Muse/News: Heroic Art, Eco-Feminist Trash, and Harlem at the Met

SAM News

Anida Yoeu Ali: Hybrid Skin, Mythical Presence is now on view at the Seattle Asian Art Museum. For NW Asian Weekly, Kai Curry highlights Ali’s experiences bringing sculptural garments to life in real-world contexts.

“As a society, we don’t talk enough about the heroism of artists. Of what an artist like Ali risks in order to ask the hard questions—and to force the public to ask them as well. Strip searches, theft, violence…These interactions, though surreal, are real. They give the artist and the audience insight into who the artist is—but also into who we are.”

Via Karen Ho for ARTnews: “A Vast Gift of Calder Sculptures Could Change the Seattle Art Museum—and the Surrounding City—Forever.”

Kids at home? Yulia Fiala for Seattle’s Child has you covered with “21 fun things to do for midwinter break”—including a visit to Calder: In Motion, The Shirley Family Collection.

Local News

KING5 Evening interviews artist Juliana Kang Robinson about her special edition Seattle Kraken logo created for Lunar New Year. Robinson is a teaching artist with SAM, and you can also see her work on the crosswalk art at First and University.

Via Jadenne Radoc Cabahug for Crosscut: “From 2020 to now: 4 Seattle Black activists reflect on their work.”

In the latest edition of “Artists to Know,” The Seattle Times’ Margo Vansynghel profiles Marita Dingus and her sculptures made of discarded materials. Her work is in SAM’s collection.

“Saving these materials from the landfill isn’t just a means to a waste-reducing end: Dingus considers herself an environmental, feminist artist steeped in African American art traditions and a belief in ecological and racial justice.”

Inter/National News

Artnet’s Brian Boucher on a witty gesture rendered in an asparagus stalk by Édouard Manet. 

Via Holland Cotter of The New York Times: “The Met Aims to Get Harlem Right, the Second Time Around.”

“The museum isn’t framing the show as an institutional correction, though how can it be viewed otherwise? At the same time, it’s more than just that. It’s the start — or could be — in moving a still-neglected art history out of the wings and onto the main stage.”

And Finally

“The dog who deserves an Oscar.”

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Photo: Abbey Road, The Red Chador: Genesis I, Main St. & 102nd Ave, Bellevue, Washington, USA, 2021, Anida Yoeu Ali, Cambodian American, b. 1974, archival inkjet print, Image courtesy of the artist, © Studio Revolt, photo: Dylan Maddux.

Muse/News: Ceramics Competition, Black History, and Ai’s Memory

SAM News

“Celebrates everything that goes into the work of the performance artist”: For Observer, Dan Duray features Anida Yoeu Ali: Hybrid Skin, Mythical Presence, now on view at the Seattle Asian Art Museum.

On Seattle Met’s list of “Things to Do in Seattle”: Last week’s Saturday University on February 10, which features a lecture and performance exploring the transmission of spiritual knowledge, or ilmu, in East Javanese performing arts.  

Local News

Seattle Refined interviews Aaron Murray for their “artist of the week” series. You can see some of his clay creations at SAM Shop. 

“Otherworldly landscapes and an upside-down volcano”: Another excellent round-up of arts happenings from Crosscut’s Brangien Davis. 

Thanks to Jas Keimig for this “Event Guide to Black History Month 2024” from South Seattle Emerald. Mark your calendars!

“It’s February, which means it’s time to highlight and uplift the rich history, culture, and traditions of Black people in the United States. We even have one extra day this year (Feb. 29, it’s a Leap Year!), which means you have ample time to make your plans…”

Inter/National News

Karen Ho for ARTnews reports on the arrival of “The Great Canadian Pottery Throw Down,” a new reality competition television show for ceramics on CBC guest-judged by actor Seth Rogen. The article mentions another judge, ceramicist Brendan Tang, whose work is in SAM’s collection and on view now in Chronicles of a Global East.

Via Min Chen for Artnet: “Airplane Mode: 7 Artists Who Were Nerds for Aviation.” Yep, Alexander Calder is on the list for his moving sculpture at JFK Airport and his designs for jets.

Jonathan Landreth for the New York Times interviews Ai Weiwei about Zodiac, the artist’s new “graphic memoir.” 

“The idea was to gather things from my memory, like a timeline, and offer mystical stories from China’s past. I explained it as a mix of memory and mythology.”

And Finally

Let’s “watch this” again.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Photo: Jo Cosme.

Calder Smartphone Tour: Untitled (Métaboles)

Alexander Calder shares a rich history with performance art. He projected many of his ideas onto the stage, collaborating with composers, actors, and choreographers, including Martha Graham, Virgil Thomson, John Butler, and Jean Vilar. Perhaps nowhere is the expansiveness of Calder’s vision more apparent than in these collaborations, in which the disciplines of music, dance, and sculpture expand our understanding of known experience. 

Calder was commissioned to create an artwork that would accompany Métaboles, a new ballet choreographed by Joseph Lazzini to music by Henri Dutilleux and produced by the Théâtre Français de la Danse. The result, Untitled (Métaboles), embodies Lazzini’s themes of variation and transformation. Its subtle movements echo the delicate movements of the figures onstage as it continually unfolds in space. The dynamic mobile made its public debut alongside the ballet’s premiere at the Odéon-Théâtre de France, Paris, in 1969. The ballet also featured costumes designed by Calder.

Calder’s interest in performance didn’t end there, however. In 1968, the year before Métaboles was realized, Calder premiered his own “ballet without dancers” known as Work in Progress at the Teatro dell’Opera in Rome. The result is approximately 19 minutes long, with Calder-designed costumes, hanging and standing mobiles, stabiles, and painted backdrops, accompanied by electronic music by three composers.

Listen to the third stop of the free smartphone tour of Calder: In Motion, The Shirley Family Collection to hear Calder Foundation President Alexander S. C. Rower discuss how considerations of space and movement played influential roles in the artist’s creation of Untitled (Métaboles). You can explore all 16 stops on the audio tour via our SoundCloud or by scanning the QR code adjacent to select works in SAM’s galleries. Reserve your tickets to see Calder: In Motion at SAM to witness how this work ‘dances’ for yourself!

Untitled (Métaboles),1969

NARRATOR: This unusual work was made as a prop for a ballet, Métaboles, produced by Théâtre Français de la Danse, in 1969. Sandy Rower:

ALEXANDER S. C. ROWER: Here, he was invited by Joseph Lazzini, who was a choreographer, to collaborate and participate with this stage performance. And it’s a highly active work: the way the loops are connected makes it have a lot of movement. So, you could imagine it hung high above dancers and being quite free in its movement.

Calder often regarded his work in relation to choreography. I mean, his mobiles—the composition and the way they move—and if you think of them as multidimensional experiences—you begin to quickly relate them to music and dance and other arts. So, he kind of broke a lot of traditions in sculpting—what we think of traditionally as sculpting bronze and marble and clay—and he got rid of the mass, and then he introduced this activity of the sculpture responding to our space, responding to the room that we’re in or, in this case, in the theater.

NARRATOR: The work was made according to Calder’s initial model and assembly sketch.   

ALEXANDER S. C. ROWER: Its qualities are extremely unusual because it was actually fabricated by set masters, so not made the way that Calder usually made his mobiles, at his foundry or in his studio with his hands himself. The fact that he could step away and allow others to introduce their aspects makes it really a collaborative thing.

– Lily Hansen, SAM Marketing Content Creator

Image: Installation view of Calder: In Motion, The Shirley Family Collection, Seattle Art Museum, 2023, © 2024 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, photo: Alborz Kamalizad.

Calder Smartphone Tour: Mountains (1:5 Intermediate Maquette)

In 1975, Alexander Calder was commissioned to create a monumental sculpture for the nine-story atrium of the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, DC. The result, Mountains and Clouds, is a towering two-part composition that stands 51 feet tall.

Mountains (1:5 Intermediate Maquette), the first artwork visitors encounter in Calder: In Motion, The Shirley Family Collection at SAM, is a scale model—referred to as a maquette—of the stabile portion of Calder’s colossal sculpture. The artist began creating intermediate maquettes in the mid-1960s as part of the process of scaling up his colossal sculptures “to study the overlapping of the plates and the piercing of the holes.”

In November of the following year—just under a month after the opening of his highly-applauded retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art—the artist traveled to Washington, DC  to finalize the details of the project with the architect. That evening, Calder returned to New York City, where he unexpectedly died of a heart attack. The artist’s death led to several delays in the commission’s completion with the final installation eventually taking place in 1986. Today, the stabile portion of Mountains and Clouds remains on view in the Hart Senate Building while the mobile undergoes restoration.

As a stationary work accompanied by a hanging mobile, Mountains and Clouds is the only composition of its kind that Calder created. Learn more about Mountains (1:5 Intermediate Maquette) and the sculpture it is paired with in SAM’s galleries, Femme Assise (1929), in the second stop on the free smartphone tour of Calder: In Motion. Browse all sixteen stops in the tour via our SoundCloud or by scanning the QR code next to select artworks in the exhibition.

Mountains (1:5 Intermediate Maquette), 1976

NARRATOR: In his later years, Calder focused primarily on large-scale public works. And of course, you can see one such work—The Eagle—here in Seattle in the museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park.

You’re looking at Mountains, a model for the “stabile” component of Calder’s massive 51-foot high work, Mountains and Clouds. A “stabile” is a stationary sculpture, in contrast to Calder’s moving sculptures, called “mobiles.” In the monumental work, the stabile is paired with a mobile, which hovers above it.

Calder made the full-sized sculpture for the Hart Senate Building in Washington, DC. It was one of his last projects before his death in 1976. The sculpture is made from sheet metal—one of Calder’s most favored materials.

KENNEDY YANKO: Metal is one of the most fascinating materials in the world. You know, it’s something that we are excavating from the ground. It’s coming from the earth…

NARRATOR: Kennedy Yanko is a painter and sculptor who works with metal.

KENNEDY YANKO: …and it carries what it’s known and what it’s experienced. It’s this amazing material that goes from a hard state to a liquid; and my relationship to this heavy, typically connoted as an industrial material is quite interesting because I watch it break like a twig. It actually becomes something that’s delicate to me.

NARRATOR: This late work is paired here with one of Calder’s earliest works, a wooden sculpture called Femme Assise, from 1929.

ALEXANDER S. C. ROWER: I think that’s really informative and quite interesting to have them together: you get a sense of a trajectory.

NARRATOR: Alexander S. C. Rower is President of the Calder Foundation, and the grandson of the artist.

ALEXANDER S. C. ROWER: And also, you get a sense of really the 20th century in terms of aesthetics, just in these two objects.

– Lily Hansen, SAM Marketing Content Creator

Image: Installation view of Calder: In Motion, The Shirley Family Collection, Seattle Art Museum, 2023, © 2024 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, photo: Chloe Collyer.

Muse/News: Dragon Year, Gum Pete, and Art Gardens

SAM News

Julie Dodobara for ParentMap recommends “Lunar New Year Events for Seattle-Area Kids and Families in 2024,” including the Seattle Asian Art Museum’s celebration on Saturday, February 3. Ring in the Year of the Dragon with us!

While there, you could also take in the Seattle Asian Art Museum’s exciting new exhibition, Anida Yoeu Ali: Hybrid Skin, Mythical Presence. In her new Seattle Magazine column, “Social in Seattle,” Linda Lowry highlights several area events that combined community and art, including the opening events with the artist. For UW Daily, Avery Cook writes how the Tacoma-based artist “blends art and activism to spark important conversations.”

“Vibrant images, breathtaking videography, and genuine artifacts from the performances are on display to demonstrate their influence and cultural significance.”

Seattle Museum Month kicks off this week, reports Emily Molina for 425 Magazine. During the month of February, Visit Seattle partners with area museums for half-off savings. Molina mentions Calder: In Motion, The Shirley Family Collection at the Seattle Art Museum as one of the shows you can see during the month. And ICYMI: Christie’s includes the exhibition on their list of “the best exhibitions and openings of 2024: North America.”

Local News

Crosscut’s Brangien Davis celebrates five years of the weekly ArtSEA post (congrats!) with ideas for forest bathing in tree art, including the Enter the Forest show that opens this Wednesday at SAM Gallery.

Moira Macdonald of The Seattle Times interviews actor and Seattle theater alum Lily Gladstone about her historic Oscar nomination

 The Seattle Times on oft-viral local artist Rudy Willingham’s latest project: “Sticky Pete Carroll mural honors the gum-chomping former Seahawks coach.”

“‘There was something about the gum I thought was so funny,’ Willingham said. ‘He always had gum in his mouth, running up the sidelines, it reminded me of a little kid. I loved how much he enjoyed the job and his childlike enthusiasm.’”

Inter/National News

Laurel Graeber for the New York Times on Artland: An Installation by Do Ho Suh and Children at the Brooklyn Museum, “an ever-expanding fantasy world designed and molded by children.”

ARTnews’ Alex Greenberger reviews Multiple Realities: Experimental Art in the Eastern Bloc, 1960s–1980, now on view at the Walker Art Center.

Emily Steer for Artnet asks, “Are gardens the art of the future?”

“Some artists, however, have taken these interests a step further, elevating the idea of gardening to an expansive, awe-inspiring effect. These artists combine ambitious organic or digital plants with music, poetry, and scientific collaboration.” 

And Finally

The Milwaukee Public Library is the best thing on social media right now.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Photo: Chloe Collyer.

Calder Smartphone Tour: Introduction to the SAM Exhibition

Calder: In Motion, The Shirley Family Collection is now on view at SAM! As part of this SAM-exclusive exhibition, we’ve developed a free smartphone tour featuring additional insight on Calder’s life, legacy, and artistic career.

Composed of 15 stops, the tour includes interviews with collector Jon Shirley, SAM Susan Brotman Deputy Director for Art José Carlos Diaz, sculptor Kennedy Yanko, and Calder Foundation President Alexander S. C. Rower, as they share their educational and personal thoughts on artworks including Fish (1942), Toile d’araignée (1965), Bougainvillier (1947), Red Curly Tail (1970), and many more of the artist’s most iconic works.

Tune in to the tour’s introductory stop now to get acquainted with the artists, scholars, curators, and admirers who contributed to this auditory experience. Then, explore all 15 stops in the audio tour of Calder: In Motion by scanning the QR code next to select artworks in the exhibition or on your own time via our SoundCloud

Introducing Calder: In Motion, The Shirley Family Collection

JON SHIRLEY: My name is Jon Shirley, and I am pleased to share with you Calder: In Motion, The Shirley Family Collection. The works of Alexander Calder that you will see in these galleries have been collected over the past 35 years first with my late wife Mary and now with my wife Kim. Over those years we have found that living with Calder’s work has been a beautiful and uplifting experience. 

Alexander Calder was a great artist whose father and grandfather were both sculptors. In Paris in the late 1920s Calder invented a new world of sculpture—first by using just wire and then by creating abstract works of sheet metal, wood, and wire that moved. As you will see, this collection spans Calder’s art career from the 1920s until his death in 1976. The audio guide will discuss many different works that I love so please take the time to listen and learn about Calder the man and his art.

My family and I sincerely hope that you will find this visit a dynamic experience and that you return to the Seattle Art Museum for many years as we present ongoing exhibitions related to Calder and the artists inspired by Calder.

NARRATOR: The exhibition attempts to capture something of how the works were displayed in the Shirleys’ home – setting up a unique dialogue across the decades. Joining us for this encounter will be exhibition curator José Diaz… 

JOSÉ CARLOS DIAZ: My name is José Diaz.

NARRATOR: …painter and sculptor Kennedy Yanko…

KENNEDY YANKO: Hi! My name is Kennedy Yanko.

NARRATOR: …and Calder Foundation President—and grandson of the artist—Alexander S. C. Rower. 

ALEXANDER S. C. ROWER: Hi, I’m Alexander Rower. Everyone calls me Sandy.

NARRATOR: I hope you’ll enjoy your tour.

– Lily Hansen, SAM Marketing Content Creator

Muse/News: Performance Art, Feminist Masks, and 2024 Must-Sees

SAM News

Anida Yoeu Ali: Hybrid Skin, Mythical Presence opens this Thursday at the Seattle Asian Art Museum! The Seattle Times included the exhibition on its list of “most anticipated Seattle exhibits of 2024,” and Gayle Clemans interviewed the artist for a preview of the exhibition, which celebrates two of Ali’s performance-based works, The Buddhist Bug and The Red Chador.

“‘This humorous creature provides a lot of joy to people,’ Ali said in a recent interview. ‘It’s really beautiful to see how approachable this entity is, especially amongst children and families. ‘The Buddhist Bug’ has a way of softening people and eliciting curiosity.’”

And it’s the final week to see Hokusai: Inspiration and Influence. Here’s Allyson Levy for International Examiner on the hugely popular exhibition.

“Ukiyo-e was considered low-brow art due to the highly reproducible nature of woodblock prints, which reigned supreme during the movement. Woodblock prints allowed artists to create a high volume of prints that they could sell cheaply. Even so, the level of detail and sophistication of technique found in woodblock prints is awe-inspiring.”

Looking back: The Seattle Times included Calder: In Motion, The Shirley Family Collection on their list of “top Seattle-area arts and culture happenings of 2023.” Hot tip: The exhibition is on view through the summer—and it rewards repeat viewings.

Local News

Shin Yu Pai for University of Washington Magazine on Cheryll Leo-Gwin’s solo show, Larger Than Life, now on view at The Jack Straw Cultural Center, which “features large-scale colorful prints that use the Chinese coat as a recurring motif.”

Crosscut’s Brangien Davis welcomes 2024 with an overview of colorful shows on view at Seattle galleries.

Via Susan Platt for International Examiner: “Ceramicist Hanako O’Leary interweaves Shinto mythology with feminist ideology.”

“…We experience a powerful feminism that looks at women holding each other and life size masks transformed from historical traditions to suggest the many sides of strong women.”

Inter/National News

A New York Times interactive exploring “the very personal collections that seven artists left behind.”

Hyperallergic names “The Top 50 Exhibitions of 2023,” including the major retrospective of Jaune Quick-to-See Smith that debuted last year at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Your chance to see this groundbreaking exhibition is coming soon, when the exhibition opens at SAM on February 29.

Artnet names “12 Must-See U.S. Museum Shows in 2024,” including Joyce J. Scott, Walk a Mile in My Dreams, a retrospective that debuts at the Baltimore Museum of Art in March before heading to SAM this November. 

“‘Joyce J. Scott’s sophisticated and virtuosic use of a wide range of materials brings beauty and biting irony to bear on subjects ranging from the traumatic to the transcendental,’ the show’s co-curators, Cecilia Wichmann and Catharina Manchanda, said upon announcing the show last summer.”

And Finally

Weird cats of art history.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Image: Live Performance of The Buddhist Bug at Wei-Ling Contemporary Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 2019, Anida Yoeu Ali, Cambodian American, b. 1974, Image courtesy of the artist, photo: Nina Ikmal.

Muse/News: Museum Gifts, Unique Bonsai, and Emotional Maps

SAM News

Lee Carter for Artnet on Calder: In Motion, The Shirley Family Collection at SAM, sharing reflections from collectors Jon and Kim Shirley about Alexander Calder’s art and why they wanted to gift their collection to SAM.

“Ultimately, it was important to keep the Alexander Calder pieces together, all at SAM. ‘Museums are great public institutions,’ said Shirley. ‘For years we have lent our Calders to exhibitions in other parts of the country and around the world. It’s clear to me that museums are where they belong and we should work as hard as we can to make museums vital institutions.’”

The Stranger includes SAM Gallery’s Printing the PNW show on their list of “best bang for your buck” events. We can’t say it better than them:

“After peeping legendary Edo-period Japanese ukiyo-e artist Katsushika Hokusai’s woodblock prints, paintings, and illustrated books (yes, including Great Wave, plus a LEGO interpretation of it) on view at Seattle Art Museum, why not drop by SAM Gallery to scope out Japanese-inspired prints created by local artists?”

Local News

“Cinerama — ahem, SIFF Cinema Downtown — is back”: The Seattle Times’ Moira Macdonald reports from the reopened theater.

Crosscut’s Brangien Davis’s latest ArtSEA post bids farewell to Wier Harman, recommends Black Nativity at Intiman Theatre, and spotlights some solstice events. 

Here’s NW Asian Weekly on Irene Taylor’s new HBO documentary about a unique 82-year-old bonsai that lives at the Pacific Bonsai Museum.

“… its seeds were sent to Japanese American Juzaburo Furuzawa during his internment under Executive Order 9066 in World War II…The Furuzawa Pine gained international attention in February 2020 when it was stolen from the Pacific Bonsai Museum, only to be mysteriously returned less than 72 hours later.”

Inter/National News

Revisit “The Defining Art Events of 2023,” courtesy the editors of ARTnews.

The Art Newspaper offers this remembrance of sculptor Richard Hunt, who passed away at the age of 88. 

“A World Map With No National Borders and 1,642 Animals”: The New York Times’ Natasha Frost on cartographer Anton Thomas’s “Wild World.”

For Mr. Thomas, this equates to a kind of “emotional geography,” where features with greater emotional heft — the New York City skyline, say, or the Golden Gate Bridge — may take up more space. “There are animals the size of mountain ranges on my map,’ he said. ‘But you know what? The African lion should tower over Kilimanjaro, if we’re drawing an emotional map.””

And Finally

What is a solstice, anyway?

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Image: Installation view of Calder: In Motion, The Shirley Family Collection, Seattle Art Museum, 2023, © 2023 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, photo: Chloe Collyer.

Muse/News: Interesting Pictures, Ritual Objects, and Girls in Windows

SAM News

Here’s Margo Vansynghel of the Seattle Times with arts recommendations for December, including Elizabeth Malaska: All Be Your Mirror. The solo show features tour-de-force paintings by the 2022 winner of SAM’s annual prize for Northwest artists, the Betty Bowen Award.

“Malaska’s brushwork is at once vigorous, detailed and patterned, then loose and almost abstract or even droopy and distorted. The result is beautiful, unsettling and varied — and paints a much more interesting picture.”

“A theatrical new Calder exhibition staged in Seattle”: Don’t miss Elena Goukassian’s take for The Art Newspaper on Calder: In Motion, The Shirley Family Collection. She highlights the thoughtful curatorial choice to “frame his works as a delightfully subtle kind of performance.” ) She also mentions the playlist drawn from Calder’s own record collection.)

“These are all displayed in a newly configured gallery that features individual “stages” for the larger works, vitrines for the smaller ones and “overlook” balcony views—all with an eye towards spotlighting their theatrical nature.”

For the subscriber-only Airmail, Osman Can Yerebakan interviews the Shirleys and relays the story of the first time they heard Dispersed Objects with Brass Gong make a sound. (Are you patient enough to wait to hear it in the galleries?)

ICYMI! “Legendary Children Brought the House Down”: Jas Keimig and Susan Fried capture the magic for South Seattle Emerald.

Local News

It’s dark. Seattle Met helps with “Where to See Holiday Lights in Seattle.”

For her weekly ArtSEA post, Crosscut Brangien Davis features “art, film, and food to honor Native American Heritage Month.”

“Chehalis artist explores cultural appropriation of Native regalia”: Gayle Clemans for The Seattle Times on Selena Kearney: object/ritual, now on view at Solas Gallery.

“After shifting to a more conceptual art practice, Kearney has thought carefully about how much information to reveal in an image and how much to conceal. In this series, all of the photographs are taken in crisp detail with vivid color, as if they are beautiful documents of cheap, often offensive cultural relics.”

Inter/National News

Via Artnet: “5 Massive Pop Culture Moments From 2023 That Remind Us of Renaissance Paintings.”

Via Artdaily: The first New York solo exhibition for Natalie Ball—featuring never-before-seen works—just opened at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Ball was the winner of SAM’s 2018 Betty Bowen Award and her work is now on view at SAM. 

David Segal for The New York Times on Girls in the Windows (1960) by Ormond Gigli, a photograph that people keep buying and buying.

“He’s working without an assignment because he wants to memorialize those buildings, which stand directly across the street from his home studio. What he doesn’t know is that the image will become one of the most collected photographs in the history of the medium.”

And Finally

Another video from the Calder Foundation archives: The first performance of Work in Progress at Teatro dell’Opera, 1967–68.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Photo: Alborz Kamalizad.

Muse/News: Spotting Calder, The Other Curtis, and Smith’s Curation

SAM News

“Seattle Art Museum Becomes the Alexander Calder Destination with Shirley Family Collection”: Chadd Scott of Forbes tells you everything you need to know about Calder: In Motion, The Shirley Family Collection and the future of Calder exploration at SAM.

“By any standard, Calder is an essential. He’s one of the few artists who most people have seen, even if they don’t know it, or his name. They’ve seen his work on the street or in a museum or in a book or on TV. And once introduced, they’ll never forget it–‘oh, that’s a Calder!’”

Ann Binlot of Galerie highlighted the journey of Jon Shirley’s collecting of Calders.

“‘He created a whole new art form,’ said the collector. ‘He created sculpture that’s open to hang in space and incidentally move. There’s just something about how my brain works that I really enjoyed being with the works.’”

José Carlos Diaz, exhibition curator and Susan Brotman Deputy Director for Art, appeared on New Day NW to fill host Amity Addrisi in on this exciting moment at SAM when you can see both Hokusai: Inspiration and Influence and Calder: In Motion.

And at the Seattle Asian Art Museum, you’ve got just two weeks left to see Renegade Edo and Paris! Here’s Bob Knetzger for Boing Boing’s take on the prints exhibition.

“It’s a real treat to get to see up close the amazingly precise and exquisitely small Japanese woodcuts—and have them right next to the GIANT lithographed posters advertising Parisian shows and entertainers.”

Local News

The Seattle Times’ Tat Bellamy-Walker—along with videographers Kevin Clark & Lauren Frohne—sits in on a rehearsal of the Jafra Dabke Team, a Seattle-based Palestinian dance group, who performed at LANGSTON this weekend as part of a cultural education and community event. 

“Ties that bind”: Shannon M. Lieberman for Oregon ArtsWatch on a new gallery show of works by Omak, Washington-based Joe Feddersen.

Knute Berger and Stephen Hegg revisit an earlier Mossback Northwest episode, “The Other Curtis Brother,” examining the regional photographer Asahel Curtis. It turns out that the episode generated many new Curtis finds from the public, which the Washington State Historical Society is working to digitize. 

“The digitization is going well but slowly, Berger reports: ‘They can do about a hundred images a day.’ But amazing discoveries are being made already: ‘They’re finding everything from news photos [to] promotional photos of landscapes, pictures of all kinds of people in all walks of life.’”

Inter/National News

Via Brian Boucher of Artnet: “Help! 7 Times People Got Trapped Inside Artworks—Whether by Choice or by Accident.”

“Meet the African Artists Driving a Cultural Renaissance”: Dive into this New York Times multimedia project by Abdi Latif Dahir and Veronica Chambers, part of a larger series on “how Africa’s youth boom is changing the continent, and beyond.”

ARTnews’ Alex Greenberger on the National Gallery of Art’s exhibition of contemporary Native art, “organized with grace” by the artist Jaune Quick-to-See Smith. (Hot tip: you can see Smith’s dazzling retrospective at SAM next spring!)

“[The exhibition] proves that Native American artists cannot be pigeonholed into one aesthetic—or even one medium—and that their output has taken up the painful remnants of colonialism via a range of subjects. Smith’s exhibition also demonstrates that the struggle for land rights continues to impact not just the objects these artists make, but their outlook on the world as well.”

And Finally

Still digging in the archives thanks to the Calder Foundation: “Sculpture and Constructions, 1944 by Herbert Matter.”

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Image: Installation view of Calder: In Motion, The Shirley Family Collection, Seattle Art Museum, 2023, © 2023 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, photo: Alborz Kamalizad.

A Monumental Gift Goes On View: Inside Calder: In Motion at SAM

“How can art be realized? Out of volumes, motion, spaces bounded by the great space, the universe.”

– Alexander Calder

This November, SAM begins a long-term commitment to Alexander Calder, the American artist celebrated for revolutionizing sculpture with his renowned mobiles and stabiles. Earlier this year, SAM announced the incredible gift of more than 45 seminal Calder artworks by longtime supporters Jon and Kim Shirley. Their magnificent collection—one of the most important private holdings of Calder’s art—is the result of 35 years of thoughtful collecting. 

Now on view at SAM, Calder: In Motion, The Shirley Family Collection thematically highlights pieces from every decade of Calder’s career, dating from the 1920s to the 1970s. The exhibition also includes examples of Calder’s works on paper and an oil painting, among other media, representing the expansiveness of his oeuvre. Sections devoted to his artistic experimentation, natural forces and dynamics, and the artist’s lasting contribution to modern art are also featured.

“As truly serious art must follow the greater laws, and not only appearances, I try to put all the elements in motion in my mobile sculptures. It is a matter of harmonizing these movements, thus arriving at a new possibility of beauty.”

– Alexander Calder

To accentuate the artist’s exploration of height, scale, and movement, the exhibition is installed in the museum’s double-height galleries—a unique space for large-scale works with several overlooks from the floor above. The exhibition design captures a sense of movement, with an S-shaped, curved wall that wraps around the iconic 22-foot-tall sculpture Red Curly Tail (1970) and divides the galleries into a series of vignettes illuminating the exhibition’s themes and highlighting the lyricism of Calder’s creations.

Elsewhere on view are the oil painting The Yellow Disc (1958), a medium that Calder engaged with throughout his career but is not nearly as well known as his sculpture; Untitled (Métaboles) (1969), a mobile the artist created as part of a stage set for a ballet; and Fish (1942). The latter, a significant work from a rare series of mobiles created during and after World War II when metal was scarce, is made of wire framing and found materials.

The central gallery traces Calder’s career, highlighting his achievements across the miniature and the monumental. The expansive Toile d’araignée (1965), an airy, monochromatic mobile hovers over several artworks, including the masterful standing mobile Bougainvillier (1947).

“That others grasp what I have in mind seems unessential, at least as long as they have something else in theirs.”

– Alexander Calder

The final gallery considers the artist’s legacy, with works that demonstrate Calder’s accomplishments throughout his most productive decades and his impact on the evolution of modern art. It includes Untitled (1936), Little Yellow Panel (ca. 1936), Jonah and the Whale (ca. 1940), Untitled (ca. 1942), Constellation with Red Knife (1943), Yellow Stalk with Stone (1953), and Squarish (1970). This gallery also serves as a bridge into the museum’s modern and contemporary galleries.

The Shirley family’s generous gift will also inspire public programs exploring Calder’s artistic practice. Events are planned for both the Seattle Art Museum and the Olympic Sculpture Park and will include talks, tours, performances, art-making workshops, and a family-friendly festival—stay tuned for more details!

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

This article first appeared in the October 2023 through January 2024 edition of SAM Magazine and has been edited for our online readers. Become a SAM member today to receive our quarterly magazine delivered directly to your mailbox and other exclusive member perks!

Image: Bougainvillier, 1947, Alexander Calder, 1898-1976, sheet metal, rod, wire, lead, and paint, 78 x 82 x 54 in., Promised gift of Jon and Mary Shirley, © 2023 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, photo: Nicholas Shirley.

Muse/News: Calder Surprises, Cultural Space, and Native Knowledge

SAM News

“A tender new show at the Seattle Art Museum will delight and surprise Calder newbies and connoisseurs alike.” Margo Vansynghel of The Seattle Times reviews Calder: In Motion, The Shirley Family Collection, which is curated by José Carlos Diaz, SAM’s Susan Brotman Deputy Director of Art. The review appeared in print in the Sunday edition.

“These days, so many institutions find themselves competing with the tumult on our screens or with immersive “museums” where visitors take selfies in front of LED walls. Here, nothing shouts. You can take these sculptures in all at once, but consider taking your time to follow the minuscule movement of a small perforated disc or a wispy metal petal as they react to the movements of our bodies in space. Your patience will be rewarded.”

Crosscut’s Brangien Davis featured the Calder exhibition in her ArtSEA post, sharing details about Calder’s Seattle connections and collector Jon Shirley’s assertion that “everything looks better here than in our house.” 

“Calder wasn’t a fan of imposing “meaning” on his works, preferring instead that they be experienced in the moment—enjoyed for their… physicality and wonder. You’ll have plenty of chances to do so, as this show is the first in a Shirley-funded plan for annual exhibits, programming, and collaborations, including with artists influenced by Calder.”

And Kurt Schlosser of Geekwire spoke with collector Jon Shirley about the former Microsoft executive’s love of in-person art. 

“Shirley said Calder’s hands-on creation of art always appealed to him, and while artificial intelligence is a big deal at Shirley’s former company and across the tech and cultural landscape, art remains a physical creation in his view.”

Local News

Grace Madigan of KNKX reports that ArtsWA has approved grants for 17 arts programs serving military communities and veterans.

Seattle Met names The Boat its “Restaurant of the Year” for how sisters Quynh and Yenvy Pham brilliantly renewed their family’s restaurant’s history as Seattle’s first pho shop.

Dominic Gates of The Seattle Times shares news of another exciting opening event: a new cultural hub for five youth-focused community organizations in the historic King Street train station.

“Olisa Enrico, executive director of the Cultural Space Agency that developed the project, called it ‘a new home here for young artists to thrive, a safe haven for artistic expression.’ It will feed the ‘dreams of young minds, who will find inspiration and a sense of belonging here,’ she told the diverse audience. ‘You belong here.’”

Inter/National News

Via Andy Battaglia of Art in America: “Nicholas Galanin’s Pointed Public Sculpture Inspires Glorious Noise in New York.”

“In quiet yet scrupulous detail, the exhibition asks how the US National Park Service (NPS) shapes the narratives it tells about this country and the lands it claims”: Alexis Clements for Hyperallergic on a new show at LA’s Center for Land Use Interpretation (CLUI).

Taylor Defoe invites Jaida Grey Eagle to highlight four key works now on view in an exhibition she guest-organized: In Our Hands: Native Photography, 1890 to Now at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. 

“‘I don’t look at this as a beginning,’ Grey Eagle said, alluding to the colonialist logic of racing to be the first to put a name on something. ‘I look at it as an acknowledgment. There have been many people who have dedicated their lives to this medium and I don’t ever want to erase their work.’ The show, she went on, is about ‘honoring the knowledge that has been there and that museums have failed to support.’”

And Finally

Another gem from the Calder Foundation archives: “From the Circus to the Moon” (1963) by Hans Richter.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Installation view of Calder: In Motion, The Shirley Family Collection, Seattle Art Museum, 2023, © 2023 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, photo: Alborz Kamalizad.

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

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

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

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