What’s in a Groove?

It’s the feeling you get from hearing music that makes you want to dance, the break in a revolving and evolving drum beat, even a familiar routine that puts you “in the groove.” Of the many definitions one is a reference to those small indentations, or grooves, on a vinyl record that, when it spins, give the needle a track to run on and produce a musical groove. Jazz musicians’ use of the term refers to hearing one musician’s seemingly effortless playing, and can be heard in the context of “that cat’s deep in the groove.” This is itself a reference to listening to records and the needle’s ability to dig even further into the vinyl at that moment in time.

The Commodores. “Movin’ On.” 1975. Photo by the author. 13 April, 2012. JPEG file.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can also see grooves expressed in the rhythmic patterns of visual art. This happened to me on a Friday morning at SAM as I explored the collection of Australian & Oceanic Art in SAM’s Theiline Pigott McCone Gallery. I wasn’t searching for grooves in particular, but looking closely at the elongated hollow log coffins in the Aboriginal Art collection and seeing the striated line work carefully drawn in steady rhythmic cadences I suddenly thought of the grooves both musical and pressed into vinyl records across the museum in the Listening Room’s record archive.

Hollow log coffins, dupun, from central and eastern Arnhemland, Australia. Photo by the author. 13 April, 2012. JPEG file.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These groups of tall Eucalyptus logs signify a place for “sorry business,” and describe how the Yolnu, native to Australia’s East and Central Arnhemland, practice remembering deceased members of their community in a very different way from ours in the West. During the ceremony bones of the deceased are placed in the logs during ritual dances known as Dupun. The log coffins have been naturally hollowed out by termites, and are then left to the elements following the ceremony. Yolnu artists cover the logs in images of the country and designs of the clan of the deceased using a brush made of long human hair.

detail of Rirratjingu Larrakitj, (clan coffin). 2003. Wanyubi Marika. Photo by author. 13 April, 2012. JPEG file.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The grooves I saw covering the log coffins, the interlocking white lines, represent “deep knowledge, sea foam and ribbons of tide.”[1] Bones are infused into the log coffins of the Yolnu to connect deceased people back into the land. I see a further connection here with Theaster Gates: The Listening Room in that both records and the hollow log coffins provide an archive of shared history on aural and visual levels. Both of these customs are contemporary works of art that create and embrace cultural memory and shared history, highlighting the ideas and values of a culture that influenced their design. The jazz in here, or what continues to lure us in, is that they undoubtedly do this with a discernable groove.

-Ryan R. Peterson, Curatorial + Community Engagement Intern 


[1] Mundine, Djon. Quote taken from the information placard relating to the Hollow Log Coffins in SAM’s Theiline Pigott McCone Gallery.

Last photo: detail of Rirratjingu Larrakitj, (clan coffin). 2003. Wanyubi Marika. Photo by author. 13 April, 2012. JPEG file.

Funky Samples

The Record Store, which closed its doors at [storefront] Olson-Kundig January 31st and was featured at SAM’s Arnold Board Room during last February’s Remix, is due for re-open later this year. I have had a lot of reflections on the energy that project has erupted.

I was alone at the Record Store one day, one of my first volunteer shifts towards the beginning of the store’s opening. I was playing records as people filtered in and out throughout the day when I found an album I knew but haven’t listened to much on a regular basis: Parliament’s Mothership Connection.

I was familiar with Parliament’s iconic status as Funk originators and with this album in particular, and I’ve listened to Funkadelic, the alter-ego band of Parliament. Later, both bands merged as one into P-Funk. I am familiar with the classic album cover and I knew I’d recognize the songs if I played the album. The first track was spinning and I immediately recognized the song, but was a little confused why it was so familiar if I don’t listen to this group regularly. Then it came to me that I knew the song from Dr. Dre’s The Chronic. The last song on The Chronic, “The Roach (The Chronic Outro)” samples this song, “P. Funk (Wants to Get Funked Up)” pretty heavily.

Of course I recognize a classic funk song because later a hip-hop album, very iconic itself, sampled this original funk classic. Apparently I hadn’t researched into Dr. Dre’s samples closely enough to already know he used this Parliament song. Once again I’m caught in a time in our culture where I learn to find legendary music of decades before not only from my parents but more through contemporary songs that sample classics of music history. The great thing about this was that I consistently heard other guest selectors at the listening events of the Record Store also play this very Parliament song during their own sets.

Everyone is pointing out that Funk music revolutionized musical creativity, and that later musicians pay tribute by referencing this iconic trend in their own music through samples and funk rhythms. Contemporary hip-hop, R&B and electronic artists and producers are all huge players in the reinterpretation and reference of past musical eras. Through both direct sampling and creating sounds that suggest those of iconic albums or eras of music, recent artists salute the innovation of past artists and evoke the moods associated with the iconic music they admire. The mixing of old and new sounds and the use of references and sampling in general is one of the clear innovations of current and contemporary music. The lines between genres have blurred and  undefinable.  The sampling and referencing of old songs makes them ever more memory-striking and iconic, and for the new generation of music listeners they solidify a history of musical culture. The truly classic records played at the Record Store reach the memories of both young and old generations because of their timeless listening quality and their celebrated influence over time across all types of contemporary musics.

-Paige Smith, Curatorial + Community Engagement Intern

Lumber-Made Listening

Theaster Gates’ Listening Stools, one of the sculptural forms in the exhibit The Listening Room, have helped transform SAM’s Knight-Lawrence Gallery into an open space for music and ideas. Their design may be simple and made from recycled wood, coming from the floorboards of a Chicago police station, but the stools invite visitors to sit, relax, and engage with the art, music and each other. They often lead guests to converse about a record they’re currently holding, and I can’t say how many people have learned to play their first 33 1/3” vinyl record on a turn table while sitting in one of these modest wooden chairs.

Although his artistic training is in ceramics Gates’ sculpted pieces for The Listening Room draw from his seemingly endless resources using recycled lumber as a medium that allows him to transcend artistic traditions and place focus on social engagement through discarded materials-come-art. The Listening Stools are one of these unlikely art objects carrying a history in their structure. Other lumber materials present in the exhibit are the ware board record crates (see below), the original sandwich board from Dr. Wax’s record store made to look like a Japanese Shoji screen, and the entirely recycled wood deejay table faced with a carved wooden altar screen sourced from a defunct Chicago church.

Another example of Gates’ material repurposing is his Temple Exercises (2009) at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, which constructed a temple-like structure from modular ware boards from the abandoned Wrigley Gum factory in the heart of Chicago. This became a site for spiritual exercises and performance by groups such as Gates’ own ensemble,  the Black Monks of Mississippi. The same Wrigley ware boards are used in the Listening Room for the record crates that accompany the turntable in the middle of the gallery in which visitors are invited to peruse records and listen in on headphones at any time during museum hours.

“I’m one person,” says Gates, “one whole person who thinks about friendship and neighborliness and God as much as I think about object making.”[1] His chairs achieve the sense of transformation that Gates’ work self-consciously seeks to convey. Inherent in this transformation is the vinyl vertebrae lining the back wall of the gallery: Dr. Wax’s Record Archive. Entering the gallery for the first time viewers are perhaps not expecting to see a long shelf of records and deejay table. Set into the back wall Dr. Wax’s records are joined with the musical sounds that can be heard emanating from the gallery before visitors even enter the space. They are immediately faced with the aural and visual qualities of this kinesthetic installation and find themselves asking the question “How do I engage with this art?” By the time visitors reach the Listening Stools, they have intoned through osmosis the intertwining themes of music, history, politics, and space that are addressed by the exhibit. It is the music’s audio ability to communicate cultural, political, and artistic history to a public willing and able to engage that brings meaning to the lumber-made objects present in the gallery and comes full circle to connect the archive of cultural knowledge to its listeners.

-Ryan R. Peterson, Curatorial + Community Engagement Intern 


[1] Art In America, December 2011, p. 126

Last photo: SAM patrons Faye Peterson and Mike O’Brien browsing records in the Listening Room. Photograph by author. JPEG file.

 

Vinyl Records: A “Comeback” Reinterpreted

I’ve had many conversations about the supposed “comeback” of vinyl records throughout my time interning at the Theaster Gates: The Listening Room installation and the Seattle Art Museum Record Store project that was located in Pioneer Square from December 13, 2011 to January 31, 2012 . Being from a younger generation who came of age in the last decade or so, it’s interesting to be engaged in these conversations with people of all generations.  It’s as if a reawakening to the objects of records has struck contemporary culture into a jolt of nostalgia and remembrance. People of older generations have expressed sudden excitement to get all their friends to go down into their basements or open closets and shuffle through boxes of old records.  This is exactly what we interns did to relocate the 2,000 or so records owned by Bernie Hall to our Record Store; his collection makes up over half of the records included in the Record Store project. It’s as though these objects are buried treasures from long ago, or perhaps tokens of a forgotten past among old metal keys, old photographs, or old newspaper clippings. These records are time capsules of cultural history and each record collection reflects the owner’s personal relationship to this past, their own path through history.

Many in my generation started by discovering records from someone else’s collection before we got into buying our own. In growing up shuffling through our parents’ records, we established a new kind of relationship with these vinyl objects. This younger generational relationship to records is about learning our cultural history through listening to these material recordings of the past, but this is a past we haven’t experienced ourselves. We discovered record albums’ significance to past and present culture through not only listening to their innovative sounds but through the storytelling and literature glorifying the weight these iconic albums hold. From our engagement with these time capsules, our own creation and collection of musical taste developed into the colorful complexity that is contemporary music and culture.

I’ve grown up during the era of post-modern reflection and recycling of past pop-culture. Every decade in the 20th century has its own style and culture and the music of each decade sets the tone of attitude behind the decade’s style of pop-culture. Ordinary objects are stylized by colors, patterns, typefaces, and graphics. I grew up loving the adventure in discovering objects that embody the style of particular decades.  I established a permanent love for ‘thrifting’, or object-seeking. I always search for records because they are objects with more than just style; the music narrates ideas and moods of a cultural era and the album cover, through visual design, embodies a link to cultural ideas and moods of a period.

Often “thrifters” of my generation have an interest in the era our parents grew up in, and in the exchange of styles from decades before and after. Though records have been reinterpreted as an aesthetic phenomenon, they never lost their historical relevance; their quality and influence continue to inform contemporary culture.

Both collecting the material object and the activity of playing records on a record player are seen as an aesthetic art.  In owning physical records, you accumulate a collection that expresses a certain knowledge of aesthetic taste and historical knowledge.

Though not every kid I knew had their own record player, they most likely had someone in their family, if not their parents, who had an appreciation and insight to the timeless quality of vinyl sound and of the quality in the activity of playing a record. There is an art to slowing down and appreciating the music and design of a record, both in exploring the cover and sleeve design, and in setting up the stylus and sitting back to soak up the highest quality analog sound to come from a piece of physical material. It takes patience and agility to gently set up the record player and continuously attend to the player to keep the music playing.  My generation grew up defining this experience as cool, sophisticated and well-cultured.

So why the noise about a reawakening and resurgence of an object never really lost of appreciation, let alone lost from sight? Maybe it has something to do with our day and age of uncontrolled digital information exchange and virtual experience of media and culture. The preciousness of a physical material object which holds memories and creativity on record, a vinyl record….this is a treasure that younger generations have rediscovered and desire to collect for their own study of our historical past. Studying these objects allows new generations to impact their own creative intentions by reflecting on and overtly referencing iconographic records. This isn’t a ‘comeback,’ it’s a reinterpretation of these iconic objects that embody music which will always be relevant to future creative culture.

 -Paige Smith, Curatorial + Community Engagement Intern

Last photo: Joe Lencioni, shiftingpixel.com

 

Faith In Analog

Until recently my attachment to records has been more or less superficial, but when I started buying ethnographic records a couple years ago I began to see how they are loaded with cultural significance for both the listener and the cultures producing them. On one such recording, entitled Afro-Cuban Music from the Roots: Tumba Francesca la Caridad de Oriente (subtitled “percussion and voices traditional and experimental”), I heard how a musical performance can be hugely influential to both the tangible and spiritual elements of a culture’s identity. Now, after being a part of the Record Store project and meeting luminaries such as Seattle’s own DJ Riz, known for his role in the independent radio station KEXP, I can firmly say, and I don’t think I’m alone here, Records are my religion.

Afro-Cuba – Tumba Francesca. 2006. Soul Jazz Records. Personal photograph by author. JPEG file.

Records are an audio phenomenon in a vinyl medium. Vinyl is a medium formatted to articulate a musical vision and in exchange the music acts as the idea-force behind the record. The idea of the neighborhood record store, now often a rare survivor of a former era, is a space with the power to put these receptacles of music’s most essential qualities into the world.

Records are indeed objects of beauty, and I would go further to say they are objects with allure and seduction. We are drawn to the music and what it evokes in us when we put a record on a turntable. Through the attraction we are able to relive familiar moments from the past or become familiar with new musics of the world. Part of this draw is how records allow us to derive pleasure from a listening experience and the recognition of our own “place” in that moment in time.

In the same vein architectural space may be viewed as “a setting into work of truth through recognition and orientation.” To quote the architectural historian Alberto Pérez-Gómez, “the space of architecture, always elusive and mysterious, is the space in which we may perceive ourselves, if only for a moment, as whole.”[1] In his Timaeus Plato names this space the “chora,” or the third element of reality in which we encounter our “other half.” I saw this happen in the Record Store all the time, especially when a slow jam like Bobby Womack’s T.K.O. made its way onto the speakers.

 1983. The Listening Room, Seattle, WA. 2 March 2012. Personal photograph by author. JPEG file. 

Love Wars by the R&B duo Womack & Womack. 1983. The Listening Room, Seattle, WA. 2 March 2012. Personal photograph by author. JPEG file.

What I see as the real beauty of SAM’s Record Store project is its freedom from monetary distinctions and ability to fully create a Platonic “chora” for anybody who walked through its door. In my own Platonic view – record stores give form to this third dimension of reality in which time becomes endless and determined only by a continuous rotation of sound waves.  The neighborhood record store allowed its patrons this perception of completeness through music. I saw this potential realized by one patron of the Record Store who visited almost every day during extended “breaks” away from his job cleaning the streets in Pioneer Square. For him and the rest of us the Record Store became, in the words of Alberto Pérez-Gómez, “a site of resistance against the collapse of desire that drives Modernist technological utopias.”[2]

Reflecting on my time at the Record Store there is no place I could have better pictured myself after coming out of the ethers of academic life. Although the storefront Record Store is in the process of transformation the idea, like the song, remains the same. In fact you will be able to see the Record Store “popping up” again in the future so stay tuned in to the music.

-Ryan R. Peterson, Curatorial + Community Engagement Intern 


[1] Holl, Steven. 1996. Intertwining. pp. 9-10

[2] Ibid.

Meet Our Second PR and Social Media Intern

As the second PR and Social Media Intern for the SAM this quarter, it would be best to introduce myself on first day of work.  For me this internship is an opportunity to approach art and museums in a new manner from my previous experiences.

I was born and raised outside Chicago, a place which instilled in me a strong love cultural cities and a distaste for tedious flat landscape.  For university, I moved to the Pacific Northwest, a region that beckoned me with mountains and a body of water more endless than Lake Michigan.  After spending nearly two years abroad, I returned to Seattle and eventually to school at UW as a MA student in Art History.

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SAM Art: Farewell to LUMINOUS

For her final entry, Hattie Branch, Blakemore Intern, looks at a seemingly fearsome figure.

Although this mask now appears to be a piece of static sculpture, when it was in use the effect was the reverse. The mask originally had a back half, and tied together covered the entire head of the wearer. With the wearer’s costume pulled up high on the neck, the head-concealing mask gave the impression that the sculptures within the temple had descended from their pedestals to stride forth amidst the devotees. Masked processions very literally brought religious belief to life in a thrilling way.

Masked dance was introduced to Japan during the Nara Period (710-794 CE) as part of a massive importation of Korean and Chinese political and religious culture. Initially only used in court rituals, by the Kamakura Period (1185-1333), when this mask was made, masked dance had taken on many different forms. The Dragon King was used in Buddhist gyodo performances, processions of masked figures embodying divine being.

Sagara the Dragon King stylistically blends two characters from different schools of masked performance. In Buddhist gyodo, the character Sagara is one of the Eight Great Dragon Kings, part of the retinue of Amida Buddha. In bugaku, a type of popular non-religious masked drama, the same features are shared by the character of a Dragon King, a prince so handsome that he wore a fearsome mask in battle to frighten his enemies, and so that his beauty would not distract his allies. Over time, the two characters came to share the distinctive green skin, ferociously contorted face, bulging eyes, and the dragon rearing back atop his head. Sagara’s role as a religious guardian, here, is emphasized by his golden lotus crown, a symbol of purity in Buddhism. Sagara’s formidable visage gave the faithful confidence in his ability as a protector.

Gyodo mask of Dragon King, early 13th century, Japanese, Kamakura period (1185-1333), wood with lacquer, polychrome and gilt, 15 9/16 x 8 1/8 x 5 15/16 in., Eugene Fuller Memorial Collection, 68.110. On view in LUMINOUS: The Art of Asia, through Sunday 8 January.

Meet Our New PR and Social Media Intern

I’m always excited when I find myself at the beginning of a new chapter in my life.  Today marks my first day as a Public Relations and Social Media intern at the Seattle Art Museum, and the start of a new professional adventure with opportunities and possibilities to discover.

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SAM Art: Unfolding the Lotus Sutra

Hattie Branch, Blakemore Intern, trains our eyes on the Lotus Sutra.

From a modern perspective, it is difficult to decipher what exactly is going on in this illustration. A group of figures appear oddly perched atop a spire, while below them tiny figures wander about, oblivious to the precariously balanced deities overhead.  The image only begins to clarify when we begin to look as people would have done in 12th-century Japan.

The Lotus Sutra, depicted here, describes the historic Buddha, Shakyamuni, teaching a gathered multitude how to achieve Buddha-hood. He sits enthroned, backed by a flaming leaf-shaped halo, gesturing that he is teaching the law. Rising behind him is a decorative rendering of the tree under which he taught his first sermon. Surrounding the Buddha are two monks with shaved heads, and four richly clad bodhisattvas—enlightened beings who help others achieve enlightenment.

In the foreground, three sections of text are illustrated. The group on the left are followers come either to request or give thanks for predictions of the likelihood of their attaining Buddha-hood. The group on the far right, busily digging, represents a parable in which the Buddha describes one searching for enlightenment like a man digging on high ground (so long as the soil is dry, water is far away; but when it is damp, he knows that he is near his goal). The structure in the center is the upper portion of the Jeweled Pagoda, which wells up from the ground wherever the Lotus Sutra is truly preached.

The confused (from a Western point of view) perspective would not have troubled 12th-century viewers at all. The Buddha and his attendants who loom large are actually sitting amidst the hills of the middle ground. The figures are floating in order to make it easy for us to see them. The lower portion that appears to be below the Buddha is actually placed in front of him.

This image and accompanying text would have been deeply familiar to 12th-century readers. Unfolding the layers of image and meaning within, this Lotus Sutra frontispiece allows us to follow their lead in understanding what we see.

Lotus Sutra: Frontispiece Depicting Chapter Twelve, late 12th century, Japanese, Heian period (794–1185), handscroll; gold and silver on indigo dyed paper, wood with metal fittings, 9 3/16 x 7 3/16 in., Eugene Fuller Memorial Collection, 48.171. Currently on view in LUMINOUS, special exhibition galleries, fourth floor, SAM downtown.

SAM SHOP: Great for Holiday Shopping

The goal of any holiday shopping excursion is to find something for your friends, family or significant other that is genuinely special and will surprise them. Whether it is an amusing novelty item or an exquisite hand-made mask, it is important to find a gift that will bring a smile to the receiver’s face.

Normally, I wouldn’t go to a museum shop to buy my Christmas gifts, I’ll admit, but I decided to give it a try and it was a good thing I did. I always had it in my mind that SAM SHOP sold only museum paraphernalia, a place to sell catalogues and books on the featured artists and not a place to do my holiday shopping. Instead, I landed on a shop that I immediately knew housed items that my friends and family would love. As I walked around the shop, the first thing I noticed was a common theme. Everything I looked at was unlike anything I’d seen before. It seems clichéd to say, but it is true. Many of the pieces in SAM’s Shop are actually one-of-a-kind pieces made by local artists. Most of the hats and scarves are made locally and about 85% of the jewelry artists live in the area, setting this shop apart from other stores.

After my initial walk-through, I doubled back to the three things that caught my eye. First, there were the Whisky Stones. They were next to the graffiti cocktail shakers, which are fun in their own right but the stones seemed both useful and original. I spent a semester abroad in Scotland and if there is one thing that the Scottish take pride in, it’s the quality of their whisky, so these little guys immediately caught my eye.

In short, these are stones that keep your whisky cold without diluting the taste. You can buy an entire set with tumblers included or just the stones by themselves. Personally, I thought the idea was ingenious.

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Luminous Labels: Object 3

Since the opening of Luminous: The Art of Asia at SAM Downtown, we have been asking you to give your perspective on selected objects that are on display in the exhibition.  A few weeks ago, we asked you to write about the Gyodo mask of a bodhisattva.

Every other week we will be unveiling a new object on display in Luminous and we want YOU to write a label for it. The labels featured in Luminous are peppered with ideas, facts and perspectives from curator Catherine Roche and Gate installation artist Do Ho Suh. The interpretations that you give in your entries are just as important as those hanging on the wall in the gallery and we want to hear them!

We encourage you to create a label that answers the questions:  how do these images make you feel? What kind journey do you think the piece took in order to get to SAM? How can you put this painting into some context? We want to know! Please send your labels to luminous@seattleartmuseum.org by 5pm on Monday, November 21.  Once we have received all of the label entries for this object, we will post the ones we like best on our Blog. Natasha Lewandrowski, SAM’s Curatorial coordinator, will give her input on why the posted labels were chosen and why they would work well in a gallery.  Just remember that the labels must be 60 words or less. Other than that, have fun and be creative

This 3rd installment is this oil on canvas painting by Wang Huaiging, 1944, titled Ping An – Peace VII:

We want to know your interpretations of the journey Ping An- Peace VII took to get to SAM. Please send your labels of 60 words or less to luminous@seattleartmuseum.org by 5pm Monday, November 21 to be considered for this week’s contest.

Lindsay Baldwin, Public Relations Intern

Ping An – Peace VII by Wang Huaiqing © Wang Huaiqing Photo: Nathaniel Willson

SAM Art: Representatives of a Forgotten Past

This fall, Hattie Branch, Blakemore Intern for Japanese Art, will share additional information about a series of masterpieces in Luminous: The Art of Asia, the current special exhibition. This is her first entry.

Works of prehistoric art stand before us, modern viewers, as ambassadors of a forgotten past that still resonates with us today. Luminous includes two such prehistoric works from Japan: a small figure with distinctively bulging eyes called a Dogū, and a large, stout, terracotta soldier called a Haniwa. Separated by approximately thirteen centuries, together they represent artistic highlights of prehistoric Japan, and embody ideas of surrogate personhood that endure to the present.

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Luminous Labels: Object 2

Luminous: The Art of Asia opened last Thursday, October 13. The exhibition plays with space, time, and context, especially Do-Ho Suh’s multimedia installation, Gate. Suh and SAM curator Catherine Roche worked closely on this show, and their perspectives and thoughts are represented throughout the exhibition by way of the labels.

We have the views of an innovative artist and a talented curator – all that’s missing is YOU. We invite you to join the conversation by writing your own “Luminous Label”! Every other week, we will be posting a new object featured in Luminous, and we want YOU to create a label.

Our first installment of Luminous Labels yielded some interesting labels for the painting Krishna in a garden. We received some valuable feedback on the project, and based on those comments, we have decided to make a few changes to Luminous Labels.

Instead of choosing one single label, declaring it “the best,” and posting it in a SAM gallery, we have decided to post as many labels as possible on our blog. Our goal is to add as many voices to the conversation, to show a diversity of ideas and perspectives and spark dialogue. We will be inviting everyone to write labels for a total of 7 different objects over the course of the exhibition, October 13- January 8. Your label must be 60 words or less and to be considered for the second installment, be submitted to luminous@seattleartmuseum.org by 5pm Monday, October 24. Have fun and be creative!

The second installment of Luminous Labels is the Gyodo mask of a bodhisattva (pictured below). It is a Japanese mask from the Heian Period (794–1185), 1158.

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The Art of Creating a Label

On October 13, Luminous: The Art of Asia opens at SAM Downtown. SAM houses one of the finest collections of Asian art in the United States and Luminous showcases that. Totaling 160 pieces, this exhibition meshes the ancient with the contemporary while leaving room for individual interpretation and questioning.  Do Ho Suh is an artist who has worked closely with SAM over the years and has contributed his own contemporary installation to the show as well as his perspectives, ideas and questions, which pepper the labels of various pieces on display.

A common thread that runs through Luminous is the highlighting of difficulties in museum practices. Museums have a very difficult job telling the public the intended message of their pieces in an accurate and concise manner. In discussions with Catherine Roche, the curator of Luminous, Suh said, “The museum is a space of displacement. Every object in a museum has been moved from its original context and placed on a pedestal.” He goes on to mention the important role that the museum has; piecing together gaps to tell the overall story. The question remains – what is the best way for the museum to tell the story? There are three common ways: guided tours, audio guides, and the ever-present labels.

We asked Roche to give us insight on the formation and importance of those labels. She wrote:

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Need a Venue for an Event? Look No Further Than the Seattle Art Museum!

Museums are beautiful, tranquil places filled with some of the most beautiful pieces of art that history has to offer. Imagine holding a corporate meeting at the Seattle Art Museum to impress some important clients, or imagine impressing your friends by renting out the Seattle Asian Art Museum to throw a party, or even more amazing, imagine yourself getting married in the Olympic Sculpture Park with the Seattle waterfront as your backdrop! Many people are unaware that we can make these dreams a reality.  You can rent just a portion of the museum or the entire building if it suits your needs and then have the event catered by our fabulous restaurant TASTE.

Jamie and Jared felt that the Olympic Sculpture Park was the perfect place for a ceremony and had an afternoon that they will never forget. Jamie and Jared were married on September 18, 2010 in the Park and our summer TASTE intern, Kristina Krug, had the chance to ask them a few questions about their wedding. Here’s to wishing them a happy one year anniversary from all the folks here at SAM!

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Totems and Trees: A Tour of the Native American Art Galleries

Hello SAM fans! My name is Lindsay Baldwin and, I am a (very) recent graduate of Western Washington University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication as well as in French. My number one passion is traveling. I was lucky enough to have lived in Edinburgh for six months. During breaks, I traveled extensively through Europe. I have visited many museums around the world and if I had to choose one of my favorites (besides SAM, of course!) it would have to be the Van Gogh Museum. I am very excited to be a part of this great museum for the next three months and cannot wait for the challenges that lie ahead.

If you have not yet checked out the Native American art that SAM has to offer, then I suggest that you put a tour of the galleries on your to-do list.

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As Delightful as a Double Rainbow: Summer Interns Sara and Hailey

We’re saying goodbye to the last of our summer interns. Here’s a little about Sara Portesan and Hailey Hargraves’ experience at SAM in their own words. -Madeline Moy, Digital Media Manager

Hailey Hargraves, summer intern at the Seattle Art Museum

SAM’s School & Educator Intern Hailey Hargraves treds lightly on Carl Andre’s Lead-Aluminum Plain.

Hello all! Our names are Hailey Hargraves and Sara Portesan, and we have spent the past three months as interns in the Education Department here at the Seattle Art Museum. In light of our time here, which is sadly coming to an end, we decided to interview each other and give you (the delightful and dedicated reader) a better idea of both ourselves and our roles here at SAM.

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A Day as an Intern at SAM

We’re saying goodbye to the last of our summer interns. Here’s a little about Alex Wade’s experience at SAM in his own words.
-Madeline Moy, Digital Media Manager

By Alex Wade

My alarm goes off at 7:30 am. Of course I hit snooze for those oh so crucial extra five minutes.  Then it’s off to the shower.  I get dressed and walk to the bus stop.  It’s 8:13 am and the 345 arrives a few minutes late like always.  I take my seat and ride to the Northgate Transit Center where I hop on the 41.  I get off at my stop and walk through the tunnel.  As I continue through the tunnel, I can see the light  (figures huh?).  I come out of the tunnel at 2nd and University right in front of SAM. It’s an impressive building and I always feel important as I swipe my card key to get into the employee entrance.  The security guard says, ”Hi Alex” as I sign in and type my pin code into the computer. Then it’s off to the 5th floor, a floor you would never expect existed unless you worked at the museum. A floor where everything that keeps the museum going is thought of, implemented and carried out.

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Dear SAM: A Love Letter From a Summer Intern

Dear SAM,

I usually begin letters more eloquently than this. There’s usually a smooth intro, a “how do you do,” a nifty tidbit about my life. But brutal honesty is all that’s coming to mind now and I think we’re now close enough for that. So here it goes: I am going to miss you immensely. And here’s why…

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SAM Art: Some Thoughts from Our Interns, Part II

For this week’s SAMart, I would like to share with you the reflections of two summer interns I have been lucky enough to work with for the past several weeks. Katie Tieu and Jasmine Graviett have been friendly, thoughtful, conscientious, and eager colleagues this summer, and will be missed when they go back to their “real” lives—as a sophomore and a senior in high school, respectively.
-Sarah Berman, Collections Coordinator and Research Associate

My experience at the Seattle Art Museum    

Jasmine Graviett

You don’t find many 17-year-old girls working/interning at an art museum, but I am one of them.

Hi, my name is Jasmine Graviett and I am a YWCA GirlsFirst intern, which is an all girls program that helps young ladies get through their high school years and this program is how I got my awesome internship at SAM. Working at SAM has helped me see art in a different way and understand more about the art work. At first I wasn’t really all that into art, I only liked art that made sense to me or that I could relate to. Things that looked like a whole bunch of paint splashed on a board or something that looked like a 2-year-old drew it never really appealed to me because I thought that I could make something like that. I mean, what could be so special about that?  This summer I found out there’s a story behind every single painting and that it isn’t always as it seems.

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SAM Art: Some Thoughts from Our Interns, Part I

For this week’s SAMart, I would like to share with you the reflections of two summer interns I have been lucky enough to work with for the past several weeks. Katie Tieu and Jasmine Graviett have been friendly, thoughtful, conscientious, and eager colleagues this summer, and will be missed when they go back to their “real” lives—as a sophomore and a senior in high school, respectively.
-Sarah Berman, Collections Coordinator and Research Associate

My Experience Here At SAM

By: Katie Tieu

My name is Katie, and I am a YWCA GirlsFirst intern. GirlsFirst is an all girls program that teaches us life lessons, how to stay on track in high school, and how to succeed in life. GirlsFirst also helps us get internships by teaching us skills that we need to use to get a job. They taught us many things, like how to type a resume, cover letter, and how to talk properly in an interview. They had a list of jobs for girls to apply for, and I was hired by the Seattle Art Museum to be a Human Resources intern. I am working here for 8 weeks during my summer break, but it’ll be ending soon.

Being here at SAM is very fun and such a great experience. While I was here, I saw and learned how the museum actually operates. I also got to see the exhibitions and the permanent collection here, and what can I say? IT WAS AMAZING. Just by looking at each detail an artist includes is very mind blowing. Like this painting. It was created by Jackson Pollock and is called Sea Change, painted in 1947. Does it look like any ordinary painting that anyone can do? That’s what I thought. But, look closely, every detail you see on the canvas was planned and thought about before it was there.

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Love Takes SAM by Storm

SAM’s hallways recently echoed with joyous shrieks and laughter. Although perhaps a common occurrence, the aura of joy and excitement was not from a new art piece or an exhibition opening or even a Soundsuit…

It was a marriage proposal! A young man named Storm Bennett proposed to his long-term girlfriend Stephanie in the hall of the Seattle Art Museum in a most creative way… Read More

Beauty Shot Fridays: Summertime Sun and Fun

In hopes of procuring more sun from the sky this week, we asked people to send us photos of their summertime fun in the sun. Photos did not have to be of Seattle or from this summer but could be of anything sun- and summer-related. I’ve selected a few of our brightest submissions from last week and written some of my thoughts on them… Read More

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