Muse/News: Camera as a Blade, Hockey in Seattle, and Architects’ Ideas

SAM News

Imogen Cunningham: A Retrospective is now on view at SAM! Ann Guo for the Seattle Times explored why Seattle’s Imogen Cunningham is one of the leading photographers of her time.”

“The photographer wielded the camera as one would a blade — precise and controlled, yet with delicate grace.”

And here’s an appreciation of the photographer’s body of work in Airmail, focusing particularly on her work with nudes.

“It is perhaps this quality of reflective quiet that epitomizes Cunningham’s art across time. In all of her photos we sense not only her concentration, but the vibrancy of being in subjects animate and inanimate.”

Also on view at SAM: Frisson: The Richard E. Lang and Jane Lang Davis Collection featuring Abstract Expressionist and post-war art. Here’s Renee Diaz for UW Daily on the exhibition.

Local News

From the Seattle Times: Why arts critic Moira Macdonald picks Tchaikovsky’s ‘Nutcracker’ as the soundtrack of her holiday season.”

“Ghost mall goes indie: Pacific Place gets a new lease on life”: Margo Vansynghel on how the downtown shopping center is filling its spaces with local art.

Lucas Kaplan for Seattle Met on Hockey: Faster Than Ever, now on view at the Pacific Science Center.

“It’s not all a bird’s-eye view of hockey either…PacSci’s exhibit emphasizes the importance of broadening the reach of the sport, beyond the predominantly white and male scope. The Kraken have been outspoken in this regard, and some members of its historically diverse staff, as well as its investments in youth programs, are highlighted here.”

Inter/National News

“We Are Angry, We Are Tired”: Artnet’s Kate Brown on the impact of the new travel ban on South African art dealers headed to Art Basel Miami.

ARTnews: A story about PBS, a Maltese priest/art historian, and a stolen Caravaggio.

Why Shouldn’t Housing for the Homeless Be Beautiful?” Thomas Rogers for the New York Times on an exhibition exploring architects’ ideas for solving homelessness.

“Because of climate change and pandemics and robotization, we will have more refugees in the future, more poverty,” [architect Alexander Hagner] said. Young architects realized that “we have learned a profession in which we can perhaps not save the world.” But, he added, they could “contribute to making it a better place.”

And Finally

Thank you, Stephen Sondheim. Let’s wallow in the archives.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Photo: Installation view of Imogen Cunningham: A Retrospective at Seattle Art Museum, 2021, photo: Natali Wiseman.

Object of the Week: Night Watch

Night Watch (1960) by Abstract Expressionist artist Lee Krasner is part of a body of work often referred to as her “Night Journeys.” Grieving the loss of her husband, Jackson Pollock (1912–1956), and her mother, Anna Weiss Krassner (d. 1959), Krasner found herself in a challenging and painful emotional space. Suffering from intense insomnia, she painted almost exclusively at night during this period. In her words, “I painted a great many [paintings] because I couldn’t sleep nights. I got tired of fighting insomnia and tried to paint instead. And I realized that if I was going to work at night I would have to knock out color altogether, because I couldn’t deal with color except in daylight.”1

Though previously known for her dramatic use of color, Night Watch, along with other works made in the early 1960s, uses a reduced palette of black, ochre, and creamy white, with gray accents. The title alludes to one of Rembrandt’s celebrated 17th-century paintings of a militia company and, with punctuating eyes as a recurring motif, alludes simultaneously to the militia’s duty of keeping watch as well as a self-referential proclamation. Painting, for Krasner, was always autobiographical, and she maintained that “Painting is not separate from life. It is one.”2

Despite their reduced palette and somber origins, Krasner’s Night Journeys were an exciting artistic development. In a 1981 review of the exhibition The Abstract Expressionists and their Precursors at the Nassau County Museum in Roslyn, New York Times critic John Russell writes that Night Watch proves “Lee Krasner was able to go on turning the screw of her art at a moment in time when most of her colleagues were . . . beginning to lose momentum.”3 Indeed, Night Watch—with its swirling brushwork and rhythmic composition—mines a deeply personal moment in the name of self-expression.

Elisabeth Smith, SAM Collections & Provenance Associate


1 Richard Howard, “A conversation with Lee Krasner,” in Lee Krasner Paintings 1959–1962 (New York: Pace Gallery 1979), p. 3.

2 The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Night Creatures, 1965, Lee Krasner, https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/486683.

3 John Russell, “Gallery View; Delights, Surprises—and Gaps,” New York Times, March 8, 1981, https://www.nytimes.com/1981/03/08/arts/gallery-view-delights-surprises-and-gaps.html.

Image: Night Watch, 1960, Lee Krasner, Oil on canvas, 70 × 99 1/4 in. (177.8 × 252.1 cm), Gift of the Friday Foundation in honor of Richard E. Lang and Jane Lang Davis, 2020.14.4 © ©️2021 The Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Muse/News: Seeing at SAM, Homes for Artists, and an Afrofuturist Room

SAM News

Imogen Cunningham: A Retrospective opens at SAM this Thursday! Peter Saenger of the Wall Street Journal previews the exhibition of the endlessly innovative photographer who “championed new ways of seeing.”

“In a 1952 portrait, the sculptor Ruth Asawa holds one of her celebrated wire sculptures in front of her head, forming a rough square. The Seattle show will include a video of a Graham performance and a number of Asawa sculptures. Cunningham formed a close friendship with Asawa that lasted decades, and Carrie Dedon, who curated the exhibition for Seattle’s presentation, notes her ability to connect with fellow artists.”

Frisson: The Richard E. Lang and Jane Lang Davis Collection is also on view at SAM. Seattle Magazine highlights it in their arts scene overview in their October edition. And Crosscut’s Margo Vansynghel wrote about the show in their “things to do in Seattle in November” round-up.

“It’s no exaggeration to say the Langs assembled a world-class collection with a keen eye, particularly for artists who have only recently been getting their due, including Helen Frankenthaler, Lee Krasner, Joan Mitchell and Philip Guston.”

Local News

“An arts critic and a hockey fan go to a Kraken game.” The Seattle Times’ Moira Macdonald and Trevor Lenzmeier, along with the Kraken, make for a journalistic hat trick.

Crosscut Talks podcast talks with the owners of Seattle fine dining institution Canlis about the creative ways they rethought their business during the first year of the pandemic. Also in Crosscut Land: They have a new executive editor! Welcome, M. David Lee III!

Sarah Anne Lloyd for Seattle Met speaks with musician/realtor Pearl Nelson, who wants to help artists find nice places to live.

“Artists move where it’s affordable. So finding places that are affordable so you can live in Seattle eventually again, whether it’s through programs where it’s a multigenerational household or friendships that can acquire property and hopefully build equity, it might be the way…. I really want to see the artists and musicians and creatives find places here. That’s it. I hope we can have places to be.

Inter/National News

The American South is the theme of Art in America’s November/December issue; explore essays and interviews on “trauma, joy, and the arc of America’s national story.”

Nicolas Rapold on a new documentary about another American photographer: Gordon Parks. A Choice of Weapons traces his journey from a Kansas family farm to his photo essays on Black life to making history as the first Black artist to produce and direct a major Hollywood film.

Darla Migan for Artnet on Before Yesterday We Could Fly: An Afrofuturist Period Room, now open at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

“To root the exhibition in the reality of specific historical erasure, the curators created a space that embraces the memory of Seneca Village, a thriving 19th-century New York City community of predominantly Black property owners and tenants. It was situated not too far from the Met, on what is now the western perimeter of Central Park, or what remains the unseated lands of indigenous Lenape peoples, potentially representing multiple displacements and migrations.”

And Finally

“I like the vulgarity of it.”

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Image: Magnolia Blossom, negative 1925; print 1930, Imogen Cunningham, American, 1883–1976, gelatin silver print, 9 5/16 × 11 5/8 in., Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Museum purchase, M.H. de Young Memorial Museum, 54042, Photo: Randy Dodson, © 2021 The Imogen Cunningham Trust.

Behind the Scenes with SAM’s Conservation Team

Every painting, drawing, and sculpture at Seattle Art Museum, Seattle Asian Art Museum, and Olympic Sculpture Park is thoroughly inspected and cleaned by our conservation department before being put on view. These supremely talented individuals are dedicated to maintaining the aesthetic and structural health of SAM’s vast and, in some cases priceless, collections.

Watch this video from Seattle Channel’s Art Zone to get to know the leader behind this department, Jane Lang Davis Chief Conservator, Nicholas Dorman. Nick discusses his upbringing, explains how he ended up at SAM, and walks viewers through how he and his team care for every work of art at all three locations. All the works featured in this video can be seen on view in Frisson: The Richard E. Lang and Jane Lang Davis Collection at SAM through November 27, 2022.

In honor of National Ask a Conservator Day on November 4, we reached out to our Instagram community to see what questions they had for SAM’s conservation team. Nick, along with Senior Objects Conservator Liz Brown and Associate Conservator Geneva Griswold, took the time to answer them and give a bit more insight on their favorite memories at SAM—read their responses below!

What are some of the most time-intensive projects for SAM conservators to tackle?

Liz Brown (LB): Conservation treatments are time-intensive by nature! Small artworks treated in the studio take hundreds of hours to clean, treat, and document. Large, outdoor works such as those at the Olympic Sculpture Park get cleaned once a week, and then receive in-depth treatments, like a refreshed coating, each summer.

SAM Conservator Liz Brown cleans Echo at the Olympic Sculpture Park.

What background, formal education, and training is required to become an art conservator?

Geneva Griswold (GG): Paths into the conservation field can be circuitous, but many of us studied art history, chemistry, or are artists ourselves—conservation combines all of these interests! Formal entry into the field often includes the completion of a three-year graduate degree in art conservation with a specialty in objects, paintings, paper, textiles, books, or works on paper. Additional experience is gained through internships and fellowships.

What is your most cherished memory of working on SAM’s conservation team?

GG: One of my favorite memories is installing Yves St. Laurent: The Perfection of Style because it required teamwork from everyone in the department, plus local conservators who work in private practice, and conservators from France who travelled with exhibition. These collaborations are always the most fun because I learn a lot from my colleagues!

What has been your favorite artwork to restore/preserve while working at SAM?

LB: My favorite object is frequently what I am working on in the moment as each new work presents an opportunity to explore. Right now, I’m investigating cold cathode lights with artist Claude Zervas to prepare his artwork Nooksack for an upcoming exhibition.

SAM Conservator Liz Brown stops to take a photo while investigating cold cathode lights for Claude Zervas’s work Nooksack.

How do you ensure you don’t change an artist’s intent when doing conservation?

Nick Dorman (ND): This important point is the subject of much concern and discussion. Treatments may be discussed with living artists directly, and conservators may collaborate with an artist’s foundation, community members, and others who are close to the work. We carefully research and document all work, and design every treatment to be reversible.

What aspect of conservation is misunderstood or overlooked?

LB: The title “conservation” can cause confusion it is often seen as rooted in a tradition of attempting to keep an object from changing. Sometimes this is a goal, but when considering treatment, we always consider the intangible aspects of the artwork. Thus, in conversations with stakeholders, we are looking to manage, change, and look to how that artwork lives best in a museum.

What is your favorite conservation tool?

LB: This is always changing, but one I come back to all the time is the very simple, yet versatile bamboo skewer. It’s wonderful in that it can be easily shaped to suit a variety of purposes. The wood box my father made for my small tools is also a favorite.

What’s the most interesting attempt you’ve seen a previous owner make to conserve an object? What did you have to do to correct/modify their attempt?

GG: I am currently working on a black lacquer wood sculpture. In areas where the black lacquer is missing, someone has colored the bare wood with a Sharpie marker to hide the unsightly loss. While well intentioned, this will be challenging to remove, if at all possible. Someone also used carpenter’s wood glue to reattach elements of the sculpture, however this type of adhesive has damaged the fragile lacquer. My treatment seeks to remove this adhesive and replace it with a more appropriate choice.

Any strange conservation stories to share?

ND: When I went to Italy in 2006 to research the original location of SAM’s Tiepolo ceiling fresco with former Chief Curator Chiyo Ishikawa, we found what seemed to be a very similar painting on the ceiling of the painting’s original home in Vicenza. The current custodian of the home said, “We have the Tiepolo, I don’t know what you have.” Turns out, we both have the Tiepolo! The surface of the original painting had been removed from the underlying fresco layers and attached to a new canvas support, eventually traveling across the world to grace SAM’s Porcelain Room ceiling. The remaining under-paint was left in place and was eventually retouched by a prominent Italian restorer.

Former SAM conservation tech, Tim Marsden, admires the Tiepolo during conservation.

What advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing a career in art conservation?

GG: Review the American Institute For Conservation and the Emerging Conservator Professional Network for resources. Informational interviews with conservators and conservation students can give a window into what the job entails on a day to day basis. Our roles vary immensely from museum to museum, and from institutional settings to private practice. Find a mentor who can provide sustained guidance—SAM conservators are happy to connect with you, get in touch with us!

– Lily Hansen, SAM Marketing Content Creator

Image: Courtesy of Seattle Channel.

See the Significant Collection of Richard E. Lang and Jane Lang Davis

Behind one of the most significant private collections of Abstract Expressionist and post-war art is a love story for the ages.

It started with a chance meeting between Jane Davis and Richard E. Lang at the Hawai’i Symphony Orchestra. Within a year, the two were married and moved to Seattle. With a shared passion for the arts, Jane and Richard collected abstract works from artists across the United States which they showcased in their modest waterfront home.

Watch this video by the Friday Foundation to see how Jane and Richard’s extensive collection came together and how their legacy lives on in Seattle and its cultural community. Then, see 21 works from their personal collection in Frisson: The Richard E. Lang and Jane Lang Davis Collection at SAM, on view through November 27, 2022. These exceptional artworks now live at SAM thanks to a gift from the Friday Foundation in honor of these local collectors. The recent Lang Collection gift is comprised of 19 outstanding artworks that transform SAM’s holdings of postwar art, making it the most significant collection of its kind in the Pacific Northwest.

– Lily Hansen, SAM Marketing Content Creator

Image: Night Watch, 1960, Lee Krasner, American, 1908–1984, oil on canvas, 70 x 99 in., Seattle Art Museum, Gift of the Friday Foundation in honor of Richard E. Lang and Jane Lang Davis, 2020.14.4 © The Pollock-Krasner Foundation. Photo: Spike Mafford / Zocalo Studios. Courtesy of the Friday Foundation.

Muse/News: Conserving Art, Au Revoir Kucera, and She Was Victory

SAM News

Frisson: The Richard E. Lang and Jane Lang Davis Collection is now on view at SAM. Take a peek behind the scenes into the conservation done to these works before installation! ArtZone features Nicholas Dorman, SAM’s Jane Lang Davis Chief Conservator, and other members of SAM’s conservation team, as they work across SAM’s three sites to protect and preserve art.

Local News

Sophie Grossman for Seattle Met, along with haunting photos by Chona Kasinger, on “Seattle’s most storied headstones.”

Marcie Silllman for Crosscut, speaking with Pacific Northwest Ballet dancers about returning to the stage while nearing the end of their careers.

“Greg Kucera, leading force in Seattle art world, leaves for his castle in France”: Here’s the Seattle Times’ Brendan Kiley with a farewell to the beloved gallerist.

“I’ve always felt, whether he was praising me or offering advice or criticism, that he believed in my art and that part of what drove him was the desire to advance it, and to protect it from obstacles,” said photographer Chris Engman, who makes confounding, disorienting illusions. “This is what a collaboration between an artist and a gallerist should look like.”

Inter/National News

Artnet’s Taylor Defoe asks why so many recent horror flicks are set in the art world (hint: it’s a metaphor!).

Chantal Da Silva for NBC News on the possibilities—and ethical and legal challenges—of the use of artificial intelligence in uncovering “lost” art.

“The woman who was victory”: Eve M. Kahn for The Magazine ANTIQUES on Hettie Anderson, an early 20th-century Black model for artists.

“I visit Victory in midtown Manhattan often. I eavesdrop as people take selfies below her sandaled feet. Almost no one reads the nearby plaque, explaining the symbolism of Union triumph and identifying Anderson. How fierce she looks, with anti-pigeon spikes atop her head, wings, and fingertips. How few other models of her time maintained their privacy and independence, and how fewer still had the sand to protect their own image by copyright.”

And Finally

“Just watching people in a kitchen move around is really quite beautiful.”

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Image: Courtesy of Seattle Channel.

Object of the Week: Dawn Shapes

Organized by artists in an empty storefront on East 9th Street, the now-iconic 1951 Ninth Street Show was “a boisterous call for attention by a new generation,” and marked a formal announcement of Abstract Expressionism.1 Despite initial discussion about whether the inclusion of women would negatively impact the exhibition’s reception, Helen Frankenthaler was one of eleven women (and sixty-one men) who participated in the watershed presentation. At 22 years old, she was also the youngest.

Considered the progenitor of Color Field painting, Frankenthaler’s process involved “diluting her paints to the fine consistency of watercolors, she applied the liquid to unprimed canvas, laid on the floor, so that it soaked through in broadly spreading stains, creating opalescent veils of color, bright yet soft, not quite like anything seen before.”2

This technique was acknowledged by many of her fellow artists and art critics as a revelation.

Painted in 1967, close to twenty years after the Ninth Street Show, Dawn Shapes is a large-scale exemplar of her pioneering soak stain technique. Currently on view in Frisson: The Richard E. Lang and Jane Lang Davis Collection, the painting is also given scholarly treatment by Elizabeth A. T. Smith in the accompanying catalogue:

Of foremost significance in Dawn Shapes is how Frankenthaler configured and manipulated the predominant area of ochre at the painting’s center. Here, she achieved a nuance range of yellow and more earthen hues—from dark mustard to dusky orange to peach—applied through a combination of pouring and brushwork to enhance the subtlety of the variations in density and tone. The resulting form, while emphatic, lacks clear definition, evoking various possible associations, from the mutable conditions of visibility at dawn to the gathering of storm clouds and the emergence of sunbeams peeking around and through them. This suggested condition of indistinctness gave rise to the title she ultimately chose for the work.3

As penned in a Museum of Modern Art press release for a 1989 retrospective of her paintings, “All of Frankenthaler’s works suggest a kind of place. Some call on the experiences of her travels within this country and in Europe; others of her living and working in New York City, Connecticut, and Cape Cod. Her titles evoke places of personal and artistic interest as well: natural, religious, mythological, and imaginary. For the artist, the physical painting in itself becomes a place, an environment into which we look.”4 Indeed, painted during a highly productive time in her career, Dawn Shapes exemplifies Frankenthaler’s achievement of spatial tension between pools of contrasting color and their relationship with areas of unprimed canvas. The result is an atmospheric painting whose complex shapes and subtle colors pull us in and ask us to stay a while.

– Elisabeth Smith, SAM Collections and Provenance Associate


[1] Claudia Roth Pierpont, “How New York’s Postwar Female Painters Battled for Recognition,” The New Yorker, Oct. 8, 2018, www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/10/08/how-new-yorks-postwar-female-painters-battled-for-recognition.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Elizabeth A. T. Smith, “Helen Frankenthaler: Dawn Shapes, 1967,” in Frisson: The Richard E. Lang and Jane Lang Davis Collection (Seattle: Seattle Art Museum, 2021): p. 154.

[4] “Helen Frankenthaler: A Paintings Retrospective, June 5 – August 20, 1989,” Press Release, Museum of Modern Art, assets.moma.org/documents/moma_press-release_327543.pdf?_ga=2.188142184.1750926861.1635457018-948855472.1630077759.

Image: Dawn Shapes, 1967, Helen Frankenthaler, Acrylic on canvas, 77 1/4 × 94 1/2 in., Gift of the Friday Foundation in honor of Richard E. Lang and Jane Lang Davis, 2020.14.5 © Artist or Artist’s Estate.

Muse/News: Tapete Wonder, Really Immersive, and a Hidden Gorky

SAM News

Frisson: The Richard E. Lang and Jane Lang Davis Collection is now on view at SAM! Before you head to the galleries, check out the tapete (sand painting) by local Oaxacan artist Fulgencio Lazo in the Brotman Forum. ParentMap includes it on their list of Día de los Muertos happenings around the region.

Local News

Erica Browne Grivas for the Seattle Times with photos and an itinerary for a mural walk starting at Pike Place Market and winding to Belltown.

Crosscut’s Margo Vansynghel on supply chain issues and their impacts on the local art world. Yep, it’s impacting SAM: we are waiting on the arrival of beautiful catalogues for Barbara Earl Thomas: The Geography of Innocence. Stay tuned for updates!

Also in Crosscut and also about Barbara Earl Thomas: Vansynghel wrote about great alternatives to certain heavily promoted “immersive” experiences, such as Thomas’s work, which is also on view at the Henry Art Gallery alongside the work of Derrick Adams.

“As music by Dionne Warwick, Prince and Anita Baker plays overhead, a rotating lantern in the heart of the gallery casts cut-paper images across the room’s bare, white walls. The technique recalls the earlier magic-lantern work of artists Auguste Edouart and Kara Walker. But here, there are no silhouetted people, only abstracted monochrome shapes of cut fabric patterns (Adams) and stained-glass-like cutouts of an Afro pick and a cinderella shoe surrounded by roses (Thomas).”

Inter/National News

Shanti Escalante-De Mattei for ARTnews on the National Gallery of Art’s first acquisition of a work by Faith Ringgold, a 1967 painting entitled The American People Series #18: The Flag is Bleeding.

Sarah Rose Sharp for Hyperallergic on the Ford Foundation’s announcement of a $50 million dollar investment in their Global Fellows program; among the 48 new fellows are seven artists and storytellers.

Gorkys on Gorkys: Ted Loos for the New York Times on the incredible discovery of a new Arshile Gorky painting hidden beneath one of the artist’s famous paintings.

“Slowly we were able to see the edges of ‘Virginia Summer,’” Mr. Masson said. “After numerous discussions with the owners, we started to go further and we realized that there was oil paint covering the whole canvas. It’s the first time we realized it’s not a sketch, it’s more.”

And Finally

A Muse/News Halloween tradition: The immortal Pumpkin Dance.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM’s Associate Director of Public Relations

Photo: Natali Wiseman.

Muse/News: Choose Your Adventure, Indigenous Presence, and Delaney’s Glow

SAM News

Frisson: The Richard E. Lang and Jane Lang Davis Collection is now on view at SAM! With 19 examples of dramatic, large-scale Abstract Expressionist and post-war works of art, the show has Brendan Kiley of the Seattle Times saying, “…choose your own adventure. There are no wrong answers here.”

“It’s a chance to peek at the midcentury art movement not through the eyes of scholars, but the eyes of people who looked carefully and only bought what they loved.”

The Stranger’s Jas Keimig recommends Frisson, joining KUOW to talk about this “beautiful, and historic for this region, presentation of modern art.” Graydon Carter’s digital weekly Air Mail included a mention of the show.

And Puget Sound Business Journal’s Patti Payne interviewed Lyn Grinstein, the daughter of the late Jane Lang Davis, about what their collection means to SAM and Seattle, and the power of art.

“It has a universal nonspecific vocabulary, and if you give it the time and sit with it quietly, it is as nourishing to heart and soul as any meditation, because it speaks this universal language of emotion. This is what art is supposed to do and this is what cultural collections do for us.”

Local News

After three years of inclusive leadership, Vivian Hua plans to step down as the executive director of Northwest Film Forum in 2022, reports the Stranger’s Jas Keimig.

Vonnai Phair of the Seattle Times on the 50th anniversary of saving the Pike Place Market from possible demolition.

“New works by local Native artists let everyone know: You are on Indigenous land,” reports Crosscut’s Margo Vansynghel.

“‘In a cultural and spiritual sense, having the Indigenous histories of the land — and the current Indigenous presence on the land — recognized in physical formats is hugely meaningful,’ says local artist and curator Asia Tail.”

Inter/National News

Artnet’s Katie White on “three things you may not know” about Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night (is that possible? We’re intrigued!).

“What Quilts Mean Now.” Kayleigh Perkov for Art in America on Fabric of a Nation: American Quilt Stories at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

The New York Times’ Roberta Smith on Be Your Wonderful Self: The Portraits of Beauford Delaney at Michael Rosenfeld Gallery.

“Delaney’s multiphased achievement fits in all over the map of 20th-century American art: the Harlem Renaissance, the Stieglitz circle, American Scene painting and Abstract Expressionism, but it is still waiting to be written into these histories.”

And Finally

“Laurie Anderson Has a Message for Us Humans.”

– Rachel Eggers, SAM’s Associate Director of Public Relations

Image: Dawn Shapes, 1967, Helen Frankenthaler, American, 1928–2011, acrylic on canvas, 77 x 933/4 in.Seattle Art Museum, Gift of the Friday Foundation in honor of Richard E. Lang and Jane Lang Davis, 2020.14.5 © Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Inc. Photo: Spike Mafford /Zocalo Studios. Courtesy of the Friday Foundation.

Muse/News: Falling at SAM, Coltrane in Seattle, and the Year 2000

SAM News

Get out your calendars: The Seattle Times is out with their extensive fall arts guide! Megan Burbank previews both of SAM’s fall shows, Frisson: The Richard E. Lang and Jane Lang Davis Collection and Imogen Cunningham: A Retrospective. And JiaYing Grygiel has details on “for free or cheap” ways to visit local museums, mentioning free days at the Seattle Art Museum and Seattle Asian Art Museum, as well as the always-free Olympic Sculpture Park.

Brendan Kiley of the Seattle Times appears on KUOW to talk end-of-summer arts picks; he highly recommends Barbara Earl Thomas: The Geography of Innocence at SAM, which closes January 2, 2022. See it again or for the first time before heading to the Henry Art Gallery in October for more from this local arts legend.

Don’t miss the final days of Dawn Cerny: Les Choses, the solo exhibition for the 2020 winner of the Betty Bowen Award closing September 27. Here’s Emily Zimmerman interviewing the artist for BOMB Magazine.

Last week, SAM announced that Anthony White is the 2021 winner of the award, which grants $15,000 and a solo show to a Northwest artist. Here’s the news in Artdaily and The Stranger.

Local News

The Puget Sound Business Journal reveals their list of Directors of the Year for area boards. On the list are two board members of SAM: Sheila Edwards Lange and Maggie Walker. Congratulations, and thank you!

Crosscut’s Brangien Davis logs a hefty fall reading list in the latest edition of ArtSEA, inspired by the recent Washington State Book Awards announcement.

Paul de Barros for the Seattle Times on the story of how two local saxophonists discovered a recording of a live-in-Seattle performance by John Coltrane of his masterpiece, “A Love Supreme.”

“I heard ‘Psalm’ first,” he says, “and I was blown away, because I knew it was rare, that he never played it in public, except in France. But then when I turned the tape over and realized here’s Joe Brazil doing his matinee set, then it ends, then the next thing is the opening fanfare [of “Acknowledgment”], and — Oh my God, I realized the whole suite is here!”

Inter/National News

“George Lucas’ new L.A. museum moves full speed ahead”: The Los Angeles Times with an update on the forthcoming museum of narrative art, led by former SAM leader Sandra Jackson-Dumont. Also mentioned: the appointment of another former SAM education leader, Regan Pro, as their deputy director of public programs and social impact.

“In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, which takes place from September 15 to October 15, five of Getty’s most popular online exhibits on Google Arts & Culture will now be permanently available in Spanish as well as their original English,” reports Sarah Rose Sharp of Hyperallergic.

Artnet’s Sarah Cascone on the illustrations created by Jean-Marc Côté in 1900 that offered “fantastical visions of the future,” that is, the year 2000.

“They remain relevant, and become increasingly more so as time passes,” [Rebecca] Romney said. “One of the cards depicts a scientist interacting with microbes; another shows something very akin to a Zoom session…Looking at these cards is a bit like catching up with a friend you haven’t seen since high school—that contraction of time in which it feels as if you experience two time periods at once, thinking of all that was different in the past, and how much has changed now.”

And Finally

Met Gala looks inspired by art.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM’s Associate Director of Public Relations

Image: Night Watch, 1960, Lee Krasner, American, 1908–1984, oil on canvas, 70 x 99 in., Seattle Art Museum, Gift of the Friday Foundation in honor of Richard E. Lang and Jane Lang Davis, 2020.14.4 © The Pollock-Krasner Foundation. Photo: Spike Mafford / Zocalo Studios. Courtesy of the Friday Foundation.

Object of the Week: Untitled

Mark Rothko is one of the preeminent American artists of the 20th century and a central figure of the New York School. This later painting, completed in 1963, is a wonderful example of his signature style—a large-scale canvas comprised of bands of color that vibrate with quiet depth and intensity.

As described by one art historian, Stephen Polcari, “Rothko’s mature paintings consist of parallel rectangles, often similar in value but different in hue and width, extended to the edges of the canvas. The shapes lack distinctive textural effect, seeming to be veils of thin color applied with sponges, rags, and cloths, as well as brushes. Line has been eliminated altogether.”1 In Untitled, a muted palette of dark, purplish browns—verging on black—are characteristic of his later work, while his earlier color field abstractions are defined by their bright and exuberant surfaces of glowing red, yellows, and oranges. (#10, also in SAM’s collection, is a strong example.)

While Polcari’s formal assessment is accurate, what cannot be captured is, importantly, the feeling of a Rothko painting. In a 1958 lecture given by the artist at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, he addressed the size of his work and the importance of scale: “large pictures are like dramas in which one participates in a direct way.”2 Rather than depict the human form, which had previously preoccupied many artists of his generation, Rothko opted instead to pursue something much larger—more ineffable and metaphysical: “the scale of human feelings, the human drama, as much of it as I can express.”3 Scale, coupled with the structure of the paintings, anchored by his signature layering of saturated colors, work to directly and immediately envelop the viewer, expressing “basic human emotions—tragedy, ecstasy, doom, and so on.”4 Rothko desired intimacy between his canvases and viewers, and attempted to connect his viewers with feelings of the sublime: “people who weep before my pictures are having the same religious experience I had when I painted them.”5

A recent gift to the Seattle Art Museum from the Friday Foundation in honor of Richard E. Lang and Jane Lang Davis, Rothko’s Untitled will be on view next month as part of Frisson: The Richard E. Lang and Jane Lang Davis Collection.

– Elisabeth Smith, SAM Collections and Provenance Associate

1 Conway Hall, “Rothko and Sensitive Observers,” Medium, May 22, 2016, https://medium.com/@ConwayHall/rothko-and-sensitive-observers-bc931faea110.

2 “Mark Rothko: Classic Paintings (1949-1970),” National Gallery of Art, https://www.nga.gov/features/mark-rothko/mark-rothko-classic-paintings.html.

3 Hall, Medium.

4 Selden Rodman, Conversations with Artists (New York: Devin-Adair Company, 1957), 93.

5 Ibid.

Image: Untitled, 1963, Mark Rothko, oil on canvas, 69 × 90 1/4 in., Gift of the Friday Foundation in honor of Richard E. Lang and Jane Lang Davis, 2020.14.16. © 1998 Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko / Artists Rights Society.

Muse/News: Fall Into Frisson, Black Papers Unite, and Guston For Real

SAM News

Crosscut presents its fall arts preview, with an asterisk in case of COVID-related changes. Among their picks to pencil in: Frisson: The Richard E. Lang and Jane Lang Davis Collection at the Seattle Art Museum, which debuts the recent gifts of pivotal Abstract Expressionist works of art (Krasner! Guston! Rothko! And more!).

Local News

The Seattle Times’ David Gutman reports on the $20 million in federal COVID-19 recovery funds that King County will distribute to theaters, music venues, clubs, and other artistic spaces.

Seattle Met’s fall fashion spread celebrates the return of performers to the stage with theatrical looks (all the world’s, etc.).

The Seattle Medium is one of 10 Black newspapers in the US that have come together in a “new online collaborative” called Word In Black, reports Ernie Suggs of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“The 10 different publishers ‘sometimes have different mindsets, different politics, and they live in different parts of the country’…said [Nick] Charles. ‘But their affection and love for communities are what binds them. Collaboration is going on because people realize that to survive and to meet our mission as journalists, we have to band together.’”

Inter/National News

Shanti Escalante-de Mattei for ARTnews on the new artist residency on Long Island for Black, Indigenous, and POC creators, created by Jeremy Dennis in his family home.

On Artnet’s Art Angle Podcast: Four artists (Naomi Ben-Shahar, Monika Bravo, Simon Eldridge, and Jeff Koenigsberg) who were participating in the World Views Residency during 9/11 reflect on their experiences.

The New York Times’ Roberta Smith on Philip Guston: 1969-1979 at Hauser & Wirth.

“These paintings have their amusing aspects as images; their enthralling, startling qualities as fields of manipulated paint; and their painful auras as ridiculous yet heart-rending pictures of the hell that is being an artist, or maybe just the hell that was being Philip Guston.”

And Finally

An update on Cotton Candy Girl.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM’s Associate Director of Public Relations

Image: To B.W.T., 1952, Philip Guston, American (born in Canada), 1913–1980, oil on canvas, 48 1/2x 51 1/2 in.Seattle Art Museum, Gift of the Friday Foundation in honor of Richard E. Lang and Jane Lang Davis, 2020.14.10 © The Estate of Philip Guston. Photo: Spike Mafford /Zocalo Studios. Courtesy of the Friday Foundation.

Muse/News: Amis on Monet, Candidates on Art, and Expansive Visions

SAM News

Monet at Étretat is recommended by notre amis at Ici Seattle, and Seattle Met includes it on their list of things to do in Seattle.

The Seattle Times’ Megan Burbank is back with their “A&E Pick of the Week”; she highlights current shows at Photographic Center Northwest and Sandstone Ceramics and also suggests you mark your calendars for Frisson: The Richard E. Lang and Jane Lang Davis Collection, opening October 15 at SAM.

“It’s thrilling to share with the public these formidable examples of Abstract Expressionism and postwar European art,” said Catharina Manchanda, SAM’s curator of contemporary art, in the news release. “The emotional current of these works, reflective of their specific time and context, runs from exuberant to contemplative, fierce to soaring.”

Local News

Seattle Medium is among outlets sharing the news that Sheila Edwards Lange has been selected as the new chancellor of the University of Washington Tacoma. The educator and leader also serves on several boards, including that of the Seattle Art Museum.

The Seattle Times’ Alan Berner captured the tricky installation of two sculptures downtown: Fernando Botero’s Adam and Catherine Mayer’s What Goes Up Must Come Down (a giant paddleball!).

The Stranger’s Jasmyne Keimig spoke with seven of Seattle’s mayoral candidates to ask them about their platforms for the arts (or lack thereof). To learn more, join this Thursday’s candidate forum on the arts!

“You’d have to be living under a rock not to understand how devastating the pandemic has been for Seattle’s art and cultural community…While Seattle’s Cultural Space Agency charter has emerged to stymie cultural displacement in the city, a lot of work is yet to be done to make sure that Seattle can be a hospitable place for artists to work and live. So what’s Seattle’s next mayor going to do about it?

Inter/National News

“The African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, has announced 40 grants totaling $3 million in support of efforts to preserve African-American landmarks,” reports Philanthropy News Digest.

“Pay your rent, Canada”: a comic by SAM collection artist Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas.

The Magazine ANTIQUES continues its coverage of the missing panels from Jacob Lawrence’s Struggle series; here, they check in with the exhibition curators of The American Struggle, which was recently on view at SAM, to reflect on the recently recovered and still-missing panels.

Immigrants is the title caption, but on the back Lawrence wrote, ‘The Emigrants,’ suggesting a desire for permanence in their new home. The middle figure clutches a potted rose—the national flower of the United States. Lawrence’s vision is that the arrival of all people, young and old, contributes to the expansion of America through their struggles and courage.”

And Finally

“Arts Philanthropists Need to Change the Way They Think About Disability”: An Artnet op-ed from Alice Sheppard and Lane Harwell.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Image: Installation view of Monet at Étretat at Seattle Art Museum, 2021, photo: Natali Wiseman.

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