Muse/News: Blockbuster Photos, Blanket Transformations, and An Art Carnival

SAM News

“Blockbuster photography”: Crosscut’s Margo Vansynghel appears on KUOW to share some arts picks, including Dawoud Bey & Carrie Mae Weems: In Dialogue, which opened last week at SAM.

“There’s a lot of variety… you’ll see portraits, you’ll see really cool street photography—which is among my favorites—but also really solemn landscapes and more conceptual works made from the 1970s to today.”

“Give experiences, not things”: We couldn’t have said it better. Seattle’s Child recommends memberships to buy as gifts this season, including a Seattle Art Museum membership, which you can score at a 20% discount through November 28.

Local News

For the Seattle’s Times’ holiday events coverage, here’s Jerald Pierce with “6 exhibitions featuring WA-based artists to catch in December 2022.”

The Stranger’s Matt Baume on the 5th Avenue Theatre’s First Draft program, whose goal is to “nurture theater arts in previously-overlooked communities.” 

“Meet the Chehalis artist weaving a new Native narrative,” invites Crosscut’s Margo Vansynghel in her article on Seattle-based photographer Selena Kearney’s curatorial debut.

“‘A gallery wall is not their primary destination,’ Kearney says about the blankets, which hang on rods all around her during a recent gallery visit. ‘These are made for ceremony and transformation. When you put a blanket on, you transform into something else.’”

Inter/National News

Via Artnet’s Sarah Cascone: “Artist Paul Rucker Has Received $2 Million in Grants to Open a Permanent Museum About the History of Racism in the U.S.” The space, called Cary Forward, will be in Richmond, Virginia; the artist worked and showed art in Seattle for many years.

Daniel Cassady for ARTnews on the announcement by the Fondation Giacometti that they plan to open a museum dedicated to Alberto Giacometti in Paris in 2026. Housed at the under-renovation Invalides train station, it will also include a school.

Joe Coscarelli for the New York Times on the rebirth of Luna Luna, a “long-lost art carnival” that’s being brought back to life thanks in large part to the rapper Drake and his DreamCrew. 

“In his typically lyrical telling, [Luna Luna creator André] Heller compared DreamCrew swooping in to ‘when you promise your child a swimming pool and then somebody comes and is like, ‘Wouldn’t you like to have the Mediterranean Sea?’”

And Finally

For those who can’t make it to NYC: A virtual tour of The Tudors at the Met

 Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Photo: Chloe Collyer.

Snap, Tag, and Share: Join SAM Photo Club!

Dawoud Bey and Carrie Mae Weems are two of the most significant photo-based artists working today. Both born in 1953, Bey and Weems explore complex visions of Black life in America through intimate portraits, dynamic street photography, and conceptual studies of folklore, culture, and historical sites.

SAM Photo Club is an engaging Instagram program where we ask our followers to snap a photo according to exhibition-related themes, tag the photo with #SAMPhotoClub, and share it to their feed. Throughout the run of Dawoud Bey & Carrie Mae Weems: In Dialogue (November 17, 2022–January 20, 2023) at the Seattle Art Museum, we’ll announce photography submissions for three of the defining motifs of their respective careers: self-portraits, street photography, and family and community.

Every week, we’ll share a few of the photographs we’ve been tagged in on our Instagram stories. At the end of the exhibition, we’ll compile the photos we’ve received across all three categories and share them on SAM Blog!

When to participate

  • Friday, November 18: Self-portrait photography
  • Friday, December 9: Street photography
  • Friday, December 30: Family & community photography

How to participate

  • Follow SAM on Instagram and keep an eye out for each theme announcement
  • Share your photographs with #SAMPhotoClub!

Watch the teaser below to get a glimpse of what you’ll see when you visit In Dialogue at SAM beginning Thursday, November 17. Get your tickets now to find all of the inspiration you need for your own submission in SAM’s galleries!

– Lily Hansen, SAM Marketing Content Creator

Photos: Self and Shadow, New York, NY, 1980, Dawoud Bey, American, born 1953, gelatin silver print, 20 x 24 inches, © Dawoud Bey, courtesy of Stephen Daiter Gallery. The Kitchen Table Series: Untitled (Woman and Daughter with Children), 1990, Carrie Mae Weems, American, born 1953, platinum print, 38.1 x 38.1 cm (15 x 15 in.), © Carrie Mae Weems. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

Muse/News: Fresh Attention, Shark Tank, and Broken is Mended

SAM News

For Crosscut’s weekly ArtSEA dispatch, Brangien Davis is inspired by “fresh attention to art arrangement” at both the Frye Art Museum and at SAM in American Art: The Stories We Carry.

“…a striking section…includes a huge portrait by Kehinde Wiley, a tintype photo of a Lummi violinist by Will Wilson and a turn-of-the-century cast-bronze sculpture of an ‘Indian Warrior’ by Alexander Phimister Proctor. Each holds a long straight object: a rod, a violin bow, and a spear. Each prompts thoughts about who is portrayed in art and how.”

Dawoud Bey & Carrie Mae Weems: In Dialogue opens Thursday, November 17! The exhibition—which brings together the work of these two legendary photographers for the first time—was featured in Crosscut’s list of “things to do in Seattle this November.”

“What connects their work, besides a friendship and a medium, is a shared timeframe and understanding of the power of photography as a way to explore—and celebrate—the experiences of Black people.”

And there’s a whole alphabet of fun from Gemma Alexander for ParentMap as she shares “Amazing A–Z PNW Winter Adventures Family Fun Workshops”—including SAM’s recurring Family Fun Workshops at both the Seattle Art Museum and the Seattle Asian Art Museum.

Local News

There’s a new venue in a very old space at the Pike Place Market. Crosscut’s Alexa Peters reports on the launch of The Rabbit Box.

The Seattle Times’ Jerald Pierce on the site-specific Saltwater Soundwalk, “a 55-minute listening experience that uplifts the stories and voices of Indigenous Coast Salish peoples.”

The Seattle Times’ Sandi Doughton on the development of the Seattle Aquarium’s new Ocean Pavilion, which will transform the downtown waterfront.

“‘This landscape that was dominated by a big, honking, gray, rumbling freeway will now be a massive public park for the people,’ says Seattle City Councilmember Andrew Lewis, whose district includes the waterfront. At the center of it all will be the Seattle Aquarium’s new Ocean Pavilion: a 50,000-square-foot exhibit space featuring sharks, rays, and other animals and ecosystems from the tropical Pacific.”

Inter/National News

Elaine Velie for Hyperallergic on the National Portrait Gallery’s seven new “Portrait of a Nation” commissions, including Serena and Venus Williams, Marian Wright Edelman, and Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Artnet’s Vittoria Benzine catches you up on “Every Artwork Attacked by Climate Activists This Year, From the ‘Mona Lisa’ to ‘Girl With a Pearl Earring.’”

Artnet’s Sarah Cascone with a deep look at the new stained glass windows by artists Faith Ringgold and Barbara Earl Thomas at a residential college of Yale University.

“‘I took it as a huge responsibility,’ Thomas told Artnet News, noting that she had heard about the controversy surrounding the broken window, but never dreamed that she would become part of the story. ‘I feel quite emotional about it. This was a moment for me to be part of something far bigger than me.’”

And Finally

CBS Sunday Morning visits the new Museum of Broadway.

 Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Photo: L. Fried.

Dawoud Bey and Carrie Mae Weems: Artists, Friends, and Inspirations

Two young artists meet in a photography class and become friends. It happens all the time. But the two people aren’t always Dawoud Bey and Carrie Mae Weems, who from that meeting at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 1976 would go on to become two of the most celebrated photo-based artists working today. Over the next 46 years, Bey and Weems pursued their own practices, their artistic interests overlapping and diverging as they continued to be sources of friendship and inspiration to each other. Dawoud Bey & Carrie Mae Weems: In Dialogue, coming to SAM as part of a national tour, marks the first time their work—the subject of numerous solo and group exhibitions—has been shown in dialogue together. You are invited into their career-long conversations about art, culture, and history, all grounded in the lived experiences of Black Americans.

In Dialogue is organized in five thematic pairings. It explores the artists’ early work, as both Bey and Weems captured scenes of street life and domestic scenes with passers-by and family as subjects. Weems’ groundbreaking Kitchen Table series (1990), a fictional photo essay about women and their self-perceptions, signals a new direction combining text and image.

The artists have a mutual interest in the history of Black people in America and how history and lived experience manifests in landscapes and urban environments. Sites of historical importance surface in other contexts: Weems’ Sea Islands series (1991–1992) features locales of Gullah culture on the islands off the coasts of Georgia and South Carolina. To her lyrical images she adds accounts of oral history, mythology, and song. The history of slavery is confronted in Weems’ representations of 19th-century photographs of enslaved people—jarring images that turned the individuals into objects of racist study. In contrast, Bey’s Night Coming Tenderly, Black series (2017) turns the viewer in the position of a fugitive, arriving at nightfall at sites that were thought to be on the Underground Railroad, a network aiding enslaved people to freedom during the 19th century. In Weems’ most recent series, Roaming, she stages her own body within the city of Rome—a reminder of the city’s history, power, conquest, and domination from ancient to modern times.

Also on view in the exhibition are works that express the importance of commemoration in Black culture. Bey’s Birmingham Project (2019) memorializes the deaths of six young Black Americans murdered in the Alabama city in 1963, with portraits of present-day Birmingham-area children placed in diptychs with adults at the age the young people would have been today. Weems’ Constructing History series (2008) focuses on well-known images of 20th-century tragedies such as the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and John F. Kennedy, reenacting them with students and community members in Atlanta.

“The work of these two artists and friends have never been more relevant as we consider the meaning of multiple histories in our lives and surroundings,” says Catharina Manchanda, SAM’s Jon and Mary Shirley Curator of Contemporary Art.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

This article first appeared in the October 2022 through January 2023 article 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.

Photo: Couple in Prospect Park, 1990 (printed 2018), Dawoud Bey, American, born 1953, gelatin silver print, 21 7/8 x17 ½ inches, Grand Rapids Art Museum, museum purchase, 2018.22. © Dawoud Bey, courtesy of Stephen Daiter Gallery.

Muse/News: Bold and Bodied, Aging with Art, and Guard-Curators

SAM News

Kai Curry interviews SAM curator Natalia Di Pietrantonio about Embodied Change: South Asian Art Across Time, now on view at the Seattle Asian Art Museum.

“It focuses particularly on modern contemporary artists that are activist artists that are emboldened and trying to change norms within society,” Di Pietrantonio explained. “I decided upon the theme based on current events, and what I thought Seattle audiences would be drawn to during this particular time.”

And save the dates: Curiocity shares that SAM has announced its lineup of 2022 exhibition openings, including an exhibition on sculptor Alberto Giacometti this summer and a dual exhibition on Dawoud Bey & Carrie Mae Weems this fall.

Local News

In her recent ArtSEA letter, Crosscut’s Brangien Davis charts the “seamless pass of the worry baton from COVID to Cold War” in the Blades of Change project by Northwest artist Jill Drllevich.

From Seattle Met’s Malia Alexander: “Wa Na Wari Has a Vision for the Central District’s Black Future.”

Grace Gorenflo of the Seattle Times on 10 years of “creative aging” programs at the Frye Art Museum “that allow individuals living with dementia to foster friendships and community through art.”

“Randy Rowland participated in multiple Creative Aging classes with his wife, Kay Grant Powers, before her death in 2019…‘My wife declined for a long time, and I hadn’t seen her operate at that level for a while. And then all of a sudden, there she was, kind of waxing poetic and talking about the painting that we’re looking at,’ he said.”

Inter/National News

Artnet has been sharing news out of Ukraine and impacts of the war on its cultural people and places, including an opinion piece from Olesia Ostrovska-Liuta, the director general of Kyiv’s Mystetskyi Arsenal National Art and Culture Museum Complex, who wrote about what’s going on there and how others can help.

Frieze has a video exploring the work of Woody De Othello, in which he explores “the emotion of everyday objects.” A sculpture by this rising art world star was recently acquired by SAM for its collection.

From NPR: “Meet the security guards moonlighting as curators at the Baltimore Museum of Art.”

“Chief Curator Asma Naeem, one of the people who came up with the idea of security/curators, says they pick up lots of insights, and pass them along to visitors. Naeem remembers her early days of museum-going. ‘For me, walking into a museum for the first time was something very intimidating.’ Guards helped. ‘I felt like I could go up to one of the guards and hear their observations and comments, and just ease into being a visitor.’”

And Finally

The People of Third and Pine.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Photo: Natali Wiseman.

Muse/News: Magical Connections, Jazz Sculptures, and History’s Presence

SAM News

The Seattle Asian Art Museum reopens this week to members and will reopen to the public May 28. Margo Vansynghel of Crosscut visited the museum, which had its grand reopening in February 2020 before closing again on March 13, 2020, to see its reimagined galleries and learn what the closure meant for the curators and conservation team.

“To demonstrate the magic these new connections can create, Wu walks us to another dimly lit gallery, this one filled with delicate paper scrolls and book folios dedicated to the holy word. In one display case, two pieces of priceless paper seem to have been drenched in the night sky… On the surface, the two are linked by the shimmer of gold and tempestuous blue, but together they also suggest a power beyond words.”

KNKX also recommends a visit to the museum on their list of activities and events honoring Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in May. Curiocity recommends it, too, and it’s on the Stranger’s list of events for May.

The Seattle Times’ Megan Burbank launches a new visual arts column, On View; in her first edition, she includes Dawn Cerny: Les Choses, an installation of sculptures now on view at SAM.

Local News

Spend some time with the Stranger’s Ann Guo and The Station co-owner Leona Moore-Rodriguez, as they talk about coffee, community, and ̕90s R&B.

Seattle Met’s Stefan Milne has you covered on upcoming festivals in the region: what’s happening and what’s not.

In her weekly ArtSEA letter, Crosscut Brangien Davis highlights some public art now on view at the new Jackson Apartments complex, including an installation honoring Northwest jazz legends by Paul Rucker (the tonearm is a bench!).

“He hopes this piece is both enlightening and fun. ‘I’d love for it to be a place to do rubbings,’ he said, noting the inscribed names. ‘Or a place people take selfies. I want it to be like the Troll, that’s my dream.’”

Inter/National News

Billionaire art collector, philanthropist, and entrepreneur Eli Broad—a towering figure in the cultural scene of the United States, and most of all, in his adopted hometown of Los Angeles—has died at 87,” reports Artnet. 

Art in America’s “New Talent” issue was guest-edited by Antwaun Sargent and sees him “realize a decade-old fantasy” by bringing together a team of Black writers and critics. Read his editor’s letter and explore the new issue.

Tausif Noor for the New York Times on An American Project at the Whitney Museum of American Art, a retrospective survey of the work of photographer Dawoud Bey.

“Under Bey’s careful eye, history emerges as an active presence, authored in real time by individuals and societies who transform and are transformed by the continual unfolding of the past.”

And Finally

RIP, Olympia Dukakis.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Photo: Jueqian Fang

Muse / News: Bergman’s gravitas, an elegy for the viaduct, and the walls of a Seattle collector

SAM News

There was lots of love last week for The Magic Lantern of Ingmar Bergman, a film series full of “grim existential gravitas” playing every Thursday through March 14. It was recommended in Seattle Met’s “What to Do After Work” and in The Stranger’s “Complete Guide to January 2019 Events.”

“Oh, hey, and they’re showing one of the most traumatizing movies about relationships ever made, Cries and Whispers, on Valentine’s Day. Happy coincidence?”

Strike a pose, Seattle Asian Art Museum! The renovated and expanded museum set to reopen this fall is included this Vogue wrap-up on “The Best New Places to Eat, Stay, and Play in Seattle.”

Local News

Seattle artist and professor Robert C. Jones recently passed away at the age of 88; his work soon goes on view alongside the work of his wife Fay Jones in dual shows at G. Gibson Gallery and James Harris Gallery.

“An elegy to the viaduct on the eve of its passing.” For Crosscut, it’s the brilliant Lola E. Peters with a poem for the viaduct (1953-2019).

Seattle Met’s Stefan Milne asks the important question, “What’s Inside the Weird White Boxes at Third and Virginia?”

“What’s interesting about Light as a Common Thread is that the narrative imposes a new gloom around Hogan’s pieces while they’re still in a gallery. Instead of being championed, they’re doomed.”

Inter/National News

Here’s Artsy’s Julia Wolkoff with an editorial on “Three Ways Art History Needs to Change in 2019.”

Art & Object takes a look at Night Coming Tenderly, Black, a new series by photographer Dawoud Bey of twilight landscapes taken at stops along the Underground Railroad.

Shaun Kardinal, artist and lead web developer at Civilization, was featured in Show Us Your Wall, the New York Times’ recurring series exploring art collections.

“I don’t think of them as investments. I only get things that I love. I do know that that piece, Royalties Wanted, by Anthony White, would probably go for three or four times what I got it for.”

And Finally

Know her name! TIFF schooled me—a self-proclaimed Film Nerd—with this amazing thread on queer feminist film pioneer Dorothy Arzner.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Object of the Week: Money Tree

In honor of Black History Month, Object of the Week will—throughout the month of February—highlight works by celebrated black artists in the SAM Collection.

Walk through Harlem any given day and you will see David Hammons’ work. The work he does for people who cannot go to SoHo and gallery-hop. The people that he knows. The people he comes from. Bottles stuck on top of bare branches protruding from the ground. From vacant lots and cracks and crevices in the sidewalk. Hammons transforms them. Creates visual music and something to smile about in an environment that doesn’t offer a lot in the way of jokes.  

— Dawoud Bey, “David Hammons: Purely and Artist,” 1982

David Hammons is often described as an elusive figure, an artist who has openly rebuked and skirted the art world, despite his successes within it.[1] A master of materials and the meanings they carry, Hammons deftly reworks objects—often found or discarded—in novel ways, representing Black experience through symbol and metaphor, “physically composed from the material elements of his experience.”[2] As Hammons once put it: “outrageously magical things happen when you mess around with a symbol.”[3] Well, when he messes around with a symbol.

Working outside traditional arts institutions, Hammons imbues his sculptures, installations, photography, and performance with potent signifiers mined from materials grounded in Black urban life. Take, for example, the tree pictured here: pierced with a circular band, the trunk becomes a sculptural object whose form and tongue-in-cheek title, Money Tree, obliquely reference a basketball hoop. Despite the endless wealth to which the title alludes, the rather barren scene warrants a more nuanced interpretation.

For Hammons, basketball—a sport dominated by Black athletes—is not a guarantee of economic success, but rather acts as both a “foil and object of devotion” in Black communities.[4] Though speaking specifically to a 1983 piece titled Higher Goals (pictured below), a sculptural work that also mobilizes basketball as metaphor, Hammons’ own words can provide some insight:

It’s an anti-basketball sculpture. Basketball has become a problem in the black community because kids aren’t getting an education. They’re pawns in someone else’s game…. It means you should have higher goals in life than basketball.[5]

Treated with equal parts empathy and irony, Money Tree acknowledges the reality that, for many Black communities, basketball is regarded as an opportunity to excel within a society whose systems unfairly work against people of color. In a country that deeply reveres professional sports and its athletes, basketball is thus seen as an avenue to success. Yet, Money Tree also undercuts this very notion, simultaneously functioning as a cautionary tale and pointed commentary on race and class in America.

– Elisabeth Smith, Collections Coordinator

[1] In the essay “Wreaking Havoc on the Signified: David Hammons,” Coco Fusco articulates: “No account of Hammons’ art is entirely devoid of references to his streetwise, resolutely anti-elitist persona. He has become infamous for his acerbic appraisals of high art, and his willed cultivation of a split between a black interpretative community to which he directs his messages, and a now admiring (once indifferent) white art world he loves to snub, tease and confuse.” Coco Fusco, “Wreaking Havoc on the Signified: David Hammons,” Frieze, May 7, 1995, https://frieze.com/article/wreaking-havoc-signified.
[2] Kellie Jones, “The Structure of Myth and the Potency of Magic,” in David Hammons: Rousing the Rubble (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1991), 16.
[3] Holland Cotter, “David Hammons Is Still Messing With What Art Means,” The New York Times, March 24, 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/25/arts/design/david-hammons-is-still-messing-with-what-art-means.html.
[4] Franklin Sirmans, “Searching for Mr. Hammons,” in David Hammons: Selected Works (New York: Zwirner & Wirth, 2006), np.
[5] David Hammons quoted by Douglas C. McGill, “Hammons’ Visual Music,” in The New York Times, July 18, 1986, section 3, p. 15. Image: Higher Goals, 1983, fifty-five foot tall basketball poles, 121st Street and Frederick Douglas Boulevard, Harlem.
Image: Money Tree, 1992, David Hammons, gelatin silver photograph, 16 1/2 x 11 in., Gift of Greg Kucera and Larry Yocom, 97.77, © David Hammons. Higher Goals, 1983, David Hammons, 55′ tall basketball poles, 121st Street and Frederick Douglas Boulevard, Harlem. Photo: Dawoud Bey. © David Hammons
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