Object of the Week: Soundsuit

October 11 is National Coming Out Day, and to celebrate, we are featuring a work created by queer artist Nick Cave, now on view at SAM. SAM’s collection includes many queer artists: from Marsden Hartley, Mickalene Thomas, and Francis Bacon to Paul Cadmus, Nan Goldin, and Catherine Opie. It is important to SAM that we acknowledge and discuss all artists’ identities as part of the conversations we have about their work. While not all of the queer artists in our collection were out during their careers, and not all created works biographically address queerness, sexuality or gender identity, the visibility of queer artists is an important counter to decades of erasure and exclusion, especially for BIPOC LGBTQIA+ artists. Being seen and being yourself is what coming out day is all about, and Nick Cave’s work represents this beautifully.

Cave began making his Soundsuits after seeing the video of Rodney King, a Black man, brutally beaten by police in 1991. He started by collecting sticks in a local park and stitched them together to create a suit that, when worn, allowed him to completely disappear. Once inside, the suit hid his Blackness, his gender, and other facets of his identity to give way to other modes of being that protected him from the outside world and, in many ways, gave him the freedom to move about and perform.

The Soundsuit by Cave in SAM’s collection represents many elements inherent to the process of realizing one’s sexuality, gender identity, and coming out: artifice, performance, and reinvention.

Let’s tackle these elements one at a time.

Artifice: Cave’s Soundsuits are works of art, but they also draw comparisons to costumes. The wearer/performer disappears in them, and, when worn, they create a completely different appearance from that of the person inside. Queer people have always created identities and personas—for adapting to the restrictions of straight spaces, expressing creativity, or for survival in an otherwise intolerant world. Aiding in the wearer’s transformation and disappearance from view, Cave’s Soundsuits are the ultimate type of protective artifice.

Performance: We queer people just cannot stop performing. Be it on Broadway, Drag Race, in Folk music, ballet or video games, there are queer people everywhere in the arts. We love to disappear into worlds of fantasy, to be the centers of attention, to express our ideas about the world, and to do it loudly and without reservation. The Soundsuits are performance objects that demand attention—they are colorful, loud (literally and figuratively), visually arresting, and they tower over and expand well beyond the average size of a person. When worn, they take up space with their presence and are unabashedly on display.

Reinvention: Cave takes ordinary objects—his studio space is basically a flea market of toys, shells, fake fur, and whatever else he finds out in the world—and turns them into Soundsuits that are part sculpture, part percussion instrument, and part costume. This idea of reinvention is a key component of the coming out experience that many queer people experience. The newness of coming into one’s own identity provides an opportunity to take the essence of oneself and re-introduce it to the world in a brand new, inherently strong, and freer form—much like the Soundsuits, whose raffia strands, knitted sleeves, and beads are reborn as a moving and living work of art.

It is for these reasons that I thought Cave’s work was a sound choice (see what I did there?) for SAM’s Object of the Week. But I also chose it because it is an artwork—like each of the dozens of Soundsuits that Cave has made—that evokes joy, much like that of LGBTQIA+ culture. Cave’s suits are alive with celebration, especially when they’re worn by dancers and you experience the full effect of their materials, colors, movement, and the ways they evoke wonder. I hope for anyone coming out, that ultimately it is a process that not only transforms your life but also brings you joy. 

Jason Porter, Kayla Skinner Deputy Director for Education and Public Engagement

Image: Soundsuit, 2006, Nick Cave, Human hair, fabricated fencing mask, sweaters, beads, metal wire, Height: approximately 6 ft., on mannequin, Gift of Vascovitz Family, in honor of the 75th Anniversary of the Seattle Art Museum, 2007.70 © Nick Cave.

Muse/News: Asian Intersections, Kinsey’s Stories, and Mickalene’s Freedom

SAM News

KING’s New Day NW visits the Seattle Asian Art Museum, which is open Friday through Sunday. Curator Xiaojin Wu walks host Amity Addrisi through the thematic galleries and talks about a few of the incredible objects on view.

“4 easy art projects inspired by a visit to the Seattle Art Museum.” JiaYing Grygiel for Seattle’s Child sharing her ideas and her kids’ creations.

“[SAM] is a surprisingly kid-friendly excursion, especially on weekday mornings, when you pretty much get the galleries to yourself. Two hours is the perfect amount of time for a museum walk-through and a snack. After that, you can head home for a nap—and art projects.”

“13 Fall Restaurant Openings in Seattle to Get Excited About.” Naomi Tomky for Thrillist includes MARKET SEATTLE at Seattle Art Museum on her list! The lobster roll fav from Edmonds arrives at SAM soon—stay tuned for an opening date.

Local News

OK, SAM’s new restaurant is making us hungry. Here’s Seattle Met with “Seattle’s 100 Best Restaurants.”

Crosscut’s Brangien Davis with her weekly ArtSEA dispatch; in this edition she highlights a floating circus.

In a recent Muse/News, we shared Crosscut’s coverage of the Kinsey Collection at Tacoma Art Museum. Now, here’s Crystal Paul for the Seattle Times on her visit to the extraordinary collection of Black art and history.

“‘There are the stories that made America and there are the stories that America made up,’ said [curator] Bernard Kinsey. ‘Everything we learned in school was made up, because [Black Americans] weren’t in it … We’re here, we’re just not part of the narrative and we should be.’”

Inter/National News

Artnet’s Eileen Kinsella on that whole “new Basquiat + Tiffany’s + Bey + Jay” thing.

If you really don’t know clouds at all: Art & Object on a new exhibition at UNC Chapel Hill’s Ackland Art Museum that focuses on clouds in East Asian art.

Dodie Kazanjian on Mickalene Thomas for Vogue! Thomas has work on view everywhere this fall and a forthcoming monograph from Phaidon. She has continued to create her Resist series, the first example of which debuted as part of Figuring History at the Seattle Art Museum.

“‘This is my first social-political body of work,’ she says. The first Resist appeared in a 2018 three-artist show at the Seattle Art Museum, alongside Robert Colescott and Kerry James Marshall. ‘I was so honored to be chosen for that show,’ she tells me. ‘These artists created a platform for artists like me to freely make whatever the f*ck I want to make.’”

And Finally

Dorothy Parker finally gets a tombstone.

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

Photo: Adam Hunter/LMNArchitects

Muse/News: Suiting up, speaking out, and making art

The Seattle Art Museum wants to acknowledge the lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and other Black people killed by police. We share in the grief, anger, and frustration that their friends, families, and communities are feeling, which has spread across the country and the world. Read more of our response to the recent events.

SAM News

Last week, Stay Home with SAM serves up social justice binge watch recommendations and freeze dances with Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s Trapsprung.

Local News

UW’s The Daily shares that the Jacob Lawrence Gallery has launched the fourth issue of the art journal, MONDAY. All pieces were commissioned and edited by resident artist Danny Giles and tackle the relationship of art to race and democracy.

Seattle Met’s Allecia Vermillion recommends ordering takeout from several Black-owned Seattle restaurants.

The Seattle Times has ongoing coverage of this weekend’s protests of the killing of George Floyd, which had their team of reporters and photographers in the streets covering it as it happened. Reporters spoke with Andre Taylor, Rev. Dr. Leslie Braxton, Girmay Zahilay, and other protest attendees. They are also asking protestors to share their stories. And columnist Naomi Ishisaka called for police reform.

“Isn’t the midst of a pandemic — especially one that puts extraordinary stress on people experiencing homelessness and poverty, and people of color — exactly when we need more community responsiveness from the police?”

Inter/National News

Watch this short film, commissioned by the Archives of American Art, in which five contemporary artists—Mickalene Thomas, Jacolby Satterwhite, Maren Hassinger, Shaun Leonardo, and Elia Alba—respond to eight questions for Black artists, first posed by Jeff Donaldson in a historic 1967 letter.

Nick Cave’s Soundsuits debuted in 1992 as a response to the beating of Rodney King. In 2016, he recorded an interview with Art21 in which he talked about a new Soundsuit created in honor of Trayvon Martin. Lately he’s been sharing short videos on his Instagram. Read and watch all about his “suits of armor” in this Artnet story. SAM’s collection includes one of Nick Cave’s Soundsuits.

Artist Carrie Mae Weems is launching a new initiative, reports Artnet’s Taylor Defoe, that “draws attention to how the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately hurts African American, Latino, and Native American communities.”

“The death toll in these communities is staggering. This fact affords the nation an unprecedented opportunity to address the impact of social and economic inequality in real time. Denial does not solve a problem.”

And Finally

Dreaming about reading outside together.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Image: Installation view of Lessons from the Institute of Empathy at the Seattle Art Museum. © Seattle Art Museum, Photo: Natali Wiseman. 

Muse/News: New art at SAM, a lavender palette, and Donald Byrd’s America

SAM News

Two installations debut at SAM this week:

Susan Delson previews Exceptionally Ordinary: Mingei 1920–2020 for the Wall Street Journal, interviewing curator Xiaojin Wu about the movement’s “intimate beauty of honest craft.” The show opens on Saturday.

Aaron Fowler: Into Existence “gleefully disrupts standard boundaries between painting and sculpture,” says Seattle Met, recommending the solo show of the 2019 Gwendolyn Knight and Jacob Lawrence Prize-winner as one of the “Top Things to Do This December.” The show opens on Friday.

Local News

Seattle Met’s cover story for December is “The 30 Women Who Shaped Seattle,” including women with connections to SAM such as Guendolen Carkeek Plestcheeff and Zoë Dusanne.

Crosscut’s Agueda Pacheco Flores reports on the Snoqualmie Tribe’s acquisition of Eighth Generation; it was announced concurrent with Governor Inslee’s proclamation of Native Arts Week in Washington State.

The Seattle Times’ Brendan Kiley reviews The Lavender Palette, a new exhibition at Cascadia Art Museum curated by David Martin. It features early- to mid-20th-century gay and lesbian artists from the Pacific Northwest.

“Honestly, I wanted to avenge them,” Martin said. “At Cascadia, you will never see wall text that says ‘Morris Graves and his close friend’ like a lot of museums do — even in New York and Los Angeles, even in Seattle. No. Here you will always see ‘Morris Graves and his boyfriend’ or ‘and his partner.’

Inter/National News

Artnet’s Taylor Defoe reports: The four artists nominated for the 2019 Turner Prize—Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Helen Cammock, Oscar Murillo, and Tai Shani—will receive the award as a collective, at their request.

Artsy gives us a look at Mickalene Thomas’ celebratory new show, Better Nights, at The Bass in Miami Beach, replete with her signature installations and the work of her fellow artists.

“Can Dance Make a More Just America? Donald Byrd Is Working on It” is the fantastic headline in this New York Times profile of choreographer Donald Byrd, timed to the exhibition at the Frye Art Museum.

“Despite the proliferation of dance in museums over the past decade, exhibitions focused on the work of a single living choreographer remain rare. The America That Is to Be presents an in-depth portrait of a bold, enigmatic artist.”

And Finally

Scrolling the deep sea.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Image: Derion, 2018, hot tub cover, wood, children’s cotton and nylon coats, cotton balls, enamel paint, acrylic paint, broken mirrors, theater seats, concrete cement, 115 x 95 x 28 in. Photo: Robert Wedemeyer. Image courtesy of the artist © Aaron Fowler.

Muse/News: SAM on The Advocate, what libraries can do, and a farewell to Gold

SAM News

Project 42: Molly Vaughan is featured on The Advocate! Their post includes the SAM-produced video featuring behind-the-scenes footage of Molly Vaughan in her studio and moments from the pop-up performances held throughout the show’s run. Catch the solo exhibition of the 2017 Betty Bowen Award-winner before it closes on Sunday, August 5.

“A vast and at times splendid show.” Margo Vansynghel of City Arts reviews Double Exposure, exploring its themes of flux, ambivalence, and narrative ownership.

And Frank Catalano of Geekwire explores three examples of how museums are incorporating virtual and augmented reality, including “mesmerizing” examples at Double Exposure.

Local News

Michael Upchurch of Crosscut on what Mickalene Thomas’s mother said that will make you cry at the Henry Art Gallery’s current exhibition.

If you enjoyed the schooling provided by #LibraryTwitter last week, don’t miss Ambreen Ali’s story for Seattle Magazine on how the Seattle Public Library has reinvented itself to be “the community’s great equalizer.”

Cultured Magazine interviews director Nato Thompson on what to expect at the Seattle Art Fair’s fourth edition.

“I feel like this fair will demonstrate a unique blend of sardonic humor, dystopic futurism, historical imagination, indigenous radicalism and a homespun dreaminess.”

Inter/National News

Zachary Small of Hyperallergic reports on the controversy surrounding a Vogue Paris fashion editorial by Juergen Teller that uses the signature aesthetic of Mickalene Thomas.

Lou Cornum for Art in America reviews On Whiteness, the Kitchen’s current show created in collaboration with Claudia Rankine’s Racial Imaginary Institute.

RIP to the beloved Pulitzer Prize-winning food writer Jonathan Gold; Janelle Zara of Artnet offers this remembrance that reminds us that Gold’s poetic writing was partly informed by experiences as a performance artist.

“I had fully intended that, in fact, I would kill the chicken in the midst of this performance. But chickens aren’t that stupid.”

And Finally

If Timothée Chalamet had posed for Caravaggio.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Muse/News: Love at the museum, Afrofuturistic visions, and painting the blues

SAM News

Travel + Leisure was among those sharing the results of OkCupid’s 2018 Dater’s Choice Awards; in Seattle, SAM was singled out as the “Spot That Sparks Conversation.” Come fall in love at the museum!

Wall Street Journal subscribers: Don’t miss this review by photographer William Meyers of New Topographics, an installation now on view on the museum’s third floor.

Jeffrey Gibson: Like A Hammer is now on view at the Denver Art Museum and heads to SAM early 2019; Kealey Boyd of Hyperallergic dives into questions found in the exhibition.

“Does it make sense to distinguish Native American art today from other contemporary art? Does the category perpetuate generalizations and patterns of thinking? By blurring Native and non-Native elements, Gibson keeps these questions alive and insures that the art remains central to our answers.”

Local News

If you miss Mickalene Thomas like we do at SAM, go see the new show at the Henry Art Gallery. Margo Vansynghel of City Arts interviewed the artist about her intimate show that features photography, video, and one of the artist’s signature “living room” installations.

Brangien Davis of Crosscut on Coming Soon, an installation appearing across several Central District parks of construction notice-like signs that appear like “Afrofuturistic visions of a dream deferred.”

Emily Pothast has a fantastic story on Hyperallergic about AFTER LIFE (what remains) at Alice Gallery, a recent group show featuring Indigenous and Asian Pacific American artists.

“What does it mean to own the land? In a nation founded on violence against indigenous peoples, the question invites us to examine our own complicity in perpetuating that violence. Ownership is a powerful designation, and yet it is ultimately fleeting when we consider the possibility of mass extinction. Perhaps the only way to truly inhabit a place forever is to haunt it.”

Inter/National News

The New York Times continues its important Overlooked obituary series, revisiting the fascinating and tragic life of Amrita Sher-Gil (1913–1941), who they call a “pioneer of modern Indian art.”

“That was Sacha Baron Cohen? What a nutcase. God bless him.” I gotta give this round to Christy Cones. Artnet’s Naomi Rea on how the Laguna Beach art consultant fared on the comedian’s new show, “Who Is America?”

Antwaun Sargent for Artsy interviews Henry Taylor, the 60-year-old Los Angeles-based artist whose first major monograph about his work (once called “the visual equivalent of the blues”) is due out this fall.

“Throughout his career, Taylor has remained committed to uncovering stories—about his family, about black people, about power and despair. ‘My painting is about…trying to be about some love shit, you know what I mean?’ the artist said.”

And Finally

Barbara Kruger for New York Magazine.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Photo: Robert Wade

Muse/News: Storme’s cover, Mickalene’s inspirations, and Artemisia’s revenge

SAM News

Hot off the press! On the cover of the current edition of Real Change: Will Wilson’s tintype portrait of artist Storme Webber. Don’t miss Lisa Edge’s review of Double Exposure inside the paper.

“Displaying Curtis’ work alongside contemporary Native artists is part of a growing shift among art institutions, which are becoming more critical of themselves and inviting visitors to do the same. They are becoming more conscious of who is telling the narrative.”

And the exhibition and SAM are both referenced in this New York Times story by Ted Loos on changes at the Art Gallery of Ontario spearheaded by their curator of Indigenous art—and how they reflect changes happening at museums across the U.S. and Canada.

Also: Seattle Business Magazine interviewed SAM director and CEO Kim Rorschach for this feature story on how to collect art; SAM Gallery is also included as a resource for art buyers.

“Most galleries are happy to let you pay over time. And you may need to try out something at home before committing. Says Rorschach: ‘It’s just about having an honest and forthright conversation.’”

Local News

Brendan Kiley of the Seattle Times reports on the future of Pivot Art + Culture, which once presented works from Paul Allen’s private art collection; it will soon house a “putt-putt pub.”

City Arts has a great round-up of visual arts picks, including quilts of Gee’s Bend at the San Juan Islands Museum of Art and photography by and inspiring to Mickalene Thomas at the Henry Art Gallery.

John Stang of The Globalist on The Sea Mar Museum of Chicano/a Latino/a Culture, set to open early 2019 in south Seattle. It will be the “first major museum devoted to Latino history in Washington State.”

“’Latinos have made incredible contributions, not only to the economy, but to the citizens of Washington state,’ said Erasmo Gamboa, a professor emeritus of history at the University of Washington and one of the leaders of the museum project.”

Inter/National News

Those production values tho! Watch this “My Favorite Artwork” video by the New York Times Magazine in which artist Glenn Ligon discusses a self-portrait by Adrian Piper.

Artnet’s Sarah Cascone reports that the Association of Art Museum Directors has launched a paid internship program at museums across the U.S. in an effort to diversify museum staffs.

The Telegraph announces that the National Gallery has acquired a self-portrait by Renaissance artist Artemisia Gentileschi; it is only the 21st painting by a female artist in the gallery’s permanent collection of 2,300 works.

“One of a handful of women who was able to shatter the confines of her time, she overcame extreme personal difficulties to succeed in the art of painting. This picture will help us transform how we collect, exhibit and tell the story of women artists throughout history.”

And Finally

Seattle Met on the local champions of French fry artistry. (Ed. note: The ones at Presse are best.)

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Photo: Nina Dubinsky.

Muse/News: Basquiat Unpacked, Public Poetics, and The Magic of The Shirelles

SAM News

The latest episode of Seattle Channel’s ArtZone features their interview with curator Catharina Manchanda about Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Untitled.

Artsy debuts their “Vanguard” series, recognizing influential contemporary artists at various points in their careers. Gwendolyn Knight and Jacob Lawrence Prize-winner Sondra Perry is included among the “newly established”—artists at “crucial tipping points in their careers.”

Los Angeles-based magazine Riot Material reviews Figuring History, in advance of its closing on May 13.

“Figuring History is as visually stunning as it is historically significant. For Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall and Mickalene Thomas, the show is validation that they succeeded in their passionate quest to make themselves visible. These artists matter and their art will be a beacon for us all, for those who write the histories and create the shows and for those are able to see themselves represented in museums for perhaps the first time.”

Local News

Seattle Times has the first look at the Nordic Museum as it prepares for its grand opening this weekend.

The Stranger staff picks their top 15 art shows in Pioneer Square for the month of May.

City Art’s Margo Vansynghel reviews A LONE, a series of 10 public artworks across the city co-curated by Vignettes and Gramma Poetry.

“Dealing with themes such as gentrification and the mass media’s (biased) coverage of the events in Charlottesville, the works in A LONE blend poetry and visual art and speak to the intricacies of being alone in a big city full of people. ‘You’re alone together,’ Stinson says. ‘That’s kind of a fascinating thing.’”

Inter/National News

The fun we’re not having at Frieze: Roberta Smith of the New York Times goes on the hunt for “artistic gems” at the annual art fair. (There’s a shout-out to Everyday Poetics artist Sonia Gomes!)

The American Antiquarian Society has digitized 225 photographs of Native people; taken decades before Edward S. Curtis began his project, these photos “represent the chapter one of the photographic history of Native people.”

The Baltimore Museum of Art has an “absolutely transformative” plan for their collection: deaccessioning works by artists such as Andy Warhol, Franz Kline, and Robert Rauschenberg in order to acquire works by contemporary artists who are women and artists of color.

“’The decision to do this rests very strongly on my commitment to rewrite the postwar canon,’ Bedford told artnet News. And while institutions sell art to fund new acquisitions every so often, the BMA’s latest deaccession stands out. ‘To state it explicitly and act on it with discipline—there is no question that is an unusual and radical act to take,’ Bedford says.”

And Finally

I will still love them tomorrow—and forever. The New Yorker’s Elon Green interviews Beverly Lee of The Shirelles about a “magical ten seconds” of the legendary group.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Photo: Installation view of Basquiat—Untitled at Seattle Art Museum, 2018, photo: Natali Wiseman.

Poet Morgan Parker on Mickalene Thomas, Beyonce, and Figuring History

As National Poetry Month comes to a close, if you’re not sure what to read, visit the library inside of the exhibition Figuring History: Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas, closing May 13. While there you’ll notice a book of poetry by Morgan Parker titled There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé (Tin House, 2017). It’s a recent favorite read of this particular copywriter and the cover of the first edition (now sold out) featured a Mickalene Thomas artwork. More importantly, within the pages of this smart, irreverent, and deeply personal collection of poetry is a piece inspired by Thomas, reprinted below! Morgan Parker simultaneously brings great depth to listening to Drake and immense weight to racial discrimination as she fearlessly invokes generations of social injustices within her powerful and playful prose. Parker stopped by the exhibition while visiting Seattle and shared some thoughts on Figuring History as well!

We Don’t Know When We Were Opened (Or, The Origin of the Universe)
after Mickalene Thomas

By Morgan Parker

A sip of liquor from a creek. Saturday syndicated
Good Times, bare legs, colors draped like
an afterthought. We    bright enough to blind you.
Dear anyone, dear high-heel metronome, white
noise, hush us, shhhhh, hush us. We’re artisinal
crafts, rare gems, bed of leafy bush you call
us           superfood. Jeweled lips, we’re rich
We’re everyone. We have ideas and vaginas,
history and clothes and a mother. Portrait-ready
American blues. Palm trees and back issues
of JET, pink lotion, gin on ice, zebras, fig lipstick.
One day we learned to migrate. One day we studied
Mamma making her face. Bright new brown, scent of Nana
and cinnamon. Shadows of husbands and vineyards,
records curated to our allure, incense, unconcern.
Champagne is how the Xanax goes down, royal blue
reigning. We’re begging anyone not to forget
we’re turned on with control. We better homes and gardens.
We real grown. We garden of soiled panties.
We low hum of satisfaction. We is is is is is is is is
touch, touch, shine, a little taste. You’re gonna
give us the love we need.

SAM: Reading We Don’t Know When We Were Opened there’s a lot of assonance that creates repetition and fragmentation that feels to me like a sonic equivalent to Mickalene’s visual fragmentation. What in Thomas’ work inspired you and this poem, formally or thematically?

Morgan Parker: I’ve always loved Mickalene’s work, for the glitter and the color and the attention and the audaciousness. Her work is a celebration, and it’s also a politically intentional decolonization of the art history canon. She builds new worlds and revels in those worlds. I wanted my poem to reflect her work and add to it, translate it in my own words.

How do you think the persona poem and the way that Mickalene Thomas casts her models as art historical figures and tropes relate? Mickalene’s figures are looking right at you and this alters their role—makes them dimensional, such as in a painting like Tamika sur une chaise longue avec Monet. Where do you think that same dimension lives persona poems?

God I love this painting. I like to think of all my first-person poems as playing with dimensionality. I’m interested in using the singular figure, or voice, to call up cultural figureheads and historical tropes. Persona poems are an extension of that—they have two first-person speakers.

What stuck with you from your visit to the exhibition? Any lingering or new thoughts?

Kerry James Marshall’s Souvenir I always makes me cry. It was also fantastic to see Robert Colescott’s work in person, as I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. I love the way it engages stereotypes and recasts history so playfully and comically. In a different way than Mickalene, there’s trickery in acknowledging the audience’s gaze—that’s something I’ll be thinking over for a while.

 

Morgan Parker is the author of There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé and Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me Up at Night. In 2019, a third collection of poems, Magical Negro, will be published by Tin House, and a young adult novel will be published with Delacorte Press. Her debut book of nonfiction will be released in 2020 by OneWorld. Parker is the recipient of a 2017 National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship, winner of a Pushcart Prize, and a Cave Canem graduate fellow. She is the creator and host of Reparations, Live! at the Ace Hotel. With Tommy Pico, she co-curates the Poets with Attitude (PWA) reading series, and with Angel Nafis, she is The Other Black Girl Collective. She lives in Los Angeles.

– Chelsea Werner-Jatzke, Content Strategist & Social Media Manager

Images: Photo courtesy of Morgan Parker. Photo by Nina Dubinsky. Video: Tamika sur une chaise longue avec Monet, 2012, Mickalene Thomas, Sydney & Walda Besthoff, Courtesy of the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong, © Mickalene Thomas. Photo courtesy of Morgan Parker.

Personal Histories: Community Connections to Figuring History

“So often Black women are made small and the idea of expanding into an exhibition that is so large and so inviting and welcoming is incredible and awe inspiring to see a reflection of myself so large in the world.” – Imani Sims, poet and Central District Forum for Art and Ideas curator

Figuring History: Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas is a chance to reflect on your personal history as well as art history and American history. Take a tip from our Personal Histories video series and spend some time at SAM thinking about how you connect to the work on view because of the history that impacts you. Figuring History brings together three generations of contemporary American artists, whose work challenges a Western painting tradition that underrepresents people of color. The vibrant and monumental paintings by these artists offer bold perspectives on Black culture and representation. Presented together for the first time, the figurative paintings of ColescottMarshall, and Thomas are shaped by distinctive historic events, unique in style, and united in questioning the narratives of history through Black experience. The exhibition closes May 13, so don’t delay!

Looking for more videos related Figuring History? Check out Youtube to hear from the artists!

“Storytelling is very important in hip-hop and I feel like with [Kerry James Marshall’s] pieces that he has in this room, he’s taking the stories and interpreting it in his way and then also giving the next generation something to look at.” – Stasia Irons, rapper and KEXP DJ

“I immediately recognized what I was seeing as happening in my own neighborhood back home in Mississippi.” – Marcellus Turner, City Librarian of Seattle Public Library

Featured artworks: Tamika sur une chaise longue avec Monet, 2012, Mickalene Thomas, rhinestones, acrylic, oil, and enamel on wood panel, 108 x 144 x 2 in., Sydney & Walda Besthoff, Courtesy of the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong, © Mickalene Thomas Memento #5, 2003, Kerry James Marshall, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri, © Kerry James Marshall. School of Beauty, School of Culture, 2012, Kerry James Marshall, Birmingham Museum of Art, © Kerry James Marshall

Muse/News: Arts News from SAM, Seattle, and Beyond

SAM News

Artnet interviewed Catharina Manchanda, SAM’s Jon & Mary Shirley Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art, for this piece on the different paths to success as a curator of contemporary art.

KOMO’s Seattle Refined also interviewed Catharina for this story about the Jean-Michel Basquiat painting now on view at SAM.

AFAR Magazine highlighted Figuring History: Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas on their list of “10 Art Exhibitions in the U.S. Worth Traveling for This Spring.”

Blaxploitation films, Carrie Mae Weems, and the female gaze: Dazed profiles Figuring History artist Mickalene Thomas.

Local News

“I’ve seen orcas. Twice!” City Arts’ Margo Vansynghel reports that the next arts hub might be just across the water—in Bremerton.

Brangien Davis of Crosscut talks with Victoria Haven about Banner Year, an installation in the windows of her South Lake Union studio that beams out messages to passing motorists like “MONEY BALL” and “CULT CLASSIC.”

Lisa Edge of Real Change on the Tacoma Art Museum’s current exhibition, Native Portraiture: Power and Perception, which addresses issues of identity by juxtaposing older and contemporary works alongside each other.

“’We can say, let’s look at this artwork and appreciate the work that the artist has done to create this, but let’s use a contemporary lens to unpack where these artists were coming from and why they painted the work in this manner,’ said curator Faith Brower. ‘Thankfully our views have now changed over time so we can see this work and critique it in a way that they weren’t capable of critiquing it in the time it was made.’”

Inter/National News

Still “seat of the Muses”? Mitchell Kuga of Hyperallergic explores the trend of adopting the name “museum” to describe commercial enterprises.

Sara Cascone of Artnet interviews author Joy McCullough about her novel on the incredible life of Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi; notably, McCullough used the 400-year-old court records of the trial of the artist’s rapist.

Jason Farago of the New York Times on Beyond the Fall, the current show at New York’s Neue Galerie that explores connections between art and German political history.

“Such was the reality of German and Austrian art, and German and Austrian society, in the initial years of Nazi rule: the awkward coexistence of fascists, democrats and Communists, who heard the rhetoric, who witnessed the hatred, but who still could not see how much horror lay ahead.”

And Finally

“How are we meant to feel about art that we both love and oppose?”

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Image: Installation view Figuring History: Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas at Seattle Art Museum, 2018, photo: Stephanie Fink.

Figuring History: The Joy and Exuberance of Black culture

What thoughts has Figuring History: Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas inspired in you? Hear from Seattle artist Benji Anderson, a featured artist in Off the Walls: After Dark at the Seattle Asian Art Museum this past September. We love sharing thoughtful community members’ writing, so please reach out if you would like to send a piece for consideration to be published on the SAM Blog!

In February, as I prepared to enter the Seattle Art Museum for the Community Celebration for Figuring History: Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas, what seemed like endless thoughts swirled around in my mind. It was Black History month and opening weekend for the movie Black Panther— the joy and exuberance of Black culture was palpable in the air.

This was in stark contrast to just over a year earlier, when the collective anguish and discontent of Black society was reeling in the wake of the latest barrage of Black bodies murdered in the streets and broadcast in ‘real time’ for all to view. I still recall the gut-wrenching emotion of watching a Black father, murdered in his vehicle, minutes away from where my own father lived. I remember this pain so vividly because it was not the first time I’d felt it. It was not the first time the Black community watched their brothers, fathers, and sons murdered at the hands of those sworn to protect and serve. It was not the first time we were dehumanized in the public theater. It was not the first time we were criminalized for being. It was history repeating itself.

 

The weight and memory of historical trauma accompanied me into the museum, tugging at my coat with each breath of Black excellence I inhaled. As I stood in gratitude for Mickalene Thomas, Kerry James Marshall, and Robert Colescott, I also stood in sorrow of the circumstances that produced such beautiful stories and art. In each historical work I found traces of my own story. In Colescott’s Matthew Henson and the Quest for the North Pole, (pictured at the top of this post) the images of Black bodies being simultaneously brutalized and fetishized depict the story of my great-great-grandmother who was raped by her oppressor, giving birth to my great-grandfather who would later be praised for his “passable” complexion, wavy hair, and light eyes. Marshall’s Souvenir II portrays a cloud of witnesses, prominently featuring Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy, hallmarks in the home of my own, and many other Black grandmothers across the country, and emblematic of the complicated socio-political relationship we share with this nation.

In Thomas’ Resist, the Civil Rights era struggle of my parents was laid in front of me through a collage of violent vignettes. As I watched this piece I saw my uncle’s resistance, which left him brutally beaten and jailed for having the audacity to seek a human existence. I also saw my father and his siblings, the first to integrate the school systems in North Carolina. I felt the collective fear and courage he carried with him as the only Black student in his school. And as my chest tightened, breath shortened and fists clinched I remembered where I stood—rooted in the past, squarely in the present, carrying my portion of the mantle of Black excellence. As I gathered myself, I walked out of the museum breathing in the joy and exuberance of Black culture. Each breath gradually healing the wounds of my genetic trauma.

– Benji Anderson, Artist (@benjipnewton)

Benji Anderson is an artist, theologian and philosopher. Three identities that suffered separate existences for much of Benji’s life. Born in the South and raised in the Mid West, his early cultural learnings taught Benji that it was not only prudent, but necessary to compartmentalize his identities. Surprisingly it was through his academic journey that Benji began to fully exist as a being capable of complex, and seemingly contradictory identity. As a Master of Divinity student, Benji embarked on a process of deep self-excavation, which, upon completion of his degree, provided Benji with the license to live authentically.

As theologian and philosopher, Benji is concerned with the quality and depth of life. As artist, Benji concerns himself with the creative expression of his theosophical existence. Using a variety of mediums Benji endeavors to create multi-sensory pieces that thrust the viewer into the experience of the artist – not simply as a voyeur, but as a participant.

 

Images: Installation view of Figuring History: Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas at Seattle Art Museum, 2018, photos: Stephanie Fink, Natali Wiseman. Resist, 2017, Mickalene Thomas, rhinestones, acrylic, gold leaf, and oil stick on canvas mounted on wood panel, 84 x 108 x 2 in., © Mickalene Thomas, video: Natali Wiseman. Photo courtesy of Benji Anderson.

Muse/News: Arts News from SAM, Seattle, and Beyond

SAM News

Last week, SAM’s Associate Director for Community Programs, Priya Frank, appeared on KING 5’s morning talk show New Day NW to talk about Figuring History: Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas and a couple of the dynamic events the Education team has produced for the exhibition. She killed it!

SAM staff was everywhere last week: another member of the Education team, Public Programs Coordinator David Rue, was featured in Seattle Refined’s recurring “Movers and Shakers” series. He talked about the connections between his work for SAM and in the Seattle arts community at large.

“If your heart is in the right place, if you put in the work, and have the diligence to be the best at your craft, and people can see that, they’ll want to help you. When I do my job better, people get to interact with the arts better, so that demands that I rise to the occasion because there’s a lot of other people’s work on my shoulders that I don’t want to disappoint.”

Also: Basquiat—Untitled was highlighted in Lisa Edge’s First Thursday preview in Real Change; the Seattle Times included our upcoming Molly Vaughan solo show in their preview of spring’s hottest events, and KING 5’s Evening Magazine featured Seattle Magazine’s Gwendolyn Elliott talking about their spring arts preview that included our summer exhibition, Double Exposure: Edward S. Curtis, Marianne Nicolson, Tracy Rector, Will Wilson.

Local News

Gayle Clemans of the Seattle Times on the celebration of the local artist Michael Spafford, with his work on view in an “unprecedented collaboration” among Davidson Galleries, Greg Kucera Gallery, and Woodside/Braseth Gallery.

Brett Hamil of City Arts on Zoo Break Productions, a huge soundstage owned by Mischa Jakupcak and Robyn Miller that’s proposing an “alternate future for Seattle filmmaking.”

In case you missed it: last week saw a new work by choreographer Alice Gosti about the objects we hold onto at On the Boards; Michael Upchurch of Crosscut even donated something to the community “ritual release” of emotionally fraught objects.

“We have a very particular way of relating to objects,” she notes. “They can generate emotion. They can literally transport you to the moment in which you received the object. Or they can tell you the story of your whole family or of your whole culture.”

Inter/National News

The Art Newspaper is out with their annual survey of the most popular exhibitions for the year; they’re also celebrating the impressive milestone of their 300th issue. Long live print!

Artsy on the psychedelic cats of British illustrator Louis Wain, who “wine and dine, grin and wink, dress up and boogie down.”

This week, on April 4, marks 50 years since the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., in Memphis. The New York Times asks what the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Hotel can tell us about this moment.

“What they’ll find in its permanent collection is a monument to a movement and, secondarily, to a man, in a display that focuses on difficult, sometimes ambiguous historical data more than on pure celebration. And they’ll find, if they are patient, useful information for the 2018 present, and for the future.”

And Finally

“Did somebody mention ART?” Art history + celebrity culture = genius.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Image: Installation view Figuring History: Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas at Seattle Art Museum, 2018. Photo: Natali Wiseman

10 Surprising Facts About Artist Mickalene Thomas

If you’ve visited Figuring History: Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas you’re probably as enamored as we are with the larger-than-life paintings hanging in our galleries right now. This month, we’re putting the spotlight on Mickalene Thomas! Learn more about the woman behind the bright patterns, bold colors, and rhinestones with 10 surprising facts about the artist.

1. She painted First Lady Michelle Obama’s first individual portrait in 2008; the painting, titled Michelle O, subsequently went on view at the National Portrait Gallery.

2. Thomas’ mother Sandra Bush, was a fashion model and influenced her aesthetic.

3. In 2011, she participated in an artist’s residency at Monet’s home in Giverny, France.

4. Growing up in the 1970s, Thomas drew inspiration from the bright colors and patterns from her childhood in her art.

5. Her first short-film, Happy Birthday to a Beautiful Woman: A Portrait of My Mother, was about her mother.

6. Fellow artist Kehinde Wiley painted Mickalene Thomas’ portrait for his painting series Trickster.

7. Thomas did a number of odd jobs to support herself in her 20s including fashion modeling.

8. Mickalene Thomas originally pursued a career in law.

9. Thomas ended up getting a BFA in painting at Pratt in Brooklyn and her MFA at Yale.

10. Her commissioned portrait of Solange Knowles was used for the cover of the R&B singer’s 2013 EP True.

If you haven’t visited Figuring History yet, see Thomas’ work through Sunday May 13!

— Nina Dubinsky, SAM Social Media Coordinator

MT Headshot — Topical Cream, 2016, Courtesy of Lyndsy Welgos

Muse/News: Arts News from SAM, Seattle, and Beyond

SAM News

The spring edition of the Stranger’s Art & Performance Quarterly hit newsstands last week; recommended SAM shows in the visual arts listings include Basquiat—Untitled, Molly Vaughan: 2017 Betty Bowen Award Winner, Figuring History: Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas, Everyday Poetics, and Sondra Perry: Eclogue for [in]HABITABILITY. Don’t miss their recurring “Anatomy of a Painting” feature, which takes you through the finer points of Resist, the incredible painting by Mickalene Thomas created specifically for our exhibition.

And the reviews keep coming in for Figuring History. Lisa Edge of Real Change writes up the exhibition for the cover story of their current edition, and the Stranger’s Katie Kurtz shares her thoughts on the show that’s “about righting the wrongs of erasure” in their arts section lead story.

Also out last week: The New York Times’ annual “Museums” section. Figuring History was mentioned in a round-up of exhibitions around the country showing “art in startling variety.”

“This show of three African-American artists creates a solid counternarrative on general history, art history, black identity and gender identity.”

Local News

The Seattle Times was there as 2,800 high-school students from 39 area schools attended a matinee of Hamilton—and performed raps, songs, and poems inspired by the musical and their own studies.

The art of food: last week, Edouardo Jordan of JuneBaby and Salare was nominated for two James Beard Awards and glowingly reviewed in the New York Times. That oxtail tho!

Rachel Gallaher interviews Pacific Northwest Ballet soloist and choreographer Ezra Thomson; his work The Perpetual State has its world premiere in the ballet’s Director’s Choice program, showing now through March 25.

“One thing I always try to do in my choreography is to make the dancers as human as possible. I want the audience to be able to relate to them as people, as opposed to classical 18th-century ballet figures.”

Inter/National News

Christopher Knight of the Los Angeles Times broke the news of the sudden firing of MOCA Los Angeles curator Helen Molesworth, which stunned many in the art world last week.

Brian Boucher of Artnet on the historic vote last week by the board of New York arts and engineering school, which approved a 10-year plan to offer free tuition for every student.

Photographer Dawoud Bey’s The Birmingham Project brings to life the four girls and two boys who died violently in 1963, with portraits of children their ages alongside adults the same age that the kids would be if they’d lived.

“It hurts because those Birmingham girls, often commemorated in what look like class portraits, could have been goofy, self-conscious, bookish, or disobedient. Maybe they didn’t even want to go to church that day; maybe one had a sore throat. They were kids.”

And Finally

Former mallrats may be just as moved as the New Yorker’s Jia Tolentino by this video of “Toto’s ‘Africa’ edited to sound as though it were playing in an empty mall.”

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Image: Installation view of Figuring History: Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas at Seattle Art Museum, 2018, photo: Natali Wiseman.

Muse/News: Arts New from SAM, Seattle, and Beyond

SAM News

Wall Street Journal Magazine features Figuring History: Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas; Sara Morosi interviewed SAM curator Catharina Manchanda and artist Mickalene Thomas for this preview of the exhibition that “retells America’s past.”

Margo Vansynghel of City Arts lauds the exhibition’s “dazzling brilliance” in her review, which includes interviews with both Kerry James Marshall and Mickalene Thomas, conducted while the artists were in Seattle for the opening.

“…filled to the brink with visual sumptuousness. Chambers to remember. Spaces filled with Black joy and Black books. Behind every corner, there’s texture and depth, and dazzling brilliance.”

Brendan Kiley of the Seattle Times reports on the recent launch of Beyond the Frame, the regional initiative marking the 150th anniversary of Edward S. Curtis’ birth, which also includes SAM’s upcoming exhibition Double Exposure: Edward S. Curtis, Marianne Nicolson, Tracy Rector, Will Wilson.

Local News

Donald Byrd, choreographer and executive artistic director of Spectrum Dance Theater, shares his experience seeing Black Panther and its “beautiful, awe-inspiring Afro-futuristic vision.”

Rich Smith of the Stranger posted this update on the recent hearing at King County Council chambers on a proposed bill to expand the council’s authority over 4Culture.

Seattle Magazine profiles the Seattle Artist League, a new “people come first” art school in Northgate.

Inter/National News

Artnet with a peek at Basquiat. Boom For Real. now on view at the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, which shows the artist’s work in context with the music, text, and city that inspired him.

In what’s definitely the most fascinating interview I read this week, Artnet spoke with Arthur Jafa about intersectionality, blackness, and “not going for ‘good.’”

Hyperallergic reviews the Monarchs exhibition, now on view at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, which features work by “people native to the Americas,” including Jeffrey Gibson, Nicholas Galanin, and Wendy Red Star.

And Finally

What DOES one get Rihanna on the occasion of her 30th birthday?? One artist decided on this.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Photo: Installation view of Figuring History: Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas at Seattle Art Museum, 2018, photo: Stephanie Fink.

Muse/News: Arts News from SAM, Seattle, and Beyond

SAM News

Kimerly Rorschach, SAM’s Illsley Ball Nordstrom Director and CEO, is featured in the February edition of Seattle Met as one of the “50 Most Influential Women in Seattle.”

The Stranger put together a list of all the best Black History Month events: SAM exhibitions Figuring History: Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas and Sondra Perry: Eclogue for [in]HABITABILITY both make the cut.

The Seattle Times’ Moira Macdonald recommends seeing Oscar nominees on Cinerama’s big screen—as well as two upcoming SAM Films events: “Alfred Hitchcock’s Britain” series and “David Lynch’s First Seven Films: From The Alphabet to Eraserhead.”

Local News

Seattle Sketcher Gabriel Campanario visited the new Amazon Spheres and came away underwhelmed.

The King County Council has proposed an ordinance that would involve more control over arts and cultural agency 4Culture.

Seattle Times’ Jerry Large introduces the new leader at Northwest African American Museum, LaNesha DeBardelaben; City Arts recently reported on the celebratory opening of their current exhibition, Everyday Black.

‘”Once I stepped foot in this museum, I immediately knew that this is the place for me,’ she said. ‘NAAM has so much potential and so much dynamism to it.’”

Inter/National News

The New York Times on responses from the National Gallery and Seattle University following accusations of sexual harassment against Chuck Close; ARTnews reports on Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts’ plan.

“It’s often difficult to know which way up a painting should be.” A Morris Lewis painting at the Jewish Museum is on view with a new name—and a new orientation.

Joyce J. Scott’s sculptures, quilts, and necklaces are on view in her most comprehensive exhibition to date at New Jersey’s Grounds for Sculpture; one of the exhibition’s curators is Lowery Stokes Sims, who contributed an essay to the Figuring History catalogue.

“’My work is politically and socially oriented because that’s what keeps me up at night,’ Scott added. ‘It’s important to me to use art in a manner that incites people to look and carry something home — even if it’s subliminal — that might make a change in them.’”

And Finally

What happens when an artist and her emotional support peacock simply try to get from here to there.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Photo: Robert Wade

Muse/News: Arts News from SAM, Seattle, and Beyond

SAM News

As a farewell to Andrew Wyeth: In Retrospect, enjoy this SAM video featuring Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw, author of the exhibition catalogue essay that explores the importance of Wyeth’s portraits of the black community in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania.

Culture Type takes a look at what’s on the horizon for African American art in 2018, including SAM’s exhibition Figuring History: Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas, which opens February 15.

February also brings the return of Seattle Museum Month, during which visitors to participating downtown hotels get half-price admission to area museums (including SAM!). For that, Travel + Leisure and Architectural Digest both included Seattle among their winter travel recommendations.

Local News

KUOW’s Marcie Sillman talks with artists and arts leaders Vivian Phillips, Dani Tirrell, and Tim Lennon to ask the question: can art save the soul of Seattle’s Central District?

Does this count as “art news?” I say YES: Former Zig Zag barman Erik Hakkinen is turning the basement of the Lusty Lady into a cozy cocktail bar—conveniently located across the street of the Seattle Art Museum.

City Art’s Margo Vansynghel interviews Seattle/Baltimore artist Paul Rucker, who was just named one of 20 TED Fellows for 2018.

“There’s nothing that I’ve created in the gallery that’s more horrifying than what’s outside those doors. The lynchings have not stopped, they’ve merely changed forms—from rope to guns. I created a new piece called ‘You Might be Disturbed by Images Beyond This Point.’ I’ll place it at the exit of every gallery I show at, because I can’t make anything more disturbing than reality.”

Inter/National News

Who’s a good museum employee? The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston gets a 12/10 for hiring Riley, a Weimaraner puppy, who will learn how to detect insects and bugs in order to help protect the art.

Artsy tells the fuzzy story behind the first work by a female artist to be acquired by the Museum of Modern Art for its permanent collection.

Hyperallergic interviews Daniel Weiss of the Met about its new admissions policy and how it affect visitors.

And Finally

Everyday Africa is a project that shares images of the ordinary, nuanced, and beautiful in Africa in order to combat harmful, racist clichés.

— Rachel Eggers,

Muse/News: Arts News from SAM, Seattle, and Beyond

SAM News

“Lust and death”? Sign us up! The Stranger’s Charles Mudede features the upcoming Ingmar Bergman film series in the latest edition of the paper.

“Look at it this way: A film like The Commuter, which must not be missed, is your fat-rich steak, and a movie like Bergman’s Through the Glass Darkly or Silence or Persona is your broccoli. You just can’t eat steak all of the time. You will die from just eating steak. You need your veggies. You can almost live forever on a diet of just films of the great Swedish director Ingmar Bergman.”

Tiffany Y. Ates featured the “redefining art history” work of Mickalene Thomas in the January/February edition of Smithsonian Magazine. Thomas will be one of three artists featured in Figuring History: Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas.

Le déjeuner sur l’herbe: Les Trois Femmes Noires (The Three Black Women), part of a new group exhibition at the Seattle Art Museum, depicts the subjects in a mosaic of vibrant colors, fragmented shapes, rhinestones and glittered Afros. ‘These women are so grounded and perfectly comfortable in their own space,’ says Catharina Manchanda, a curator at the museum. ‘While we might be looking at them, they are also sizing us up.’”

Local News

City Arts released their annual Future List: the “artists and trailblazers who will illuminate the year to come.” On the list are some SAM friends: Sculptured Dance alum Randy Ford and Wyeth Film Sprint fan favorite director Claire Buss.

Gayle Clemans of the Seattle Times takes note of the recent growth of galleries in homes, garages, and Airbnbs, as artists and curators try to work around rising rents.

The Stranger’s Emily Pothast features Natasha Marin (of the Reparations.me project) and her latest collaboration at CORE Gallery, BLACK Imagination: The States of Matter.

“It’s home-baked bread with butter for a stomach tight with growling. BLACK Imagination is for black people first. It’s a celebration of ourselves.”

Inter/National News

Major news: The Metropolitan Museum of Art abandons its pay-what-you-wish policy for out-of-towners, requiring those visitors to pay a mandatory admission fee of $25.

Artsy has an appropriately visual feature highlighting 25 people who defined the visual culture of 2017, including Agnes Gund, Beyonce and Solange, and da Vinci (still got it!).

Victoria L. Valentine of Culture Type recalls “the year in black art,” including Sondra Perry winning SAM’s Knight Lawrence Prize among many other moments.

And Finally

Please enjoy Moonlight director Barry Jenkins’ recent epic Tweetstorm as he watched his seatmate on an airplane watch Notting Hill.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Image: Courtesy of Photofest.

Muse/News: Arts News from SAM, Seattle, and Beyond

SAM News

City Arts’ Margo Vansynghel interviewed Sondra Perry, winner of the 2017 Gwendolyn Knight and Jacob Lawrence Prize, about her newly opened installation at SAM.

“When I meet her in the darkened gallery, she speaks softly and fast, her ideas and sentences tumbling over each other like waves without arrest. One can find a similar sense of intellectual excitement and multiplicity in Perry’s work.”

The winter edition of the Stranger’s Art & Performance Quarterly is out! Zoom in on Winter 1946, a painting from Andrew Wyeth: In Retrospect, in their recurring “Anatomy of a Painting” feature.

Zagat features their picks for best restaurants and bars near SAM—hey, thanks for the tips!

Local News

City Arts on the impending closure of INCA in Queen Anne; this avant-garde gallery hosted Sondra Perry’s first solo show back in 2015.

Chiyo Ishikawa, SAM’s Susan Brotman Deputy Director for Art and Curator of European Painting and Sculpture, lent her thoughts to this KUOW story by Marcie Sillman on the artistic and civic legacy of the Tsutakawa family.

City Arts names the local artists of the year in a colorful two-page spread, with illustrations by Kelly Björk.

Inter/National News

Hyperallergic reviews Mentors, Muses, and Celebrities, Mickalene Thomas’ show that’s now on view at the Contemporary Art Museum Saint Louis.

“[It] is not only about looking at black women, it is about them observing the world around them and finding their place in it, and even amidst the trials and tribulations waged against them, finding ways to rejoice.”

Kerry James Marshall has designed a monumental public sculpture for Des Moines honoring the National Bar Association, the nation’s oldest network of African-American attorneys and judges.

Rumaan Alam for the New Yorker with a charming piece about bringing his children to art museums—and how they’ve changed how he sees and experiences art himself.

And Finally

Kendrick Lamar’s video “ELEMENT.” was inspired by the photography of Gordon Parks; now, the Gordon Parks Foundation presents an exhibition of the video and the works that inspired them.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Image: Installation view of Sondra Perry: Eclogue for [in]HABITABILITY at Seattle Art Museum, 2017, photo: Natali Wiseman.

Muse/News: Arts News from SAM, Seattle, and Beyond

SAM News

Like the suddenly falling leaves, fall arts happenings are swirling all around. The Stranger offered their “complete guide” to the best of October—including SAM picks like Andrew Wyeth: In Retrospect, the Jean-Pierre Melville film series, and the (sold out!) Diwali Ball.

Noted architect Tom Kundig leads a tour of the best Seattle architecture in this CNN Travel video; the Olympic Sculpture Park is one of his picks.

We enjoyed this Architects Newspaper salute to Denise Scott Brown on her 85th birthday; in which they share notable stories of her general awesomeness. Scott Brown—along with her partner, Robert Venturi—designed the original Seattle Art Museum that opened in 1991.

“There’s a million ways to be a woman. There’s a million ways to be a mother. And there’s a million ways to be an architect.” –Denise Scott Brown.

Local News

Watch this lovely KCTS tribute to ceramicist Akio Takamori, featuring interviews with his former UW colleagues and students, including Patti Warashina and Jamie Walker. His Blue Princess (2009) is currently on view at SAM.

“The boundary between the figurative and the abstract is erased in curious ways,” says the Seattle Times’ Michael Upchurch in this glowing review of the Frye Museum’s two new photography shows.

Farewell to Jon Rowley, the “fish missionary” whose art form was teaching us to appreciate perfect things like Copper River salmon and Olympic oysters.

Inter/National News

Author Kazuo Ishiguro was awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Literature. You really need to read Tacoma bookseller/Ishiguro Superfan Kenny Coble’s tweetstorm when he heard the news.

The Art Newspaper takes you inside two new recently opened museums: the Zeitz Mocaa in Cape Town and the Yves Saint Laurent museum in Paris.

What’s the most iconic artwork of the 21st century? Artnet asked experts to weigh in. Mentioned: Mickalene Thomas’s Le Déjeuner sur L’herbe: Les Trois Femmes Noires, coming to SAM’s walls in February as part of Figuring History: Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas.

And Finally

We can now listen to ripples in space-time. (Really!)

– Rachel Eggers, Public Relations Manager

Image: Installation view of European art galleries at Seattle Art Museum, 2017, photo: Natali Wiseman.

Muse/News: Arts News from SAM, Seattle, and Beyond

SAM News

Thump! For me, fall officially starts when I hear the New York Times fall arts preview being delivered. Featured in the visual arts listings was SAM’s exhibition opening in February, Figuring History: Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas—alongside a BIG image in the print edition (long live print).

Last Friday, SAM announced that Molly Vaughan is the winner of the 2017 Betty Bowen Award; The Stranger and Seattle Gay Scene shared the news. Deborah Lawrence and Ko Kirk Yamahira also won Special Recognition Awards. Join us for a free award ceremony honoring all the winners on Thursday, November 9 at the Seattle Art Museum. Vaughan’s installation premieres at SAM on April 21, 2018.

SAM Gallery’s latest show at TASTE, Immaculate Disaster Series by Troy Gua, was highlighted in City Arts.

Local News

UW’s School of Art + Art History + Design and the Jacob Lawrence Gallery announced this week that artist C. Davida Ingram is the recipient of the 2018 Jacob Lawrence Legacy Residency. Go, Davida!

This fall, the Office of Arts & Culture brings you the Seattle Center Sculpture Walk, featuring eight temporary installations—including one from our recent Emerging Arts Leader Intern, Kalina Chung. Go, Kalina!

Here’s critic Mary Ann Gwinn on Barbara Johns’ new book on artist Takuichi Fujii, who painted throughout his incarceration in Minidoka; his work will also be in an upcoming exhibition at the Washington State History Museum.

Inter/National News

Hyperallergic on We the People, now on view at the M in Minneapolis, featuring “pieces that grapple not only with American identity but with an all-out call for revolution.” Molly Vaughan is one of the exhibition’s artists (hey, we know her!).

Could be that first bit of fall chill in the air, but I enjoyed this Artnet article—inspired by a show on view at Bowdoin College Museum of Art—on the art historical roots of memento mori.

Ezra Jack Keats’s bestselling children’s book The Snowy Day has charmed generations—and now its hero, Peter, will be featured on U.S. Postal Service Forever stamps.

And Finally

Crayola debuted “Bluetiful,” its new hue inspired by chemist Mas Subramanian’s accidental pigment discovery. Bliss out on the magic of crayon-creation with this Sesame Street throwback.

—Rachel Eggers, SAM’s Public Relations Manager

Photo: Courtesy of Molly Vaughan.

My Favorite Things: Sandra Jackson-Dumont on Mickalene Thomas’ “Hair Portrait #20”

As one of the most beloved collection works currently hanging at Seattle Art Museum, we weren’t surprised when SAM’s former Deputy Director of Education and Public Programs and current Chairman of Education at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Sandra Jackson-Dumont, chose Mickalene Thomas’ Hair Portrait #20 to be the subject of her My Favorite Things video.

When i walk in here I see reflections of people who look like me, but i also see a major contribution to the art-historical cannon.

Noting the exclusion of black women from portraiture in western art, Thomas turns her subject into a dazzling, glamorous icon. The work packs a walloping visual punch, spanning 300 inches wide with each face tiled in a different hue, moving from light to dark, from visibility to near invisibility, the Warholian repetition of a single image is given entirely new meaning.

Also, we really miss Sandra.

We love Sandra Jackson-Dumont!

SAMBlog