Muse/News: Painting in Motion, Jimi’s Anthem, and Museums’ Role

SAM News

All SAM locations are currently closed until further notice, but we’re still dancing about paintings.

As City of Tomorrow: The Art That Shaped a New Seattle will not reopen to the public, we asked Seattle-based dancers Michele Dooley, Nia-Amina Minor, and Amanda Morgan to reinterpret a work from the exhibition, Cross Section (1956) by Franz Kline. The Stranger’s Jasmyne Keimig shared the video and her reactions (including a perfect soundtrack suggestion).

“In particular, I love the frame above where the crook of Dooley’s elbow and bent hips capture the left side of the painting, while the verticality of Minor’s body captures the right. It’s a dynamic and fun reinterpretation of work that brings new life to Kline’s black and white original.”

Local News

Roxanne Ray for International Examiner interviews Northwest Film Forum executive director Vivian Hua on her two years there bringing together art and social justice.

The Seattle Times’ Michael Rietmulder and Brendan Kiley gather reflections from members of Seattle’s cultural community on last week’s violence at the Capitol Building.

And for her weekly editor’s letter, Crosscut’s Brangien Davis fires up Jimi Hendrix’s iconic Woodstock performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

“Hendrix sometimes called his anthem adaptations ‘This Is America.’ The Woodstock edition is almost straightforward — albeit on a Fender Stratocaster, an American innovation itself — until he reaches ‘the rocket’s red glare.’ That’s when it rips open to reveal the pain and suffering of a nation at war with others, and within.”

Inter/National News

Dance Magazine shares its “25 to Watch” for 2021; on the list are Seattle-based dance artists Amanda Morgan of Pacific Northwest Ballet and The Seattle Project and Nia-Amina Minor of Spectrum Dance Theatre. Don’t miss the embedded video of Minor’s dance response to SAM collection work Trapsprung by Lynette Yiadom-Boakye.

What is the future of museums? Artnet shares excerpts from András Szántó’s forthcoming book in which he interviews museum directors and curators from around the world.

Following last week’s violent events at the Capitol, the American Alliance of Museums, along with a number of affiliates, made a statement about the role museums play in the moment.

“At this dark junction in our nation’s history, museums must lean into their missions and step up to the challenge ahead of us by fighting against white supremacy through educating our communities, building empathy, combating disinformation, and uplifting the stories and voices that have endured in the margins.”

And Finally

The return of Viennetta.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Image: Cross Section, 1956, Franz Kline, American, 1910–1962, oil on canvas, 53 1/2 x 63 in. Seattle Art Museum, Gift of the Virginia and Bagley Wright Collection, in honor of the 75th Anniversary of the Seattle Art Museum, 2020.15.17. © Artist or Artist’s Estate, Photo: Paul Macapia.

SAM Performs: Cross Section Dances

“Moving images
When you stare at something for a while it starts to move.
When you focus/think on it long enough it will move you.” 

– Michele Dooley

Action painting is akin to an artist dancing around their canvas. In this video Michele Dooley, Nia-Amina Minor, and Amanda Morgan, three Seattle-based contemporary dance artists, reinterpret Franz Kline’s movements in Cross Section.

Cross Section came into SAM’s collection earlier this year as part of a gift made to the Seattle Art Museum from the Wright Collection in honor of the museum’s 75th Anniversary. Though it’s been on view before, it’s inclusion in City of Tomorrow: Jinny Wright and the Art That Shaped a New Seattle marks it’s debut as part of our Modern and Contemporary Collection. This exhibition presents 64 works, all from the Wright Collection, created between 1943–2003 that define bold and experimental art movements across the United States and Europe. City of Tomorrow features but a fraction of the many works that Jinny and her husband Bagley gifted to SAM over the years. Kline’s Cross Section is a striking example of the Abstract Expressionist art movement.

“There is movement present in a painter’s trace. In the remnants of each brush stroke one can sense action, physicality and gravity. What does it feel like to be a paint brush to watch and listen to it’s swipe and feel each stroke embodied. What does it feel like to move with and through a painting? In the wash of this physicality there are the inevitable left overs and spillages. That space of imperfection and slippage draws me in.” 

– Nia-Amina Minor

Like many abstract expressionist artists, Kline trained as a figurative artist but chose to work abstractly, believing that the basic elements of art—line, color, shape—could evoke a transcendent experience for a viewer. In Cross Section, thick strokes of black and white paint are layered, emphasizing movement in the composition. This work is often referred to as an example of action painting because it can be seen as a record of its making.

Though City of Tomorrow is closing on January 18, the impressive artworks in this exhibition will be on view again as part of SAM’s collection galleries—all thanks to the visionary voyage of Jinny Wright. Through her arts initiatives, donations, and fundraising, Jinny’s legacy lives not only in the art collections and institutions she helped build, but also in her staunch belief that contemporary artists define their time.

“When approaching making movement in response to this work, I immediately was drawn to how abstract it was. Only having black and white strokes leave so much room for interpretation and storytelling. I imagined I was a part of the black strokes, weaving in and out of the white portions. There’s a moment where I slowly slip my shoes off; this was improv, but I envisioned that I was leaving the black strokes to enter white strokes, intertwining them both, one not existing without the other.” 

– Amanda Morgan