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Muse/News: Support for SAM, Intiman’s Next Stage, and Lost Art Found

SAM News

Looking out from a place that looks out: The Stranger’s Jasmyne Keimig considers Louise Bourgeois’s Eye Benches at the Olympic Sculpture Park.

“It’s a dreamy experience to sit on the back of an eye. A surreal proposition that makes your observations of people, sky, park, and mountain so literal.”

Last week, the Seattle arts community received very welcome news: The Friday Foundation has gifted $9 million to nine organizations in the Seattle arts community, including the Seattle Art Museum. The foundation honors the lives and legacies of the late Jane Lang Davis and Richard E. Lang, inspired collectors and supporters of the arts. The Seattle Times and KUOW both announced the news.

Local News

For International Examiner, Danielle Quenelle reviews two Pioneer Square shows: Lakshmi Muirhead at J. Rinehart Gallery and Humaira Abid at Greg Kucera Gallery.

Crosscut’s Agueda Pacheco Flores reflects on how the pandemic has changed her role as an arts writer, and how she’s witnessed the resiliency of Seattle’s arts scene.

Intiman Theatre has a new home after eight nomadic years; it will become theater-in-residence and leader of a new program at Seattle Central College. The Seattle Times’ Brendan Kiley reports on the unique arrangement.

“‘If you look at the mission of the Seattle colleges and the mission of Intiman, they are so well aligned,’ [Sheila] Edwards Lange said. ‘I hope this will change the face of theater not only in our city but across the country.’”

Inter/National News

“A work you may not know—but should.” Artnet’s Katie White with a close reading of an oil pastel by Hollis Sigler. Another work by the feminist artist is currently on view at SAM in the installation, On the Edge.

Deana Lawson has won the Guggenheim Museum’s Hugo Boss Prize, reports ARTnews. She is the first photographer to win the $100,000 award.

Thrilling news: One of the five missing panels from Jacob Lawrence’s Struggle series has been found. Visitors will be able to see the newly discovered panel along with the others when SAM presents The American Struggle next spring.

“Last week a friend of mine went to the show and said, ‘There’s a blank spot on the wall and I believe that’s where your painting belongs,’ ” she continued. “I felt I owed it both to the artist and the Met to allow them to show the painting.”

And Finally

Jam not to scale.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Image: Eye Benches I, 1996-1997, Louise Bourgeois. black Zimbabwe granite, 48 3/4 x 53 x 45 1/4 in., Gift of the artist, in honor of the 75th Anniversary of the Seattle Art Museum, 2005.113.1-2 © Louise Bourgeois, photo: C.E. Mitchell

Object of the Week: A Tango Against Time

The scene is a disturbing one: a woman’s silhouette, engulfed in flames, is set against a backdrop of further destruction—homes, pools, lawn chairs, and other debris are also mired in the far-reaching blaze. Painted by Hollis Sigler in 1983, A Tango Against Time is just one example of the artist’s intensely psychological and often autobiographical style.

Receiving her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and later teaching at Columbia College in Chicago, Sigler was no doubt influenced by the Chicago Imagists, a group of artists whose figurative and folk-influenced work impacted her then-developing visual language. Hardly derivative, there is a certain way in which Sigler’s graphic style can be contextualized within the legacy of Imagists like Roger Brown and Philip Hanson.

However, Sigler’s faux-naïve mode of painting was purely her own and, after 1976, had political motivations as well. That is, her shift away from abstract expressionism and photorealism was a way for the artist to “disengage from what she viewed as a male-dominated academic tradition.”[1] Her evolution as an artist was thus inextricable from her feminist views.

In 1985, two years after the completion of A Tango Against Time, Sigler was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her struggle with cancer ended up informing her work for the next decade and a half. During this period her paintings took on pointed responses to the devastating illness and the psychological complexities of fighting what would eventually become a terminal disease for the artist. Much of this later work is formally similar to A Tango Against Time—with proscenium-like staging, vibrant colors, and surrealist undertones—but instead of human subjects, the paintings’ dramas focus on things. The absence of human figures heightens the roles that the various objects play, acting as metaphors for Sigler’s deeply personal narratives.

In this context, the presence of a female subject—soon to disappear from Sigler’s paintings—and the chaos surrounding her in A Tango Against Time takes on additional poignancy, foreshadowing the challenging personal and artistic changes that were to come. See this painting in person at SAM, it’s currently on view in On the Edge.

– Elisabeth Smith, Collections Coordinator

Images: A Tango Against Time, 1983, Hollis Sigler, oil on canvas, 47 7/8 × 59 3/4 in., Mary Arrington Small Estate Acquisition Fund, 84.142 © Hollis Sigler. The Young and Self Conscious, 1991, Roger Brown, oil on canvas. St. Anthony Pleasure Park, July 1968, Philip Hanson, etching in black, hand-colored in watercolor, on off-white wove paper. Renewed Hope of Recovery Fill Her Thoughts Every Day, 1998, Hollis Sigler, oil, pastel on paper with painted frame.
[1] Holland Cotter, “Hollis Sigler, 53, Painter Whose Theme Was Her Illness,” The New York Times, April 3, 2001, https://www.nytimes.com/2001/04/03/arts/hollis-sigler-53-painter-whose-theme-was-her-illness.html.