A Portal to the Past

Have you ever looked at an art work at SAM and thought, “I bet there’s a great story behind that?” I think this all the time. Today, a friend of mine tells us a fantastic story that she imagines lies behind a needlepoint image. Her story, a portal to the past, is about a work that looks like a painting but was made by a young girl from tiny, tiny stitches in thread. This story is written by Lorelei Timmons-Herrin, a fifth-grader at Whittier Elementary school (my friend, and daughter of SAM head librarian Traci Timmons). 

Do you have any stories to tell about the art at SAM, or the art in your home? If so, please share it with us in the comments!

Sarah Berman, Curatorial Associate for Collections

Needlework mourning picture, ca. 1805-07, Eliza Gravenstine (American, Philadelphia, 1792-1821), embroidered and painted; watercolor paint on silk, approx. 24 x 28 in., Gift of Ruth J. Nutt, 2014.24.44



I made this picture to remind people of what cholera did to us living in the 1800s.

It was a cold sad day as I trudged through the mud to my brother’s grave. He had died of cholera two years ago. I was only eight years old then. I miss him a lot. I shall tell you all my story.

“I want John to get better mother” I whined.

“I know you do, but we haven’t found a cure yet” my mother said. I could see she was getting inpatient. My mother was a strong woman, she had raised all three of us all alone. My brother, John loved reading and writing, he was a caring young man. My sister, Samantha loved reading like John. She also likes playing with our kittens. And there’s me, I love doing needlework.

You can see that my mother (in the middle) is decorating the grave. My sister (on the right) is holding an olive branch, a sign of good luck. I am (on the left) mourning for my dead brother. It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I cried many times in the making of this picture.

With Unlimited Power and Unlimited Funding, I Would…

This summer, intern Sholeh Hajmiragha has been working with me on two projects. Her first project was to sift through years of accumulated notes on SAM’s maiolica collection, and update our records according to the best and most recent information. Her second project was different. She tells you more, below.

-Sarah Berman, Curatorial Associate for Collections


In the last three weeks of my curatorial internship at the Seattle Art Museum, I was given a project – to imagine that I had the power and the unlimited funding to acquire any and all art from contemporary artists in the Middle East.  This exercise was consuming and exciting, and it allowed me to gain a much greater insight into the acquisition process and research required in acquiring art.  On this last day of my internship, and for my farewell blogpost, I’ve decided to share one of my favorite artists that I researched during this exercise – ninety-eight year old Saloua Raouda Choucair.

Saloua Raouda Choucair represents an oversight in the western conception of contemporary art history.  Born in Beirut in 1916, Choucair is heralded as a pioneer of abstract art in the Arab world, though until recently Choucair was largely unknown outside of Lebanon.  Now in her ninety-eighth year, Choucair’s most recent exhibition at Tate Modern in 2013 was the first time her work has been shown publicly on a global scale.  In this regard, Choucair’s work can be considered new, with herself an unknown artist.  Yet, what makes her work significant is the reality that Choucair has been working as a female artist in the Beirut art scene from the 1940s, studying in the studio of Fernand Léger in Paris, and producing abstract art alongside the historical western modernist art movement.  Maymanah Farah writes in her essay “Saloua Raouda Choucair: Reinventing Abstraction”, “One of the many myths of the Western canon is that European modern artists invented abstraction…At the moment, there is a multidisciplinary campaign to correct the shortcomings of this history of Modernism by looking past the borders of Euro-American art centers.   It is within the experiments of artists who are noticeably absent from the Western view of art history, despite having been in pursuit of modern aesthetics, that examples of pre-modern abstraction are beginning to be reevaluated.”[1]  Choucair’s work is a perfect example of this as her abstract, modern forms and figures reflect both modernism aesthetics as well as historical Islamic art forms.

Choucair’s art encompasses the intersections of time, space, and place.  Though existing in the artistic school of western modernism, Choucair’s abstraction is distinct and notable.  As Samir Sayigh writes, “this abstraction, despite its proximity to that characterized by modern art in the great artistic capitals of the world, and despite its singularity in Lebanon and the Arab nation, remained an abstraction converging with the contemporary characteristics which characterize Eastern art, and more specifically Arab Islamic art, much more than with Western abstraction as perceived by Kandisnsky, presented by Mondrian, and realized in the Bauhaus Collection.”[2]  In addition to this dialogue of east and west lies another relationship of the object and space.  Not only does Choucair manipulate her paintings to reflect depth and form, but her three-dimensional sculptures present not only an abstraction of architecture and space and the manipulation of shape and form, but also bridge the divide between language and text and art and space.  Choucairs complex, interlocking sculptures are a clear example of this.  Choucair creates sculptural poetry that is constructed through various building blocks and carefully molded shapes that fit together and connect, creating a larger holistic form.  As Choucair has stated, “The way I organized my sculptural poems, for example, was inspired by Arabic poetry.  I wanted rhythm like the poetic meter, to be at once more independent and interlinked, and to have lines like meanings, but plastic meanings.”[3]  In this manner, Choucair translates the very deeply rooted Arabic cultural tradition of poetry into a modern and abstract art form that physically embodies a simultaneous interlocked dependence with a detached and separable independence.

Besides her sculptural work, her paintings reflect dualities as well.  In her painting Paris-Beirut, Choucair depicts an Islamic star, Cleopatra’s Needle, and the Arc de Triomphe in their most basic forms and shapes, both juxtaposed geographically and culturally, yet balanced compositionally, reflecting both an exchange between the east and west, while also hinting toward Choucair’s own decision to return to Beirut, rather than stay in Paris.  In her piece Les  Peintres Célèbres, Choucair presents a scene reminiscent of Fernand Léger’s Le Grand Déjeuner, while transforming it to reflect a new representation of women, presenting a contemporary artistic exchange between Choucair in Beirut and Léger in Paris.  Adrian Searle of The Guardian compares this painting to her former instructor Fernand Léger’s Le Grand Dé jeuner, writing, “The differences are telling, not least because the women don’t seem bothered by our gaze.  Instead, they look at art books, one of which has the title Les Peintres Célèbres (The Famous Painters), which also gives the title of these small studies.  Where Léger’s bodies are polished and overblown, these are wonkier, offhand and much more human.  Choucair’s little paintings depict women among women, oblivious to whoever stares at them.”  Finally, her painting Two=one, which Tate Modern chose to include in its exhibition, contextualizes Choucair within the time and place of Lebanon in the late twentieth century.  Riddled with glass shards, chipping paint, and a large gaping hole in its center, this painting was damaged by a bomb blast during the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990).  Though no longer in the state it was intended, this piece highlights the reality of Choucair’s life in Beirut.  As Kevin Jones of ArtAsiaPacific writes, “Already in her 60s, with decades of study and practice behind her, when conflict broke out in Lebanon, Choucair simply had no artistic language to admit the war into her practice: her work was entirely rational, scientific, engineered almost to the exclusion of the human and the social.  The incursion of the war literally into the flesh of her practice with Two=one illustrates the potentially destructive force of forgetting: occluded memory, as much as the war itself, was Choucair’s nemesis.”[4]

For me, reading about and researching Choucair and her art was both inspiring and incredibly humbling.  The vast amount of work that she produced over her extensive life, with little to no recognition beyond her local art scene, is really profound.  This exercise in acquisition research highlighted for me the power and significance of displaying and curating art.   The power of her work lies not only in the art itself, but in the fact that it is now able to be seen and appreciated, showing not only her artistic achievements, but also her own life history.


-Sholeh Hajmiragha, Curatorial Intern, 2014








[1] Maymanah Farahat, “Saloua Raouda Choucair: Reinventing Abstraction”, Saloua Raouda Choucair, ed. Jessica Morgan (London: Tate Publishing, 2013), http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/14828/saloua-raouda-choucair_reinventing-abstraction-.

[2] Samir Sayigh, trans. Anna Swank, “Saloua Raouda Choucair: Distinctiveness of Style and Individuality of Vision”, ArteEast (2008), <http://www.arteeast.org/2012/03/04/saloua-raouda-choucair-distinctiveness-of-style-and-individuality-of-vision/>.

[3] Quoted in Mulhaq al-Nahar, 23 September 1995, p. 10, as recorded in Tate Modern summary of Poem (1963-5): <http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/choucair-poem-t13278/text-summary>.

[4] Kevin Jones, “Memory, Corrected: Saloua Raouda Choucair”, ArtAsiaPacific, Issue 88, May/June 2014, <http://artasiapacific.com/Magazine/88/MemoryCorrected>.

Sun’s Out, Fun’s Out: Five Exciting Things to See & Do at the Olympic Sculpture Park This Summer

After many overcast months, I want nothing more than to spend as much time as possible outdoors and to enjoy the fleeting Seattle sun. Unfortunately, as a broke college student, I have little money to spend on summer activities. My solution? The Olympic Sculpture Park’s free summer programs. So, here are my top five favorite things to see and experience at this summer at the sculpture park.

Music, and more broadly sound, plays a huge role in my focus and aesthetic appreciation of the world. YOU ARE HEAR, created by respected artist and sound engineer Trimpin, recognizes the complexity of sound. This exhibit is a hands on, interactive approach to the concept of sound and how we as listeners and viewers experience it.

2. Echo
This is a 46-foot-tall sculpture by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa and inspired by the Greek mountain nymph who was cursed by goddess Hera by restricting Echo’s speech to be only the words of another. I’m fascinated by Greek and Roman mythology, so this statue struck an academic chord in me.

3. Seven Cubes with Color Ink Washes Superimposed
This piece is absolutely beautiful. On display in the PACCAR Pavilion, this contribution by Sol LeWitt brightens up the sculpture park, and is a joy to see from now until March 8, 2015. I haven’t seen it in person yet, so I’m looking forward to seeing it in reality.

4. Food, art, and music
When local music, delicious food, and interesting art are in one place, I’m there. Every Thursday, starting July 10, SAM entices the community with art activities, live music performances, food trucks, and art tours. Because the event runs from 6-9 pm, attendees will get a beautiful view of the waterfront during sunset.

5. Yoga and Zumba
If you’re excited about yoga and Zumba, or have never done either before, I highly encourage you to stop by every Saturday (beginning July 12) for free yoga lessons at 10:30 am, and then for Zumba at 2 pm. This is a great opportunity to get the weekend started on a relaxing note.

I’m so excited for everything the Olympic Sculpture Park has to offer this summer. There’s something for everyone almost every day of the season. Check out a full schedule of what’s happening at visitsam.org/summer.

I hope to see you there!

Erin Dwyer, Seattle Art Museum communication’s intern

Finding Miró: Paris

Join special projects intern Gabriela Ayala as she travels in Miró’s footsteps through Paris. Then, experience Miro at the Seattle Art Museum’s current special exhibition Miró: The Experience of Seeing on view through May 26, 2014.

Paris, France

It is fifteen minutes until landing in Paris, and the clouds mean serious business. The fog surrounding the Paris airport is hiding any possible knowledge of when the airplane might touch the ground. Before expected, the plane touches the surface of France and the compact fog is not allowing me to see any of the wonder it is hiding. A forty-five minute drive leads me to the center of Paris where no weather can stop the activity of cars moving and people leisurely drinking coffee, shopping, and gawking at the beauty that is Paris. All the architecture you see is ornate and dazzling. There are buildings of all different shapes, colors, and sizes with decorative balconies made of elegant swirls of iron. I try to make note of how old the structures around me are to get an idea of what Miró was surrounded by when he lived here. Miró arrived in Paris for the first time at age twenty-seven where he met Pablo Picasso and would later live and work in a studio neighboring poet André Masson. Paris was a hot spot for artists and poets and Miró was a part of that scene to an extent. He always tried to keep himself a little separated from the groups that formed because he never wanted to loose his individuality and independence. This last part of my inquiry into Miró is initially going to be different than everything else I have seen. Up to this point, I have visited foundations focused solely on Miró, making it a bit easier to gain visual and written knowledge. Now for Paris, I have done a precursory investigation into where Miró lived, worked, and the streets he may have strolled upon.

Saturday, 8:00am

I strap on my trusty, now worn, leather boots and am off to face the rain and find Miró in Paris. I plan my journey on the map so I can make a nice circle around the city and eventually find myself back at home base, the Opera House. First stop is rue La Boëtie, where Galerie La Licorne used to exist. This gallery is where Miró had his first solo exhibition. I do not have an exact number for this absent location so I stroll down the street, looking for a plaque that could clue me into where this gallery could have been. What I end up finding is a plaque that showed me a different gallery that lived on this same block. This gallery was owned by French art dealer Paul Rosenberg in 1910-1940. He exhibited modern painters like Picasso, Braque, Matisse and Lêger. Miró met Rosenberg through Picasso but I am unsure if he ever showed at this particular gallery. I continue on to the UNESCO building that has two of Miró’s ceramic murals inside. I arrive to a building encircled by a shorter stonewall that is supporting a metal fence. Sadly, I run into a security guard who very urgently asks me to leave and informs me that the UNESCO building cannot be visited today. This means I cannot get a photo of Miró’s mural but I have to accept my defeat and move on to the next checkpoint. Next on the list is 45 rue Blomet.

Square Blomet, a public park where Miró's studio at 45 rue Blomet once stood. Photographer: Gabriela Ayala

Square Blomet, a public park where Miró’s studio at 45 rue Blomet once stood. Photographer: Gabriela Ayala

This is the location I am most excited about. 45 rue Blomet marks the spot that was Miró’s first studio in Paris and where he made now famous works and was surrounded by many famous artists and poets. It was a location where many surrealist artists and writers would meet up. rue Blomet curves off of the busier main street, eventually becoming parallel as the numbers on the buildings go up. I am counting to myself 32, 35, 40, 42, and finally I find 45 but it is not what I would have imagined. In place of where Miró’s studio was there is now a small park, Square de l’Oiseau lunaire (Square of the Lunar Bird), inaugurated in 1969. The plaque at this park details the many artists who had a workshop in this location and hosts the sculpture Miró donated in memory of 45 rue Blomet. Even though I was really looking forward to seeing a building in this location where I could get a very real sensation of what this meeting and work place looked like, the fact that there is still a gathering place for people to enjoy shows me its ongoing importance. It is beautifying and honoring a location where many artists felt inspired to come together and create, and that power still lives there. After taking the time to sit on a bench and take in everything I could, I decided to move on to the one location I know still exists.

Galerie Maeght is a gallery where Miró had many group and solo exhibitions. It is also a business that has been passed down and is still owned by the Maeght family. It is not difficult to find and I excitedly enter to try to communicate my purpose for being there. Luckily, the lady there speaks Spanish and so I tell her about my project and what I am researching. She then informs me that they have the original catalogs for one of the exhibitions Miró had here. This has to be one of the greatest finds today. I look through the three catalogs she pulls out for me to decide which treasure I would like to take home with me. I decide on the catalog for a show that was during the last twenty years of his life. These catalogs also have printed lithographs by Miró for your own collection. One of the desires Miró expressed was to make his art accessible to the public and this was evidence to that. Anyone who wanted was able to take some of his art home with them in the catalog. I find this to be a very beautiful detail.

The exterior of Picasso's home from 1936-1955, where he painted Guernica. Photographer: Gabriela Ayala

The exterior of Picasso’s home from 1936-1955, where he painted Guernica.

My last stop is to find the location where Pablo Picasso painted Guernica in 1937. Guernica was exhibited in the Spanish Republican Pavilion at the Paris Universal Exposition, as was Miró’s painted response to the turmoil of the times, The Reaper . I find myself again venturing into hidden streets with graffiti-decorated walls and narrow uneven roads. Finally I reach a tall building with a gated entrance and luckily another plaque informs me that I have arrived at my desired destination. I am not allowed to enter but knowing this is where an incredibly important piece of work was created gives me satisfaction enough. Guernica and The Reaper were created as political protests against the dictator Francisco Franco and Paris was the perfect location to exhibit them. It was a center where freedom was an idea taken very seriously and innovation was happening every day. People were trying to find themselves and the future and the options were endless. I believe this is what attracted Miró to Paris on a conscious or subconscious level; he knew this was a place where he could be free to create and experiment in a manner that continued on to his last days.

A sunny day in Paris. Photographer: Gabriela Ayala

A sunny day in Paris. Photographer: Gabriela Ayala

Top image: The Eiffel Tower. Photographer: Gabriela Ayala. www.gabrielaayala.com

Finding Miró: Fundació Pilar i Miró

Join special projects intern Gabriela Ayala every Friday as she travels in Miró’s footsteps through Europe.

Palma de Mallorca, Spain

I find myself twenty minutes from the city center, on a hill, with a gifted view of the water, boats, and buildings. I have an appointment to meet with a conservator here at the foundation. I know that between me and this black barred gate is where Miró lived and worked from 1956 until his death in 1983. I am greeted with a Spanish hello and taken down to the basement level of the Foundation. I am more than pleasantly surprised. The conservator has picked actual drawings out of their archives for me to look through with care. I have Miró in my hands, the real deal. These papers were the launching to bringing into existence his colorful paintings, prints, and sculptures. Again, I see that when Miró had an idea there was not enough time to find a sketchbook. Drawings and thoughts were jotted down on anything and everything. It is important to note that Miró was purposeful. Everything was well thought out and with reason. His pieces may appear spontaneous but in reality he was eccentrically detail oriented. An observant man who was aware of himself, of life, and the many details life has to offer us when we are willing to see.

A workspace in Miró's studio. Photographer: Gabriela Ayala

A workspace in Miró’s studio. Photographer: Gabriela Ayala

As if this is not enough, I know Miró’s studio comes next. I have already seen photos of this and even in just black and white I could see that it was amazing. Again, a building designed by friend Josep Lluís Sert, wing-like shapes line the roof giving it an incredibly modern look. The highly textured wooden doors that seem more a part of an Old Spanish home, quickly and beautifully counteract the modernity. The structure is white and all the doors and shutters to the windows are different colors. This building could not scream Miró any louder. The brass handle is opened and I walk into any artist’s dream come true. The studio is large and spacious with natural light coming in from all directions. Tall walls and large windows showing the surrounding nature make the room feel even larger and connected to the outside world. The studio is kept in a way that is genuine to how Miró had it while working. Any inspirational items, clippings, or photos are pinned to the walls. There is an open top floor that gave Miró the ability to get a bird’s eye view on what he was working on. He mostly painted downstairs and drew up stairs. His supplies are still scattered on tables around the studio and a familiar whicker rocking chair sits still in the center of everything. There is still action and movement in the studio in the splatters of paint and footprints left on the floor. It is, simply put, beautiful.

Exterior of Fundació Pilar i Miró. Photographer: Gabriela Ayala

Exterior of Fundació Pilar i Miró. Photographer: Gabriela Ayala

I ask where Miró did his printmaking and sculptures; I am informed I have not seen it all. We follow a curved gravel path with trees and flowers leading us. Up a small ways there is a large white house that was once a farmhouse from the 18th century. It is a very typical Mallorcan country home from the time and is kept in these same conditions on the interior as well. Small shutters cover the windows to the home and two large wooden doors decorate the façade. Just behind these doors is a glass door that senses us and automatically opens. Obviously this is a contemporary addition to the home. This simple floor plan has a square center space and four rooms that connect to it. I step into the entryway with walls that look like one large sketchbook. There are drawings directly on the walls, paint on the stone floors, and Miró’s presence splattered around every corner. There is a print studio on the bottom level and all sorts of molds used by Miró scattered about the house. I am then taken upstairs to an area that is not usually seen by the public and witness the remnants from the last months of Miró’s life. This was another space for painting but the remarkable part is to see how many prepared canvases Miró had in these rooms. He had some big plans. Miró worked literally until his dying day. Lastly, I am taken to the one room where no art materials abide. This was a room merely for Miró to sit and relax. It shows his personality in a very different way than anything else I had seen at this point. There is a small round table off to the right with a chair and a couple of collected items on a shelf. This room of dark red walls has four portraits that inhabit its space: one each of his mother, his father, Pablo Picasso, and Joan Prats. Two narrow wooden doors lead to a large terrace where again that gifted view presents itself. I now can fully understand why Miró chose to move from the bustle of Barcelona to the peace of Palma.

Top image: Detail of a workspace in Miró’s studio. Photographer: Gabriela Ayala. www.gabrielaayala.com 

Finding Miró: Palma de Mallorca

Join special projects intern Gabriela Ayala every Friday as she travels in Miró’s footsteps through Europe.

Palma de Mallorca, Spain

I am up early for my 50-minute flight over to Mallorca but it is all worth it because I am ready for some island life. When we take off we are literally in the air for a moment before they announce we are descending into our destination. Once I land I can already feel how different the environment is here. Smaller airports are always a joy to arrive to because they are usually empty, quick, and easy. I get myself to a taxi in no time and officially greet Mallorca. Hello, I introduce myself; I lower the window and the warm ocean breeze gives me a beautiful welcome. The water is to my left and an incredible castle reveals itself to my right. My first impression as we keep driving along is that the city has a sensation of a simpler, quieter, and older Miami. There are new buildings and old. The busiest path is the one that lines the ocean’s edge in a semi-circle around the city. There are hundreds of people biking, walking, and rollerblading. It is quite the destination. It is a stark difference coming from a city with small streets, many cars, and many stimulants. Mallorca offers a bit of this but as it goes on it quiets down more, the colors are brighter, and the pace is very slow. It is easy to become inspired here.

Buildings in Palma de Mallorca. Photographer: Gabriela Ayala

Buildings in Palma de Mallorca. Photographer: Gabriela Ayala

I decide the quickest way to get an idea of the city is the great red double-decker bus. It does not take long to visit the city as a whole but what I slowly learn is that it offers a bit of everything. There is an older part that is very romantic, a modern area with taller buildings and apartments that all resemble each other. There are castles and cottages. There is even an Old Spanish square where famous buildings from other parts of Spain have been recreated. Mallorca conclusively gives you a versatile taste of experiences but mostly it romances you. I end my relaxed and simple day with a typical Spanish dish, tortilla de patatas, refreshingly combined with a sweet glass of Sangria. As the food disappears from my plate and the ice in my round wine glass starts to disappear, I stop to let Mallorca fully seduce me. I need to take the time to recognize the intense gratitude I feel to be in a beautiful place, researching an incredible history. I could not wait to see the best of Miró tomorrow, his remarkable studio where he spent the last twenty plus years of his life.

Top image: Bay in Palma de Mallorca. Photographer: Gabriela Ayala

Finding Miró: Barcelona

Join special projects intern Gabriela Ayala every Friday as she travels in Miró’s footsteps through Europe.

Barcelona, Spain

Relaxed and ready to walk, I awake early to take on the city and locate a couple of researched Miró-related destinations. Luckily today, the sun is out to guide me along. First on my list is the Parc Joan Miró. This is easy because it is also clearly located on a map. Barcelona is a busy city. The center has many different types of buildings and so much life on the streets. It is easy to forget that this is a city on a coast and water is merely a fifteen-minute walk away. I learn that as a citizen of Barcelona you have the option, with an affordable yearly fee, to use the many bicycles that are stationed around the city. It was a project established to help encourage people to ditch their cars and adopt an environmentally friendly way to get around. I see a lot of people using this and I think it is pretty neat. Moving along, I find the park and the massive sculpture made by Miró, Dona i Ocell (Woman and Bird). It stands tall at the corner of the park, its many colors glistening to say hello. I then move on to find a gallery named Sala Gaspar. This may or may not be the location it was in originally, but this was a gallery that featured Miró many times. This weekend is a national holiday and therefore the gallery is not open during its regular hours. I do not get a chance to enter but I do take the time to imagine its past. I encounter the effects of this national holiday in more ways than one. As I walk towards one of the most centralized parts of the city, the Rambla, I find myself in a demonstration at the central square. There is red and yellow in every direction, flags flying, and people chanting “España!” I am thrilled. I feel so much energy coming from the pride these citizens feel for their country and it is a fortuitous experience.

Demonstrators in Barcelona wave the Spanish and Catalan flags. Photographer: Gabriela Ayala

Demonstrators in Barcelona wave the Spanish and Catalan flags. Photographer: Gabriela Ayala

Eventually I locate the mural that was on the street in the center of the Rambla. The Rambla is an avenue with all the shops, restaurants and café’s you could ask for. There are flower stands and souvenirs by the millions. At the heart of the street is Miró’s mural. People walk back and forth down this street but not many notice what they are stepping on. There is art beneath their feet. The great part is to see the people who do notice. They stop, back away to see the full picture, and smile.

My final mission is a bit more difficult. I hoped to find Miró’s family home where he lived and worked for a bit. This is meant to be located at number 4 Passatge Del Credit. The map I have is not detailed enough to show the names of the smaller streets and so I find a large street that is meant to intersect with my desired location. Luckily, this street is incredibly lively and visually striking. I find a hidden gallery showing contemporary artists and discover that frozen yogurt has indeed found its way to Europe. Unfortunately, Passatge Del Credit never shows itself to me. I do however see a plaque of a club dedicated to Miró that is very close to where this street should have been, and so I decide I must have been close.

View from Güell Park, Barcelona designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. Photographer: Gabriela Ayala

View from Güell Park, Barcelona, designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. Photographer: Gabriela Ayala

After these Miró specific destinations, I decide to go to locations that are related to people Miró was inspired by. This included the Picasso Museum and Güell Park. The Picasso Museum is undeniably great but Güell Park is something very special. Güell Park is completely designed by Catalan architect Antoni Guadí and built in the years 1900 to 1914. It is a journey of mosaics in many shapes, colors, and patterns. It has the feeling of an amusement park only because of its wonderment. It is like stepping into a new world, into a painting mixed with nature and unique architecture. After taking many pictures and being romanced by the views of the city, I head back to my hotel with happy thoughts that tomorrow will bring me to the next step of Miró’s life, Palma de Mallorca.

Top image: Building in Barcelona, Spain. Photographer: Gabriela Ayala

Celebrate with SAM: Día de los Muertos

It’s the time of year for pumpkin spiced lattes, changing leaves, Seattleites relishing in the last few days of sunshine before the months of monotonous drizzle ensue, and strutting your stuff in your DIY/thrift shop/homemade (the only way to do it in my opinion) Halloween costume. Tonight, when your makeup starts running and your carefully crafted costume is dripping from the rain, remember that tomorrow you can warm up at SAM’s celebration of Día de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead).

Last night, while I was safety pinning my felt cut-out stars (which I’m pretty sure a kindergartener could have cut out better) to my high wasted blue shorts, I felt my enthusiasm building. But this enthusiasm did not pertain Halloween plans; instead all I could think about was Día de los Muertos! Yesterday, I made my way down to the Brotman Forum to check out the hand crafted tapete (sand painting) and was blown away. Not knowing quite what to expect, I was floored with the size, vivid colors, and detail in this work. I thought to myself, “this is just a fraction of what is to come on Friday night!”

If you have not been to a SAM event, this celebration would be a great place to start as it highlights the beauty and tradition of Día de los Muertos with art, dancing, music, delicious food, and more. Oh, and did I mention this family friendly reception is FREE? If for some reason you cannot make it to the celebration, the tapete that vibrantly decorates the Brotman Forum will be on view until November 20th.

In case you are not familiar, Día de los Muertos is an ancient celebration of the eternal cycle of life.  It combines ancient and New World traditions, folk customs, and spiritual beliefs. Mexican and Latin American communities observe Día de los Muertos traditionally on Nov. 1st and 2nd. During this time, families assemble ofrendas (altars) laden with offerings of food and drink to nourish the spirits of their loved ones on their long journey.  Clay figurines, sugar skeletons, and embroidery with personal messages and the names of the deceased are placed on the ofrendas along with flowers and candles. The ofrendas are then presented to the community to celebrate deceased loved ones and the ideas they imparted in life.

So, tonight as you’re shivering in your Halloween costume and thinking to yourself,  “maybe dressing as Miley Cyrus from wrecking ball was a bad idea,” recharge your dwindling enthusiasm by remembering you can continue the festivities at SAM on Friday night! Don’t miss this free opportunity to celebrate with the community while taking in the magnificent culture of this inspiring tradition. For more information, visit our site. We hope to see you there!

By Hilary St. Clair, Communications Intern

Photo by Catherine Anstett

LaToya Ruby Frazier: Exposing Reality through a Different Lens

Have you ever met someone so passionate, devoted, and driven that you were instantly inspired to do better? Act better? Be better? On Thursday, July 18 I had the pleasure of listening to a talk given by renowned photographer and media artist, and most recent recipient of SAM’s Gwendolyn Knight and Jacob Lawrence Fellowship, LaToya Ruby Frazier.

What is the Gwendolyn Knight and Jacob Lawrence Fellowship?

The Knight/Lawrence Fellowship is awarded bi-annually to distinguished and celebrated early career black artists that “have their fingers on the pulse of contemporary black artistic practice.” Beyond being recognized for her extraordinary work, Frazier will be awarded $10,000 to further her artistic endeavors, and her work will also be featured in a solo exhibition in SAM’s Gwendolyn and Jacob Lawrence Gallery in December 2013. This is a show that you will not want to miss.

Unless you have experienced her artwork firsthand (in which case this would all be totally obvious), you’re probably wondering what makes LaToya Frazier’s work so eligible and influential over innumerable other candidates…

Born and raised in the industrial town of Braddock, Pennsylvania, Frazier grew up a witness and victim of irresponsible corporate citizenship, including “de-industrialization and outsourcing, environmental negligence, and inner-city gentrification (http://www.latoyarubyfrazier.com/).”  At the age of 17, she began to use photography as a means of documenting and exposing such practices, as well as building an archive that accurately reflected the city of Braddock and the damage done to its citizens.

In her presentation, LaToya Frazier pointed out how Braddock has been falsely represented throughout its history. Take, for example, this Levi’s Ad created in 2010, which uses Braddock as its poster child while neglecting to show any deterioration, harm, and pain that is the reality experienced by Frazier and many others. It is because of instances like this that Frazier was moved to act as a social critic and react against what she viewed as poor corporate stewardship. She exposes the push/pull of the balance between image and reality and the constant struggle of innocent bystanders wrestling against the harmful impact of various business practices.

What makes her work even more unique and fascinating is that she includes herself in many of her own photos, which is a very unusual but powerful tool. By inserting herself in history and subjecting herself to the scrutiny of portraiture, she makes the overall effect of the images much more poignant, personal, and real.

Frazier’s repertoire successfully combines aspects of art, social activism, and political awareness to relay a message that is powerful, inspiring, and yet readily accessible to a broad and diverse audience.

Don’t forget to visit SAM’s online calendar for the dates of LaToya Ruby Frazier’s show (TBD) and other events throughout the year!

-Caroline Sargent, Communications Intern

Momme Portrait Series (Shadow) 2008, Photo: LaToya Ruby Frazier

SAM Art: Deceptive simplicity

Even in the most seemingly-straightforward designs, things are not always as they seem. This chest is an example of early American rural-style furniture. Beneath a coat of gray paint added in the mid-nineteenth century can be seen the original red coloration, suggestive of fashionable mahogany furniture produced in New England. Despite appearances, only two of the “drawers” actually function as such. The top two drawers are, in fact, false fronts, used to conceal a large compartment which opens from the top—a likely reason these are sometimes called blanket chests.

Chest over drawers, ca. 1750-90, American, New England, possibly Rhode Island, pine and chestnut wood with paint, 43 1/2 x 38 1/4 x 18 3/8 in., Gift of Mimi and Bill Gates in honor of John Kirk and Trevor Fairbrother, 2000.160. Currently on view in the American art galleries, third floor, SAM downtown.

A Dog’s Blog: Rupert visits the Olympic Sculpture Park

Meet Rupert: He loves the park and has agreed to guest blog for us. Here’s what he has to say:


Dear humans, or, as I like to call you, hairless dogs with thumbs,

Hello! Nice to meet you. My name is Rupert Putdownthatshoe. I’m five and I recently moved into a new home in downtown Seattle, where I live with my roommate, Kristen. She pays the rent, and I let her scratch my stomach.

Every afternoon, when my human comes home from work, I take her for walks around the city. I like to think of these walks as daily mini-vacations from my otherwise full-time occupation of protecting our home from intruders like helicopters and the mailman. My favorite mini-vacay destination these days is the Olympic Sculpture Park.We went there yesterday, and I had so much fun giving my roommate a tour of all my favorite smells.

Yesterday’s tour’s highlight was the Park’s newest smell box – it’s called The Western Oracle: We Will Tear the Roof off the Mother by Heather Hart. Inside the smell box, we looked out a window at the Puget Sound, which made me think of the fish I like to eat. There’s also a chimney looking up to the sky, which made me think of the ducks I like to chase. I like this smell box.


Until next time!

Woof, Rupert.


-Carter Stratton, intern for Communications

Rupert enters “The Western Oracle”

Where the Park Meets the Sound

The view from the Olympic Sculpture Park is heavenly. As you sit in one of the vibrant red chairs, you can gaze out on a harbor filled with sailboats, and onto the Olympic Mountains scraping the clouds. The meadow’s colorful flowers bloom and sway with the ocean breezes, and the native foliage is juxtaposed against clean, modernist lines and bold contemporary art to create a visual feast. It’s hard to imagine, with all its runners, dog walkers, and parades of children running through the distinctive Z-path, that this now iconic park was once site to the Union Oil Company of California.

Since it’s birth in 2007, the Olympic Sculpture Park has undergone hefty changes and challenges, but a large portion of the transformation is ongoing. It was World Ocean Day June 8, and there was no better location to celebrate than on the reclaimed rocky shore of the park. As an intern gardener at the park, I work closely with Bobby McCullough, who has been head gardener since the park opened its gravel walkways.  He ensures that water is being used efficiently, and that the naturalized beach area is healthy for park visitors of all kinds, from people to dogs and even harbor seals. Keeping this area in good shape is an important part of the crew’s work: the beach is patrolled for litter almost daily, plants have been placed and cared for to act as a natural buffer, and we even climb the trees to search for troublesome insects. It is safe to say that years after the design implementation, the Olympic Sculpture Park is continually taking efforts to create a clean Puget Sound.

I assist Bobby by hand weeding and performing maintenance, keeping plants healthy and the open space clean and friendly. The park uses organic gardening methods—no pesticides, fertilizers, no harmful chemicals. By using these techniques, it prevents contamination in the soil and on the ground surface, which could then wash into Puget Sound. And what’s even more unique and sustainable than our gardening practices are the plants themselves; they are all native to the Pacific Northwest. Visitors experience four distinct archetypal landscapes at the Olympic Sculpture Park: the valley, the meadows, the grove, and the shore. These series of precincts give the park a sense of regional identity, and reduce water use.  The plants are already adapted to Seattle’s climate, and therefore do not require any additional water. Sprinklers in the park are energy-efficient and only turned on when necessary. Young plants are watered while they become established, but in the future they will require little-to-no watering.

Without a doubt, the sculpture park’s most carefully maintained area is where the park meets the Sound.  The beach features large logs and boulders, perfect for climbing and sitting to admire the harbor. The shore was designed to act as a natural filter, collecting debris that wash up with the tides. Each year after the storm season, usually in February, Bobby organizes a massive clean up to remove trash and treated lumber. Creosote is a substance created through the distillation of tar to preserve wood, and is toxic. It is often used to treat lumber used in structures like boats and docks, and can wash up onto the beach. Each year Bobby removes six to eight tons of this treated wood from the shore to prevent creosote from leaking into the water. This maintenance continues throughout the year, with treated wood removal and daily trash pick-ups.

The shoreline is carefully monitored through a variety of efforts to create safe wildlife habitat. Learn more about the Olympic Sculpture Park and its restoration.

-Stephanie Stroud, Intern Gardener, Olympic Sculpture Park

Remix: It’s Got What You Need

As a brand-new intern at SAM, my very first assignment involved getting up close and personal with the details of the upcoming Remix (as in tomorrow, Friday, June 7!), and let me tell you, the night is jam-packed with good stuff. After learning about all the events, activities, and performances planned, it’s no surprise I’m counting the hours until the doors open, and you should be, too!

Every quarter, SAM holds Remix, an after-hours, 18-and-older event, drawing hordes of party-goers to SAM Downtown to get an intimate view of the museum’s latest exhibition, test their own art-making abilities at various activity booths, watch some unbelievable dance performances, and, of course, bust a move (or two, or ten) of their own.

This season’s Remix event is centered on the Modern exhibition The Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection: Fifty Works for Fifty States and promises to be nothing short of a modern explosion and an event that you don’t want to miss.

Come see SAM after dark, this Friday from 8 pm–midnight, when the lights turn low and the jams turn up.

DJ Riz kicks the night off in the Brotman Forum with an irresistible, groove-inducing variety of soul-meets-pop-meets-hip-hop beats.

As if that weren’t enough reason to linger, the Brotman Forum will also play venue to three performances by Seattle’s Alchemy Tap Project, whose dancers bring a whole new modern flavor to tap dancing.

Want even more dance?

Head up to the third floor galleries for Modern art-inspired dance vignettes by Seattle-based Salt Horse.

While you’re there, take advantage of SAM’s aptly-titled My Favorite Things: Highly Opinionated Tours to get a fresh and highly opinionated (surprise!) look at SAM’s Collection Galleries. With a wide array of knowledgeable and outspoken guides to choose from, the only way you could possibly go wrong with these tours is by not taking one.

After seeing Fifty Works for Fifty States, you’ll no doubt be itching to start an art collection of your own (if you aren’t, you might want to get your pulse checked), and SAM’s got you covered.

Head to the Chase Open Studio area where artist Joey Veltkamp and other local artists will be waiting to create and exchange mini artworks with you in the SAM Mini Fair; grab a FREE Remix tote bag to store your goods!

If all this dancing, art collecting, and opinion-hearing has you feeling wiped, swing by the Rec Room for libations at the bar and some good, old-fashioned (but not) bingo. If you’re envisioning a room in Florida with faded floral prints and a slow-moving ceiling fan, stop right there. This is not your grandmother’s bingo (and if it is, you’ve got one cool grandma).

Hosted by the fabulous members of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, this bingo has a modern (art that is) twist with cards featuring pictures of SAM’s favorite modern artworks. One game in, and you’ll be dying to make a habit of it (SAM is not responsible for any pun-related injuries).

With all the excitement and endless stream of options offered, you may just feel like a kid in a candy store. If you want to make that metaphorical candy a reality, TASTE Restaurant is open ‘til midnight to keep your sweet tooth satisfied. Didn’t I say SAM’s got you covered?

Whatever venue you favor, be it the dance floor, the art exhibition and galleries, or any of the numerous SAM creates studios (minimalist jewelry making, anyone?), one thing is for certain: SAM Remix has everything you need to make this Friday a night to remember.

-Carter Stratton, Communications Intern

Photo by Robert Wade.

SAM Art: A new look at an ancient tradition

A new installation in SAM’s Native American art galleries explores basketry and ceramics in Native communities of the American west, including this double spout vase made by Maria Martinez and Julian Martinez.

Beginning more than 2,000 years ago, pottery was made by early communities in the southwest, including the ancestors of the Pueblo peoples. Using clay from their homelands to fashion bowls, jars, canteens and figures, Pueblo potters developed distinctive styles that continue unchanged today. Double spout vases symbolizing the marital union were gifted at Pueblo weddings and, with the arrival of tourists in the 1880s, became popular collectors’ pieces. Matte-on-glossy designs were added by Julian after Maria constructed the vessel.

Double spout vase, early-mid-20th century, attributed to Maria Martinez (San Ildefonso Pueblo, 1887–1980) and Julian Martinez (San Ildefonso Pueblo, 1879–1943), ceramic, 10 3/16 x 8 1/8 x 6 3/4 in., Gift of Katherine White and the Boeing Company, 81.17.1946. Currently on view in the Native American art galleries, third floor, SAM Downtown.

It’s Elles REMIX Style

Before moving to Seattle to start my fall internship at the Seattle Art Museum this past August, I had already developed an appetite for Remix. I’d never been to one on my many visits to the Northwest but I had seen the posters—shiny, glossy and wickedly designed, I wanted, needed to know more about SAM’s quarterly event.

Aimed at engaging and building relations with young adults, SAM’s Remix events align ever so nicely with the museum’s special exhibitions to create a dance-party-meets-fine-arts experience that gets under your skin in the best way. This fall’s French import Elles: Women Artists from the Centre Pompidou, Paris weaves its way seamlessly throughout this month’s Remix at SAM Downtown on November 9 from 7:30 pm–12:30 am; showing that ladies can hang with the boys and party just as hard.

DJ Michele Myers kicks off the night in the Brotman Forum with intoxicating rhythms and beats from pop, local favorites, soul and just about anything else you can dream of to keep you dancing your pants off. Watch as choreographers Linda Austin, Anne Furfey and Amy O perform excerpts from Ten Tiny Dances on a 4×4 foot dance floor throughout the night. Enjoy the musical styling’s of Hollis and The Pytons as they perform sets from ACT Theatre’s These Streets—an homage to the grunge movement in Seattle with a feminine twist. Curated by Gretta Harley and Sarah Rudinoff, these sets are sure to get the blood pumping and bring out your long dormant grunge kid.

Head on over to the Arnold Board Room to rest those tired dogs while testing your mettle and your knowledge of pop culture, sports, film and more at the Women All-Stars Trivia with Geeks Who Drink. Or earn your Artistic License with Erin Shafkind at her Department of Artistic Licensing with the help of Jenny Zwick and Tessa Hulls. It’s like the DMV only fun.

Let your activist self run free in the South Hall and create Take Action Buttons with Janet Fagan. Too much activism and not enough space?  Create a Power Band with Romson Bustillo to showcase your inner superhero! Put your thinking cap on at the Second Floor Think Tank and ask yourself Can Women Really Have It All? Join Vivian Phillips and Priya Frank as they explore questions raised by Elles: Pompidou through interactive activities. Give your brain a break and mosey on up to the Fourth Floor Galleries and listen to Seattle Symphony Orchestra harpist Valerie Muzzolini Gordon while she performs music inspired by Elles: Pompidou’s French roots.

But wait there’s more! (Isn’t there always?) It wouldn’t be Remix at the museum without the My Favorite Things: Highly Opinionated Tours. Happening periodically throughout the entire night, the tours are led by short folks, tall folks, artistic folks, academic folks and just about everyone else in between to offer up their opinions, whether good or bad, about the art and artists featured in the Elles: Pompidou exhibit.

Dirty, Sacred Rivers, a Talk by Cheryl Colopy at SAAM on November 8

Cheryl Colopy discusses her book, Dirty, Sacred Rivers: Confronting South Asia’s Water Crisis, which takes readers throughout the enormous Ganges river basin–in North India, Nepal and Bangladesh, from the Himalaya to the Bay of Bengal. The book is a vibrant first-person narrative that brings the complex issue of water sustainability to life, as she observes both gross mismanagement of rivers and also efforts to revive traditional sustainable methods of water management.

Two of her recent op-eds appeared in the New York Times and Yale Environment 360.

New York Times

Yale Environment 360

Cheryl Colopy is an environmental journalist who wrote Dirty, Sacred Rivers during seven years of travel and residence in South Asia. She is an award-winning reporter, formerly with National Public Radio affiliate KQED in San Francisco.

Presented by the Gardner Center for Asian Art and Ideas with the Elliott Bay Book Company.

Event Details
Date: Thursday, November 8
Time: 7 pm
Location: Seattle Asian Art Museum
More information…


6 Tips for Visiting Elles

1.       DEALS !!!

First Thursdays and Fridays
Admission is discounted on the first Thursday of the month for everyone and on the first Friday for seniors. Go to the Elles website for more information.

All Thursday and Friday nights
Every Thursday and Friday night from 5–9 pm ticket prices are reduced by $3.

FREE for Teens on the 2nd Friday of each month from 5–9 pm.

Bring your Friends
Receive discounted ticket prices and group benefits when you purchase 10 or more tickets in advance. For more information call 206.344.5260 or email groups@seattleartmuseum.org.

Park at 3rd and Stewart Garage
Discount parking is available at the Third and Stewart Parking Garage—entrance is located on Stewart between 2nd and 3rd Avenues. Ask for a voucher at the SAM Ticketing Desk and park for up to four hours for only $6.

Coat and bag check is free.

All tickets to Elles: Women Artists from the Centre Pompidou, Paris include entrance to Elles:SAM downtown and FREE admission to the Seattle Asian Art Museum at Volunteer Park within one week. There are no extra fees for online orders.

Buy tickets now >

Become a member today and visit as many times as you like for free. Enjoy members-only benefits including exclusive access times for Elles, free admission at all SAM sites for a year and discounts at SAM SHOP and TASTE Restaurant.

Already purchased your ticket?
Stop by the Ticketing Desk to apply the price of your Elles ticket towards a membership!



Online ticketing, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

  • Guaranteed admission for your reserved day.
  • No waiting in line. Just print your online ticket at home or show us on your phone as you enter and you can go immediately to the special exhibition galleries.
  • No online ticketing fees.

Buy tickets now >



Rather than carrying around those clunky audio wands, why not use your petite, handy smartphone? SAM has an Elles audio guide app for Windows, Android and iPhone. Download before you get to the museum and you’re ready to go! Note: Windows Phone users bring your headphones as the audio plays via speaker phone.

Don’t have your own digital device?
Free audio wands are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The wand includes a special audio guide for no and low vision visitors.



Some of the Elles exhibition content is found to be mature for younger audiences. Discretion is advised.

However, we recommend using our Kids Activity Guide to plan a family-friendly route along with activities throughout the galleries. Hard copies are available at the SAM ticketing desk.

Guided school tours and art workshops are offered for students in grades 6–12 for this exhibition. We encourage educators to visit the galleries in advance to gauge the appropriateness of the exhibition for individual classes. Email educatorprograms@seattleartmuseum.org to obtain an educator pass or learn more about this exhibition. Visit the Elles learn page to view educator resources or book a school tour.



Starting October 11, SAM Downtown has extended open days to make it easy to see Elles: Women Artists from the Centre Pompidou, Paris and Elles:SAM. We are now open on Tuesday!

Tuesday–Sunday 10 am–5 pm
Thursday & Friday
10 am–9 pm
First Thursdays
(Nov 1, Dec 6, Jan 3) 10 am-midnight

Closed Mondays (except Members-Only Mondays)

Want to avoid crowds?
It’s likely the museum will be busiest during First Thursdays (when ticket prices are reduced) and on Saturdays and Sundays. For a quieter experience, we encourage you to visit during the week after 2 pm (school groups tend to visit between 10 am and 2 pm), or on Thursday or Friday evenings.


6.       PLAN. LEARN. SHARE.


SAM Art 50+: The World’s Fair + SAM, part III

Science and technology were the stated focus of the Seattle World’s Fair as a whole, while a subtler, though equally compelling, argument was made for the celebration and understanding of Asian art and culture within the Fine Arts Pavilion. The Art of the Ancient East was one of the Pavilion’s six exhibitions, and it introduced visitors to some of the greatest masterpieces of Asian art. This focused exhibition shone a spotlight on Asian art and artisans, proving this artistic heritage equally as brilliant and varied as Europe’s.

These masterpieces traveled across continents and seas, from one millennium to another. And yet, to arrive at the World’s Fair grounds, they traversed just over one mile: This exhibition was one of two installations at the Fine Arts Pavilion drawn entirely from the Seattle Art Museum’s holdings. The show included representative works from a dozen nations, including (in this photo) Pakistan and India.

What were considered masterpieces 50 years ago remain so today. Last year’s exhibition Luminous: The Art of Asia included nearly every work from Art of the Ancient East. Luminous, however, reflected the changes in the world over the past 50 years. Chief among the differences was the museum’s collaboration with artist Do Ho Suh, who not only guided the interpretation of the SAM Asian collection, but produced a brand-new work of his own in response. This imagining of the “life” of objects is an element that could not—and would not—have been considered 50 years ago.

The Art of the Ancient East, installation view, Fine Arts Pavilion, Seattle World’s Fair, 1962. Photo: © Seattle Art Museum.

Modern & Contemporary Galleries at SAM will be closed August 26-October 6

Women artists are taking over SAM’s Modern and Contemporary Galleries!  In anticipation of the new exhibition Elles: SAM—Singular Works by Seminal Women Artists, the Seattle Art Museum is transforming a few galleries on the third floor of SAM Downtown.  The Ebsworth Gallery and the Wright Galleries for Modern & Contemporary Art will be closed August 26 through October 6.

However, please enjoy the third floor galleries that will remain OPEN during the transition:

  • 18th and 19th Century American Art
  • Native Art of the Americas
  • Australian and Oceanic art
  • Japanese Teahouse
  • Textiles

Elles: SAM will be presented in conjunction with Elles: Women Artists from the Centre Pompidou, Paris.  Come and see these two shows October 11, 2012 through January 13, 2013!

Art and Adventure

I’ve been down to the Ancestral Modern: Australian Aboriginal Art from the Kaplan & Levi Collection exhibition a few times now. I find the paintings spellbinding and mysterious. They remind me of those Magic Eye images from the 1990s—those 2D images that if you blurred your eyes and stared long enough, a secret 3 dimensional world would magically appear to the patient viewer. Like that art of yore, I find myself mesmerized by the paintings in the SAM exhibition, trying to see the story or the place or the songlines the artist is representing.

Traci departing from Golden Gardens, Seattle.

Recently, a colleague at SAM set off on a walkabout, of sorts, of her own. SAM’s Web Programmer/Software Engineer, Traci, and her friend—also Tracy—have set off on an epic journey up the inside passage. They are kayaking from Seattle to Ketchikan. They are carrying most of their food and supplies in their kayaks—50 days worth in 50 gallons (you can imagine what kind of culling that might entail). And they will only supplement and refill whenever there is a town close enough to the water to do so.

View Inside Passage 2012 in a larger map

They’ve mapped out a tentative route (yellow pins), plus some optional campsites as recommended by other paddlers (blue and pink pins). As Traci says, “I didn’t think I’d find the charts so mesmerizing, especially as I’ve spent time on Google Maps, charting applications, and smaller book-sized charts, but having big table-size maps to wander in is strangely compelling.”

The Tracies also have a blog and a SPOT Connect Satellite Communicator that allows those of us at home, to track their journey. They set off on June 24th and have been on the road, erm, open water, for 47 days now—and I learned that they reached their destination, just this morning! I’ve been keeping tabs on them and following their progression and as I look at the map with their path on it I can’t help but be reminded of the paintings in the Ancestral Modern exhibition. All the undulating lines of the British Columbia coastline and organic shapes are evocative of the similarly undulating and vibrating paintings of place by the aboriginal artists. But not only that, both the map and the paintings evoke place, journey, story and adventure.

“Mountain Devil Lizard Dreaming”, 1996, Kathleen Petyarr, Australian Aboriginal, Anmatyerr people, Utopia, Central Desert, Northern Territory, born ca. 1940, synthetic polymer paint on canvas, 48 1/16 x 48 1/16 inches, Seattle Art Museum, Promised gift of Margaret Levi and Robert Kaplan. © Kathleen Petyarr, photo: iocolor, Seattle.

In drawing the connection between the map and the paintings, the Australian paintings seemed to snap into focus  for me. Like those Magic Eye paintings of yore, something in my brain needed to switch and now I feel like I can zoom in and out (like a Google Map) and I can see what is being represented. All at once I can see the lizard skin, footsteps in the sand and the cracks in the desert sand simultaneously. If you haven’t already, drop by the Ancestral Modern exhibition, on view through September 2nd. And maybe like me you’ll be transported to Australia or into some fantastical story.

Follow the Tracies as they navigate the wild blue yonder.

Liz Stone, Digital Media Support Specialist

Top Photo: “Wati Kutjarra (Two Men Story)”, 2003, Spinifex Men’s Collaborative (Ned Grant, born 1942; Kali Davis, n.d.; Ian Rictor, born ca. 1962; Lawrence Pennington, n.d.; Frank Davis, n.d.; Fred Grant, born 1941; Gerome Anderson, 1940–2011; Wilbur Brooks, n.d.; Simon Hogan, born 1930; Mark Anderson, born 1933; Roy Underwood, born 1937; Walter Hansen, n.d.; Loren Pennington, n.d.; Cyril Brown, n.d.; Alan Jamieson, n.d.; Lennard Walker, born 1949; Byron Brooks, born 1955), Australian Aboriginal, Pitjantjatjara people, Tjuntjuntjara, Southwestern Deserts, Western Australia, synthetic polymer paint on canvas, 82 11/16 x 74 13/16 inches, Seattle Art Museum, Promised gift of Margaret Levi and Robert Kaplan, in honor of the 75th Anniversary of the Seattle Art Museum. © Spinifex Men’s Collaborative, photo: Susan Cole.

Sarah Bergmann: The Birds and the Bees

It will be the most comfortable Birds and Bees conversation you’ll ever have…

All over the US, pollinating insects and other pollinators (big shout-out to birds and bats!), which are vital to the well being of plants, the diets of many animals, and almost 1/3 of the food we eat, are struggling to survive. The Western Honeybee, for example, has almost completely disappeared on the west coast despite its role in pollinating some of your favorite foods: tomatoes, avocados and even delectable summer snacks like cherries and blackberries!

With these vital insects compromised, one woman, one hero has emerged! In the face of this pollination crisis, Sarah Bergmann, an artist and ecological designer, has taken the challenge to design and plant a one-mile Pollinator Pathway through downtown Seattle. The pathway runs along Colombia Street beginning at Seattle University and finishing at Norah’s Woods. It is a series of normally grass sidewalk strips transformed into pollinator friendly gardens. The plots and pollinator specific plants are maintained by the local homeowners and with their help, these insect populations can flourish.

Sarah will be at the Olympic Sculpture Park every Saturday throughout this August and up until September 15th to talk more about her project, the plants, the pollinators, and what you can do to help. Come down and learn different ways that you can help protect these pollinators! The tours begin at 11am and continue on to the pathway itself.

Feel free to join in the conversation after your morning OSP yoga session ends at 11:30!

You can keep thinking Plants & Pollinators at www.pollinatorpathway.com

Ruby Lhianna Smith: The Hidden Shadows of Cancer

Seattle Art Museum is proud to present the photographs of Ruby Lhianna Smith, who passed away in May of this spring.  After first gracing the walls at Gallery4Culture earlier this summer, we are honored to bring her inspiring work to the SAM. Today, twenty-eight of Smith’s black and white archival inkjet prints will be installed in our South Hall gallery and will remain there through September 9th. Said Ruby of her photography and her work, The Hidden Shadows of Cancer, “Cancer is a hidden disease. I have it right now even though you cannot see it—but it causes pain and makes me nauseous. It appears only as the shadows on an X-ray. Photography for me is a search for the shadows. An image that has no shadows is not very interesting; it’s the shadows that make photographs beautiful. I started this project as a way to show my classmates what it’s like to have cancer—but as the project has grown more people have become interested and now I am using photography to show the world the story of my experience.”

The show is free and donations made in Ruby’s name to The Seattle Children’s Hospital Fund go directly to The Therapeutic Play Fund, which supports art and music therapy at Seattle Children’s Hospital.

Yogi SAM Wants You!

Thanks to Yogi Bhajan’s journey to the USA back in 1969, Yoga has ventured from ancient India and in to your very own Olympic Sculpture Park! The chance to become a Saturday Yogi (yoga-do-er) is upon us! Every Saturday morning through the end of August, join fellow Seattleites and Terilyn Wyre on a journey as you assume the Warrior II, Half Moon, Royal Pigeon and Thunderbolt amongst other physically enlightening poses. If you’re lucky enough you might experience great self transformation while in Bharadvaja’s Twist or Distinguished Hero… Spiritual serenity and improved self-awareness are on the morning’s menu, all while you wave goodbye to your timber-limber (that’s not very limber…) self!

These classes suit all levels; so if your flexibility rivals mine, don’t worry about struggling through body-bending and mind-blowing poses designed for rubber bands and silly-putty. Please bring your own stylish mat and arrive 15 minutes early to sign in. Classes meet at the Olympic Sculpture Park’s Amphitheater from 10:30 to 11:30 and if it dares to rain on your yoga-day, classes will move into the adjacent Pavilion to render mother nature offenseless through the power of Patanjali and his Yoga Sutras (and also a functional roof…)!

Come down and stretch it out this Saturday!

Keep it Flexi,

-Yogi SAM

Words on Water: Indian Writers in Conversation

After outstanding conversations last summer, Gardner Center for Asian Art and Ideas is once again teaming up with Elliott Bay Book Company and Teamwork Productions of Delhi, India to provide two stimulating evenings of discussion in Volunteer Park. Each night, writers from India engage in dialogue with local writers of Indian origin.

Tonight- Wednesday July 11th, from 6:30 to 9  join M.J. Akbar, an acclaimed journalist and the Editiorial Director of India Today as he shares his views on the subcontinent and his life as a journalist alongside fellow journalist Shiraz Sidhva. There will be time for discussion with the audience following their discussion.

Tomorrow Night- Thursday July 12th, from 6:30 to 9 enjoy first Nayanjot Lahiri, a Professor of History at the University of Delhi and author of The Decline and Fall of the Indus Civilization and Finding Forgotten Cities as he is joined for discussion by Vikram Prakash, Professor of Architecture at the UW. Next, Urvashi Butalia, the co-founder of India’s first feminist publishing house, Kali for Women, will discuss India’s partition and more with Sonora Jha, an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at Seattle University.

Both evenings will be held in Stimson Auditorium and tickets ($7 members, $12 non-members) include Chai break and light refreshments.

We hope to see you there!


-Seattle Asian Art Museum

My Senior Project: Hanging out with SAM’s Teen Advisory Group

My name is Angela Scoggins and I’m a senior at Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences. For 6 weeks I will be interning at the Seattle Art Museum working in the education department. You might be wondering why I am working instead of going to school. Well during the last 6 weeks of the school year seniors in our school have the opportunity to intern at any place they desire in Seattle. I am really into arts, particularly photography and guitar, and I hope next year I can continue learning and pursuing it. I decide to intern at the Seattle Art Museum.  What better place to doing something with art than at an art museum? So far since I started I have been working closely with the Teen Advisory Group. TAG is a program where teens use leadership skills to plan tours and events at SAM.   I’m looking forward to seeing what is still in store for the future.

In the last few meetings, the teens learned the dos and don’ts of giving a tour. We started with an activity called “Perfect Day.” Every teen drew a picture of their perfect day, then we put them on the board for everyone to see. The teens had  the option to show their picture and explain their perfect day. Some had really fun ones such as going to outer space or riding a dinosaur through the streets of Paris. Others, such as myself, pictured a day on the beach in the sun or reading a good book on a rainy day. There were lots of laughs and humor as people explained their drawing. Having everyone explain their perfect day gave them a chance to act as if they were giving a tour.  By knowing their art and being able to explain it they demonstrated skills in giving tours.

Once the ice breaker was over we moved on to another topic; the 5C’s of giving a tour: confidence, clarity, conduct, content and connect.  The skits proved to be one the best parts of the day. Everyone split up into 5 groups to correspond with the 5C’s of giving a tour. Each group had to use their word and come up with a skit that showed a positive and negative example of the word being used during a tour. Most of the skits were pretty funny, especially the ones that included the Clorox box. One of the groups used a Clorox container they found in the art studio to show content or lack of it. To show content they talked about the Clorox box and its origins. They said Clorox was invented because it was so dirty in the past that they needed something to clean with.

At the end of the day the teens split up into groups of four, and hit the galleries to write about artworks that interested them. The majority of the teams decided to find works by their favorite artists, while other focused on a theme. Themes varied from the role of women in art to American Culture and featured works from the African, European, Northwest Coast, and Contemporary galleries.

I had an wonderful experience with the teen program the last 6 weeks. I got to do what I enjoy and be around people my own age who are also interested in art. My senior project was great. It was an amazing learning experience.

Happy Earth Day!

If you liked Earth Hour then you’ll love Earth Day (it’s like 24 times better than Earth Hour). While Earth Hour challenged people to make lasting change, Earth Day is a celebration of all that we have achieved and a look forward to differences we can still make.

SAM has already made a number of changes in an effort to be more sustainable. They include:

  • Reduced the museum’s carbon footprint, including cuts in energy use, paper conservation, and waste reduction
  • Switched to 100% recycled copy paper
  • Earned Salmon-Safe certification of land management practices at the Olympic Sculpture Park. (Watch this video of Gardner Bobby McCullough employing one of those practices)
  • Supported SAM’s museum educators in designing art activities that use repurposed, recycled and non-toxic supplies
  • Created a culture of sustainability within SAM, including meeting with departments to identify barriers to “going green”

And now that it’s Earth Day, the SAM Goes Green team isn’t letting this opportunity go by without challenging our coworkers to continue moving forward and establishing more green habits. This week we are asking SAM staff to pledge to make a difference. We’re going to track the changes they make at home and at work and offer incentives for the most actions taken. A little positive reinforcement will hopefully encourage big change!

-Liz Stone, Operations Assistant/Digital Media Support Specialist

Specter, 2011, Gretchen Bennett, American, b. 1960, blown glass, hemp rope, Photo: Robert Wade

Last Call for Color

Time is running out to bring your collection of lids in to the Olympic Sculpture Park!

In Trenton Doyle Hancock’s wildly fictitious narrative, color is the source of salvation to a race of creatures who are seeking spiritual nourishment. For his installation, A Better Promise, Hancock playfully encourages you to pour color into his work by bringing plastic tops in all colors. The plastic caps add a whole spectrum of light into the installation and, for Hancock they “are in a way the surrogates for the color salvation.” As the artist has said, this installation “has to do with hope, color, connecting with people, connecting with community.” And you all have shown that he’s definitely connected with this community. Read More

Win Tickets to see Thelma Schoonmaker!

We’re still on an Oscar-high here at SAM, and to celebrate we’re giving away a pair of tickets to see a set of fab films (The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp and Peeping Tom) and as a big bonus you also get to see celebrated film editor Thelma Schoonmaker! It really doesn’t get better than this if you are into film.

Martin Scorcese’s Oscar-winning editor and the widow of director Michael Powell will will present the West Coast premiere of Powell and Pressburger’s freshly restored The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, as well as Powell’s latest masterpiece, Peeping Tom. Schoonmaker will introduce both films and answer audience questions. And all you have to do to win tickets is to answer the below question correctly by 5 pm Thursday, March 1. From the correct answers we’ll randomly select and announce the winner on Friday, March 2.

Thelma Schoonmaker and Martin Scorcese first worked together at:

A. Woodstock

B. The Newport Jazz Festival

C. A Shakespeare in Central Park production of Macbeth

D. The Monterey Pop Festival

Give us your best guess – good luck!

– Calandra Childers, Communications Manager

Record Store Listening Party Schedule for January 10-13

TUES | January 10

6:30 PM

Selector: Joshua Kohl, Degenerate Art Ensemble Co-Artistic Director/Co-Founder

Joshua Kohl has created original works for dance, silent film, concert ensembles, “classico-punk-big band” shows and street performances and has collaborated extensively on the creation of invented instruments used in DAE performances. Kohl has performed extensively throughout the U.S., as well as in the Netherlands, Italy, Slovenia, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Poland, Italy, and Germany, with the support of Arts International Fund for U.S. Artists and the Mid-Atlantic States Foundation’s U.S. Artists International. In addition to his work with Degenerate Art Ensemble, Kohl has created scores for the San Francisco-based dance theater company inkBoat; for a commissioned performance of c(h)ord (2008) at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco; Tale of Two Cities (2007) and Night Flight (2007–2009) for Seattle’s Book-It Repertory Theatre; as well as Twelfth Night (2007) and The Beard of Avon (2007) for Portland Center Stage. In spring 2011 Kohl will perform with Haruko Nishimura at the Center for Performance Research in New York City, and he will be in a residency with DAE at Robert Wilson’s Watermill Center: A Laboratory for Performance, Long Island, New York.

WED | January 11

6:30 PM

Jonathan Cunningham and Rich Jensen, Hollow Earth Radio, Last Night’s Mixtape, Metro Times Music Blog

Cunningham is bound to make you think, talk and move just as he does in on Hollow Earth Radio – the weekly radio show that features music and conversation connected to Seattle’s musical hot bed known as the Central District. Broadcasts “could include anything from Jimi Hendrix to Ernestine Anderson to Ray Charles to Vitamin D to Shabazz Palaces to Wheedle’s Groove or a conversation about gentrification…they aim to unearth a local gem each week from yesteryear that more contemporary listeners need to know.”

THURS | January 12

6:30 PM

Selectors: Randy Engstrom, Founding Director of Youngstown Cultural Arts Center and Chair, Seattle Arts Commission and a Few Good Friends

Randy Engstrom is a dynamic arts leader with a vision for the new frontier. Originally from Chicago, he first arrived in the west in 1995 to attend Evergreen State College and moved on to Seattle post-graduation. During his time in the Pacific Northwest region he has helped found numerous creative ventures and organizations including serving as the Founding Director of the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center and Chair of the Seattle Arts Commission. Randy continues to develop innovative programs that help support and nurture vibrant communities through his consulting practice, Reflex Strategies.

The Record Store is a temporary extension of the Theaster Gates show housed in a storefront in Pioneer Square. A collaboration between SAM and Olson Kundig Architects, the Record Store is open for the general public to browse the robust collection of records and play albums for the entire store or listen in a small group.

While nothing is for sale in the store, the exchange of ideas and concerns is encouraged. The goal is for the Record Store to function as a cultural commons where ideas, issues and moments in time are discussed, debated or responded to.

The Record Store will feature a series of “listening parties” with guest DJs, artists, community folks, dancers, musicians, urban planners, activists, etc. Each “selector” will borrow from the same collection of LP’s or brings a few of their own records that act as the sound track that illustrates their ideas. Irruptions might take various forms including: debates, writing or dance classes, silent reading, tastings, workshops, to-do-lists or a sermon.

[storefront] Olson Kundig Architects
406 Occidental Ave. S
Seattle, WA 98104

Tues| Wed | Thurs
12 – 4 pm and 6:30 – 9:00 pm

Favorite 2011 Moments at the Seattle Art Museum, Seattle Asian Art Museum and Olympic Sculpture Park