The Seattle Asian Art Museum is reopening in May! Find out more about visiting »

Muse/News: Magical Connections, Jazz Sculptures, and History’s Presence

SAM News

The Seattle Asian Art Museum reopens this week to members and will reopen to the public May 28. Margo Vansynghel of Crosscut visited the museum, which had its grand reopening in February 2020 before closing again on March 13, 2020, to see its reimagined galleries and learn what the closure meant for the curators and conservation team.

“To demonstrate the magic these new connections can create, Wu walks us to another dimly lit gallery, this one filled with delicate paper scrolls and book folios dedicated to the holy word. In one display case, two pieces of priceless paper seem to have been drenched in the night sky… On the surface, the two are linked by the shimmer of gold and tempestuous blue, but together they also suggest a power beyond words.”

KNKX also recommends a visit to the museum on their list of activities and events honoring Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in May. Curiocity recommends it, too, and it’s on the Stranger’s list of events for May.

The Seattle Times’ Megan Burbank launches a new visual arts column, On View; in her first edition, she includes Dawn Cerny: Les Choses, an installation of sculptures now on view at SAM.

Local News

Spend some time with the Stranger’s Ann Guo and The Station co-owner Leona Moore-Rodriguez, as they talk about coffee, community, and ̕90s R&B.

Seattle Met’s Stefan Milne has you covered on upcoming festivals in the region: what’s happening and what’s not.

In her weekly ArtSEA letter, Crosscut Brangien Davis highlights some public art now on view at the new Jackson Apartments complex, including an installation honoring Northwest jazz legends by Paul Rucker (the tonearm is a bench!).

“He hopes this piece is both enlightening and fun. ‘I’d love for it to be a place to do rubbings,’ he said, noting the inscribed names. ‘Or a place people take selfies. I want it to be like the Troll, that’s my dream.’”

Inter/National News

Billionaire art collector, philanthropist, and entrepreneur Eli Broad—a towering figure in the cultural scene of the United States, and most of all, in his adopted hometown of Los Angeles—has died at 87,” reports Artnet. 

Art in America’s “New Talent” issue was guest-edited by Antwaun Sargent and sees him “realize a decade-old fantasy” by bringing together a team of Black writers and critics. Read his editor’s letter and explore the new issue.

Tausif Noor for the New York Times on An American Project at the Whitney Museum of American Art, a retrospective survey of the work of photographer Dawoud Bey.

“Under Bey’s careful eye, history emerges as an active presence, authored in real time by individuals and societies who transform and are transformed by the continual unfolding of the past.”

And Finally

RIP, Olympia Dukakis.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Photo: Jueqian Fang

Muse/News: Otherworldly Sculptures, a Complex Holiday, and an Uprising Anniversary

SAM News

Now on view on SAM: Dawn Cerny: Les Choses, the solo exhibition of the winner of the 2020 Betty Bowen Award. The Stranger and Crosscut both shared an early look of the artist’s intimate sculptures.

“…like something aliens might make if tasked with replicating a human abode by hand.” 

Local News

Special to the Seattle Times, here’s Thomas May on “how Seattle Opera came to film its newest production at the Museum of Flight.” 

Northwest Film Forum’s Vivian Hua for South Seattle Emerald on the Seattle Black Film Festival, which kicked off last Friday and closes April 26—plenty of time to tune in!

Juneteenth was named an official Washington State holiday on April 9, joining many other states and organizations (including SAM, for the first time last year) who already recognize the day. Crosscut invited author Clyde W. Ford to reflect on the “long and troubling” history of the holiday.

“W.E.B. DuBois described the time period of Juneteenth succinctly, ‘The slave went free; stood a brief moment in the sun; then moved back again toward slavery.’ Each of DuBois’ three moments are inextricably linked. We need a holiday that commemorates them all.”

Inter/National News

ARTnews’ Angelica Villa on Robert Colescott’s satirical painting, George Washington Carver Crossing the Delaware: Page from an American History Textbook (1975), which is “set to break [the] artist’s auction record” at Sotheby’s in May. The painting’s inclusion in SAM’s 2018 exhibition Figuring History is mentioned. 

The New York Times’ Glenn Kenny on the “powerful medicine” of Bill Traylor: Chasing Ghosts, Jeffrey’s Wolf’s documentary on the artist. 

April 19, 1943 was the first day of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Hyperallergic recognizes the anniversary with scholar Samantha Baskind’s reflections on the permanent exhibit devoted to the uprising at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and its complicated aims. 

“I was conflicted about its sensationalizing the ghetto’s story through its persistently honorific presentation. But I now better understand why the museum indelibly impresses upon us, in a very public and influential instance, the reprieve of physical and spiritual resistance mounted in the sealed city within a city.”

And Finally

Takuji Yamashita, Esq


– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Installation view of Dawn Cerny: Les Choses at Seattle Art Museum, 2021, photo: Nina Dubinsky.

Muse/News: SAM Director Reflects, Portraits of Isolation, and Augusta Savage’s Crafted Life

SAM News

Amada Cruz, SAM’s Illsley Ball Nordstrom Director and CEO, was interviewed by Megan Burbank of the Seattle Times for a Sunday feature on “how Seattle-area museums are weathering the pandemic.” Read her insights—and those from her colleagues—on the challenges and opportunities that arose.

“Pivoting to their own permanent collections is something museums may do more and more as they emerge from the pandemic with smaller operating budgets. ‘I think it’ll be really fun for viewers, and also for us, by the way. We on the staff will learn what we have in storage as well,’ said Cruz.”

A Jacob Lawrence work was featured in the Monday “Gallery” from Harper’s Magazine. And here’s Seattle University professor Jasmine Jamillah Mahmoud, reviewing Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle for Hyperallergic.

“Angled figures and cutting diagonal lines — as blood, guns, and swords — iterate across panels as do themes of battle, war, migration, labor, land theft, and peace.”

Don’t miss Emily Zimmerman’s interview with Barbara Earl Thomas for BOMB Magazine. Her exhibition at SAM has been extended and will now close January 2, 2022.

“This idea of disarming my viewer is key to my process. In order to really see, one’s expectations need to be interrupted. I situate my vision in the big arc of time and human spirit, not the present journalistic moment.”

Local News

“How a Seattle game of ‘telephone’ became a worldwide art event”: Crosscut’s Margo Vansynghel on a Seattle art project gone global.

Gemma Alexander for the Seattle Times on MOHAI’s new exhibition, Stand Up Seattle: The Democracy Project.

The Stranger’s Jasmyne Keimig reviews (Don’t Be Absurd) Alice in Parts, now on view at the Frye Art Museum through April 25.

“While the work is specific to the physical and mental pain Black women deal with every day (‘Alice has always been in her own personal pandemic,’ says Anastacia-Reneé), Don’t Be Absurd captures a portrait of isolation that urgently reflects the world we’re emerging out of.”

Inter/National News

Via Artforum: The African American Historic Places Project is a new initiative from the Getty Conservation Institute and the city of LA, whose goal is “identifying and preserving Black heritage landmarks throughout Los Angeles.”

The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art will undergo an expansion overseen by Safdie Architects,  to increase its footprint by 50 percent, reports Artnet.

“The Black Woman Artist Who Crafted a Life She Was Told She Couldn’t Have”: The New York Times’ Concepción de León on the sculptor Augusta Savage.

“Savage was an important artist held back not by talent but by financial limitations and sociocultural barriers. Most of Savage’s work has been lost or destroyed but today, a century after she arrived in New York City at the height of the Harlem Renaissance, her work, and her plight, still resonate.”

And Finally

Learn now to pronounce people’s names.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Muse/News: Jacob’s Story, New Models, and a Will to Equity

SAM News

The Seattle Art Museum is open, with limited capacity and timed tickets released online every Thursday. Jasmyne Keimig of the Stranger reviews Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle, now on view at SAM.

“America’s persistence as a country and a project was not foretold. Rather, it was violently taken and sketched out, marked by slavery, genocide, war, and immense struggle experienced by those seeking their own freedom and those looking to impose their will on others. It’s a point hammered out in the rest of the series.”

KING’s Evening Magazine toured the exhibition, interviewing SAM curator Theresa Papanikolas. Thrillist recommends the show, and Artdaily also shares the news

The University of Washington’s Daily on the “revolution and inclusion” on view in the exhibition; they also shared details of a Lawrence seminar this spring. And they reported on the museum’s recent gift of Lang Collection artworks.

And with this nice weather, don’t forget to visit the Olympic Sculpture Park; The Expedition includes it on this list of “best sculpture gardens for families.”

Local News

First Hill’s Museum of Museums will finally open, reports Capitol Hill Seattle Blog. 

And the Wing Luke Museum reopened recently; Sean Harding for South Seattle Emerald checked in on how things are going. 

Crosscut’s Margo Vansynghel dives deep with a survey of local arts and culture organizations and how they’re faring, one year into the pandemic; she finds dramatic losses and tentative hope for new models. 

“The arts and culture industry has relied on old models and underpaid, overworked people for decades. Those models weren’t cutting it even pre-pandemic, says LANGSTON’s [Tim] Lennon. ‘The old ways were not that great for a lot of small organizations, artists and culture workers, especially those from BIPOC communities,’ he wrote.”

Inter/National News

Hyperallergic’s Sarah Rose Sharp shares the news that United States Artists (USA) president and CEO Deana Haggag will be stepping down for a position at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

PBS NewHour interviews Peabody Essex Museum curator Lydia Gordon about the two recovered panels of the Struggle series, both of which are now on view at SAM.

Tessa Soloman of ARTnews on how executive roles in equity and belonging are on the rise at museums; she interviews Rosa Rodriguez-Williams at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, Craig Bigelow at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, and others. The article references SAM’s appointment of Priya Frank to Director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in August 2020. 

“Not all of this work requires funding—it’s about changes in procedure and process,” [Bigelow] said. “Too often there’s a default to slowing the work or stopping the work because there’s a perceived lack of funding. But this isn’t entirely about funding—it’s about will.”

And Finally

Oscar nominations have been announced; get going on your watch list!

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Installation view of Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle at Seattle Art Museum, 2021, photo: Natali Wiseman.

Muse/News: A SAM Anniversary, Native Entrepreneurs, and the Black Romantic

SAM News

The downtown Seattle Art Museum will reopen to the general public on March 5, just in time for the special exhibition, Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle. We’re also working behind the scenes for when we can reopen SAM’s Asian Art Museum in Volunteer Park. Take a look back at the exciting renovation and reimagination of the building, which debuted almost one year ago.

Local News

KUOW’s Ross Reynolds checked in with museums around the region on how they’re adapting to the pandemic, including the Kittitas County Historical Museum, the National Nordic Museum, and the Cowlitz County Museum.

The Seattle Times’ Megan Burbank reports on big news for the Seattle gallery scene: After 37 years, Greg Kucera will retire and move to a small French castle, selling the gallery to trusted employees.

Crosscut’s Margo Vansynghel catches up with Louie Gong of Eighth Generation, which was purchased by the Snoqualmie Tribe in 2019, and their thriving business producing Native-designed wool blankets.

“When people imagine a Native company, they imagine a small company, the aunties weaving,” [Gong] says. “They’re focused on Native people being craftspeople, not entrepreneurs building a thriving business[…]by using cutting-edge technology to produce textiles in-house, we’re sort of meeting this expectation halfway and then bringing it to where we want to be, which is that our Native-owned brand can be a global success.”

Inter/National News

Via Artnet: “A Viking Archaeologist Shares 6 of the Most Fascinating Finds From a Slew of Recent Discoveries Made in Melting Ice.”

Sarah Bahr for the New York Times on the Chicano Art Museum, opening this fall in Riverside, California and featuring artworks from actor and comedian Cheech Marin’s large collection.

Jasmine Sanders on the Black Romantic for Artforum.

“The first piece of art my aunt ever purchased for herself, Mobassi’s canvas hangs in her living room still. The piece embodies Artistic Impressions’ predominant aesthetic, a style that came to be known as the Black Romantic: representational, mixed media, superlative in its sentimentalism and in an unambiguous race pride owed to a glamorized, monarchical African past.”

And Finally

Learn more about Robert S. Duncanson.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Photo: Natali Wiseman

Muse/News: Two-Way Mirrors, Poetic Catharsis, and a New Cultural Deal

SAM News

All SAM locations are currently closed until further notice, but we’re working behind the scenes for when we can reopen the downtown museum (again!). For now, revisit this interview between SAM curator Catharina Manchanda and artist Barbara Earl Thomas about SAM show The Geography of Innocence, which Thomas calls her “two-way mirror” onto the world.

Local News

The Stranger’s Jasmyne Keimig brings her “How to Look At” series to the recent Vogue cover of the Vice President, which received critiques about how it captured the historical occasion.

The Seattle Times’ book beat is working hard, with two great recent features: an in-depth look at the community-centered Estelita’s Library, and the opening of Oh Hello Again, a new bookstore organized by emotions.

Crosscut’s Brangien Davis reflects on the culture-shifting moment of the inaugural poem performance by Amanda Gorman and what can happen when the arts take center stage in our civic life.

“In six minutes, at a formal federal ceremony, the young woman demonstrated how art can crystallize the heft and hope of a historic moment with a few brilliant strokes.”

Inter/National News

Artnet bundles up all the best art world takes on the meme that overtook the world last week.

Hyperallergic invites you to explore the first photograph taken at a US presidential inauguration.

Jason Farago of the New York Times opens up a crucial conversation about the importance of arts and culture to American society, offering ambitious ideas for how the government can support the arts and all of its workers.

“But a soul-sick nation is not likely to recover if it loses fundamental parts of its humanity. Without actors and dancers and musicians and artists, a society will indeed have lost something necessary — for these citizens, these workers, are the technicians of a social catharsis that cannot come soon enough.”

And Finally

Here’s even more about Amanda Gorman.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Installation view of Barbara Earl Thomas: The Geography of Innocence at Seattle Art Museum, 2020, © Seattle Art Museum, photo: Spike Mafford

Muse/News: Reflections, Lives They Lived, and Room Tone

SAM News

All SAM locations are currently closed until further notice, but we continue to reflect and plan for the future.

The Seattle Times shared remembrances of 11 cultural figures we lost in 2020. Chiyo Ishikawa, SAM’s former Deputy Director for Art and Curator of European Painting and Sculpture, wrote about Virginia “Jinny” Wright. Jinny and her enormous contributions to SAM and to the Puget Sound region are celebrated in SAM’s exhibition City of Tomorrow: Jinny Wright and the Art Shaped A New Seattle, which closes January 18.

Seattle Times columnist Naomi Ishisaka asked four leaders in the region to reflect on the past year and on what they’ll take into 2021; Priya Frank, SAM’s Director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, reflected on creativity, care, and an ubiquitous sweatshirt. And in case you missed it: Priya appeared on KUOW’s The Record back in November talking museums and accessibility.

Local News

2020 feel like a blur? Seattle Met has you covered with this timeline of the year, including the February reopening of the reimagined Asian Art Museum (we hardly knew ye!).

“A giant of Native Northwest Coast art”: Artist, curator, and teacher Bill Holm passed away at the age of 95 earlier in December. Barbara Brotherton, SAM’s Curator of Native American Art, spoke with the Seattle Times about how she “found her calling” in his classes.

Also in the Seattle Times: The largest-ever edition of their annual Pictures of the Year project. Take a moment to reflect on the visual stories that their team of photojournalists captured, against all odds.

“Everything we needed was suddenly in short supply. One photographer sewed masks for the entire staff. Others dredged masks out of their garages and closets. Yet another photographer found a supply of hand sanitizer made by a local distiller. Not wanting to worsen the shortage of PPE in this country, we eventually found a supply of more masks overseas. We’ve gone through a lot of them.”

Inter/National News

Artnet writers name 10 acclaimed exhibitions they wish they could have seen this year, including Artemisia at London’s National Gallery, Awol Erizku’s show at FLAG Art Foundation, and—what’s this?—Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle at the Met? Lucky you, the exhibition arrives at SAM next spring.

Artist John Outterbridge passed away December 23 at the age of 87. Celebrated for his assemblage work, he was also a former director of the Watts Towers Arts Center; read more about his life and practice in the Los Angeles Times obituary.

The New York Times Magazine shares its annual end-of-year project, “The Lives They Lived.” Don’t miss Jenna Wortham on grappling with the afterlife of Breonna Taylor.

“I’ve come to see the thousands of images of Taylor as a memory of our collective will — even though it was betrayed by the state. Anti-lynching efforts were ultimately successful in reshaping the historical and cultural memory of the brutality and immorality of those deaths. ‘We shouldn’t see them — or this — as a failure, but as a project on the road to redemption,’ [Leigh] Raiford told me. She reminded me that memory and memorialization are necessary for that work, as is the honest appraisal of the past to work toward justice in the present and the future.”

And Finally

Let’s get some room tone.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Muse/News: Amada Reflects, Black Santa, and the Deaf Experience

SAM News

All SAM locations are currently closed until further notice, but in the meantime, reflect on the state of the arts in Seattle with the Stranger’s new online series. It kicked off with an interview between Jasmyne Keimig and Amada Cruz, SAM’s Illsley Ball Nordstrom Director and CEO, in which she shared some of the challenges and endeavors going on at the museum.

“The focus is on maneuvering this big institution through the toughest financial challenge it has ever had. For many museums across the country, this is an existential crisis. 30% of the art museums across the country could close, right? SAM is not in that position, but we’re certainly not immune to the challenges.”

Local News

Crosscut’s Margo Vansynghel celebrates the “cultural innovators” in the city who creatively responded to the challenges of the pandemic.

Mentioned in the article: New Archives, the local arts journal that launched this year. Catch up with a recent review by Kym Littlefield of Algorithm: Archetype, Christopher Shaw’s show at the Northwest African American Museum (NAAM).

Also at NAAM: Black Santa returns! Seattle Times photographer Bettina Hansen was there to capture the annual tradition, which went virtual this year. She spoke with the museum’s executive director, LaNesha DeBardelaben.

“We have to hold on to our children and protect our joy,” DeBardelaben said. “We are not derailed by the challenges we have faced this year. This is just a glimmer of hope and light in what has been a very difficult year for our community and our nation.”

Inter/National News

Art & Object is just in time with a list of “7 Films About Art to Beat the Winter Blahs.”

Join critic and historian Hal Foster as he contemplates art and lockdown for Artforum’s December print edition.

Artnet’s Kate Brown speaks with Christine Sun Kim about Trauma, LOL, the artist’s exhibition of drawings at François Ghebaly in Los Angeles.

“Kim is fascinated with phrases that can have multiple definitions, that can be translated and mistranslated by different audiences. Her new works illustrate the complicated nature of trauma within Deaf experience—something she says is ‘layered’ due to a lifetime of living in a ‘hearing world.’”

And Finally

Meet Noor and Aziz.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Photo: Natali Wiseman

Muse/News: Aboard the Ark, a Reporter’s Next Move, and a Desert Mystery

SAM News

All SAM locations are currently closed until further notice. But you can still prepare to board the Ark once SAM reopens; UW Daily’s Katie Newman explores the video installation by Lynne Siefert that we can’t wait to push “play” on once again. 

“On a cruise ship, an eerie voice announces the postapocalyptic realities of our capitalist society. In a snowfield, a man walks alone, children play on a beach, and life goes on — all under the shadows of gargantuan, smoke-belching coal power plants. Welcome to Lynne Siefert’s world of film.”

SAM Shop remains open, with safety protocols in place, and its awesomely diverse offerings are popping up in holiday gift guides. Seattle Met says yes to the SAM-exclusive “NO” tote by Tariqa Waters, 425 Magazine recommends a museum membership, and ARTFIXdaily toasts the glass wine bulbs by Oliver Doriss. Or: Shop SAM Shop online. Easy!

2020 may not have been the best, but SAM still is. Thank you to the readers of Seattle Magazine, for naming Seattle Art Museum the best museum!

Local News

Isamu Noguchi’s Floor Frame (1962) was recently installed on the east terrace of the White House’s Rose Garden—the first work by an Asian-American artist to enter its collection. The Stranger’s Jasmyne Keimig walks us through this unusual art moment

Randy Engstrom, the director of Seattle’s Office of Arts & Culture, will be stepping down after eight years. Here’s the office’s full announcement

And another bittersweet change: Marcie Sillman retires from KUOW after 35 years reporting on the arts. But you won’t be missing her thoughtful stories for long; she’s planning to launch an arts podcast with Vivian Phillips.

“I think mostly what I want to say is that this isn’t a frill,” Sillman said of the arts. “It’s something that is just central to our lives. During this pandemic, where have we all turned for comfort? I’m sure people are really happy that sports teams are playing again, but you’re still listening to your favorite song or watching great movies, streaming online or reading good books or just contemplating beautiful nature in Instagram posts. So, it’s something that we need for our souls.”

Inter/National News

Pumla Dineo Gqola for the New York Times on the Zanele Muholi career retrospective that has finally opened at the Tate Modern, after some delay due to COVID closures. The exhibition includes works from several of Muholi’s series, including Somnyama Ngonyama, which came to SAM in 2019.

“More than a little tumultuous”: The editors of ARTnews reflect on 2020.

A 12-foot-tall polished steel monolith appeared in the Utah desert. Then it disappeared. Then it was pondered. Then there were copycats? We can’t keep up. What does it all mean?

“We are currently in an environment of epidemic over-explanation, a surplus of commercially incentivized information production. That is literally sending people into the desert looking, not for answers, but for questions.”

And Finally

Muse/News Recommends: Poem-a-day in your inbox. 

Installation view of Lynne Siefert: Ark at Seattle Art Museum, 2020, photo: Natali Wiseman.