Muse/News: Caffeinated Curator, Material Realities, and Shang Relics

SAM News

“Christie’s, consecrated statues, and coffee”: Seattle Met’s Sophie Grossman peeks into a day in the life of Natalia Di Pietrantonio, SAM’s Assistant Curator of South Asian Art. Her first exhibition at the Seattle Asian Art Museum, Embodied Change: South Asian Art Across Time, is on view now through July 10—don’t miss it!

Last week, we shared the exciting news that José Carlos Diaz will be joining SAM in July as the new Susan Brotman Deputy Director for Art. He spoke with KUOW’s Kim Malcolm about what he’s thinking about as he makes his way to Seattle.

“I’m going to hit the ground running. I really want to get a sense of where we are, listen to the staff, but also start communicating with stakeholders and think about what the needs are for an institution in the Pacific Northwest, and how that responds to what’s happening in the country.”

For International Examiner, Susan Kunimatsu reviews an installation of Japanese art now on view at the Seattle Art Museum, Folding Into Shape: Japanese Design and Crafts.

“The Seattle Art Museum’s collection of Japanese art is so vast that only a fraction is on display on any given day. But the depth of its holdings allowed curator Xiaojin Wu to create this little gem of a show. Taking the concept of containment and the technique of folding and selecting objects that represent different artists’ responses to those ideas, she has shown how cultural influences flow across media and over time.”

Susan has been busy! She also previewed our summer exhibition for, well, Preview. Tickets are on sale now for Alberto Giacometti: Toward the Ultimate Figure, which opens at SAM on July 14. (Did you see our trailer for the show, featuring original animation and music by SAM designers L. Fried and Natali Wiseman??)

And business-oriented Quartz found inspiration for professionals in Giacommetti’s tireless quest for discovery in his art. 

Local News

This past Sunday, many in the US celebrated Juneteenth. In case you missed it, the Seattle Times’ graphic team shared information on the meaning of the holiday’s flag (including a link to print your own!). Explore more about its history at juneteenth.com and check out this article written by SAM Marketing Associate Karly Norment Meneses on how to celebrate responsibly. 

No change in commute: the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) announced that Tom Mara will be its next executive director. Mara just celebrated his departure from SIFF neighbor KEXP after 30 years with the radio station.

Duncan Gibbs for South Seattle Emerald on the works of Hanako O’Leary and Molly Vaughan, both on view at ARTS at King Street Station through July 7. Vaughan was the 2017 Betty Bowen Award winner and her work is in SAM’s collection. 

“Elevating these topics (reproductive rights, trans rights, women’s health, and autonomy) to the platform of aesthetic enquiry blasts the logic and word games of political rhetoric to pieces. Art demonstrates the material reality of personal experience in a way that can’t be argued or legislated.”

Inter/National News

Best Booths at Basel! ARTnews’ Sarah Belmont takes you there, including to former Seattle-based gallerist Mariane Ibrahim’s inaugural booth, which includes two paintings by Amoako Boafo.

Discoveries via Francesca Aton for ARTnews: “‘First of its Kind’ Viking Age Shipyard Discovered at Birka” in Sweden. (You can always get your Nordic kicks locally at the National Nordic Museum.)

Even more discoveries via Artnet’s Amah-Rose Abrams: “Archaeologists Have Uncovered 13,000 Shang Dynasty Relics in China, Many of Them Used in Sacrificial Rites.” 

“‘The sculptures are very complex and imaginative, reflecting the fairy world imagined by people at that time, and they demonstrate the diversity and richness of Chinese civilization,’ said Zhao Hao, an associate professor at Peking University.”

And Finally

Thank you for your many gifts, Philip Baker Hall—perhaps especially for Bookman.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Image: Chloe Collyer.

Juneteenth: A History Prevailed

Historically, Americans have celebrated July 4—the day in 1776 when the 13 colonies liberated themselves from the rule of Great Britain—as its national independence day. Many people living inside the borders of this country during that time, however, were not free. 

Juneteenth—celebrated every year on June 19—is a national holiday celebrating the day Black Americans were granted their  freedom and status as human citizens in the United States. A common misconception exists that slaves were freed with the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863 or at the end of the Civil War on April 9, 1865, but the reality is southern states rejected Union laws and kept their slaves in the dark about their freedom in the hopes that they could still win the war. Some states, such as Delaware and Kentucky, remained in a state of rebellion and continued to allow slavery. As one of the most remote southern states with a low Union presence, Texas served as a refuge for slave owners—a place to hide enslaved Africans from in hopes of keeping what they considered to be their “property.” Texas saw an influx of over three times as many slaves after the proclamation was issued. It wasn’t until Union Major General Gordon Granger arrived on the island of Galveston, Texas on the morning of June 19, 1865 and read the following words that many enslaved Africans found out about their freedom: 

“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.”

From these words, Juneteenth was born.

Still, this day in history did not end the practice of slavery entirely. Thousands of accounts from Black Americans document their continued enslavement beyond Juneteenth—some not freed until as late as the 1960s, forced into labor and isolated from the advocacy being done through the Civil Rights Movement. Despite how complex this history may be, the freemen of Texas migrated throughout the United States, going North in an effort to unite their families ripped apart by the slave trade, carrying with them the importance of June 19, 1865.

From Local Celebration to National Holiday

Juneteenth is the longest running African American holiday. While celebrated by the Black community since the first holiday on June 19, 1866 and through the Reconstruction Era, Jim Crow, and beyond, this holiday was not adopted by White Americans who have historically refused to acknowledge or fund this celebration. Many history textbooks did not educate students on Juneteenth and many Black Americans living in northern states did not grow up celebrating it. Juneteenth’s history prevailed through sheer will and a fight for representation. Black activists have been fighting for Juneteenth to become a paid federal holiday for decades. It was only on July 17, 2021 that US President Joe Biden finally signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, declaring Juneteenth an official federal holiday. 

Black Americans have historically used Juneteenth as a day to reflect and mourn for what their ancestors lost as well as to celebrate how far they’ve come and how much they’ve prospered despite the persistence of racism. There is no right way to celebrate Juneteenth, but many black families get together, throw a barbeque, and eat red foods like a red velvet cake and strawberries alongside soul food staples. The red foods are eaten as a representation of the blood and sacrifices inflicted as a result of slavery.

While the declaration of Juneteenth as a federal holiday is a step forward in recognizing the resilience of Black Americans, there is more work to be done. The systemic challenges brought on by slavery continue to persist, including the racial wealth gap, disproportionate rates of incarceration, persistent health disparities, and police brutality. The United States still has a very long way to go in  providing true equity to everyone living within its borders. 

Commemorating Juneteenth as an Ally

How do you respectfully commemorate Juneteenth? As a white American or non-Black ally, Juneteenth is a day to confront this country’s horrific past and critically analyze the space you occupy. Repercussions of the slave trade still exist to this day, but there steps everyone can take to promote a more equitable society. 

Read below for a list of ways to get started:

Reflect on Institutional Racism: How are white people contributing to systemic racism and how do they want this country to evolve? This holiday is a great opportunity to think about racism and privilege. Allies can research the history of slavery and learn more about the origins and persistence of institutional racism. 

Learn About Black Culture and History: Study works by Black leaders, artists, poets, and activists. Juneteenth can be used as a time to challenge internalized white supremacy and have uncomfortable conversations with oneself and others. 

Support Your Neighbors: Show appreciation for the achievements of your fellow black citizens and support black businesses and organizations working to uplift black communities in America. 

Read a Book:

  • The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
  • The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano: Or Gustavus Vassa, The African, Written By Himself by Olaudah Equiano
  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley and Malcolm X
  • Black Reconstruction in America 1860-1880 by W.E.B. Du Bois
  • Ar’n’t I a Woman?: Female Slaves in the Plantation South by Deborah Gray White
  • Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  • Why are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? By Beverly Daniel Tatum
  • White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo 
  • The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
  • Check out this list from the New York Public Library with books for kids to learn about and celebrate Juneteenth

Watch a Video:

Browse the Web:

Listen to a Podcast:

Visit a Relevant Museum Exhibition in Seattle:

Attend a Juneteenth Event:

Juneteenth at SAM

Juneteenth is a time for remembrance and healing. Americans can pay respects to the past and the enslaved Africans that built this country. Visit the Seattle Art Museum’s downtown location to see exhibitions and installations which reference this history. 

Photo: L. Fried.

Lauren Halsey (through July 17)

In her installation at SAM, 2021–2022 Betty Bowen Award winner Lauren Halsey shows artworks in which proud declarations of Black-owned businesses intermingle with images of Egyptian pyramids, the Sphinx, and pharaohs and queens, all drawn from a personal archive Halsey has developed through research and community interactions.

Photo: Nathaniel Willson.

Emblems of Encounter: Europe and Africa over 500 Years

Looking back 500 years, one can see the late 15th century as a major turning point in history. When Portuguese navigators first arrived on the shores of West Africa, the two continents of Europe and Africa began interacting in new ways. After a very brief period of mutual respect and commercial exchange, European traders quickly moved to exploit the region’s natural resources—including human labor—which became the basis for the massive slave trade that eventually affected twenty million Africans. The ten works of European and African art in this gallery, dating from the end of the 15th century to the end of the 20th, have been selected from SAM’s collection as examples of these interactions over time. 

Image: Nathaniel Willson.

Lessons from the Institute of Empathy

Three Empathics have moved into Seattle Art Museum and are a central feature to the latest installation imagined in our African art galleries. Now a part of SAM’s permanent collection, the Empathics have surrounded themselves with works from our African art collection as a way to help visitors awaken their own empathy.

A Path Forward

Hopefully, these resources can provide some guidance and insight as you celebrate Juneteenthand learn about the significance of this holiday to Black Americans. Black people have been fighting for centuries against white supremacy and oppression. However, true equity can only come when white people renounce their privilege against Black people and other people of color. All Americans must lend a hand to take action and spread knowledge to end the oppression that continues today. 

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

– Nelson Mandela

– Karly Norment Meneses, SAM Marketing Coordinator

Illustration: Karly Norment Meneses.

Muse/News: Kids are Free, a Memorial Chorus, and Monet the Influencer

SAM News

Red Tricycle has families and caregivers covered with this list of “Top 10 Free (or Cheap) Things to Do This Summer,” including a reminder that children 14 and under always get in free at the Seattle Art Museum and the Seattle Asian Art Museum. Get in the mood for SAM’s summer exhibition, Monet at Étretat, with this cool teaser video that takes you to the village’s epic cliffs.

They also recommend the free-to-all Olympic Sculpture Park, as does Curiocity with their list of “13 of the absolute best beaches you can find in and around Seattle.”

Local News

This Saturday is Juneteenth, commemorating the end of slavery in the US. The Northwest African American Museum is hosting nine days of events, kicking off on June 15. Seattle Met’s Stefan Milne has a great overview of their plans and other celebrations happening around the city.

Paul Constant for Crosscut on We Hereby Refuse, a new nonfiction comic by local writers and artists exploring Japanese American resistance to internment.

The Seattle Times on Capitol Hill’s AIDS Memorial Pathway (AMP), which will be dedicated on June 26 as one of the few memorials honoring those lost to and impacted by the AIDS epidemic. Take your time with the feature story by Crystal Paul and photos & video by Erika Schultz and Ramon Dompor.

“…The AMP aims to tell the common chorus that ties the stories together — the loved ones lost, the community banding together to help and protest, the clubs where they danced their troubles away, the friends who became family.”

Inter/National News

For the first time, the family of Jean-Michel Basquiat will organize an exhibition of the late artist’s works, including rarely seen examples from their private collection, reports Artnet’s Sarah Cascone.

“Storied New York arts nonprofit the Kitchen has appointed Legacy Russell executive director and chief curator,” reports Artforum.

For Hyperallergic, Chandra Steele tests out a theory: Monet is the granddaddy of all Insta girls.”

“On that holiday on the Normandy coast, the writer Guy de Maupassant observed Monet chasing shadows and sun, lying in wait until they shifted to suit his fancy, and said, ‘In truth, he was no longer a painter, but a hunter.’ Anyone who’s stood in line for six hours to get that gram in the Rain Room can relate.”

And Finally

Explore the work of the 105th class of Pulitzer Prize winners.

– Rachel Eggers, Associate Director of Public Relations

Photo: Jueqian Fang

Muse/News: Art walks, Juneteenth reflections, and George Floyd’s eyes

SAM News

Jeff Totey of Seattle Refined has “100 Things To Do in Seattle Right Now (or Very Soon),” including an “art walk” in SAM’s Olympic Sculpture Park, whose grounds are open to the public during this time.

Local News

South Seattle Emerald and Crosscut collaborated on a series of portraits of and reflections from Black Seattleites in honor of Juneteenth.

The Seattle Times’ Lewis Kamb shares all the details on how Capitol Hill’s Black Lives Matter mural came to be. Don’t miss Ken Lambert’s incredible drone image of the mural.

The Stranger’s Jasmyne Keimig returned to her post at the paper in time to cover all the happenings at CHOP. But her arts & culture beat still goes on. Here, she reflects on the many eyes of George Floyd.

“When I’m inside CHOP, I feel like I’m being watched—by the nation, by police, by the government, by history, by those we are fighting for. The whittling away of Floyd’s other features, leaving just his eyes, seems to underscore that idea: Floyd is present, here, watching over us.”

Inter/National News

Last Friday, many around the nation commemorated Juneteenth; the holiday is now officially observed at SAM. Here’s a quick listen from 2017 of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson on why she thinks it should be an official national holiday.

Peruse these Artnet editors’ picks for virtual art events to attend this week.

The New York Times presents “Sources of Self-Regard,” self-portraits by Black photographers with an accompanying essay by Deborah Willis.

“As I look at these images, I can envision how the photographers shifted their focus to construct new works or culled their own archives to revisit ideas — seeking answers to their own questions about one’s sense of self and responsibility during this unspeakable time.”

And Finally

Drive-in movie theaters to visit this summer.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Photo: Benjamin Benschneider

Juneteenth: A Rededication to Freedom

“Words of Emancipation didn’t arrive until the middle of June so they called it Juneteenth. So that was it, the night of Juneteenth celebration, his mind went on. The celebration of a gaudy illusion.

―Ralph Ellison, “Juneteenth”

Two and half years. 400 years. 8 minutes and 46 seconds.

Two and a half years. That’s how much time passed between January 1, 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed all enslaved people in the Confederacy, and June 19, 1865, when the Union Army’s Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas and announced the end of both the Civil War and slavery. (The 13th Amendment to the US Constitution, formally abolishing slavery in the United States, would not be fully ratified until December 6, 1865.)

On that June night, celebrations broke out. Historian Elizabeth Hayes Turner documents an heir recalling, “…my daddy told me that they whooped and hollered and bored holes in trees with augers and stopped it up with [gun]powder and light and that would be their blast for the celebration.” Juneteenth was celebrated the following year, and among many other emancipation holidays, has endured. Local traditions feature everything from readings, lectures, songs, voter registration efforts, cookouts, street fairs, rodeos, and more. It’s a day to reflect on the promises of freedom and the bloody costs of its continuous delay. It’s a day to celebrate the genius of Black joy and resilience. It’s a day to gather at the table and eat delicious food.

400 years. 2019 marked the 400th year since enslaved Africans arrived in what would become the United States. And in 2020, eight minutes and 46 seconds——the amount of time a police officer named Derek Chauvin kneeled on the neck of George Floyd, killing him—has set off an uprising against the present and past of racism in America. On the eve of the 155th celebration of Juneteenth, a different future again seems possible.

Juneteenth is not currently a federal holiday, but it is commemorated or observed in most states and the District of Columbia. In Washington State, the holiday was officially recognized in 2007, and a bill (HB 2312)  to make it a legal state holiday, proposed by Representative Melanie Morgan, is currently in front of the state legislature. The Seattle Art Museum is happy to announce that it has instituted Juneteenth as an official paid holiday for its employees, as a gesture within its broader commitment to creating racial equity and structural change within its walls. On this holiday, we encourage SAM staff to commemorate this inflection point in American history, as we live through another.

SUGGESTED EVENTS

BLKFREEDOM.org: Juneteenth digital commemoration
Presented by six Black museums and historical institutions, including Northwest African American Museum (NAAM)

Juneteenth Freedom March & Celebration
Led by King County Equity Now from DeCharlene’s Boutique to Jimi Hendrix Park

Juneteenth Week 2020
Presented by Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle, Black Lives Matter – Seattle/King County, Tabor 100 and FW Black Collective.

Juneteenth: Ijeoma Oluo in conversation with Ahamefule Oluo
Live webcast hosted by King County Library System

Miss Juneteenth
Film directed by Channing Godfrey Peoples and starring Nicole Beharie

FURTHER RESOURCES

Juneteenth.com
Resource site founded by Cliff Robinson in 1997

Seattle Public Library Juneteenth Resources
A community-generated list of books and other media

King County Library System Reading List
A great list of reads for all ages

Nicole Taylor for the New York Times with reflections from Black chefs
Including James Beard award-winning chef Eduardo Jordan of Seattle

Chef Lazarus Lynch in the Washington Post
Shares his complicated feelings on the holiday

Muse/News: Beauty at SAM, Juneteenth lessons, and a huge statue from Kehinde Wiley

SAM News

The Victorians Radicals are here! Here are reviews from Gary Faigin for the Seattle Times and Stefan Milne of Seattle Met on the exhibition’s beautiful objects and historical richness.

Fayemi Shakur profiles Zanele Muholi and their work photographing Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex South Africans. Muholi’s stunning self-portraits arrive at SAM on July 10.  

“I want the next generation of young queers and non-queers to know that we are here, that we were here. We owe it to ourselves to make sense of our lives and living.”

Local News

“Almost free is unfree”: LaNesha DeBardelaben, Executive Director of the Northwest African American Museum, shares the story—and lessons—of Juneteenth. (And Real Change’s Lisa Edge wrote up their current exhibition!)

The Stranger’s Jasmyne Keimig on the “disco balls, closed-circuit cameras, and colored lighting” in Give It or Leave It, Cauleen Smith’s solo show at the Frye Art Museum.

The Seattle Times’ Brendan Kiley talks with Greg Lundgren about empty spaces, collective billionaires, and the forthcoming Museum of Museums (MoM).

“I’ll keep saying the same thing I’ve said for years: Any time you have a concentration of talent, wealth, innovation and quality of life, you’ve got all the ingredients for a renaissance, of a revolution, of a movement. But somehow, we just haven’t been mixing them right.”

Inter/National News

NPR reports that poet, writer, and musician Joy Harjo will be the next poet laureate of the United States. Learn more about her with this great conversation from BOMB Magazine between Harjo and fellow poet Sherwin Bitsui.

Artforum reports: “The Association of Art Museum Directors’ board of trustees has passed a resolution that calls on the more than two hundred museums it represents to end unpaid internship programs.”

A new republic, set in stone: The Virginia Museum of Arts announced the acquisition of Kehinde Wiley’s largest sculpture to date, a 30-foot-tall bronze of a Black man on a horse, modeled after Richmond’s Confederate statues.

“Art and violence have for an eternity held a strong narrative grip with each other … To have the Rumors of War sculpture presented in such a context lays bare the scope and scale of the project in its conceit to expose the beautiful and terrible potentiality of art to sculpt the language of domination.”

And Finally

A dilemma of inheritance, a question of citizenship.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Image: Beata Beatrix, begun 1877 (left unfinished in 1882 and completed by Ford Madox Brown), Dante Gabriel Rossetti, British, 1828–1882, oil on canvas, 34 1/8 × 26 7/8 in., Lent by Birmingham Museums Trust on behalf of Birmingham City Council, Purchased, 1891P25, © Birmingham Museums Trust, Courtesy American Federation of Arts



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