Muse/News: Nature Calls, Still Here, and An Art Rx

SAM News

Katie White for Artnet: These 6 Fall Museum Shows Will Make You Rethink the Way You Look at the Natural World.” On the list? SAM’s special exhibition, Imogen Cunningham: A Retrospective, which opens November 18 and explores the photographer’s seven-decade body of work, including her pioneering modernist botanicals.

“I mean, rightfully.” Meg van Huygen understands why people are obsessed with the lobster rolls from The MARKET in Edmonds. You can indulge very soon when they arrive at SAM’s restaurant space.

Local News

Ann Guo for the Seattle Times on Gerard Tsutakawa’s sculptures, which are now on view at the Wing Luke Museum alongside those of his father, George.

Seattle Met says, get yer tickets now! To this fall’s best events and performances.

“We were here, and we are still here, and we will be here.” Reporting by Margo Vansynghel and photos by Matt McKnight for Crosscut on the wave of Black art in Seattle’s Central District.

“It also sends an important signal, [Vivian Phillips] says. ‘With the severe reduction of Black residents in the Central Area, part of what this represents is that we were here, and we are still here, and we will be here, in some form. We’re making our mark … through art, to make sure that people cannot forget or erase us.’”

Inter/National News

Carlos Aguilar for the New York Times looks back at Alfonso Cuarón’s Y Tu Mamá También, 20 years after its release, speaking with the filmmakers and actors.

Marc Garrett and Ruth Catlow with an opinion piece for Hyperallergic: “What Public Art Might Look Like After the Pandemic.”

Artnet’s Caroline Goldstein on the doctor’s orders: museum visits. That’s right: Doctors in Brussels are prescribing visits to museums for patients coping with pandemic-related stress. (So, everyone?)

“Numerous studies have confirmed the benefits of art in raising patient’s spirits, even when they are confined to hospitals. The World Health Organization even operates an entire program dedicated to the study and support of arts as vital components of maintaining well-being.”

And Finally

Michael K. Williams’s Black joy.

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

Image: Two Callas, 1925/1929, Imogen Cunningham, American, 1883–1976, gelatin silver print, 11 13/16 × 8 7/8 in., The Art Institute of Chicago, Julien Levy Collection, Gift of Jean Levy and the Estate of Julien Levy, 1988.157.24, 2021 © The Imogen Cunningham Trust

Muse/News: Monet’s Struggle, Return of Live Music, and Old Women Artists

SAM News

Coast in to see Monet at Étretat, now on view at SAM. Huma Ali for the UW Daily has an overview of the focused exhibition, including remarks from curator Chiyo Ishikawa.

“We tend to think of somebody like Monet as successful all his life,” Ishikawa said. “But with a career of that many years and of that many different concerns, decade by decade, it’s very interesting to me to think more about the kind of struggles that he had and the way that he had to work out these problems on his own.”

And Julie Emory of UW Daily highlighted a collection show also on view at SAM: Northwest Modernism: Four Japanese Americans. Emory focuses on the sculpture by beloved Seattle artist (and UW alum) George Tsutakawa that is included in the show.

Local News

Here’s Crosscut’s Brangien Davis with her weekly ArtsSEA letter: she remembers Seattle glass art legend Benjamin Moore and highlights the Wing Luke Museum’s self-guided walking tour of works by the Tsutakawa family (with a mention of Kenzan Tsutakawa-Chinn’s installation, Gather, at the Seattle Asian Art Museum).

Mark Van Streefkerk for South Seattle Emerald on the three local artists tapped to create original designs for limited-edition Orca cards.

Melinda Bagreen for the Seattle Times on the “weird and wonderful” return of in-person concerts with the Seattle Chamber Music Society.

“In a preconcert interview, [festival artistic director and violinist James] Ehnes had remarked, ‘We’re really hungry for live performance,’ and that hunger showed in the zest and urgency of the music-making.”

Inter/National News

The Medici Were History’s Greatest Patrons—and Also Tyrants. The Met’s New Show Tackles How Art Served Power”: Eleanor Heartney for Artnet.

Emily Wilson for Hyperallergic on Dana King’s Monumental Reckoning, an installation of 350 sculptures in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park representing the first Africans kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1619.

Jillian Steinhauer for Believer on old women artists.

“These women come from vastly different backgrounds and have made widely disparate types of work, but they’ve often been treated the same way: as an archetype, like the wise crone in fairy tales. And though the old-woman artist has spent her whole life building her own agency, when she finally makes it to the mainstream, she gets presented primarily as an object of fascination.”

And Finally

“It’s constantly reinventing itself, just like me”: Holly Regan on Pike Place Market.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Image: Claude Monet, 1890, Theodore Robinson, American, 1852–1896, charcoal on paper, 27 × 13 in., Seattle Art Museum, Partial and promised gift from a private collection, 2005.163

Exceptional & Ordinary / Tsutakawa & Mingei

The Japanese art gallery at SAM’s downtown location was recently reinstalled with a focus on the Mingei movement in Exceptionally Ordinary: Mingei 1920–2020, on view through Novemeber 8, 2020. Initiated in the 1920s by the Japanese collector and connoisseur Yanagi Soetsu (1889–1961), Mingei elevated functional, everyday crafts to art objects. Since its foundation, Mingei’s broad applications range from mid-century decorative arts to contemporary designs, ceramics, textiles, sculptures, and prints, examples of which are hanging in our gallery. Prominently featured, are works by the late Seattle-based artist George Tsutakawa on loan from the George Tsutakwa Art Legacy. The Tsutakawa family share below about George’s inspiration and how his furniture fits in the installation at SAM!

George Tsutakawa began to build bronze fountain sculptures in 1961 with the installation of his first fountain at the Seattle Public Library. He eventually created 75 fountain sculptures in the United States, Canada, and Japan. The fountains reflect his intense interest in the cyclical flow of water from the heavens to earth, creating rivers and oceans that nourish life. His basis of humanity in the Shinto religion indicated reverence for life in all forms made by nature, such as trees and rocks. 

Tsutakawa’s professional art career spanned 60 years. He was a professor of art at the University of Washington for 37 years. In his personal statement from The Pacific Northwest Artists and Japan in 1982, he expressed that sometime in the 1960s his travels and studies of traditional Japanese arts allowed him to reaffirm his “conviction in the Oriental view of nature school which sees Man as one part of nature, a part that must live in harmony with the rest of nature.” 

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Thus Tsutakawa’s furniture from the 1940s and 1950s reveals this conviction to nature within his art and serves as the starting point for his later artistic forms. Although he was a modernist, even in his furniture forms, his work relates to the Japanese Mingei movement, which is largely based on traditional and folk art.

Tsutakawa’s early furniture is functional and evokes a connection to nature through fluid organic shapes and materials. 

The Tsutakawa family is currently reorganizing the artist’s collection with the hope of preserving his work and making it more open to the public as well. You can visit SAM to see Tsutakawa’s artwork in Exceptionally Ordinary: Mingei 1920–2020, on view through November 8, 2020.

– Mayumi Tsutakawa & Chyenne Andrews

Images: Installation view Exceptionally Ordinary: Mingei 1920–2020, Seattle Art Museum 2019, photos: Nina Dubinsky. Kizamu Tsutakawa 

Object of the Week: Fountain

Situated beside the sublime glass and steel edifice of the Seattle Public Library Central branch stands Fountain of Wisdom (1958–60), designed by George Tsutakawa. This piece was the artists’ first public fountain commission after a prolific career as a painter, sculptor, and teacher in the Pacific Northwest. Within the Seattle Art Museum’s collection is Fountain (1971), a bronze metal sculpture that helps tell the story of Tsutakawa’s unique Japanese-American experience.

Tsutakawa was born in Seattle in 1910 and spent his early years in Capitol Hill, not far from Volunteer Park. At the age of seven, like many American-born kibei, he was sent to Japan for an education in Japanese art and culture. When he returned to Seattle a decade later, he studied sculpture at the University of Washington and spent his summers working in the Alaska canaries. Drafted into the US Army during World War II, Tsutakawa returned to UW as a graduate student on the GI Bill. Soon after, he began his teaching career in the School of Art.

During the mid-1950s, artist Johsel Namkung introduced Tsutakawa to a book called Beyond the High Himalayas. Included were descriptions of ritually stacked stone structures accumulated by travelers at mountain passes as private and public spiritual offerings.[1] The influence of these obos proved to be profoundly impactful on Tsutakawa, forming the basis of much of the rest of his life’s work. After creating a series of abstract wooden sculptures, Tsutakawa translated obos into metal sculptures and public fountains.

Fountain stands over five feet tall and is composed of a single vertical axis that holds a stack of abstract forms: a footed base, a pronged shallow bowl, intersecting parabolic-shapes, and a hallowed ovoid. It is easy to imagine this sculpture as a fountain, water flowing over and through the bronze forms; the symmetry adding to its geometry.

From 1960 until his death in 1997, Tsutakawa designed and fabricated over 70 fountains. His work can be found all along the West Coast, as well as in Washington, DC, Florida, Canada, and across Japan. Fortunately for Seattleites, a crowd-sourced map has been created to help us locate this important artists’ public works.

– Steffi Morrison, SAM Blakemore Intern for Japanese and Korean Art

[1] Kingsbury, Martha. George Tsutakawa. Seattle: Bellevue Art Museum and University of Washington Press, 1990.
Image: Fountain, 1971, George Tsutakawa, welded sheet bronze, 65 x 37 x 45 in., Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Langdon S. Simons, Jr., 86.276 © George Tsutakawa Estate
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