The Stranger’s Jasmyne
Robert William’s The Father of Exponential Imagination, now on view at
the Bellevue Arts Museum.
skilled draftsman, Williams’s works are often psychedelic, depicting an
alternate, surreal reality. Jaws unhinge so that the tongue can become a sort
of beast to ride, Tarzan-like men wrestle with aliens, and hungry spirits reach
toward burgers covered in demons.”
“As difficult as it
can be to trace the stories and power plays behind objects, presenting a
permanent collection involves the even more daunting task balancing what
curators want to say with what they can, given the strengths and weaknesses of
their museums’ holdings. One current trend is to structure displays
thematically. When the Seattle Asian Art Museum reopens in February 2020, for
example, its installation will use works from different times and places to
explore such common concerns as identity and worship.”
Last week, SAM announced that the Asian Art Museum will reopen to the public on February 8 and 9 with two free 12-hour days of programming, reflecting the 12 themes of the dramatically reimagined collection. The Seattle Times broke the news.
“Cuban music is
often described as a tree, with various primary roots that supply life for many
branches. But separating the island’s music into distinct genres is an
inherently flawed task — they intertwine and cross.”
Experience the fierce beauty of High Renaissance and Baroque art at the free Community Opening for Flesh and Blood: Italian Masterpieces from the Capodimonte Museum on October 17. From 5–9 pm, watch these artworks come alive as Palace Theatre & Art Bar takes the stage for a series of eclectic performances reflecting the darkness, drama, and human emotion of Flesh and Blood. Make a masterpiece of your own as you draw from live models during an art activity led by artist Barry Johnson. Seattle Opera singer will be in the galleries expressing love, devotion, and tragic suffering with pop-up performances. Living representations of the artworks will be embodied by dancers Mikhail Calliste and Michele Dooley. Flesh and Blood presents, as they say in Italy, il meglio del meglio—the best of the best.
Make sure to RSVP, but if you can’t make it to the opening, don’t worry! There are many other ways for you to visit SAM for free or at a discount during Flesh and Blood!
Teen Tix pass program makes it possible for teens to visit for just $5!
Bank of America’s Museums on Us: On the first full weekend of every month, Bank of America cardholders receive free admission at SAM.
Blue Star Museums: free admission to military personnel and their families. Just show your military ID. The military ID holder plus up to five immediate family members (spouse or child of ID holder) are allowed in for free per visit (special exhibition surcharge may apply).
UW Art Students get free admission with the sticker on their student ID
SAM is for everyone and we’re here to make sure anyone can see the art they love! Don’t forget, entry to SAM’s permanent collections is always suggested admission! You can experience our global collection year-round and pay what you want.
Images: The Ecstasy of Saint Cecilia, 1645, Bernardo Cavallino, Italian, 1616–1656, oil on canvas, 24 × 18 7/8 in., Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte. The Virgin of the Souls with Saints Clare and Francis, 1622–23, Battistello Caracciolo, Italian, 1578–1635, oil on canvas, 114 3/16 × 80 11/16 in., Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte.
In my instance, visual activism has a lot to do with two things: connecting the visual and my activism. Which means that every image that I take has a lot to do with politics. In my work, I am pushing a political agenda.
– Zanele Muholi
Taken in Europe, Asia, North America, and Africa between 2014 and 2017, each of the 76 self-portraits in the Somnyama Ngonyama (Zulu for Hail the Dark Lioness) series is distinct and poses critical questions about social injustice, human rights, and contested representations of the black body. South African visual activist Zanele Muholi combines classical portraiture, fashion photography, and ethnographic imagery to establish different archetypes and personae.
Hear from the artist as they describe how household and found objects become culturally loaded props in these self-portraits. Scouring pads and latex gloves address themes of domestic servitude. Rubber tires, electrical cords, and cable ties reference forms of social brutality and capitalist exploitation. Collectively, the portraits evoke the plight of workers: maids, miners, and members of disenfranchised communities. The artist’s gaze challenges viewers while firmly asserting their cultural identity on their own terms. Don’t miss your chance to see Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness while it’s still in Seattle at SAM through November 3.
Are you ready for
DRAMA? SAM’s trailer for
the major fall exhibition is here in all its glory. Flesh and Blood: Italian Masterpieces from the Capodimonte Museum
opens October 17; both Seattle
Met and Seattle
Magazine recommend it.
forever. It’s been here since before my grandparents were born and will be here
for longer than my grandchildren. This bubble with outlast my life as a symbol
of how my own life is fleeting. Amongst all that oil paint!”
Reggie Ugwu of the New
York Times reports on last
week’s unveiling in Times Square of Kehinde Wiley’s bronze sculpture
Rumors of War, of a man and “the horse he rode in on, from a previous
century, perhaps, or was it a future one?”
she explains matter-of-factly. “He did not conform to any of the canonical
ideas about painting, about depictions, about points of view—he just misbehaved
and we’re all better for it.”
“They recreate a surrealistic landscape with the long shadows and I love them, they are all the time changing.”
– Regina Silveira
Brazilian artist Regina Silveira takes us through Richard Serra’s Wake at the Olympic Sculpture Park to share her love and appreciation for how it connects to her installation Octopus Wrap at the PACCAR Pavilion. Listen in as she recalls Richard Serra’s statement on his childhood memory of visiting a shipyard and how it influenced his work throughout his life. Visit the sculpture park in any season to experience the shifting shadows of this monumental sculpture, it is always free. You can see Silveira’s immersive installation at the park through March 2020.
Here’s Artnet on a
weathered oil painting depicting Saint Jerome that turned
out to be by Anthony van Dyck. Art collector Albert B. Roberts
picked it up at an auction for $600; it’s now on view at the Albany Institute
of History & Art.
Megan O’Grady for the
New York Times Style Magazine on
Beverly Pepper, the sculptor whose Persephone Unbound and Perre’s
Ventaglio III grace the Olympic Sculpture Park.
“Public art can
sometimes feel ponderously corporate or impersonal, but the unroofed splendor
of Pepper’s site-specific works can prompt unexpectedly potent encounters . . .
They are framing devices for wonderment.”
Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lionesswould have been the perfect subject for Leo season, but despite that, I am focusing on one of Muholi’s photographs for Virgo season instead. Their (Muholi identifies as they/them) work titled, Bester IV, shows Muholi against a geometric-patterned background with a scarf over their head like the Virgin Mary. Virgos rule detailed work like the complex patterning of material which requires patience, steadiness, and routine rigor to perform. I picked this work for Virgo season because the root of the word Virgo is virgin, and this photograph alludes to the most famous one, the Virgin Mother Mary. Most astrologers prefer to interpret the virginal representation of Virgo as the love of the unadulterated or the purity of essence rather than the religious or sexual overtones it signifies.
Zanele Muholi:Somnayma Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness features 76 black-and-white self-portraits, making the artist very prevalent in this body of work. The time of Muholi’s birth is unknown, but according to Wikipedia, they were born on July 9, a Cancer—the archetype of the mother in astrology. The only planet that Muholi has in Virgo is Pluto, which makes a lovely sextile (a 60-degree angle) to their Cancer sun. In evolutionary astrology, Pluto represents the soul, its incarnations and the karmic gifts brought into this lifetime. Muholi, like others born between roughly 1956 and 1972, has a Virgo soul structure and it melds well with their Cancer ego structure (the sun). This is another reason why I chose this photograph as it mimics this aspect in their natal astrology chart.
Virgo is the 6th sign of the zodiac and the sun transits Virgo from August 23 to September 30 each year. Virgos are meticulous, but Pluto-in-Virgos take the details of an issue to a staggering profound depth and breadth. You can see it in the entanglement of multiple themes and the pure (virginal) qualities in Muholi’s photographs. There is obviously an incredible amount of thought and planning that went into each image so the viewer could understand the difficult and powerful, sometimes in-your-face themes communicated through their body of work. This, along with the simplicity of how the sitter is framed and the exacting ruthlessness of the proportions, takes you on an internal journey into the shadow side (Pluto) of society and your own psyche. But the quality that shines the most in Virgos is ‘service to others’ and that is what I ultimately see Muholi doing with their work. They portray images of the plight of workers, maids, miners, and members of disenfranchised communities, in order to serve the greater good, forcefully demanding recognition and integration.
– Amy Domres, SAM’s Director of Admissions Amy is also a Psychospiritual Evolutionary Astrologer and Healer at Emerald City Astrology.
Images: Installation view Zanele Muholi:Somnayma Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness at Seattle Art Museum, 2019, photos: Natali Wiseman.
a dump: Crosscut’s Brangien
Davis visits the Recology CleanScapes recycling facility and meets its two
“Just as WALL-E
surfs the garbage heaps for treasures to take home — a bobblehead dog toy, a
golden trophy, a hinged ring box — artists in residence roam the space with an
eye out for intriguing items — a toy gun, a set of new knives, the detritus
from an entire bachelorette party.”
positive images of ourselves that are done with love,” said Muholi. “Let us
consume this self-love because our forefathers, our foremothers that came
before us never had the opportunity to speak for themselves.”
“Swift’s video, no
more than 10 minutes long, grapples with the concept of home, being home,
having a home, feeling at home in one’s body and community. In that
way, it fits well at Wa Na Wari. Where
do we belong?”
Artforum reports that Werner Kramarsky passed away this week at the age of 93; a formidable
collector, he donated 25 drawings to SAM over the years.
24 local bakers have signed up to create signature desserts inspired by artworks of their choosing in Victorian Radicals. At the event, bakers will present their work to the judges, explain their approach and inspiration. Judges will select one baker based on criteria of taste, relevance to artwork, and presentation. The winner will be awarded $500. Here are just some of the artworks selected as inspiration!
Our three judges may not be tossing out catchphrases but they are certainly bringing some serious skill to this lovely affair. Meet our three tastemakers below.
Rachael Coyle Rachael is a graduate of the French Culinary Institute and is the owner of Coyle’s Bakeshop. Previously, Rachael was Executive Pastry Chef at Le Pichet and Cafe Presse.
For me, baking is as much about texture as it is about flavor, so I’ll be looking for pieces that show balance and skill in both areas. I love seeing well-executed classics—but I especially love when a piece can play with something familiar just enough to make it new and interesting. Last, and very much not least, good technique is essential to good baking, so I’ll be checking that all the individual components (pastry doughs especially!) demonstrate good technical skill. But most of all: I can’t wait to see what the bakers create!
– Rachael Coyle
Chiyo Ishikawa Chiyo is Seattle Art Museum’s Susan Brotman Deputy Director for Art and Curator of European Painting and Sculpture and curator of Victorian Radicals.
I am hoping that contestants will be inspired by some of the objects in the exhibition—there are great images using flowers, vivid colors, and lots of detail. I am particularly hoping someone might want to take on some of the three-dimensional decorative arts objects that pile on Romanesque, Byzantine, and Gothic styles and use jewels, enamel work, and sculpted forms. More is more!
– Chiyo Ishikawa
Sara Naftaly Sara is a graduate of the French Culinary Institute and is owner of Amandine Bakeshop. For 30 years prior, Sara was co-owner of Le Gourmand.
For me, presentation cakes are a little like beautiful people. If there is no integrity on the inside, no depth of flavor, no individual character, then the resulting impression is eminently forgettable.
– Sara Naftaly
Although the audience can’t sample the desserts, we will have a bar and dessert options provided by TASTE during the event. Definite bonus, a limited number of free community passes will be made available for visitors to view Victorian Radicals which is open until 9 pm.
Beckoning visitors at the end of a long hallway inside Victorian Radicals: From the Pre-Raphaelites to the Arts and Crafts Movement is an interactive art activity inviting visitors to experiment with ideas connected to the exhibition. Created by artist Allison Kudla, visitors build designs using small pieces of discarded plastic pulled from ocean beaches through community clean up events, organized by the non-profit group Ocean Blue Project. As you build your design a camera captures the work, and the image, translated through a computer program, is projected into a kaleidoscopic pattern on the wall, mimicking the William Morris wallpaper surrounding it. You have until September 8 to see the exhibition, featuring a range of works by Morris and his peers, and to interact with Kudla’s art activity in the galleries.
Awarded a PhD in 2011 from the University of Washington’s Center for Digital Arts and Experimental Media (DXARTS), Kudla originally titled the work Radical Anthropocene, to focus on human activity as the dominant influence on climate and the environment. Prior to her PhD work, Kudla earned a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, 2002, with an emphasis on art and technology studies. We sat down with the artist to discuss this engaging art interactive, hear from her below!
SAM: Tell us about your process creating
Allison Kudla:The Radical Anthropocene project was based on a prior work I created for Summer at SAM in 2015. That work, titled Digital Kaleidoscopes of Nature, was an interactive workshop wherein people visiting the Olympic Sculpture Park could select from plant cuttings from the park to create digital kaleidoscopes. SAM approached me to adapt the project to become a wallpaper, rather than a circular kaleidoscope, that would be placed in response to William Morris’ wallpaper.
When considering the material or objects to be used to create the wallpaper, I thought about Morris, his ethics, values, and poetry. I knew I didn’t want to buy mass-produced items, but I did want to talk about industry and where we have come since Morris’ era. His care for our relationship to nature and warning of the future that might occur due to industrialization, were the cohering agents when I determined what the objects to use in creating the digital wallpaper. We are in the middle of a waste crisis on multiple levels. Perhaps the Naturalists of the Anthropocene are those that are working to clean up, invent sustainable materials, and regenerate human culture on the planet.
The Ocean Blue Project, based in Oregon, regularly
organizes community beach cleanups to extract the detritus of industrialization
from the ocean. The oft-called “marine debris” that was sent to me for
selection and placement included plastic forms, shapes, textures and colors—some
recognizable objects, others only fragments, and all created through a process
I teamed up with my colleague, Dr. David Gibbs, a senior research scientist at ISB, who created the project’s code in Python. We worked collaboratively through GitHub with SAM’s Cooper Whitlow to complete the project
Do you collaborate with people in other disciplines on a regular
Yes, absolutely. I think working with people in other disciplines is mutually beneficial. Cross- or interdisciplinary pursuits tend to push us out of our comfort zone. If I can work as a colleague with a scientist, and a scientist can work as a colleague with an artist, we are both getting an opportunity to be in the imposter zone. Though this word, imposter, may have negative connotations, the truth is that when we feel this way we are often learning new things, growing, beginning to think from a different perspective, and potentially forming new views of our work. This is inherently positive. Also, it is fun to work with other people, so there are social aspects to that as well.
What brought you to pursue a PhD in the intersection of Art and
I studied fine art at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. This trailblazing school didn’t require their students to pick one discipline, but rather let the course catalog be exactly that; a catalog. Each semester I would pick my classes thinking about what I was genuinely interested in learning. I didn’t know what kind of artist I wanted to be when I started there, but by the end, after moving through painting and fiber arts into video and finally art and technology, I realized that it was the creation of new art forms and new knowledge where I found the most satisfaction. When I joined the PhD program at UW, DXARTS (Digital Arts and Experimental Media), it was in its first year. Not only was it a pioneering new program, it was founded on exploring cutting-edge, research-based art. I decided to take the X in DXARTS and run with it. Through that, I established a practice intersecting experimental biology, specifically plant biology, with computer-aided design and fabrication processes.
Where else can we see your work?
Due to the living nature of many of my works, they often are only presented when specific facilities and resources are secured, and typically solely for the purpose of creating a cultural experience for an audience. In short, my work, because it is living, is very hard to collect and often tricky or expensive to produce. When it is produced, it has a finite duration and potentially unknown outcomes, thus making it a “risky” choice for many typical arts establishments. Despite those challenges, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, France recently acquired one of my most complex works, “The Capacity for (Urban Eden, Human Error).” It was an amazing experience to transfer the knowledge of the piece to the museum and have valuable conversations with the technology team and the collections managers about not only the maintenance of the living work during the two-month lifespan of when it is on display, but also on the conservation of the whole system for decades to come.
What do you plan to do with the images created from the in-gallery
experience at SAM?
It is another research project for me! I am fascinated by what people choose to “save” or determine as beautiful in the context of the activity. I am also fascinated by patterns and am interested in creating interactive projects where the audience is engaged in creating the work and feeding back into the system itself. In the future, I hope to use the images as a negative control for a classification system I plan to develop around the history of pattern-making using data science and libraries of ornamental patterns. I have been attempting to garner resources to move this project forward, but as you can imagine, longer-term funding in fringe areas like this can be hard to find.
For now, I created this compilation of several of the hundreds of patterns that were saved.
“The humans of our
times are so used to kitsch. But for the Victorians, it was completely new. It
was radical. This is the mind-set the exhibit wants us to enter: one that had
no past, only the future. The Victorian age is the cradle of our
“Why see one sculpture
when you can see nine acres of them?” Business Insider on popular US tourist
where to go instead—like SAM’s Olympic Sculpture Park.
Berson on “The Bar Plays,” two
plays set in bars presented in a real-life “venerable gathering
place,” Washington Hall.
“The thing that
we’re living under doesn’t seem to be working for us, so maybe we need to
imagine a new thing,” said Pruitt. “Myth, science fiction, all of that is a way
to kind of for me to think about another kind of way of living.”
outline a more fraught view of the art of the last century, in which the
refugee is not an outsider looking in, but a central actor in the writing of a
global culture. ‘Refugees,’ Arendt wrote in 1943, ‘represent the vanguard of
their peoples — if they keep their identity.’”
There’s a hint in Victorian Radicals: From the Pre-Raphaelites to the Arts & Crafts Movement that some were. That hint is in Edward Burne-Jones stained-glass piece, St. Mark, which depicts the saint evangelizing what would become his gospel with a winged lion above him, a representation of his strong character. What is interesting is that the lion is resting his paw on a stylistic blue wave which contains the astrological glyph of Leo slyly repeated in it. Coincidence? I think not.
It seems that Edward Burne-Jones gave a shout-out to the astrology world. During the Victorian era advancements were made in astronomy and Alan Leo, a British astrologer who is often referred to as the father of modern astrology, was born in 1860. Seances, salons, and the occult were all the rage during this time and the first Ouija Board was commercially produced in 1890. Astrology could have been a serious topic of discussion in their group.
Needless to say, Victorian Radicals contains a fair amount of beautifully-painted depictions of myths that astrologers use to explain and interpret planets and asteroids in charts: Medea, Iris, Pandora, Venus, Cupid, and Psyche are some of the few. Any astrologer can pick out paintings in this exhibition and tie them easily to the planets’ mythology because they are so symbolic and integral to our work.
I would be remiss not to mention that I picked St. Mark because we are in the middle Leo season right now, and Leos are synonymous with lions, although not flying lions, but you could make a case that a Leo Sun/Neptune conjunction could produce one (Mic drop! Where my astrologers at?). Each year between July 23 and August 22, the sun transits across the sky through the Leo constellation. Leos are one of the three fire signs in the zodiac, Aries and Sagittarius being the other two, which lends to traits of passion, spontaneity, and playfulness. Lions are also the proud, strong, loyal, and loving ones living among us.
If you haven’t seen the exhibition, visit on September 5 when the rates are reduced to $9.99 and below for first Thursday. Also, there is a painting of Morgan Le Fay by Frederick Sandys which calls to mind the book Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradly and calls on anyone who loves witchcraft to come see their pagan roots immortalized in it. This exhibition is a woo-woo lovers’ paradise packed with supernatural aspects.
– Amy Domres, SAM’s Director of Admissions Amy is also a Psychospiritual Evolutionary Astrologer and Healer at Emerald City Astrology.
SAM director and CEO Kimerly Rorschach shared the museum’s position on proposed changes to Washington State’s overtime rules. These changes are long overdue, and SAM has been a leader in implementing adjustments. However, a slower ramp-up would be more sustainable for non-profits.
Author Toni Morrison
died this week at the age of 88. This New York Times obituary celebrates her “luminous,
incantatory prose resembling that of no other writer in English.”
“Ms. Morrison animated
that reality in prose that rings with the cadences of black oral tradition. Her
plots are dreamlike and nonlinear, spooling backward and forward in time as
though characters bring the entire weight of history to bear on their every
In addition to their
booth-to-booth coverage of this past weekend’s Seattle Art Fair, Crosscut has
pieces by Emily Pothast and Margo Vansynghel examining the various outcomes of the Fair on
the local art scene.
“The festival will
highlight ‘artist-driven portraits of identity,’ which will take many forms
including visual art and performance, according to co-curator and dance artist
David Rue. ‘We’re using this approach so that artists can provide a
counterpoint to the dominant narrative told about people that look like them
while celebrating the power of culturally responsive rigor.’”
“What Does Radical Love Look Like?” Hyperallergic’s Seph Rodney explores that
question at the Ford Foundation Gallery’s latest show, featuring work by
Athi-Patra Ruga, Lina Puerta, and Ebony G. Patterson.
‘”This is someone
becoming — finding themselves, finding their voice, finding their practice,’
Ms. LaBouvier said. ‘I didn’t want to make him into a myth, or make him into a
sort of trauma-porn story either. And I thought the best way to do that was to
take a step back and let him speak for himself.’”
From the intricate silver objects and the dazzling jewelry to the vibrant paintings on display, there is so much to see and learn about in Victorian Radicals: From the Pre-Raphaelites to the Arts & Crafts Movement. For instance, did you know the 15th-century painter Van Eyck’s was an inspiration to the Pre-Raphaelites? Here are some facts that you may not know about the rebellious artists behind the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Read up and then come see this stunning exhibition on view through September 8!
The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood began in 1848 and was founded by William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais, and Dante Gabriel Rossetti.
The founders of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood were all students at the Royal Academy but they rebelled against the ideas and methods of The Academy and would often skip classes to have secret meetings at their homes.
The name “Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood” came from their belief that the “Golden Age of Art” came before Raphael and the Renaissance.
The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood eventually grew and received tremendous support from writer and critic John Ruskin.
When the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood formed, the members were all between the ages of 18–23 years old.
In 1850 the Pre-Raphaelites launched an illustrated journal called “The Germ” meant to “sow the seeds of a widespread reform of society through advanced art and design.” It included poetry, essays, and short stories as well as etchings. The journal discontinued after four issues.
Although the brotherhood by definition excluded women, influential female figures such as Elizabeth Siddall, Rosa Brett, and Anna Blunden made art within the wider circle of the Pre-Raphaelites.
John Millais’ muse, Effie Gray, was the wife of his mentor John Ruskin. While painting and modeling, Millais and Grey fell in love. Gray divorced Ruskin and married Millais a year later!
Pre-Raphaelite art sparked controversy because their realism was seen as ugly and jarring by some critics and writers. Charles Dickens wrote that Millais’ “Christ” painting was “a hideous, wry-necked, blubbering, red-haired boy in a nightgown.”
The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood lasted five years and was dissolved by 1853 as the young members grew in different directions. But the movement had a long-lasting impact and inspired the formation of the Arts & Crafts Movement.
to Marvin Oliver, artist and professor emeritus at the University of
Washington, who died this week at the age of 73.
“’We have lost an amazing mentor and elder in our community and his
legacy will live on,’ Olsen said. ‘And those of us who understand his vision
and mission to support the Native students and enhance the visibility of Native
art and culture will make him and keep him proud and forge on with his
As industrialization brought sweeping changes to British life, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Everett Millais, and William Holman Hunt formed the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. The young artists were reacting to the traditional training methods of the Royal Academy of Arts, which they regarded to be as formulaic as industrial methods of production. While these works of art may not offend the sensibilities of today’s audiences, they were referred to as “Lamentable and revolting . . .” and as “. . . Monstrously perverse . . .” by their contemporary critics.
Visit SAM through September 8 to see 150 works from the 19th century Britain and consider for yourself what makes art radical.
creates a stunning dialogue between the historical ‘porcelain room’ and our
modern attempt to reckon with the colonialism and institutional racism that
necessitated the creation of these beautiful objects.”
“Obviously, Transforest can’t capture certain things about trees—their smell, the
sound of leaves rustling in the wind, their sense of knowing. But as I stood
underneath it, sweating under all that sun, trying to figure out this
sculpture, I realized I was missing something simple, easily capture-able about
saturated color and minute detail, the works sit in bold contrast to the
zeitgeisty minimalism and pastel palettes of the past few years. It’s a rather
refreshing aesthetic twist, and a veritable feast for the eyes.”
An SOS, a lofty reminder, a memento mori: Crosscut’s Brangien
Davis visits Ted Youngs’ new Smoke Season
installation and looks at some other trees in art, including John Grade’s Middle Fork at SAM and the Neukom
Vivarium at the Olympic Sculpture Park.
“They peer up at the tree, which stands parallel to the Space
Needle — one conceived as a beacon of humanity’s bright future, the other
an urgent message from the here and now.”
at a collection more freely and greedily than most of us, from odd angles. They
often ferret out neglected or eccentric treasures, highlighting what museums
have but aren’t using; they can also reveal a collection’s weaknesses, its
biases and blind spots.”
“I’ll keep saying the same thing I’ve said for years: Any time you have a
concentration of talent, wealth, innovation and quality of life, you’ve got all
the ingredients for a renaissance, of a revolution, of a movement. But somehow,
we just haven’t been mixing them right.”
“Art and violence
have for an eternity held a strong narrative grip with each other … To have
the Rumors of War sculpture
presented in such a context lays bare the scope and scale of the project in its
conceit to expose the beautiful and terrible potentiality of art to sculpt the
language of domination.”
“It’s a space where it really calls upon you to interpret on your own and to take from it what you need. Or just sit and take it in.”
– Tracy Rector
Hear from independent filmmaker and activist Tracy Rector on her favorite thing at SAM, The Porcelain Room. Brimming with more than one thousand magnificent European and Asian pieces from SAM’s collection, the Porcelain Room has been conceived to blend visual excitement with a historical concept.
Rather than the standard museum installation arranged by nationality, manufactory, and date, our porcelain is grouped by color and theme. Today, when porcelain is everywhere in our daily lives, this room evokes a time when it was a treasured trade commodity—sometimes rivaling the value of gold—that served as a cultural, technological, and artistic interchange between the East and the West.
Last week, SAM announced that Amada Cruz has been chosen as the
museum’s new Illsley Ball Nordstrom Director and CEO, succeeding Kimerly
Rorschach who is retiring in September. Brendan Kiley of the Seattle
Times had the exclusive. Brangien Davis of Crosscut
and Jasmyne Keimig of the Stranger
also both interviewed Amada.
“The publishing history of ‘No-No Boy’ is as important as the book
itself,” he said, remembering how he would sell copies of the original CARP
edition out of the trunk of his old Mustang in the 1970s. “To publish the book
without acknowledging that publishing history is publishing a very incomplete
In This Imperfect Present Moment closes Sunday, June 16! Don’t miss this chance to see works across a wide array of media by artists hailing from Cape Town, Johannesburg, Cotonou/Rotterdam, Luanda/Lisbon, Baltimore, to Los Angeles, and New York. These works have been brought to Seattle by local collectors who are intrigued by how these artists convey vibrant narratives that resonate across global boundaries. While you’re here take a close look at Surah al-Fatiha (the Opening), by Capetown artist Igshaan Adams.
Visiting Igshaan Adams in his studio in Capetown is to step into a zone
of transformation. He works with a group of weavers who wander in and out as he
shows you mounds of materials that are being upgraded to carry stories and
interpretations of Sufism, the mystical sect of Islam, which offers alternative
ways of looking at the world. He speaks of his love of the mysticism of Islamic
texts, and how they provide guidance for the realities of daily life. Learning
about his family provides further insight for his development as an artist; he
was raised by Christian grandparents who were supportive of his faith, fasted
with him during Ramadan, and invited imams over to the family home. As you trip
over ropes and nearly stumble into a massive maze of beads that are being
arranged in a spiral with a mystic rationale, you try to keep track of the mesmerizing
pull of the artist’s sincerity. His descriptions of involving the sacred to
encourage humankind’s capacity for good and nobility set a tone of deep introspection.
In the instsallation, you’ll see a tapestry named after the first chapter of the Quran. Adams has added beads to convey the opening line, which is meant to be recited and contemplated every time a believer begins to establish a direct connection with Allah. About this, Adams has said, “As an artist, I think I can give a person one moment of reflection or one moment with a different perspective.” So goes this imperfect present description of his effort, which is worth so many more words that you are encouraged to seek out online.
– Pam McClusky, Curator of African and Oceanic Art
Image: Surah al-Fatiha (the Opening), 2016, Igshaan Adams, South African, b. 1982, woven nylon rope, beads, 94 1/2 x 94 1/2 in., Private collection, photo courtesy of Blank Projects, Cape Town.
Blue Star Museums: free admission to military personnel and their families. Just show your military ID. The military ID holder plus up to five immediate family members (spouse or child of ID holder) are allowed in for free per visit (special exhibition surcharge may apply).
UW Art Students get free admission with sticker on their student ID
Basically, you have no reason not to visit! And remember, entry to SAM’s permanent collections is always suggested admission! You can come experience our global collection year-round and pay what you want.
SAM’s intricate and stunning sculpture of The Lamentation over the Dead Christ by Massimiliano Soldani Benzi is currently on view in Body Language, but wouldn’t be if it weren’t for a years-long project that restored the piece to its former sheen. To make this possible, our conservators worked with a team at the Museo Nazionale del Bargello in Florence, the original home of the sculpture. See images from the process and find out more about the conservation process from our conservators before you see this sculpture in person.
Massimiliano Soldani Benzi’s bronze sculpture The Lamentation over the Dead Christ (SAM 61.178) was cast in 1714 and acquired by SAM in 1961 as part of the Samuel Kress Collection. SAM’s Head of Conservation, Nicholas Dorman, led a multi-year fundraising campaign to study and treat the sculpture. Completed in December 2018, the project encompassed three broad goals: analysis of the surface and cleaning, replacing the lost crown, and constructing a new period-appropriate base.
The sculpture was loaned to the Museo Nazionale del Bargello in Florence in 2017, where it was featured in Making Beauty: The Ginori Porcelain Manufactory and Its Progeny of Statues. The exhibition discussed the relationship between Soldani and the Ginori Porcelain studio: after his death, Soldani’s heirs sold some of his wax models and molds to Mr. Carlo Ginori, who reproduced them in porcelain at his Florentine workshop. The bronze Lamentation over the Dead Christ was displayed next to its porcelain cousin for the first time, both having been cast from the same approximately 56 molds.
The Bargello exhibition was an opportunity to study and document the various layers of degraded, non-original surface coatings—a mixture of black-brown pigmented wax and oils—with Florentine conservator and metals specialist, Ludovica Nicolai. Nicolai has worked on a great number of Soldani’s works in the Bargello collection. In collaboration with Nicolai and SAM’s conservation department, scientific analysis of the coatings was executed by a team of scientists from Adarte, Pisa University and Florence University, in order to inform the cleaning approach. Over four months, solvent gels were used to soften the hardened coatings, followed by cleaning with dental tools and the flexible tips of porcupine quills to gently remove the non-original layers from the surface.
Meanwhile, the missing crown of thorns was re-cast by the Florentine foundry Ciglia e Carrai. Two sources informed the crown’s recreation: a 1970–1990s image of the sculpture located in the Fondazione Zeri archives (housed in Bologna), and the original wax model of the sculpture located in the Palazzo Pitti collection.
At the conclusion of the treatment, a stylistically appropriate wooden base was constructed—whose form echoes the porcelain version in the Bargello exhibition. This replaces the modern stone mount on which it has been previously displayed.
This project was a truly international collaboration. As well as the experts mentioned above, we are particularly grateful to Dr. Paola D’Agostino and Dr. Dimitrios Zikos and their colleagues at the Bargello for their abiding support and for being so generous with their knowledge. To conserve a sculpture like this in its original place of creation is a significant funding challenge, and we wish to thank the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, The Museo Nazionale del Bargello, SAM’s Plestcheeff Fund for Decorative Arts, an anonymous foundation and an anonymous individual donor. Thanks to their support, we can present and share the story of this magnificent Florentine baroque sculpture.
– Geneva Griswold, SAM Associate Conservator& Nicholas Dorman, Chief Conservator
Images: Installation view Body Language, Seattle Art Museum, 2018, photo: Natali Wiseman. Before conservation photo: Ludovica Nicolai. Installation view Museo Nazionale del Bargello, 2017, photo: Arrigo Coppitz. During installation and details photo: Ludovica Nicolai. Fondazione Federico Zeri Archive | no. 149804Silver gelatin print, ca. 1970–1989 During treatment in the Bargello Museum galleries, photo: Geneva Griswold. After conservation photo: Ludovica Nicolai. Installed on pedestal photo: Arrigo Coppitz. The Lamentation Over the Dead Christ, ca. 1714, Massimiliano Soldani, Bronze, 34 x 32 3/4 x 22 1/2 in. Samuel H. Kress Collection, 61.178.
We believe art is for everyone and right now everyone can experience a new kinetic sound sculpture installed at SAM’s 1st and Union entrance. Playing music, projecting poetry, and covered in the text, drawings, and collage by artists with lived experiences of homeless, Hear & Now is a collaboration between internationally celebrated artist, composer, and musician Trimpin and Path with Art students presented for you to view for free!
Built from an antique hand-pulled wagon originally built by Trimpin’s father in Germany, the work is activated by pressing the play button situated next to the object. Each tap triggers a different musical composition or poem created in collaboration with teaching artists. Hear & Now is free and accessible to all and will be on view through July 15. Visit the entire museum for free on Thursday, June 6, and catch the Hear & Now Performances and Artist Talkback taking place 6–8:30 pm featuring pop-up performances by the student artists, a movement piece directed by Rachel Brumer and Monique Holt accompanied by the musical compositions played by the sculpture, and a chance to hear from Trimpin.
Get primed for Thursday evening with this
interview with Trimpin and a Path with Art student artist.
How did you start working with Path with Art?
Five years ago, I was Composer in Residence with the Seattle Symphony
Orchestra. The last year of the three-year residency involves a public-outreach
workshop. I decided to work with a group of Path with Art student artists. I
was first introduced to Path with Art at a performance at the Hugo House; I was
impressed with the artistic caliber of all the performing artists.
Tyler Marcil: Jennifer Lobsenz, the Program Director at the time, asked me to participate in this project in the summer of 2017. We worked with Christina Orbe for six weeks and Yonnas Getahun for two weeks over the course of eight workshops at Trimpin’s studio.
During these workshops, we created found poetry – I had never
done anything quite like that before. I took a story that I had already written
called, “The Woman on the Sidewalk,” and pulled words from that story to create
new poems for the sculpture. A year later, I was invited to record work for
Path with Art at Jack Straw Cultural Center.
What is the significance of the wagon wheel as a foundation
for the sculpture? How does it relate to experiences of homelessness?
When I was beginning to conceptualize the interdisciplinary workshop, mobility
and transition was a major consideration. Aware that most homeless people are
in continual transition, the wagon-wheel was a starting platform to build up
the story, not just metaphorically, but literally as a sound object which is
mobile. It is similar to the way the wagon was used in my family to haul a
variety of items around, and I still remember watching my father when he was
building the wagon from scratch.
How did the artists collaborate on the creation of the final
Tyler: The first group to meet was our group—the poets. The visual artists then took the found poems we created, turning these magnificent words into different pieces of art. Then the musicians came and made compositions inspired by the language and the artwork.
Hear & Now allowed many people to contribute their skills to this larger
project. The people who were involved all have different ways of expressing
themselves. Through this project, their voices are heard, and they are able to
speak from their soul through their medium. Without this
opportunity, they might feel silenced—without a voice, or without their voices
Can you share a moment of discovery or breakthrough in the
process that left an impression on you? Why did that moment stand out to you?
Artists in general are not collaborating with other artists very often. A part
of the workshop was to teach each student that we don’t have to compete with
each other; and we actually can work together and contribute each individual’s
expertise to make the project successful. This process was very important to me
and the project would not exist without the great commitment and interaction of
each individual student.
Tyler: I don’t like hearing my own voice. When we were recording our stories at Jack Straw I could feel my heart racing because it’s a voice that my mother created by teaching us to speak a certain way. I could hear the –eds and the –ings. Those were important in my household growing up.
When I was forced that day to listen to my voice I cried inside
because I realized—my voice is beautiful. And had I known that it was
beautiful, I would have listened all along. And now when I ask people, what
is it about my stories or poetry that you like? They tell me, it’s your voice.
What do you hope the sculpture can inspire in a viewer?
My hope is that the viewer can hear and see that a group of Path with Art
student artists—adults—who have lived the experience of homelessness, addiction
or other trauma, have earned the ability, knowledge, and imagination to
collaborate, design, write, and compose and to achieve a project at this high
Tyler: I hope that Hear & Now will bring awareness of people who have lived experience of homelessness. That the person living that experience could be you. We shouldn’t allow ourselves to be prejudiced, or disown others as though they don’t exist.
And I think by having a sculpture that shares these wonderful
voices, not only are you hearing their voices, but your hearing that they’re a
person. The voice you hear is coming from them, from their humanity.
How does the upcoming performance connect to the sculpture?
For the upcoming performance, the students are performing live, interacting
with the instrumentation of the wagon with their own voice or instrument.
Tyler: It ties together these themes of voicelessness and visibility for those experiencing homelessness. It connects to the sculpture because it’s using American Sign Language to present stories for those who cannot hear or speak, and ties in this concept communicating in different ways—with our voices, but also with our hands. This whole project is about lifting up those who have so often been silenced, and widening our circles of empathy and understanding, and the performance brings together both people with lived experience, and those without while exploring these themes.
– Chelsea Werner-Jatzke, SAM Content Strategist & Social Media Manager
Images: Installation view Hear & Now at Seattle Art Museum, 2019, photos: Natali Wiseman.
Path with Art would like to extend a special thank you to Seattle Department of Neighborhoods for making this project possible.
“They always say ‘this is so great’ or ‘this is so wonderful,’” Johnson
shared. “The first couple times it happened I said ‘you haven’t seen anything
yet.’ They say ‘no, this is here.’ It’s just something about being able to walk
into a space and know that it’s a cultural center for Black people that feels
embodied as soon as you go through the entryway.”
“For many reasons,
protest is a logical direction for art right now. There is still no federal law
prohibiting discrimination against L.G.B.T.Q.+ people on the basis of sexual
orientation or gender identity (although some states and cities have enacted
laws prohibiting it). Trans women continue to be victims of violence. The rate
of new H.I.V./AIDS transmission among gay black men remains high. And
the impulse within the gay mainstream to accommodate and assimilate is by now
deeply ingrained. The time has come to hear Sylvia Rivera calling us out
As a person who has taken IKEA desks and Christmas trees on Seattle buses, I am here for this.