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Muse/News: Super Cuts, States of Names, and Hopper’s Myth

SAM News

“Cuts through the chaos”: Go into the studio of Barbara Earl Thomas with Crosscut’s video series, The New Normal. Video producer Aileen Imperial and team captured the thoughts of the artist as she worked on her series of cut-paper portraits of Black children, which will debut at SAM later in November in her solo exhibition, The Geography of Innocence.

Local News

It’s tough to focus on a book these days, right? Well, let this list of “11 Localish Books to Read This Autumn” collected by Seattle Met’s Stefan Milne provide some inspiration (or guilt, whatever works).

Jasmyne Keimig of the Stranger declares time meaningless; switches up “Currently Hanging” to “Previously Hanging” to talk about Susan Dory’s Containment series. The artist’s show at Winston Wächter closed in June but is now back “on view” again via their website.

“Does Washington have a George problem?” As communities across the country make demands and ask questions about their public monuments and symbols, Ron Judd of Seattle Times’ Pacific NW magazine explores the history and possible future of the name of Washington State itself.

“We are a questioning people; questions will be asked. To wit: Is the name simply settled history, a historical bridge too far to even discuss? Is it a tad troublesome, but not enough to skip lunch over? Or is it a betrayal, wholly unjustified, a historical wrong deserving of righting?”

Inter/National News

Anyone else miss having an Artemisia Gentileschi painting at SAM (visited as part of last fall’s exhibition Flesh and Blood)? Us, too. Have a listen to The Art Newspaper’s podcast that visits Artemisia, the National Gallery in London’s highly-anticipated-then-delayed-but-now-open exhibition.

Jeffrey Gibson? Lowery Stokes Sims? Count us in for this essay on the artist by the scholar, reprinted from the catalogue for the 2018 exhibition This Is the Day.

Blake Gopnik for the New York Times examines a recent discovery by graduate student Louis Shadwick on Edward Hopper, regarding early works originally thought to be, well, original.

“One aspect of this ‘Americanness’ involved the image of the lone male — tall, taciturn, remote, just like Hopper — bravely forging his own path. This was precisely the image of himself that Hopper helped to propagate; even after his death, it went on to shape the story, now revealed to be a myth, of the miraculous early oils that Hopper is supposed to have come up with on his own.”

And Finally

A new Google app helps you put on the pearl earring (yes, THAT pearl earring).

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Image: Color Wheel, 2020, Barbara Earl Thomas, American, cut paper and hand-printed color backing, 40 x 26 in., Courtesy of Claire Oliver Gallery, photo: Spike Mafford.

Muse/News: SAM on the syllabus, Indigenous authors, and fashion under quarantine

SAM News

Seattle Times food writer Jackie Varriano opens the syllabus on legendary restaurant Canlis and their new “community college,” a series of programs to support the restaurant as well as FareStart. Among the “core curriculum,” PE classes, and top-notch cafeteria food, look out for SAM curator Catharina Manchanda’s talk on SAM’s fall exhibitions——featuring collector Virginia Wright and artists Barbara Earl Thomas—on Wednesday, October 21.

Local News

Special to the Seattle Times, Seattle Public Library’s David Wright has recommendations for seven audiobooks by Indigenous authors; a good idea any time, it’s especially resonant in time for Indigenous Peoples’ Day next Monday.

What’s “Currently Hanging”: Inside Out by Marela Zacarías at MadArt. Well, almost hanging. The Stranger’s Jasmyne Keimig caught a glimpse of the in-progress work—a “mesh temple to the Aztec goddess Cihuacoatl, who provides strength to women during childbirth”—which opens October 15.

For her weekly editor’s letter, Crosscut’s Brangien Davis recommends some visual art to see, some Bruce Lee philosophy to consider, and some dancing from Whim W’Him created with the fraught times in mind.

“For a moment, maybe only mentally, they escape to the beach and do somersaults on wet sand. It’s a good reminder during these fraught days to take a breath, dance around the block, put a houseplant on your head.”

Inter/National News

BOMB Magazine’s fall 2020 issue is out; the visual arts section features an interview with Trenton Doyle Hancock—whose work has graced the Olympic Sculpture Park’s PACCAR Pavilion—about his forthcoming graphic novel, which expands the artist’s narrative universe.

A 25-minute listen: Hyperallergic editor-in-chief Hrag Vartanian interviews National Gallery of Art director Kaywin Feldman on the controversial decision to delay the international tour of a Philip Guston retrospective.

Artnet’s Melissa Smith looks at artist residencies established by high-profile Black artists, including Titus Kaphar, and how they’re reshaping the art world.

“Residencies like Kaphar’s provide young artists an environment outside of art school—where the proportion of Black students (and faculty) still generally maxes out in the single digits—to hone their craft while not second-guessing their worth. ‘It’s just really draining to try to change it all on your own time when really all you want to do is focus on your work,’ says Tajh Rust, a former Black Rock fellow and Yale School of Art alum.”

And Finally

For Seattle Met, boutique owner Adria Garcia interrogates the necessity of fashion under quarantine.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Photo: Amada Cruz

Muse/News: Moments of Grace, Artists in Bridges, & A Hero Rat

SAM News

Fiona Ye of University of Washington’s The Daily interviews artist Barbara Earl Thomas on her upcoming exhibition at SAM, The Geography of Innocence, and talks about the intention behind her new portraits of Black children.

“Its intent is to bring us into contact with the destabilizing forces of our perceptions and biases that disrupt our innocence. It is to make us conscious of our interdependency and marvel at how individual actions can lead to changes that are transformative or disruptive. It is to situate us in a moment of grace.”

Priya Frank, SAM’s Director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, is interviewed for Visit Seattle’s SEAforSHE series, which celebrates women leaders in Seattle.

Gather, the LED-light installation created by Kenzan Tsutakawa-Chinn that graces the renovated and reimagined Seattle Asian Art Museum, recently won an Architectural Lighting (AL) Design Award. While the Asian Art Museum remains closed, you can still engage with virtual programming like the upcoming series on color in Asian art.

Local News

Consider some merch with “a little sass”: Seattle Met’s Nicole Martinson recommends seven salty Seattle pieces, including Tariqa Water’s “NO” tote, available at SAM Shop.

The Stranger’s Jasmyne Keimig sees what’s “currently hanging”: this time, it’s Untitled Anxious Men Drawings by Rashid Johnson, on view virtually from Hauser & Wirth.

Crosscut’s Agueda Pacheco Flores introduces you to the artists making comics in Seattle’s historic drawbridges while living in residence.

“‘I’m really excited,’ Russian says, as cyclists speed by. ‘The University Bridge is a drawbridge, so it’s very dynamic, tons of people walk and run across the bridge every day, plus all the boats going by underneath —’ then a boat’s air horn interrupts them.”

Inter/National News

Alex Greenberger of ARTnews on a new retrospective of Imogen Cunningham and “why the proto-feminist photographer has grown so popular.” The exhibition heads to SAM next fall.

The American Alliance of Museums’ blog talks about children’s museology and the COVID-19 crisis, sharing how museums across the country are working to prioritize young people’s learning. SAM’s Teen Arts Group (TAG) is mentioned.

The New York Times’ Holland Cotter reviews the “stirring” new exhibition at MoMA PS1, Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration, curated by Nicole R. Fleetwood.

“It’s a society in which racism often determines presumption of guilt; in which imprisonment — human disempowerment and erasure — is chosen over righting the inequities that lead to prison. It’s a society in which caging people is big corporate business, with connections reaching everywhere, including the art world.”

And Finally

A medal for Magawa.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Image: Grace, 2019, Barbara Earl Thomas, American, cut paper and hand-printed color, 26 x 40 in., Courtesy of Claire Oliver Gallery, photo: Spike Mafford.

Muse/News: Dawn Cerny Wins Award, Venus Suggests Life, and RBG’s Love for Operas

SAM News

SAM announced last week that Dawn Cerny is the winner of the 2020 Betty Bowen Award, an annual juried award for Pacific Northwest artists. Cerny will receive $15,000 and a solo exhibition at SAM in 2021. The Stranger’s Jasmyne Keimig shared the news, as did Artdaily.

Beverly Aarons for South Seattle Emerald interviews Barbara Earl Thomas about her upcoming exhibition at SAM, The Geography of Innocence, which features cut-paper portraits of Black children, many from the artist’s life.

“But she didn’t want to just capture them exactly as they were — she wanted to answer in her work the question, ‘What do I wish for them?’ Thomas didn’t want to talk about what she didn’t want — racism, violence, tragic deaths — but she wanted the work to embody the hope for the children’s futures.”

Tamara Gane for The Washington Post on “art alfresco,” recommending the best sculpture parks in the US to commune with art outside—and leading with SAM’s Olympic Sculpture Park.

Local News

The Stranger’s Jasmyne Keimig and Chase Burns previews four “don’t-miss” documentaries at the upcoming Local Sightings Film Festival.

“Washington State Is All Over the National Book Awards Longlist,” reports Seattle Met’s Stefan Milne. Get reading!

Muse/News really can’t take one more story about penguins visiting locked-down museums. Where are the penguins for SAM?? Anyway, here’s Crosscut’s Brangien Davis with her weekly editor’s letter, where she talks life on Venus, penguins in museums (sob!), and art classes for your health.

“I would argue that the Venus discovery is cultural, in the vein of Carl Sagan’s assertion that we’re all ‘made of star stuff.’ The mystifying connections across our vast universe contribute to the culture we humans create, even if subconsciously, or via some microscopic cellular nudge.”

Inter/National News

Yinka Elujoba for the New York Times on Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle, which “succeeds in making visible, and even visceral, America’s history with the struggle for racial and political equality.” The exhibition is now on view at The Met and heads to SAM early next year.

The Brooklyn Museum made headlines last week when it announced it would sell twelve works from its collection at auction, to support the “management and care” of its full collection. They are the first major museum to take advantage of loosened regulations—due to the difficulties brought on by the coronavirus—around deaccessioning of works.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has passed away at the age of 87, leaving an immense legacy as a scholar, jurist, human—and opera lover. This tribute offers insights into the legal scholar’s intense advocacy for the arts.

“…those kinds of cases she made her career of are the stuff of opera. The underdog, the ill-served character: Manon Lescaut, Violetta, women who have to struggle their way to the top for survival. They connected to her sense of right and wrong and what is a humane way of living.”

And Finally

“A good time for thinking about Francisco Goya is while the world stumbles.”

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Image: The farm that was there and then not, 2020, wood, handblown glass, plaster tape, wire, paint, clay, 27 x 22 x 14 in., Courtesy of the artist, © Dawn Cerny

Muse/News: Soul partners, gamechangers, and Kerry James Marshall’s birds

SAM News

Priya Frank, SAM’s associate director for community programs, and Jaimée Marsh, executive director of FEEST Seattle, are the latest leaders to share a message for the city on the Stranger’s Slog. Together, they talk about being “soul partners” and showing up in our relationships.

Barbara Earl Thomas—whose solo show at SAM, The Geography of Innocence, opens later this year—has been commissioned to create a set of windows for a residential college at Yale University; her design will “confront and contextualize the history of the residential college’s name, which originally honored 19th-century statesman and notorious slavery advocate John C. Calhoun.”

Local News

“A gamechanger”: It is with great sadness and appreciation that we say goodbye to P. Raaze Garrison, who has died at the age of 92. Her obituary in Seattle Medium recounts her role as an educator, activist, and becoming one of the first Black docents at SAM in 1995.

Brendan Kiley of the Seattle Times has details on the Seattle Deconstructed Art Fair, in which 40 local galleries have come together to promote shows at their own sites (both online and virtual).

Stefan Milne of Seattle Met asks what an online art world looks like. Discussed: seamless virtual sales, man vs. machine, and Walter Benjamin.

“As images on screens, many look like they’ve been rendered by the algorithm alone—a view of the mind of the machine, intricate and sterile. But in person these are big canvases, emphatically textured with oil paint. The colors look different. The intricate lines wobble humanly. The paintings exist in a hierarchy. And—sadly for our moment when quarantines may come in waves—you need to see them in person to grasp the final step.”

Inter/National News

Julia Jacobs of the New York Times reports that a National Museum of the American Latino has reached a milestone in its path to existence, with a House vote approving it be established.

An intriguing poll from Artnet of over 2,000 of their readers finds that this art-loving group doesn’t plan to change their art-going behavior once venues reopen. Also among the findings: they are most excited about getting back to museums specifically, and their top reasons for wanting to return are a desire for inspiration, to learn, and to support the arts.

Ted Loos in the New York Times on work from Kerry James Marshall now on view online with David Zwirner. The new canvases take John James Audubon’s “Birds of America” as inspiration.

“‘The picture plane is the site of every action,’ Mr. Marshall said. He seemed to be speaking not only about the painting process but also how he conducts his whole life — after all, this is a man who captured a live crow to get to know it better. ‘How things occupy that space,’ he added, ‘matters more than anything.’”

And Finally

Beyoncé’s “Black Is King”: Six New York Times critics say, let’s discuss.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Installation view Figuring History: Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas, Seattle Art Museum, 2018, photo: Stephanie Fink. 

SAM Talks: Barbara Earl Thomas on The Geography of Innocence

In anticipation of Barbara Earl Thomas’s exhibition opening in November, Barbara Earl Thomas: The Geography of Innocence, this talented artist describes the development of a new body of work amidst the turmoil and crises of the past year and within the context of broader American history. The conversation follows Thomas’s exploration of grace, storytelling, perception, and process in her art making. Watch this interview with SAM’s Jon & Mary Shirley Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art, Catharina Manchanda and get excited to experience these artworks in person this fall.

Defining herself as a storyteller, Thomas notes, “It is the chaos of living and the grief of our time that compels me, philosophically, emotionally, and artistically. I am a witness and a chronicler: I create stories from the apocalypse we live in now and narrate how life goes on in midst of the chaos.” In this exhibition, the artist will create an immersive environment of light and shadow—inhabited by large-scale narrative works in cut paper and glass—that addresses our preconceived ideas of innocence and guilt, sin and redemption, and the ways in which these notions are assigned and distorted along cultural and racial lines.

Muse/News: Protest art, citizen journalists, and radical quilts

SAM News

Brangien Davis of Crosscut reflects on art that protests and protest art, highlighting an 8-bit video game created by The Black Tones, Barbara Earl Thomas’s intricate paper cuts (to be featured in an upcoming show at SAM), and a “speculative fiction” press release imagining if SAM dissolved (which was erroneously published).

“Some art that erupts during social upheaval is momentary, some persists in minds and hearts, whether a poster, a painting, a flag, a fist or maybe even a video game.”

Local News

Jasmyne Keimig of the Stranger continues to cover both the action and the art around the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP); this week, she notes that “The Bathrooms at Cal Anderson Park Look Sick” after a recent paint job by two volunteers.

The Seattle Times features a comic from Lyla Dalnekoff, the 11-year-old creator of drawingthroughit.com. She explores our “new normal” and asks “what are you most excited to do once coronavirus pandemic restrictions are lifted?”

Crosscut’s Agueda Pacheco Flores and Margo Vansynghel interview Omari Salisbury, Tessa Hulls, and Ulysses Curr, three citizen journalists who have been documenting CHOP. With portraits by Dorothy Edwards.

“Hulls says she prefers to see herself as a ‘bullhorn,’ amplifying the voices and stories that larger media outlets or reporters who don’t cover the protests from the ground might miss.”

Inter/National News

This week, opinion pieces by arts and culture leaders from around the country:

Yesomi Umolu of the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago outlines “15 Points Museums Must Understand to Dismantle Structural Injustice.”

Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, asks, “Are you willing to give up your privilege?”

Dr. Kelli Morgan, a critical-race and cultural historian, addresses the expressions of white supremacy she sees in the museum field.

“If we are to eschew this exclusionary culture in American art and its institutions, it is imperative that we change the value system upon which both our art museums and our art history is founded.”

And Finally

Wrap yourself in the radical quilts of Rosie Lee Tompkins.

Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

My Favorite Things: Barbara Earl Thomas on Georges de La Tour

“I just like the idea of the fact that light can be the subject.”

– Barbara Earl Thomas

Hear from Seattle-based powerhouse Barbara Earl Thomas as she shares the experience of seeing Saint Sebastion Tended by Saint Irene at SAM. More than seeing, Thomas encourages you to listen to the painting, to notice the quiet of the moment being painted.

Georges de La Tour is often mentioned as one of the many followers of Caravaggio (ca. 1571–1610), the Italian artist who pioneered the use of strong contrasts of light and dark to heighten the drama and religious feeling in his paintings. Though De La Tour probably never saw a work by Caravaggio, the innovative style spread across Europe, and the French artist first introduced his own version of “tenebrism” in this depiction of a nocturnal scene of deliverance. It was such a popular image that no fewer than a dozen other versions exist. The original painting is probably lost; this example is one of the best of the other versions, and some scholars believe it came directly from his studio and may have had his direct participation.

If you value the ways SAM connects art to your life, consider making a donation or becoming a member today!

Artwork: “Saint Sebastian Tended by Saint Irene,” Georges de La Tour, oil on canvas, 42 x 55 7/8 in., Gift of Richard and Elizabeth Hedreen in honor of Mimi Gardner Gates, 2008.67.

Object of the Week: In Case of Fire

In Case of Fire is striking. Disorienting and surreal, the black-and-white landscape unfurls into the supernatural. A tree is anchored in a sea storm, a larger-than-life chicken is perched on the remains of a sinking home, animals and human figures are scattered against scenes of disaster.

Just as the flames and embers of fire possess movement, this linocut—a print carved onto linoleum block—captures the turbulent motion of winds, hills, and water swirling in waves across the surface. This fantastical presentation is of an apocalypse. Yet, despite the chaotic and apocalyptic imagery, In Case of Fire feels intuitively familiar. The fragmented images are contained in a single frame, and recall the nature of dreams with their strangely linear order of otherwise disconnected events and forms. Fishing and work-a-day motifs reflect the roles of labor and personal memory.

Seattle-based artist Barbara Earl Thomas is a storyteller. Though born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Thomas remains deeply connected to her Southern roots: Thomas’s parents had “left behind family and friends and a history rooted in slavery and sharecropping to take up 1940s war jobs.”[1] As an art student at the University of Washington, Thomas studied under Jacob Lawrence, who remained her close mentor and friend until his passing in 2000.

The composition and dramatic scope of In Case of Fire is inspired by folklore, myths, Biblical tales, and magical realism, drawing on the storytelling traditions passed through generations in Black history. An active figure in writing, arts administration, and public art commissions, Thomas maintains a social responsibility in her artwork. She invokes issues of inequity and injustice across communities and writes, “It is the chaos of living and the grief of our time that compels me, philosophically, emotionally, and artistically. I am a witness and a chronicler: I create stories from the apocalypse we live in now and narrate how life goes on in midst of the chaos.”[2]

Rachel Kim, SAM Curatorial Intern

[1]Upchurch, Michael. “Barbara Earl Thomas’ Linocuts Blend the Surreal with the Lyrical.” The Seattle Times, Apr. 12, 2013. https://www.seattletimes.com/entertainment/barbara-earl-thomasrsquo-linocuts-blend-the-surreal-with-the-lyrical/
[2] “Barbara Earl Thomas.” Claire Oliver Gallery. https://www.claireoliver.com/artists/barbara-earl-thomas/
Image: In Case of Fire, 2014, Barbara Earl Thomas, linocut, 24 × 36 in., Modern Art Acquisition Fund; Gift of John D. McLauchlan in memory of his wife, Ebba Rapp, by exchange, 2017.14.2. © Artist or Artist’s Estate