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

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

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

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

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June 4 SAM REMIX KEXP playlist

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

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

Caroline Walker, Education & Public Programs Coordinator

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

 

Letters from the Road: Atami, Japan

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

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Family Fun: kids respond to Heide Hinrichs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

K-12 Student Responses to Calder

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

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SAM’s list of must-see SIFF films

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

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Behind the Scenes: Unconventional Portrait Workshop

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

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Why Kurt?

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

 

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SAM Libraries: Book(s) of the Month Club: April

April is the month when we celebrate Earth Day.

Earth Day was founded by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in held on April 22, 1970. Interestingly, Nelson announced his intent to have a nationwide grassroots demonstration on behalf of the environment – which led to the first “earth day” – in the spring of 1970 at a conference in Seattle in September 1969. (Source:  EarthLink.)

Earth Day gives us a great excuse to look at books and videos in our library collections that focus on environmentalism and land-focused art.

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

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

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Protecting Art in an Earthquake

When a natural disaster strikes, like the recent earthquake in China1, saving human lives is naturally the first concern. In the aftermath however, the loss of cultural artifacts and historic sites can be devastating to communities as well. Art and architecture provide evidence of our shared histories and give us a foundation on which to build a common identity. Living in Seattle, an area of the world prone to seismic activity, one might ask what Fremont would be like without its troll, or the Seattle skyline without the Space Needle? Hopefully, we will never know.

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An Entrancing Music of Pakistan and India

Those who went to the Meany Hall concert of Pakistani musician Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan in 1993 will still remember the thrill of hearing his voice and his group—with the audience dancing, and dollar bills being thrown onto the stage! It was a taste of the power of qawwali, the musical tradition of Sufis in Pakistan and India.

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Conversation with the Collector: Living with Mobiles

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

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

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

 

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

– Nicole Chism Griffin, Associate Manager of PR at SAM

Hammering Man: Surgery is Underway

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

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

-Nicole Chism Griffin, Associate Manager of PR at SAM

Conversation with the Collector: World War II and Calder

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

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

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

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

– Nicole Chism Griffin, Associate Manager of PR at SAM

Olympic Sculpture Park and Kids

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

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It’s Free First Thursday!

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

Come join the fun!

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

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

-Nicole Chism Griffin, SAM PR

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

 

Buddhism and Human Rights–Is This a Conflict?

We have heard more details recently about the ongoing war in isolated Burma [Myanmar]–especially this week in Seattle. Human rights reporter Mac McClelland was here, talking about her experiences living in Thailand by the Burmese border, an area swollen with refugee camps. She lived with Burmese dissidents, members of one of the ethnic groups targeted by Burmese government genocide, who risk their lives regularly by secretly crossing into Burma to document atrocities of the government’s ethnic-cleansing campaign.

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Conversation with the Collector: Tiny Works By Alexander Calder

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

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

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

 

– Nicole Chism Griffin, SAM PR

Conversation with the Collector: Alexander Calder

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

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

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

-Cara Egan, SAM PR

Take Pictures at SAM – You Spoke, SAM Listened

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

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SAM Libraries: Book(s) of the Month Club: March

When I first heard about the blog, I was excited to have another avenue to connect our libraries with the public. I can’t remember how many times I’ve heard visitors say, “Wow, I have been to the museum so many times, but never knew there was a library downstairs. It’s amazing! Look at all these books!” when they visit the McCaw Foundation Library at the Seattle Asian Art Museum for the first time. The library has been here as long as they museum has – more than seventy-seven years. I am excited to have this opportunity to showcase some of the marvelous books we have in this library.

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Hidden Gems

In a collection of nearly 25,000 objects, it’s easy to overlook a hidden gem. While reading an art blog , I came across a link to a photographic portrait of George Washington, carved in snow  (I’m not joking).  Amazing, but something you might not look twice at in a gallery, or even in a database. Sometimes it takes a spotlight to recognize the brilliance, humor, history, subtlety, or whimsy in this collection. I asked some of my colleagues to share their favorite overlooked, underappreciated object—these are the objects that they wish you, the visitor, knew all about.

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SAM Libraries: Book(s) of the Month Club: February

Black History Month
This month’s Book(s) of the Month Club entry highlights some of the more recent library acquisitions related to African American art production and African Americans as the subject in art. February is Black History Month and I’m thrilled to have an opportunity to highlight some our great resources in these areas.

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Derrick Cartwright Talks Football

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

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

Nicole Chism Griffin, Associate Manager of Public Relations, SAM

SAM’s Shrinking Carbon Footprint

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

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The History in Art History, Part II: How This Painting Came to Seattle!

Recently I blogged about the scant history of the museum’s magnificent painting by Frederic Church, entitled A Country Home, which was a gift to the museum in 1965 from one Mrs. Paul C. Carmichael.  For five years I’ve been wanting to learn more about Mrs. Carmichael and how she came to Seattle and how she came to bring with her her great grandfather’s impressive picture by Church. I’ve been surprisingly lucky in research so many times that I’m now convinced that some strange forces guide our hands as we delve into the past—forces that make sure that lives are never forgotten. The forces directed me to Mrs. Carmichael just last week.

Frederic Edwin Church (American, 1826-1900), A Country Home, 1854; oil on canvas 32 x 51 in. Gift of Mrs. Paul C. Carmichael, 65.80

Frederic Edwin Church (American, 1826-1900), A Country Home, 1854; oil on canvas 32 x 51 in. Gift of Mrs. Paul C. Carmichael, 65.80

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