highlight the artistic strengths and perspectives of our students.”

– Rebekah Kim, Elementary Principal

“Our staff, many of whom had never been to the Seattle Art Museum, witnessed the empowerment and beauty of Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic in 2016 and, perhaps for the first time, experienced the importance of sharing this opportunity of art viewing with our students. SAM made it possible for our students to attend the Kehinde Wiley exhibition and the students stood in silence—in awe—at identifying with Wiley’s visions of hope. In 2017 this connection was deepened even further with Jacob Lawrence: The Migration Series. Every student in our school experienced the exhibition at Seattle Art Museum. The art of Jacob Lawrence gave many of our students a deep connection to their own stories, their own migrations, and their own way to create the next panel in the Great Migration story. As a long time educator, I am privy to what some call the opportunity gap but I prefer the term of privilege gap. In our wonderful city of creative dreamers, thinkers, and doers, arts education has long been used as a golden carrot rewarded to those with access. Students receiving education in what is referred to as lower performing schools have experienced a severe lack of opportunities to even the basic right of an imagination. Without fostering possibilities through imagination, how can we even begin to address equity issues? Seattle should be leading the way for all our students to see themselves as the next generation of creative dreamers, thinkers, and doers. Creating opportunities for hope is core to my mission as an arts educator. This is an impossible task without the help and support of our community partners and all our students deserve equal access to dreaming of creating their own realities.”

– Julie Trout, Teacher, Seattle Schools

And if hearing from the teachers and principals who value SAM as a crucial resource for arts education isn’t enough to make you want to vote yes, here’s Bill Nye The Science Guy for Prop. 1–Access for All!

Tell us what SAM means to you and your community and how Prop. 1–Access for All could positively impact the future of access to arts in the comments!

Photo: Jen Au

A Touch of Class: More Films of Cary Grant

Once again our summer series celebrates Cary Grant, witty, handsome, elegant gentleman, and superb actor. Comedy, romance, action, suspense—Grant handles it all with incomparable grace and a wry grin.

July 13: Mr. Lucky (H.C. Potter, 1943)
Archie Leach of Bristol, England, rose from his humble, impoverished origins to become Cary Grant of Hollywood, “the man from dream city.” In Mr. Lucky, Joe Aden’s (Grant) life follows a similar arc, rising from lower-class British obscurity to stellar American success—but on the shady side of the law. World War II is raging, but Joe has more immediate concerns: he needs more money to run his floating gambling casino, so he steals another man’s identity to avoid the draft and launches a fail-proof scheme. He’ll charm War Relief society ladies, including delectable Laraine Day and her crew of elders, into letting him run a gambling operation at their charity ball. But Joe’s more than met his match as the women put him to work knitting with needles and yarn in a downtown window, where men walking by on the street can see him. With Charles Bickford, Gladys Cooper, Paul Stewart. In 35mm, 100 min.

The Bachelor and the Bobbysoxer

The Bachelor and the Bobbysoxer (1947)

July 20: The Bachelor and the Bobbysoxer (Irving Reis, 1947)
This is the first film to make Grant’s capacity for bedazzlement its subject. When visiting artist Dick (Grant) lectures her high school class, student Susan (seventeen-year-old Shirley Temple) envisions him as a knight in shining armor. Dick wants no part of her dream, but after he’s found in a compromising position by a judge, Susan’s older sister Margaret (Myrna Loy), he’s sentenced to squire Susan about until her crush subsides. Grant is marvelously silly as he dresses cool, talks jive, and competes in a three-legged race at a teen picnic. Is Susan still feverish? Of course, and now solemn sister Margaret is getting weak kneed. With Rudy Vallee. In 35mm, 95 min.

I was a Male War Bride (1949)

July 27: I Was a Male War Bride (Howard Hawks, 1949)
In his roles Grant could suffer frustrations and humiliations hilariously, and a spirited, independent-minded Howard Hawks woman like Air Corps officer Catherine Gates (Ann Sheridan) can dish them out. During World War II in occupied Germany, Catherine and French officer Henri Rochard (Grant) find each other obnoxious, presumptuous, even dangerous—so of course they fall in love and marry. But the much-desired consummation of their marriage, and their entry into the United States, must wait for Grant to put on a dress and a wig and convince the world that he’s a woman. With Marion Marshall, Randy Stewart. Digital restoration, 105 min.

August 3: People Will Talk (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1951)
Powered by Mankiewicz’s wise, witty, literate script and one of Grant’s best performances, People Will Talk celebrates non-conforming, quirky individuals who put their provocative ideas into practice. Plus, it’s a romantic comedy! Grant is a non-traditional medical professor who believes that emotions effect physical health, whose best friends are a convicted murderer (Findlay Currie) and an atomic physicist (Walter Slezak) who plays with toy trains. And he thinks maybe he should marry one of his students, a suicidal pregnant woman (Jeanne Crain) who has no partner. All this is just too much for a sour, spiteful academic (Hume Cronyn) who launches an investigation of easygoing Professor Grant. With Margaret Hamilton (The Wizard of Oz’s Wicked Witch). In 35mm, 109 min.

August 10: Monkey Business (Howard Hawks, 1952)
In this comic masterpiece, director Hawks and screenwriters Ben Hecht, I.A.L. Diamond, and Charles Lederer take America’s obsession with remaining youthful to delightfully absurd extremes. The marriage of chemist Cary Grant to physicist Ginger Rogers is a dismal, rocky affair of boredom and smoldering resentments. When Grant, with the help of a laboratory chimpanzee, develops a rejuvenation drug and samples it, he suddenly gets a crew cut and a sports car and flirts with his secretary (Marilyn Monroe). Rogers gets her own turn at being an adolescent again, with the dangerously unruly anarchy of childhood soon to follow. In the wacky way of screwball comedy, maybe indulging your inner savage is a sign of true love. With Charles Coburn and George Winslow, famous in the 1950s for his “foghorn voice.” In 35mm, 97 min.

To Catch a Thief (1959)

To Catch a Thief (1955)

August 17: To Catch a Thief (Alfred Hitchcock, 1955)
This Hitchcock jewel sparkles with the glamor of Cary Grant, Grace Kelly, and the French Riviera, and the allure of ill-gotten gains. Grant, a retired high society jewel thief called “The Cat,” is suspected when priceless trinkets start disappearing all around Cannes. The gendarmes want to catch him in the act, while Grant wants to prove his innocence by nabbing the real culprit. Prime targets for plucking are a wealthy American heiress (Jesse Royce Landis) and her daughter (Grace Kelly), so Grant stays close to them, hoping the thief will make a move. Kelly appears to be a remote ice princess, but inside she gets an erotic thrill from the idea that Grant might want to steal from her. Kelly and Grant’s coy approach to seduction is a delight, as when Kelly unpacks a chicken lunch and says, “Would you like a leg or a breast?,”  striking Grant speechless. With Brigitte Auber and John Williams. In 35mm, 97 min.

Creating the Unseen Land of the Olympic Sculpture Park

The Dorothy Stimson Bullitt Library‘s latest book installation, to coincide with the exhibition, Seeing Nature: Landscape Masterworks from the Paul G. Allen Family Collection, introduces a work that recently came into the library’s artists’ books collection. This illustrated book, with original pen-and-ink drawings and watercolors, was created by Seattle author, illustrator, zine creator, and book artist Jessixa Bagley. Bagley is best known for her award-winning children’s picture books: Boats for Papa (2015) and Before I Leave (2016). Her latest book, Laundry Day, was just published by Roaring Book Press in February 2017.

The work is the first in our collection to be born out of a Seattle Art Museum program. The Land of Unseen is a culminating storybook inspired by a collaborative process with visitors to SAM’s Olympic Sculpture Park. The “Summer at SAM” program was entitled “Build a World with Jessixa Bagley” and took place over several weekends in August 2016. Jessixa invited participants to help her “create the unseen imaginative world of the Olympic Sculpture Park and give voice to all the creatures and animals that live within it.” Each week, visitors participated in interactive, open studio sessions that explored a different aspect of Bagley’s creative process. These sessions included plot development on vintage typewriters supplied by Carriage Return, character advancement through collage, and landscape mapping with watercolor and mixed media.

To construct this unseen land, the first group of park visitors were given prompts and encouraged to use typewriters to create stories about characters that live in the Olympic Sculpture Park. Next, Bagley had a different group of visitors develop those characters by creating collages based on the writings of the first group or from free-form ideas. One participant imagined an otter wearing a hat participating in plein-air painting, creating a colorful landscape. Another imagined a crow strumming a banjo surrounded by hats reminiscent of National Park Service ranger hats, in a background of rich organic textures of yellow, green, and blue. The final group of visitors was asked to create Mad Libs–style stories based on the collages, and ultimately a map of this hidden world began to take shape. From there, the book was born.

Bagley’s normal practice is to create her work alone indoors, but for this experience she really enjoyed creating work on-site at the Olympic Sculpture Park, being outdoors and working with so many visitors. This was the first time she did this type of collaboration with a group of strangers, and she found that the experience offered a very different type of inspiration.

The Seattle Art Museum is celebrating the Olympic Sculpture Park’s 10th anniversary this year. In addition to considering how the park has changed since its opening, it’s also rewarding to reflect on the many thoughtful, creative projects like this that have been inspired by it.

–Traci Timmons, Librarian, Dorothy Stimson Bullitt Library

Photos: Natali Wiseman.

Community Gallery: Early Masters

As the founder of Early Masters, a Seattle-based art school, I’m always searching for ways to connect children to art history and get them truly excited about artists, artwork, and the museums in which artworks reside. Since 2011, a highlight of our programming has been our community partnership with SAM and our student exhibitions in Seattle Art Museum’s Community Corridor Art Gallery.

For several months, our young artists (ages 7–15) prepare for their opening at SAM through visual presentations, music, conversation, and of course painting. They become familiar with artists through studying their technique and style, what inspired them, and what their world was like.

Our seventh student show, currently hanging, is inspired by SAM’s exhibition, Seeing Nature: Landscape Masterworks from the Paul G. Allen Collection. Our budding artists never seem to tire of Monet and his magical home at Giverny or Cézanne and his beloved Mont Sainte-Victoire, and they created over 200 paintings inspired by the art in the exhibition. Students loved interpreting works of artists such as Manet and Seurat and often found some techniques more mysterious than others. Comments such as, “I’m getting cross-eyed, how did Seurat do it?” or “I could do dots all day!” were often heard (along with a lot of laughter) around the studio. I’m always amazed at the fearlessness of our young students, and how a blank canvas never seems daunting. In fact, it’s always a welcome challenge.

Our students were thrilled at the chance to examine the paintings in Seeing Nature after having studied them for months. They were surprised by the actual size of the works, the colors, or the thickness of the paint on the original works of art. One thing is for sure, they all feel a sense of ownership and connection to the paintings they studied. They will never forget Klimt’s Birch Trees, or Monet’s Waterlilies, and they certainly won’t forget having their own artwork on display at SAM.

Being part of the Community Corridor Art Gallery is an incredible experience—not just for our young artists, but for the families and friends who come see the artwork and experience the pride of having the work celebrated at SAM.

– Shelley Thomas, Founder, Early Masters

 The Early Masters Student Exhibition is on view through March 26, 2017 in the Community Corridor Art Gallery. Stop by to see work by these young artists for free through Sunday!

Photos: Courtesy of Early Masters

Film/Life: Family Circle

Family Circle: The Films of Yasujiro Ozu

The British Film Institute calls Yasujiro Ozu “one of the greatest artists of the twentieth century, in any medium or any country.” Critic David Thomson says that “the Western moviegoer won’t be able to resist Ozu, for he is a treasury of humane intelligence and feeling.”

He was also an unruly rascal. Born in Tokyo (1903) to a stern merchant father and a pampering mother, at age 10 he was sent to school at his ancestral hometown. Instead of attending classes, he earned a reputation for drinking and worshipping Hollywood actresses. Ozu developed a lifelong attitude of not submitting to authority unless it would help him do what he wanted to do. Returning to Tokyo, Ozu, against his father’s wishes, became a filmmaker as a young man. In nine years he made 34 silent films, mostly mischievous “nonsense” comedies, before discovering his grand themes and expressing them in transcendent beauty.

Ozu lived in a conformist society, but he embodied the Zen spirit of harmonizing with nature and human nature, knowing that no dogmatic rules can explain the exquisite mystery of life. Being patient and restrained were of value, but so were impulsive, intuitive gestures. Ozu’s impeccable framing reflects the Zen aesthetic of seemingly “empty” spaces being vibrant with feeling and eternal presence. One of Ozu’s artistic signatures is the unique rhythm with which his images flow on the screen. In the editing process he would stand behind his editor and tap him on the shoulder when it “felt right” to cut to the next shot.

Mar 23: The Only Son (1936)
Among his many talents, Ozu creates characters who are unique human beings. His first talking film focuses on an impoverished provincial mother raising her son alone. She works hard and is able to send him to college in Tokyo. Hearing nothing from him for a long time, she uses up her savings to visit him. She’s surprised to find him married, with a child. He tries to appear prosperous, borrowing money to entertain his mother, but secretly he’s very poor and disillusioned with himself and life. Perhaps in silences and things unsaid, his mother can still teach him a valuable lesson. 87 min.

Mar 30: Late Spring (1949)
One of the films that Ozu himself most cherished, Late Spring shows the director further developing his unique ability to portray ordinary events in very moving ways. Ozu’s favorite actors, Chishu Ryu and Setsuko Hara, play a widowed Kamakura father and his grown-up daughter, who’s past the usual marrying age. She’s happy following the childhood pattern of living with her father, but when she hears that he’s thinking of taking a new wife, she begins to ponder her future. The father feels that it’s wise to flow with the natural course of time, not fight against it, but he has a surprising way of showing it. Ozu’s artistry makes us sense something momentous in mundane reality, and he begins each film with a short sequence of poetically simple “placing shots” that introduce the story: A railway station, the sound of a railway bell; a closer view, the steps, the daisies; a temple room; inside, the tea ceremony, the story begins. 108 min.

Apr 6: Early Summer (1951)
Ozu probably drank more than any major film director, since he saw alcohol as a source of artistic inspiration. Beginning with Late Spring, he wrote every film with his lifelong friend Kogo Noda. They would hole up in a country inn, Ozu would cook hamburgers and they would drink a lot of sake. “If the number of cups you drink be small, there can be no masterpiece.” Of Early Summer, Ozu said, “I wanted to show a life cycle, to depict mutability and to leave the audience with a poignant aftertaste.” Six members of three generations live in a Kamakura household, and five of them want Noriko (Setsuko Hara) to get married. They keep parading eligible suitors past her, but she’s not interested. In postwar Japan young people are welcoming a Western influence of self-determination, and Noriko sees marriage as emotional and social serfdom. The nature of happiness is elusive in this family. A man says, “We have it better than most; we shouldn’t want too much or there’s no end to it.” But his wife objects, “We were really happy.” With the eloquence of a seasoned Ozu character, the man responds, “Mmmm.” 135 min.

Tokyo Story (1953)

April 13: Tokyo Story (1953)
Ozu’s tender and perceptive feeling for human shortcomings and generosity is fully realized in this internationally celebrated masterpiece. The director’s focus is the decentralization of a family. The elderly mother and father (Chieko Higashiyama and Chishu Ryu), who live in a southern province, come to Tokyo to visit their two married children, a doctor and a beautician. Too engrossed in their own lives to entertain their parents, they ship them off to a noisy resort for young people. Weary of this, the old couple returns to Tokyo, where the widow (Setsuko Hara) of their soldier son is the one who shows them warmth and kindness. 134 min.

April 20: Early Spring (1956)
This film further shows Ozu’s sensitivity to Japan’s changing postwar society. Young adults are defining life for themselves, rather than through blood ties to family and traditional codes of behavior. Full of high hopes, a Tokyo man lands a coveted white-collar office job, works hard, and marries a sweet woman. But the dreary routines of life become boring, and he starts spending more time with friends and the office flirt, while his wife sits at home fanning herself. Is the big city a corrupting influence? Would accepting a job in the country allow the couple to rediscover the good in each other? 108 min.

April 27: Equinox Flower (1958)
Ozu’s first color film is one of his most beautiful and affectionate. Two rebellious teenage girls make a solidarity pact to protect themselves from the well-intentioned marriage schemes of their traditional parents. One father (Shin Saburi) advises other people’s children to find their own way in life, but then he learns that his own daughter (Ineko Arima) has chosen a man without consulting him. It is said that Ozu, like Jane Austen, perceives the cosmic in the domestic, and his cinematic cut from a satisfied mother sitting in her favorite chair to a brightly fluttering washing line has been called “a moment of truly exquisite transcendence.” 118 min.

May 4: Good Morning (1959)
In his life and art Ozu has been a wise, charming rebel, and here he identifies with two stubborn boys. They pester their father (Chishu Ryu) to buy them a TV set, and when he tells them to shut up they vow to never say another word to him, not even “Good morning.” As if to illustrate chaos theory, the boys’ silence has an often funny, sometimes serious, effect on their entire suburban community. 97 min.

Late Autumn (1960)

May 11: Late Autumn (1960)
An independent-minded marriage-age young woman (Yoko Tsukasa) enjoys living with her gracious widowed mother (Setsuko Hara) and socializing with her lively young friends. Tsukasa has had opportunities to marry, but she’s just not interested. Hara wants her daughter to move forward into adult life so she enlists the matchmaking help of her late husband’s businessmen friends (Shin Saburi, Ryuji Kita, Nobuo Nakamura). Are these three well-intentioned, befuddled drinking buddies up to the task? Setsuko Hara, known as “the Japanese Garbo,” was Ozu’s favorite actress. Ozu, who knows that feelings can’t be fully expressed in words, shows us that nothing is more eloquent than Hara’s half-smile. 115 min.

May 18: An Autumn Afternoon (1962)
Ozu made six films with actress Setsuko Hara and twenty-two with Chishu Ryu, his favorite actor. The two men worked and aged together over three decades. Their first film was 1928’s The Dreams of Youth, their last (and Ozu’s final film) was this wry, gentle chronicle of the autumn of life. An aging, widowed company auditor (Ryu) likes to drink with his similarly aged male friends. One of them talks about how they’re in the stage of their life when most fathers give up their beloved daughters in marriage, and Ryu starts to get ideas. For all his wisdom about intergenerational family relationships, Ozu never married and had children. His own dear mother died during the making of this film, and Ozu died a year later. Ozu has been called a Zen master of cinema, calmly watching the seasons, the storms of life and death come and go, noticing and awakening to the brightness of the day. He shows us the world of Buddhism’s 10,000 things, the trees, the people, the traffic jams. He knows that these seemingly separate things are individual manifestations of an underlying oneness, a wholeness that encompasses all. In a Zen paradox, this everything is also the void.  Ozu’s tombstone bears a single mark: the Japanese character for “nothingness.”

—Greg Olson, Manager of SAM Films

All films will be shown in Japanese with English subtitles in 35 mm. Get your series pass to Family Circle: The Films of Yasujiro Ozu, on sale now.

Photos: © New Yorker Films/Photofest.

For the Love of Art: Mary Joyce

MARY JOYCE
Digital Strategy Consultant
Member since 2013

Why do you love art?

Art helps me to think differently, to see the world in a new way. I particularly like contemporary art for this reason—it is bounded only by the artist’s imagination and their ability to physically realize the idea.

What’s your occupation? What are your hobbies or passions?

I am a digital strategy consultant with a particular focus on using digital tools for activism. That means that I help people who want to change the world figure out who they need to persuade in order to do that and then how to persuade them. In the realm of political activism, often people want someone in the government to make a change. But it could be any kind of audience. If you want to change the world, usually you have to persuade someone to take some action and that’s where communication comes in.

I hear you worked on the Obama campaign.

Yes, I did, in 2008. It was very exciting to do the first digital campaign. I was the operations manager for the new media department. We had 60 people working on email, graphic design, and video. It was really cool to see how the technology and communication work was being driven by strategy. There was a Facebook group called “A Million Strong for Barack Obama.” One of the reasons to do that was not only to gin up [individual] support, but to seek media support. They said, “Oh you are never going to have a million posts in a Facebook group.” Then when we did, there was additional media coverage from that. So doing something new was part of the branding.

What brought you to Seattle?

I came here for grad school. I have an MA in communication from UW. Right now I am doing communication consulting and also working on an organization that’s going to do strategy training practice online. There is a lot of activism around right now where people are really passionate but it’s not clear who they are trying to influence or what their demand is. Sometimes it’s ok to go out there and show your feelings, but if you can direct these feelings for some practical change—that’s what I’m for.

Where does art fit into the picture?

Art is basically part of liking humanity. Why would I want to oppose oppression or support human rights? Because humans can do beautiful things like make art. It’s very much an alpha/omega situation for me. Defending human rights, helping people make their lives better so that they can make beautiful things like sculpt, paint, play music, or write poetry—that’s the connection.

Do you think art is something that people are freed up to do once they achieve . . . would you call it freedom?

I think that people are hardwired to create. Obviously, in history, people in horrible conditions have created beautiful art. But if you free someone’s spirit from fear, physical need, or other kinds of oppression, then there is an opportunity for that person to blossom and more fully express themselves. I would say that oppression and art can coexist, but people who are free to express themselves are more likely to do so.

How does the museum fit in?

The museum is where I can easily come in contact with art. We can see art in a magazine or we might pass a piece of public art in the city, but if you want to seek art out you know you can have that experience in a museum. And in addition to their collection, SAM has talks and performances that provide all kinds of artistic experiences throughout the year. It’s also just a relaxing and pleasant place to hang out and take a break.

Why did you join SAM?

I was a student at the time and a friend brought me for an event. I was buying a ticket and the very effective salespeople told me that for $10 more I could become a member for the whole year. The student rate was such a great deal to allow me to support an arts institution. In my family supporting culture is valued. Obviously as a student I really didn’t have resources but because I could afford the student rate and support an institution, I wanted to do that.

Because SAM believes everyone should have access to art and creativity, we offer memberships at a variety levels. Find out more about joining as a student and begin enjoying SAM for free for an entire year. Join now and see Jacob Lawrence: The Migration Series before it closes on April 23. The Migration Series focuses on social justice issues surrounding the Great Migration of African Americans from the rural South to the industrial North in the decades after the First World War. If you agree with Mary that art is crucial to our humanity, share in art at SAM starting today.

Photo: Scott Areman.

Migration Stories: Carina A. del Rosario

Becoming American

By Carina A. del Rosario

Presented at Seattle Art Museum’s Migration Stories Program, February 2, 2017 on the occasion of Jacob Lawrence: The Migration Series. Everyone is invited to come share their personal stories of immigration, migration, displacement, and community and how their perspectives relate to the works on view in The Migration Series during an Open Mic event on March 9 at Seattle Art Museum. And don’t miss the chance to hear from other local legends, such as Carina A. del Rosario, as they share their experiences with us in The Migration Series gallery. 

I aced my citizenship test and interview. The Immigration Officer asked me if I’d like to get sworn in at the next monthly group ceremony, or wait until the big one at Seattle Center on the Fourth of July. I opted for the soonest one. I didn’t need all that hoo-ha. It was 1994 and by that point, I had lived in the US for 19 years. I was already American. This swearing-in thing was just a formality.

On the designated day, I showed up at the Immigration and Naturalization Services building on the edge of the International District alone. I didn’t invite my partner. I didn’t dress up. No red, white, or blue anywhere on me. That just would have been too Fobby.

Like I said, I’d been here nearly two decades already, so I was thoroughly assimilated.

My lessons started soon after I arrived. I was six years old, fresh off the boat, and it was the start of the school year at my new school. Everyone started talking about Halloween and costumes. What was that? I was too shy to ask anyone. As soon as my mom came home from work, I rushed to her in a panic.

“It’s Halloween! I need a costume! Everyone is supposed to dress up!!!”

My mom was raising my brother, my sister, and me on her own while my dad continued to work in the Philippines. He didn’t have a work visa here, so we only got to see him twice a year until I was in sixth grade.

“What’s this? What costume?”

“I don’t know! I just need one! For Friday!”

“Okay, sweetheart. I’ll see what I can do.”

The next day after work, she went grocery shopping and there, in the section right by the registers, were racks lined with tiny plastic costumes. She picked one up that looked like it was for a girl. It was red, white, and blue. It was Raggedy Ann.

Friday came and I boarded the bus to school with my costume ready in my backpack. I got to the edge of the schoolyard and donned the plastic checked dress, snapping the one button on the back of my chubby neck.

I slipped on the white freckled face, rimmed with painted red locks, over my own. The plastic stuck to my face every time I took a breath. It made my cheeks clammy. I peeked through the eyeholes and quickly realized this was all wrong.

My classmates pranced around the schoolyard with these fantastic costumes of superheroes, cartoon characters, princesses. They looked so confident in their cool costumes.

I hid my shame behind that hideous mask, sucking in hot plastic air.

Second grade rolled around. We sat in a circle for read-aloud time. My turn came and I read: “THomas went to the train yard.”

Snickers rippled around the circle.

Ms. Murray said, “It’s ‘Thomas.’”

My cheeks flamed. I looked hard at the letters.

“But it’s ‘t-h.’”

“Yes, but it’s still pronounced ‘Thomas.’”

In my head, I rattled off all the “t-h” words I knew: think, thought, that, this, the, thou.

Ms. Murray cut off my silent argument. “The ‘h’ is silent. That’s just the way it is.”

Well that’s just stupid, I thought. I vowed to master English better than anybody. I read voraciously. I soaked in English from the TV. I spoke only English at home.

During all those grade school years, the only time that I didn’t try to hide my Filipina immigrant self was when my dad was in town. We’d go to the Redondo Beach Pier—far, far away from school. We’d stroll down the boardwalk, toting our rice cooker and condiments. Dad would go to the fishmongers and have them steam up a dozen crab and pounds of succulent shrimp. We spread newspapers all over the concrete picnic tables. We’d pound the crab shells with mortar and pistil, patiently claw all the meat out. I didn’t care about the strangers at the other tables, gawking at us. I pinched rice and crab into my finger tips. I dipped into garlic vinegar and pushed that steaming, tasty goodness into my mouth. I licked every finger clean.

But back at school, I ate gummy Wonder-bread sandwiches. Bologna and mayonnaise, or peanut butter and jelly. It was back to the grind of fitting in. By the time I was in high school, my English was perfect. Not a trace of accent. Grammatically correct—always—but peppered with enough California slang to make sure I didn’t stand out as an outsider. Sometimes I’d even slip in a little Valley Girl. Like many Filipinos, I became a mimic. It’s how we survive.

It wasn’t until college that I started seeing other possibilities. It wasn’t until then—until after 12 years of American education—that I first saw the word Filipino in a school textbook. It was in an Ethnic Studies class, of course. I learned about how Filipinos led strikes in California to establish the United Farm Workers. I read about how other Filipinos worked alongside Mexicans, Blacks, Native Americans, other Asian Americans, marched along with them. I learned how these different groups of people of color helped to build and shape this country, pushing it to live up to its promises of equality and freedom.

I was determined to carry on with the pushing. How much more American could that be?

After college, I drove up I-5 and parked in Seattle in 1992. I worked for the International Examiner as a reporter and editor. I covered all kinds of stories affecting the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, but I really sunk my teeth into covering politics. I reported on President Clinton’s plans to reform welfare and immigration program budgets. He wanted to cut immigrants and refugees off Medicaid, food stamps and supplemental security income. Never mind that we contributed to this country with the taxes we paid into those very programs. Congress approved.

I decided to become a citizen because I wanted the power to vote people into office who weren’t going to screw us over, who weren’t just going to tell me, “We’ve got to cut the budget somehow. That’s just the way it is.”

When the day arrived for my swearing in ceremony, I rolled into the INS building in a loose shirt and shorts—looking like an average American Generation X-er in the 90s. I had the cynical attitude of one too. As the immigration judge addressed the 300 people in the packed waiting area, I had a running commentary going in my head.

“Our country is greater because of immigrants like you.”

Yeah, and we still get yelled at to go back to where we came from.

“America has a long history of welcoming the tired, the poor, the huddled masses…”

Yeah, and you take all our work, our talent and tax dollars, but if we fall on hard times, you turn your backs on us.

My back-talk was interrupted by a loud sniffle beside me. It came from a Southeast Asian man, probably Vietnamese. Tears were trickling down his face, dripping onto the lapels of his suit. I looked passed him and I saw another woman, perhaps Eastern European, also looking somber in her frilly white dress, a red ribbon in her hair.

I looked around some more. All around me, perched on plastic seats, were people dressed up like they were going to church. There was a lot of red and white, and blue and white, and even all three colors. People of all shades gripped the hands of loved ones beside them, or clutched one of the little American flags volunteers distributed at the door. I saw more people crying silently and others who were beaming earnestly.

Their unfettered emotions silenced the snide comments in my head. Instead, I began to wonder about all the things these new Americans went through to get here: the dictatorships and persecution they fled, the famines and other natural disasters. Maybe some of them were escaping family demons and chasing brighter opportunities. I thought of those who came before us, who faced fire hoses and billy clubs, marched for miles, risked their lives and sometimes lost them, just so we could stand here and claim our right to vote.

When it was time, I stood up with all of them. We raised our right hands and in one loud chorus, solemnly vowed to support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States against all enemies, foreign—and domestic.

It’s been 23 years since that day. I’ve cast my ballot every single year. Sometimes, I still get a little cynical. But the cynicism is pushed aside by the images that come across my screen or appear in my memory—pictures of people who have passionately fought for me to be here. To be who I am, love who I love. To be granted due process and equal protection under the law.

It’s my turn to continue The Struggle, to make room for all of us yearning to be free.

THIS is just the way it is.

 

Carina del Rosario was born in the Philippines and immigrated to the United States as a young girl. She uses photography, digital media and visual art to explore the desire for community. She earned her BA in Communication from Santa Clara University in 1991. She has studied photography with Magnum Photographer Alex Webb, Rebecca Norris Webb, Raul Touzon, and Eddie Soloway. As a teaching artist she collaborates with non-profit organizations and educational institutions to help illustrate issues such as poverty, education, health, and civil rights. She is founder of the International District Engaged in Arts (IDEA) Odyssey, a collective that promotes cultural diversity, community development, and economic prosperity in Seattle’s International District/Chinatown neighborhood through visual arts.

Image: The Migration Series, Panel 1: During World War I there was a great migration north by southern African Americans., 1940–41, Jacob Lawrence, American, 1917–2000, casein tempera on hardboard, 12 x 18 in., Acquired 1942, The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C., © 2016 The Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation, Seattle / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Film/Life: Thelma Schoonmaker Presents

In 1989, at Seattle’s Burke Museum, I toured an exhibition of 19th-century Native American artifacts with the legendary British film director Michael Powell (1905-90) and his wife, Thelma Schoonmaker, who has received three Oscars for editing all of Martin Scorsese’s films since 1980. Michael’s eyesight being somewhat dimmed, Thelma read a text panel of Chief Seattle’s words aloud: “Every part of this country is sacred to my people. Our dead never forget this beautiful world that gave them being. They still love its winding rivers, great mountains and sequestered vales, and they ever yearn in tenderest affection over the lonely-hearted living, and often return to visit, guide and comfort them.” Michael considered this for a moment, then looked at me with his intensely blue, far-seeing eyes: “That pretty much says it all, doesn’t it?”

 Young Powell was a “dreamy boy” of the English countryside, who grew up attuned to the mystical murmurings of nature and the invisible forces and connections that draw us to certain places and people, and that make us ponder the deep questions of life and death. Powell’s sense of the mythic in everyday reality, his ravishing pictorial vision, wild imagination, and questing heart empowered him to conjure true cinematic magic. King Arthur’s Merlin, Shakespeare’s Prospero, and Aladdin would rightly call him brother.

The Red Shoes (1948)

Almost every film Powell made with his writing partner, Emeric Pressburger, breathes the rarified air of fairytale or fable, even when set in post-World War II London. The Red Shoes, their most famous film, is based on the Hans Christian Andersen tale of a girl whose wish to dance at a grand ball in red shoes is granted. But the shoes are possessed by dark sorcery, and though the girl is tired at evening’s end and wants to go home, the shoes sweep her on and on, never stopping. The film sweeps us into the world of passionate young people who live to dance. It’s a rainy afternoon, everyone crowds into a threadbare back street theater, and someone turns on a record player. Vicky Paige (Moira Shearer, another of Powell’s red heads) takes the stage and, melded with the music, she twirls and twirls. As her body whirls around to a frontal position, Powell smites us with what The New Yorker’s Anthony Lane calls “the most stunning close-up in the history of cinema, a sudden bright ecstacy that verges on the demonic.”  This transcendent moment and Vicky’s religious devotion to her art pierce the chilly heart of impresario Lermontov (Anton Walbrook), who woos her into joining his celebrated European troupe.

Vicky embraces the gritty, punishing work necessary to make her body defy gravity with perfect grace, and she bonds with the colorful characters in Lermontov’s company. She’s especially fond of young composer Julian Kraster (Marius Goring), and she becomes an overnight star performing his The Red Shoes Ballet. Director Powell’s wizardry transports us from the dance-theater stage to an aesthetic-emotional realm of music, dance, Technicolor expressionism, and surreal design that embodies Christian Andersen’s fairy tale and the growing tension between Lermontov, Vicky, and Julian, for Vicky and Julian have fallen in love. Can “the comforts of human love” be enough for a woman who can soar like a goddess? Is being wedded to one’s art a matter of life and death? Over the years The Red Shoes has inspired countless people to become dancers, from classical to modern and avant garde.

As a New York youth, Martin Scorsese felt that The Red Shoes was the most powerful movie he had ever seen. Aside from the sheer joy of watching Powell and Pressburger’s films, Scorsese learned from them as he ventured into filmmaking. Powell always began a project with a sharp personal vision, got that vision onto the screen, and fought any meddling bean counters to keep it there. Years after Powell’s daring and disturbing film Peeping Tom ended his British career, Scorsese welcomed him (“my inspiration”) to his New York film family and was instrumental in bringing Powell’s work the critical and audience appreciation it deserved. Powell gave Scorsese good advice (“Raging Bull should be in black and white”), and fell in love with Scorsese’s new editor, Thelma Schoonmaker, who won her first Oscar for Raging Bull.

The King of Comedy (1983)

Actor Robert de Niro, who stunned the world with his searing performances in Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, brought Scorsese his next project, The King of Comedy. While Powell and Schoonmaker’s love blossomed, Scorsese was in a “Poor Me” mood: his marriage to Isabella Rossellini was crumbling and he felt lonely and dejected. The King of Comedy’s Rupert Pupkin (De Niro) doesn’t have the capacity for low spirits. He’s frantically, exuberantly ambitious in a one-track direction, to perform a ten-minute stand-up comedy spot on the TV show of his idol Jerry Langford (a wonderfully subdued Jerry Lewis). Rupert’s convinced that he’s bubbling over with talent, though, down in his basement, the cardboard figures of celebrities like Liza Minnelli don’t applaud when he delivers his act.

One day Rupert worms his way into Langford’s limousine and raves about his own dynamite talent. Langford invites him to a follow-up meeting, but it’s just a way of brushing him off. Scorsese has said that “the amount of rejection in the film is horrifying; there are scenes I almost can’t watch.” Horrifying, true, but also hilarious. Cutting rebuffs that would embarrass and shame a less obsessive person just spur Rupert on: he keeps bouncing back and reframing harsh setbacks as the challenging stepping stones of his creative mission. When all else fails, Rupert and his fellow Langford-worshipper Masha (the fierce comic Sandra Bernhard) kidnap Langford, with hopes of getting Rupert his TV gig. The extreme social chaos that Rupert and Masha perpetrate is nicely balanced by Langford’s quiet nobility as he copes with these two wild, absurd grown-up kids. Researchers say that we laugh with recognition when we experience familiar, perhaps endearing human foibles and shortcomings. But we also laugh nervously, when behavior is unexpectedly intense, and there’s danger in the air. Marlon Brando laughed so much at The King of Comedy that he hosted Scorsese and De Niro at his private Tahitian island.

Born in the British Isles, Michael Powell loved islands and waterways and, as a man in his eighties, saw that his life was a river flowing ever onward until “there will be nothing left for me but the open sea.” His spirit lives on in his wondrous, thoughtful, thrilling art, and in the hearts of Thelma Schoonmaker and Martin Scorsese. Twenty-eight years after Michael and Thelma’s 1989 visit, Thelma will join us at the Seattle Art Museum to present Powell and Pressburger’s The Red Shoes on Monday, March 6 and Scorsese’s The King of Comedy on March 7. She’ll introduce the films, answer audience questions and speak of her life in movies.

—Greg Olson, Manager of SAM Films

Images: Eagle-Lion/Photofest, © Eagle-Lion Films. 20th Century Fox. Eagle-Lion Films, Inc./Photofest, Photographer: George Cannon, 20th Century Fox/Photofest, © 20th Century Fox.
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