SAM Art: Millennium Light

Early modern art in America is strongly linked to myth and symbol, to what was an enduring quest to find spiritual meaning in the physical world. That quest, begun by nineteenth-century landscape painters and poets who felt divine inspiration in nature, for example, led artists time and again back to long familiar classical and Biblical texts for imagery and to newly discovered myths and symbols in Native American and Asian religions, philosophy, and art.

In his early 20s when he painted Millennium Light, Morris Graves’ interest in myth and mysticism was already apparent. It was created at the dawn of his long career, within months of his first important public recognition as the winner of the Northwest Annual’s Katherine B. Baker Purchase Prize for Moor Swan (also currently on view).

Millennium Light, 1933-34, Morris Graves, American, born Fox Valley, Oregon, 1910; died Loleta, California, 2001, oil on canvas, 39 x 39 1/2in., Gift of the Marshall and Helen Hatch Collection, in honor of the 75th Anniversary of the Seattle Art Museum, 2009.52.98, © Estate of Morris Graves. Currently on view in the modern art galleries, third floor, SAM downtown.

Art You Can Touch, Throw and Smell at SAM Remix

My co-workers and I were talking about the upcoming SAM Remix at the Olympic Sculpture when someone mentioned that there would be artist-designed cornholes at the event.

I must admit that the term “cornhole” made several of us first think of this, but we soon learned that cornhole is actually a bean bag toss game, which fits in nicely with this Remix’s county-fair theme. Remix cornhole will feature play boards designed by Troy Gua and Dumb Eyes.

One of the best things about Remix is that you get the chance to experience art in unexpected ways:

  • Contribute to a collective massive paint-by-numbers landscape, and watch the image take form as the night progresses.
  • Join Seattle artist Nicholas Nyland and guests for a journey to the East Meadow. Illuminate the path with luminaria and admire the sunset from Gretchen Bennett’s sculpture, The Jetty.
  • Witness the newest iteration of Carolina Silva’s Air Below Ground, a series of actions composed by the artist to take place on, in and around her wooden platform and frame sculpture.
  • Sample the Olympic Sculpture Park’s signature scent, created by artist Susan Robb. Inspired by the park’s geography and art, the artist’s “spritzers” will offer Remix guests the chance to wear the scent of their choice.

So not only will you be surrounded by the amazing art of the Olympic Sculpture Park, you’ll have the opportunity to create, share and talk art all night long at SAM Remix. Click here to buy your tickets now!

-Madeline Moy, Digital Media Manager

Love Takes SAM by Storm

SAM’s hallways recently echoed with joyous shrieks and laughter. Although perhaps a common occurrence, the aura of joy and excitement was not from a new art piece or an exhibition opening or even a Soundsuit…

It was a marriage proposal! A young man named Storm Bennett proposed to his long-term girlfriend Stephanie in the hall of the Seattle Art Museum in a most creative way… Read More

Satisfaction Guaranteed for Thursday at the Park

FINALLY—we’re going to have nice summer weather for this week’s “Thursday at the Park,” an evening of live music, art and food at the Olympic Sculpture Park from 5:30 – 8:00 p.m.

I’m really looking forward to seeing hip-hop duo THEESatisfaction perform. Their energetic beats and tight rhymes are sure to get the crowd dancing.

Tonight’s “Art Hit” tour will feature On-Site artist, Gretchen Bennett, who will discuss her temporary work installed in the Olympic Sculpture Park. Coinciding with the event is the launch of Bennett’s new Publication Studio book, Windfall Alphabet, which showcases recent work by the artist, as well as an essay by New York-based art critic and writer, Jill Conner. The tour meets in the PACCAR Pavilion at 6:30 pm.

After the tour, maybe you’ll be inspired to make your own art. This week’s art activity is creating abstract pendants. Materials are supplied, and all ages are welcome to participate.

Say aloha to Pai’s Food Truck, which will be making its first appearance at the Olympic Sculpture Park this summer. Pai’s serves Thai-Hawaiian dishes, such as lemongrass huli huli chicken. Veraci Pizza, Whidbey Island Ice Cream and our very own TASTE will provide other yummy bites. This week’s doughnut from TASTE pastry chef Lucy Damkoehler is sweet cheese empanada. I had some last week, and while I don’t think they’re anything like an empanada, I would definitely say that they’re delicious.

Sweet cheese empanada doughnuts from TASTE Restaurant at the Seattle Art Museum's Olympic Sculpture Park

See you at the Sculpture Park in the sun!

-Madeline Moy, Digital Media Manager

Photos: Robert Wade, Madeline Moy

Top photo: Specter by Gretchen Bennett

Beauty Shot Fridays: Summertime Sun and Fun

In hopes of procuring more sun from the sky this week, we asked people to send us photos of their summertime fun in the sun. Photos did not have to be of Seattle or from this summer but could be of anything sun- and summer-related. I’ve selected a few of our brightest submissions from last week and written some of my thoughts on them… Read More

Applications for Betty Bowen Award Due August 1

The annual Betty Bowen Award is now in its 33rd year and, as the application deadline nears, the Betty Bowen Committee is looking forward to awarding a cash prize to a visual artist living and working in Washington, Oregon, or Idaho. The application is available at callforentry.org and the deadline for submissions is August 1. Over the years, this award has had an impact for artists in our region, and it reflects the commitment Betty Bowen had in supporting the vision of contemporary artists in her time. We wanted to share some insights into the strength of this memorable advocate for the visual arts in our region.

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SAM Art: Bagley Wright, in memoriam

Symbolizing longevity, the traditional motifs of cranes in flight and pine trees are interpreted in an innovative manner on this child’s kimono. Set against a turquoise background, pine trees appear above and below the waves as silhouettes created by the playful use of color and negative space. Against the pine tree border, brightly-colored cranes soar above the swelling wave pattern. Delicate, calligraphic lines of ink emphasize the graceful bodies of the flying cranes.

On Monday, July 18, Bagley Wright passed away. Among his many acts of generosity for the Seattle arts community, Mr. Wright and his wife Virginia have donated hundreds of works of art to the museum’s permanent collection over the past six decades, including this kimono. We mourn the passing of this great friend.

Child’s ceremonial kimono, late 19th century, Japanese, Meiji period, bast fiber (asa) cloth with freehand paste-resist decoration (tsutsugaki) and handpainted pigments and ink decoration, 45 x 40 in., Gift of Virginia and Bagley Wright, 89.103. On view starting next week, Seattle Asian Art Museum, Volunteer Park.

SAM Art: Alden Mason

In the 1970s, Alden Mason gained national attention for his “Burpee Garden” series. Inside Out Landscape is a significant example from this body of work: large-scale canvases originating from several watercolors the artist had completed earlier. Named for seed packets sold by the Pennsylvania seed company, Burpee, Mason created images that are colorful abstractions which suggest amorphous and visually intoxicating landscapes. It is in these works that we see Mason’s dialogue with a generation of artists who preceded him, such as the American color field painters Morris Louis and Helen Frankenthaler, who were working in New York in the 1950s and 1960s.

This is the final week to see the retrospective installation of Alden Mason’s work in the Modern and Contemporary galleries at SAM downtown.

Inside Out Landscape, 1972, Alden Mason, American, born 1919, oil on canvas, 70 x 80 in., Gift of Herschel and Caryl Roman in honor of the museum’s 50th year, 83.167, photo: Susan Cole, © Alden Mason. On view through this Sunday, 17 July, Modern and Contemporary galleries, third floor, SAM downtown.

Contest! Eye on India Prize Package

  • As part of the Eye on India Festival, we are gearing up for the Words on Water series happening tomorrow and Wednesday evening at the Seattle Asian Art Museum featuring some of India’s most notable writers in conversation with American writers.

Our wonderful partners, Elliott Bay Books and Tasveer have helped us to put together a great prize package that includes:

  • A pair of tickets to Words on Water series (July 12, 13) at the Seattle Asian Art Museum at 6:30 (brought to you by SAM’s Gardner Center for Asian Art and Ideas)
  • A pair of tickets to hear Amitav Ghosh, in Kirkland/Seattle on either Oct 17-18  (brought to you by Elliott Bay Books and Seattle Arts and Lectures)
  • A pair of tickets to the Independent South Asian Film Festival  October 7-9 (brought to you by Tasveer)

To win: simply tell us your favorite work of Indian literature or film via this blog or SAM’s Facebook post about the contest by tomorrow morning at 10 a.m.. We will randomly select a winner tomorrow morning.  Thanks!

-Cara Egan, Director of Public Relations

Christopher Martin Hoff to Teach Watercolor Workshop at Olympic Sculpture Park

Usually when I think of painting en plein air, I picture a French Impressionist working at a canvas while seated under a large white umbrella in the middle of a meadow. Painting en plein air evokes a natural and pastoral setting.

Although he carries on the tradition, Christopher Martin Hoff is a different kind of plein air painter. You can see him all over Seattle painting all day, every day. He captures the urban landscape–billboards, bridges, traffic lights swaying over empty intersections, bright green dumpsters scrawled with graffiti. Hoff has also documented several important construction projects across the country and in 2003 was awarded an Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation grant, to create a series of paintings that document construction at the World Trade Center in New York.

Participants in the upcoming SAM Creates workshop “En Plein Air: Watercolor Painting” will get a chance to work with Hoff to explore the unique interplay of art, architecture and landscape present at the Olympic Sculpture Park. This is a three-part workshop, and the first session is Saturday, July 9. Click here to register now.

The SAM Creates workshop series provides a forum for artists to explain the philosophies underlying their work and for participants to delve into the artistic, practical or quirky processes at work in their daily lives. Instruction will include strategies for creating engaging compositions, the use of color to build space, creating work that has a sense of place and general practices for an effective outdoor studio. All materials provided, and all levels are welcome.

-Madeline Moy, Digital Media Manager

Silva Thinks Outside (and Inside) the Box

On-Site, the second summer exhibition at SAM’s Olympic Sculpture Park, brings together new sculptures by Gretchen Bennett, Nicholas Nyland, and Carolina Silva.

Silva titled her sculpture Air Below Ground. The wooden platform and frame, as well as a series of actions the artist has composed to take place in, on, around, or underneath the sculpture were conceived specifically for the Olympic Sculpture Park.

Silva, who will create a number of installations in the structure throughout the summer, is interested in the process by which sculpture is defined, engaged with and realized. An evolving work, her activities will engage a variety of materials, including lights, sound, fog, clay, and balloons that will expand viewers’ interaction with a sculptural object, one that is in a constant state of transformation.

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A Call to Color

If you haven’t been to the Olympic Sculpture Park lately, you should go. Not only is it summer in the park but Trenton Doyle Hancock’s, A Better Promise—an art installation in the PACCAR Pavilion—is especially mesmerizing and animated when the bright sunshine manages to peek out of the clouds and shine into the pavilion. Ironically, this is partly because of its numerous colorful raindrops but partly it’s because of the giant vitrines full of plastic lids that sit below the installation.

As part of the work, Hancock issues a “call to color” by encouraging visitors to bring their own morsels of color—in the form of plastic bottle caps—to the park and drop them into the work of art. Nine large-scale “earthbound” vitrines have been placed on the floor in front of the hand sculpture. On the face of each of these nine containers, there is a teardrop cut-out where plastic bottle caps can be deposited by color. Visitors are encouraged to bring plastic bottle caps ranging in all shapes and sizes from detergent bottles, to clear water bottles to the black and white caps from drink bottles.

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SAM Art: GET OUT! Summer at SAM

GET OUT! It’s officially the second Summer at SAM!

From June to September, SAM Olympic Sculpture Park is full of activities for kids and adults alike, as well as brand new art experiences. Take a tour of the old and new works in the park, listen to live music, eat and drink tasty treats, participate in kids’ programming, and even take yoga, Zumba© and dance lessons. Check the Get Out! Summer at SAM website often for updated listings of great events.

Other great summer programs include:

“Mount Rainier, Bay of Tacoma – Puget Sound,” 1875, Sanford Robinson Gifford, born Greenfield, N.Y. 1823; died New York City 1880, oil on canvas, 21 x 40 1/2 in., Partial and promised gift of Ann and Tom Barwick and gift, by exchange, of Mr. and Mrs. Louis Brechemin; Max R. Schweitzer; Hickman Price, Jr., in memory of Hickman Price; Eugene Fuller Memorial Collection; Mr. and Mrs. Norman Hirschl; and the Estate of Louise Raymond Owens, 90.29, Photo: Paul Macapia. Currently on view in “Beauty & Bounty,” special exhibition galleries, fourth floor, SAM downtown.

Thank You

This is my final week as the museum’s Director.  When I inaugurated SAM’s blog in September of 2009, I imagined that this would become a place for demystifying the inner workings of an art museum.  I hope it has served this purpose on a few occasions.  My colleagues have certainly made good use of SOAP as a space for sharing their deep expertise as well as their great enthusiasm for what is happening everyday at the museum.  I’d like to use this, my last SOAP contribution, as a chance to offer reflections on what has transpired at SAM recently and why I am humbled by the experience of having served as a leader here.

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Spend Your Summer with SAM

People in Seattle make the most of the all-too-short summers and so does SAM! We’ve got a diverse array of art exhibitions, events and experiences at all three of our sites this summer. Whether you’re interested in Bollywood, baseball, yoga or landscape painting, we’ve got you covered.

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SAM Art: Beauty Bounty & Bierstadt

A Portrait of a Place

Although Albert Bierstadt had not traveled inland into the Washington Territory in 1863, he had amassed the materials he needed to paint a portrait of a place that he could identify as Puget Sound. He had made oil studies of the land forms and Natives he saw along the Columbia River. He had acquired Northwest Coast Native objects, including the examples exhibited here, all of which can be found in Bierstadt’s painting. He also had an extensive library on the early history of America to use for reference—in this case, he appears to have drawn from an illustration in James Gilchrist Swan’s early authoritative study of the region’s topography and people, The Northwest Coast, published in 1857.

 The fine points of the little-known Puget Sound landscape itself were less important to Americans in 1870 than was the fantasized idea of Puget Sound—a storied inland sea that was a gateway to exotic-seeming points of the globe and lands of unknown peoples. In the still primeval wilderness that Bierstadt depicted, the mysterious realm of an ancient class of seafarers and fishermen, Americans might imagine the modern seaport that would soon arise there—and taking pride in their vision and ingenuity, accord Bierstadt a place in history as the artist who made a valuable and pioneering record of the noble past that was a new maritime civilization’s prologue.

Puget Sound on the Pacific Coast, 1870, Albert Bierstadt, born Solingen, Prussia, 1830; died New York City, 1902, oil on canvas, 52 1/2 x 82 in., Gift of the Friends of American Art at the Seattle Art Museum, with additional funds from the General Acquisition Fund, 2000.70. Photo: Howard Giske. On view starting today (June 30) in Beauty and Bounty: American Art in an Age of Exploration, Special Exhibition galleries, fourth floor, SAM downtown.

Beauty Shot Fridays!

From the PR Office at SAM comes a new and fun project called “Beauty Shot Fridays.” In order to promote Beauty & Bounty and Reclaimed, we are asking our Facebook Fans to send us photos in response to a weekly question that is based on themes in the exhibitions.

We will update our question on the SAM Facebook page every Monday by 3pm and submissions will be uploaded to the page every Friday by 4pm. If you’d like to send a photo submission (captions are welcome too!), please email beautyshots@seattleartmuseum.org

Our question this is week is: where do you find beauty and bounty in your day?

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GiveBIG Donors Contribute $30,000 to SAM

THANK YOU to everyone who participated in the GiveBIG campaign, to all who donated to SAM, and to The Seattle Foundation for making this incredible day of philanthropy possible.

Generous donors contributed more than $30,000 to SAM on GiveBIG day. These dollars will be stretched even further by The Seattle Foundation’s matching funds. WOW!

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Winning, SAM style

The Seattle Art Museum won first prize in the 2011 American Association of Museums Publications Design Competition for our “Kurt” exhibition poster designed by SAM graphic designer Rebecca Nickels.

While a certain actor’s career took a nosedive, SAM won a number of awards recognizing the outstanding work of our Communications team.

American Association of Museums Publications Design Competition
May 2011

  • Posters category: KURT poster
    First Prize
  • Educational Resources category: SAM Kids Events Campaign
    Honorable mention
  • Invitations category: PICASSO Suite of Invitations
    Honorable mention Read More

On June 23, GiveBIG!

On June 23, The Seattle Foundation is asking people in King County to GiveBIG to local nonprofits and will match a share of every contribution made through the Seattle Foundation online Giving Center on June 23 from 7 am until midnight.

Today you have the opportunity to be part of one of the biggest days of giving in King County. Take the GiveBIG Challenge, and your gift to SAM will be stretched even further!

The Seattle Foundation and GiveBIG sponsors will match a share of every contribution made through the Seattle Foundation online Giving Center on June 23 from 7 am until midnight.

Click here now to make your fully tax deductible gift to SAM! Donations at all levels are appreciated so please give $10, $50 or $100–whatever works for you. It all makes a difference! And everyone who makes a gift to SAM through GiveBIG will be entered to win two tickets to our summer exhibition, Beauty & Bounty: American Art in an Age of Exploration.

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A SAM Intern’s First Visit to the Seattle Asian Art Museum

Monks from Gaden Shartse Monastery in Fuller Room of Seattle Asian Art Museum for Mandala Demonstration

Within the Fuller room, visiting monks from the Gaden Shartse monastery were creating a mandala and will do so over the next few days. Mandalas are a Buddhist form of sacred art that carry spiritual significance. They are made by layering colored sands in an intricate design which usually relates to the dwelling of a diety. The monks vigorously run one chakpur (a bronze funnel that holds colored sand) over the ridges of another chakpur in order to direct the sand into the design.

Gaden Shartse monk making mandala as part of Seattle Asian Art Museum and Dechenling collaboration

Monk prepping chakpur for mandala making.

Once the design is complete, the monks will sweep the sand into a container which will be placed in moving  water such as a river or ocean. So four days of concentrated, intricate work gone in about thirty minutes. Quite a reminder of beauty and its impermanence.

Gaden Shartse monks using chakpurs and colored sands to make a mandala at Seattle Asian Art Museum in collaboration with Dechenling

Continuing through the museum, I repeatedly viewed objects made of nephrite. Upon later research, I learned that nephrite is one of two kinds of jade and usually comes in shades of green, grey, and brown with varying degrees of translucence. My favorite object was a dragon and tiger plaque, made of nephrite in the Ming period (1368-1644). It’s a decorative object, and it made me think about how there was a time that anything functional was expected to be beautiful, that functionality and beauty are not mutually exclusive.

Dragon and tiger nephrite plaque from Ming period at Seattle Asian Art Museum.

Dragon and tiger nephrite plaque.

The displays of ceramics, sculptures, and scrolls were lovely and accessible. The labels gave clarity to the objects they described but still left me with room to interpret and understand the works on my own. I most appreciated this when admiring a woman’s robe from China, ca. 1875-1908. The label mentioned that garments in this era were seen as descriptors of one’s true nature as well as indicative of socioeconomic status. I found this idea inspiring and refreshing as much of what I’ve studied with fashion discusses garments as an act of display of wealth or a purposeful effort to control how others’ interpret us, not necessarily as an indication of our nature.

Chinese, woman's robe from 1875-1908 at Seattle Asian Art Museum.

Woman’s robe.

I definitely enjoyed my time at the Seattle Asian Art Museum. It’s a manageable museum with space that facilitates easy movement from exhibition to exhibition and that contains a diverse range of work characterized by unique perspectives. I enjoyed something in each exhibition: plaques, robes, kimonos, prints, ceramics, and contemporary prints juxtaposed with sculptures and paintings. I plan on going back there and taking some people I know that will likely enjoy it as well.

Front entrance of Seattle Asian Art Museum with camels and art deco doors.

Seattle Asian Art Museum

 

 

Top photo: First camel ride ever.
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