After 10 Years, the Grass Keeps Getting Greener

We’re celebrating the Olympic Sculpture Park turning 10 with a laser show! Installed for this year’s SAM Lights on December 15, Greener by Iole Alessandrini and Ed Mannery is an art installation made from light that was originally on view at the grand opening of the park in 2007. Missed SAM Lights? Not to worry! Greener will light up the terrace through January 16.

In the 10 years since the laser grid of Greener cast SAM visitor’s in its net, artist Alessandrini has had some time to reflect on the light sculpture, her practice, and what it means for an artwork and a sculpture park to interact and create visual connections for visitors. A Seattle transplant from Italy, Alessandrini began her Laser Project Series with Optical Engineer Ed Mannery in 2001 during a residency at Bellevue Art Museum. As Iole Alessandrini has had said of her work, “It is the intersection between these two creative expressions—art and architecture—” through which her work moves. At the Olympic Sculpture Park, Greener covers over 2,500 square feet of grass in the Gates Amphitheater between Richard Serra’s Wake and the PACCAR Pavilion.

See this work in the twilight hour between sunset and park closure for optimal viewing!

SAM: How does nature factor into your focus on architecture and design?

Iole Alessandrini: Since early studies on light-art at the University of Washington (1996), I have been captured by the symbiotic and antithetic relationship between natural and artificial light. Symbiotic—in that natural and artificial light make things visible; antithetic—as the sun dominates over artificial light. Within enclosed spaces the laser of our installations is free from sun’s interference and it appears radiant. In outdoor environments, the light from both the sun and the laser interplay with each other in a symbiotic and antithetic way. This unique interplay manifests when the sun sets and the sky darkens. During this transition, the light from the art prevails to become visible in itself, while revealing the natural landscape surrounding people.

 What about the interplay between the tangible and intangible interests you and drives your work?

I think of light as a medium that I can model, shape and bend. Perhaps as one who shapes clay; I shape light. The singular wave-behavior of laser, which directs the rays to move parallel to each other, gives the laser-light the distinctive shape of a beam. In the presence of dust or smoke the light-beam becomes visible yet intangible.

With the installation Greener, Optical Engineer Ed Mannery and I used cone optics to direct the beam to form a plane. It is the nature of light to be evident when objects reflect it. In the park, the light-planes intersecting the grass-blades reveal this natural phenomenon and look as if they are lit from within. Both grass and light are evident yet the light remains intangible.

At SAM Olympic Sculpture Park installing Greener for the 10th anniversary of the park’s opening.

A photo posted by @iolealeassandrini on

Is movement crucial to all your light-based works? I’m thinking of something like “Three of Us” which captures movement through laser projections as compared to Greener which inspires movement through laser projections.

Many of our projects involve a direct connection with viewer and light. The Three of Us is a photo of a unique phenomenon of light captured with the camera as people move through the laser-planes. The project Untitled at Jack Straw Production (2004) provided us the first opportunity to document this phenomenon. I photographed a woman’s hands as she moved them back and forth rapidly through the plane. This picture created the series which I titled Shroud as it shows a flat subject taking on a ghostly aspect through the interface with the light plane. The photos are unique as they resemble holograms and they are of great interest to me. I am an avid researcher of motion in photography as seen in the work by Eadweard Muybridge, Jules Etienne Marey and Harold Edgerton.

How is Greener activated by the interaction of park visitors?

Contemplating the work from a distance vs. interacting with it—as in immersing oneself in the light—are distinctive ways in which Greener can be experienced.  Yesterday at the park during its opening, we observed that dynamic at play. In both cases it was satisfying to witness the sense of wonder and engagement coming from people staring at and interacting with 2,500 square feet of light under their feet. Greener visually connects different aspects of the Olympic Sculpture Park, from Serra’s Wake to the PACCAR Pavilion causing visitors to walk and step over the grass and the light of our installation.

Do you see Greener differently after the last 10 years? What does the passage of time lend to the work and it’s relationship to the park?

We were pleased to see that even after 10 years the technology continues to work. It works in function, and it works in keeping visitors engaged and mesmerized. Their appreciation of the art, the landscape, and the architecture speaks volumes, making Greener an aesthetic expression and synthesis of them all.

–Chelsea Werner-Jatzke, Copywriter/Content Strategist

Photos: Courtesy of Iole Aleassandrini

Object of the Week: Echo

A recent addition to SAM’s collection and an huge impact on the landscape of the Seattle’s waterfront, Echo is the monumental sculpture installed at the Olympic Sculpture Park in 2014. Learn more about this visually confounding sculpture from the artist, Jaume Plensa, and Catharina Manchanda, SAM’s Jon and Mary Shirley Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art. Originally modeled on the nine-year-old daughter of the owner of a Chinese restaurant near the artist’s studio, Plensa elongated and abstracted the girl’s features with computer modeling. The sculpture references Echo, the mountain nymph of Greek mythology. Find out what it took to create and install such an intensely large-scale work.

Object of the Week: Persephone Unbound

Beverly Pepper’s Persephone Unbound draws out a tension that is central to the human experience, echoed in our mythology, and enacted in both art and life: the contrast between restraints and the desire to be released from them.

A work in cast bronze, the varied textures of the sculpture’s several facets give the appearance, instead, of poured concrete, in various states of leveling and finish. Near its base the surface of the sculpture bears the kind of textural depth that marks stucco walls, but here they are magnified to the sculpture’s monumental scale. As the eye scans upward to take in ten feet of vertical mass, passing over gravelly sections and dripping globs, more discrete forms begin to emerge, and the visual impression of human manufacture and intervention becomes more acute. The sculpture’s tallest arm is clean-cut, smoothly finished. Where initially the work might seem a monolithic rock formation roughly hewn, it emerges as a precisely chosen crystallization of contrasts, something in between natural and (wo)manmade. It’s a work that strikes me as if it’s perpetually in formation.

The artist has given us a particularly leading title as a way into her thinking. Persephone’s role in Greek mythology elicits sympathy for the character, and for the reader, a sense bitter loss. Persephone is an aching reminder of what could be. Hers is a pure beauty only sometimes accessible; her abundance, pleasant as it is to enjoy, is fleeting, ever accompanied by the foreboding of its imminent end. She wishes to be free, we wish her to be free, but that’s not the way of things.

What would it mean if Persephone were unbound? What if the goddess of spring growth were also the goddess of growth all the time, everywhere, forever?

The myth explains the reality of changing seasons, an immutable truth of the natural world. But Persephone Unbound begs us to imagine what restrictive realities exist that are of our own making—how have we limited ourselves, and one another, by lack of imagination, or belief, or desire? What about our world is not as good as it could be?

Persephone Unbound is one of seven works by Beverly Pepper in SAM’s collection. A widely recognized sculptor, Pepper has been the subject of solo exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, Ohio’s Columbus Museum of Art, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The sculpture has been an integral part of the Olympic Sculpture Park since the park’s opening in January of 2007.

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—Jeffrey Carlson, SAM Collections Coordinator

Image: Persephone Unbound, 1999, Beverly Pepper (American, born 1924), cast bronze, 122 x 31 1/2 x 21 in. Seattle Art Museum, Gift of Jon and Mary Shirley, 2009.14 © Beverly Pepper, Photo: Paul Macapia.

For the Love of Art Member Profile: Dana Yang and Jaywhan

DANA YANG & JAYWHAN
Insurance & real estate agent
Member since 1997

What is your favorite memory from being in an art museum?

D: My favorite memory in SAM is taking pictures with my son at Pop Departures.

Jaywhan, what do you love about being a SAM member?

J: I love SAM because my mom takes me to the sculpture park and there is always something new and fun to do. This summer we came for concerts at the park and saw the modern exhibit. I love coming to Seattle Art Museum, it’s amazing!

What’s your occupation? What are your hobbies or passions?

D: I am an insurance and real estate agent. My hobbies are tae kwon do, weight lifting, playing violin, and listening to music.

J: Student. Legos, sports, fencing, drawing, violin, tae kwon do, and video games.

Do you make art? What kind of things do you draw? Do you like to draw scenes or animals or people?

J: It’s fun to, like, look around. I like making art. I like drawing. I use a pencil—you can erase it. I draw things I see pictures of.

D: You make your own cartoons sometimes.

J: Yes, I do that sometimes—like doodling—but sometimes I do sketching—like good pictures. I’m not really good with people, I’m ok with animals, and I can draw scenes.

Do you make art, Dana?

D: I do practical art. Food art. I am so busy but you can find art in everything. Everyday, outside. I haven’t set out to do a specific type of art because I’m so busy now working and being a mom. But when I cook and put food on the plate I can make them look like art.

J: She’s a good cook.

Do you guys come to the museum together?

D: All the time. It’s a chance to get out of the suburb, Issaquah, see something different, and be exposed to art that’s from another country, another era. We like to look through the world from other points of view. To get inside of people’s heads, by looking at the art—it’s interesting.

Do you think art is important or just extra?

J: It kind of speaks without a voice. Like a drawing tells you how to be calm. Like a landscape with a picture of water would be calm and fire would not be calm, I guess, something like that. So it kind of expresses emotion.

D: For me it’s about culture. By looking at art I can see what culture people are from and what experiences they’ve had. I find that very interesting.

What role do museums play in that? Are they just houses for art or do they do something else?

J: They have lots of art.

D: Museums are bridges that help people to be exposed to different cultures, different art, different lifestyles, different outlooks on life. Without museums people wouldn’t have a place to go study all this art or to be exposed to different times in history or different countries, different types of art.

Jaywhan, you said you like museums because they have lots of art. You can go to one place and see lots of options. Do you have a favorite piece of artwork at the Asian Art Museum or downtown or at the sculpture park? Do you have a favorite, Dana?

J: There’re lots of things to look at from different people. I kind of like all of them. I don’t have a favorite.

D: I enjoy looking at the collections of really, really old actual things that people used. For example, I really enjoy looking at the jewelry from Egyptians and teacups and saucers from China and Middle East. And sometimes you have furniture. To think that people made them by hand, it’s amazing. It makes our life in this modern society seem a little bit silly.

How long have you been a member?

D: On and off. I’ve been coming here for a long time, whenever I had a chance.

Why are you a member?

D: I like to support the art museum and I enjoy the freedom of feeling like I can come to the museum whenever I want.

 

For the Love of Art Member Profile: Corey Rawdon

COREY RAWDON
35–44
Salesforce consultant, Sans The Tie
Patron member since 2014

What’s your occupation? What are your hobbies or passions?
Founder and Managing Director, Sans The Tie. A boutique Salesforce consulting firm. Lover of good wine and espresso, singer of the opening song of the Lion King in different countries while standing on rocks, vegan, and philanthropist in training.

Why do you love art?
Art has texture, art has color, art has form, and art has life—and it’s this life that can appeal to so many yet so few at one singular time. That is why I love art, Often pieces are deeply meaningful to some and yet completely irrelevant to others at the same time.

What’s your favorite SAM location? Do you have a special spot to visit?
As a new member I have only been able to experience the SAM a few times so I have yet to find a truly favorite place.

I’m so glad that you got involved.
We were very involved in the art scene in Dallas. My favorite location in Dallas was the Nasher Sculpture Center because I love sculpture probably more than painted pieces.

I was so excited to find the Olympic Sculpture Park. It’s probably one of the main reasons why we joined as members—to hang out there and do some of the cool, fun member events.

We also did SAM Remix at the Seattle Art Museum just a couple weekends ago actually. It was packed but fun.

Corey Rawdon, SAM Member

What role do you think art plays in society? Do we need art? Are museums important?
That’s such a huge question to answer. That’s a really great question because I do not have a long history with art. I never really appreciated art or architecture and all the different styles of architecture, actually, until I met my husband who took me around to all the museums.

I discovered, “Oh, there is this whole other world that I never even knew about or didn’t even think existed in a way that would be meaningful to me.” And through his lens I discovered that there are different types of buildings and architecture. It’s not in a museum, of course, but those buildings themselves are art through the ages.

That’s what really connected me to art—understanding the story and the history.

And then to learn to appreciate Art Deco and what all of the Art Deco buildings really represented, and the parties and the life and the joy that you had. Then to move forward into the Post-Modern era and all the really cool, crazy stuff where people just put a vacuum on a pedestal, and you’re like, “Oh, that’s art!”

So the answer is yes, you need art. Yes, it’s important but that art is going to be something totally different from one person to another.

I think part of the beauty of art is understanding yourself, that lens that you use to view art through, how you find art and its meaning to you.

Membership at SAM is full of perks such as Members Appreciation Night tonight at the Olympic Sculpture Park! Not a member yet? Sign up on Members Night and receive a $10 discount! See you there.

Summer Mindfulness and Creativity

Like many of us who live in the Pacific Northwest, I was called to this region of the country because of its natural beauty, dramatic mountains, and sparkling waters. I moved here from the concrete flatlands of sprawling Midwest suburbia, where the air too often smells like a combination of diesel and fried food. Thankfully, I was raised by a mother who highly values experiences in the outdoors. She is also a fulltime professional artist, and as a resourceful single mother she brought her children along on her searches for inspiration in the natural world. My mom taught us to appreciate the outdoors by encouraging close attention: listen carefully and you can hear the wind under the wings of migrating Canadian geese; stand still long enough and you may just catch that tadpole. Trees were measured by hugs around their trunks, leaves applauded as they trembled in the breeze, thunderstorms were music to dance to, dirt was painting material, and a flower’s scent was joy juice. The natural world was full of magic and creative potential.

Seattle yoga summer classes at Olympic Sculpture Park

It’s clear now that my own mindfulness practice began in these early experiences with nature. The connections between mindfulness and creativity have been inherently linked throughout my life and I believe that’s true for so many others. Living in our busy urban environment, paying attention to beauty is especially important. We all know how easy it is to be caught up in the speed and pace of the day-to-day bustle. But there is magic here too.

“. . . I hear all sounds running together, combined, fused or following,
Sounds of the city and sounds out of the city, sounds of the day and night,
Talkative young ones to those that like them, the loud laugh of work-people at their meals,
The angry base of disjointed friendship, the faint tones of the sick,
The judge with hands tight to the desk, his pallid lips pronouncing a death-sentence,
The heave’e’yo of stevedores unlading ships by the wharves, the refrain of the anchor-lifters,
The ring of alarm-bells, the cry of fire, the whirr of swift-streaking engines and hose-carts with premonitory tinkles and color’d lights,
The steam-whistle, the solid roll of the train of approaching cars . . .
I hear the chorus, it is a grand opera,
Ah this indeed is music—this suits me. . . .”
–Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

I work at the Seattle Art Museum designing and implementing programs for art and the environment. Many of my programs take place at the Olympic Sculpture Park and I recently planned our robust Summer at SAM season. Every Saturday morning during July and August, hundreds of guests come to the sculpture park to participate in free outdoor yoga with 8 Limbs. It’s a fantastic and productive partnership. It’s also been a surprisingly rewarding program to work on personally. Imagine hundreds of people, all different backgrounds, ages, and skill levels, moving and breathing in sync to a backdrop of the Olympic Mountains, Puget Sound, and a masterful collection of minimalist modern sculpture. The energy of each body emanates through the entire nine acres of the park.

In my job, I often live in a world of thought that is fairly abstract, trying to translate complicated histories and dense art language to audiences through multidisciplinary programs. I also get to play with these ideas, stretch, pull, and bend the boundaries of the expected into the unexpected. Art and the environment is a broad subject that has room to encompass natural, built, and virtual environments. Within the field there is a lot of freedom to explore what it means to have a physical body that is deeply connected to and affected by its surroundings.

Free yoga classes with 8Limbs Yoga in Seattle
Yoga teaches awareness of the body’s relationship to the ground and earth, the space around and between bodies. It is guided by our interactions with nature and the very profound integration of our spirit, our physical makeup, and the cosmos. The Olympic Sculpture Park provides a unique setting for this awareness to take place at the intersections of art, nature, and the city. During practice, there is grass beneath your feet, breeze blowing from the waterfront, mountains in view, and native plants surrounding you. The city is alive and humming with noise from the street, railroad tracks, and neighborhood comings and goings of a growing area. Amid all of this, the park’s collection of modern and contemporary sculpture brings a focal point of creativity to mindfulness. You are, at once, a part of an entire community of systems and reminded of the many inspirations so readily offered if you just pay attention.

“Everything is gestation and bringing forth. To let each impression and each germ of a feeling come to completion wholly in itself, in the dark, in the inexpressible, the unconscious, beyond the reach of one’s own intelligence and await with deep humility and patience the birth-hour of a new clarity: that alone is living the artist’s life. Being an artist means not reckoning and counting, but ripening like the tree which does not force its sap and stands confident in the storms of spring without the fear that after them may come no summer. It does come. But it comes only to the patient who are there as though eternity lay before them, so unconcernedly still and wide.”
–Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

—Leah Oren, Program Associate for Art and Environment, Seattle Art Museum

8 Limbs instructors will teach two free yoga classes every Saturday at SAM’s Olympic Sculpture Park at 9 am (All Levels Flow) and 10:30 am (Level I) from July 9 through August 27. On September 10, 17, and 24 we will continue teaching one class at 10:30 am (Level I). There is no yoga offered over Labor Day weekend.

IMAGES: Photos by Robert Wade.

SAM Lights Pro Tips

Our second annual SAM Lights event is happening this Thursday evening, December 17 from 6-9pm! To help you make the most of your experience at this popular event, we’ve come up with a list of pro tips from SAM staff members to ensure a fabulous time is had by your friends and loved ones.

Pro Tip #1: Arrive throughout the evening
The entire evening is filled with art, lights, music, and more. Feel free to arrive at the time that makes sense for you, your family, and your personal preferences!

Pro Tip #2: Get out and enjoy the park beyond the PACCAR Pavilion
Come bundled up and show everyone how Seattle does winter! Take part in the energetic procession of music and light down the Z Path led by the Chaotic Noise Marching Corps at 7:15 pm. Don’t miss your only chance to see Andy Behrle’s light installation, apparition.

Pro Tip #3: Take public transportation
Garage parking will not be available this evening, so be sure to bus to the sculpture park!

Pro Tip #4: Grab a hot drink
Keep toasty while you explore the park’s lights. Buy a warm drink from Taste or Hot Revolution Donuts, or bring your own.

Pro Tip #5: Hang out in the Garage
The Garage will be decked out with lights, DJ Sharlese from KEXP will be spinning for you all night long, and food trucks will be serving up some sweet and savory treats. Check out 314 Pie and Hot Revolution Donuts and take a break from the rain and enjoy your eats in the City Arts Lounge.

Pro Tip #6: Become part of the show
Wear your best light-inspired ensemble and become a part of the art experience.

Pro Tip #7: Take the event program with you
Know before you go by accessing the SAM Lights program from your mobile device at visitsam.org/samlights.

See you there!

Photo: Nathaniel Willson

A Tick of the Clock: Dan Webb Carves Through the Summer

This summer, Seattle artist Dan Webb will set up shop at the Olympic Sculpture Park. In a small wooden shed, he will gradually turn a tree into a procession of carved sculptures. He will continue to carve until nothing is left but sawdust.

The ephemeral project pays tribute to the natural life cycle of the tree, which will come from the sculpture park—our chief gardener has selected one that needs to be thinned for the health of the grove. The tree’s seeds will be preserved and planted in the park.

We talked to Webb about his project—and what making art means to him.

Note: Selections from this interview appeared in the SAM magazine for June–September 2015. This is the full interview.

Dan Webb: Break It Down - Olympic Sculpture Park

SAM: This summer, you’ll be spending two months carving sculptures out of a tree but I hear that none of the works you make will be kept. What motivates you to do this? What’s your thinking behind this?

Dan Webb: I think it really talks about a certain ephemerality to most things that everything lives for a while. I mean, even if you look at the acropolis or something like that, it’s melting because of the rain and such. There are these things that we’re able to make but we’re not able to make anything that’s permanent. So maybe the conceit of sculpture is that you can hold on to a moment for a bit but a lot of my work really references the idea of time and the idea of a cycle, that you’re born and you live and you die and that just starts another beginning.

And I think wood is a great material to do that with. You know, it’s a material that was alive and is no longer. There’s a way that you can really talk about those kinds of systems, the falling apart and then coming out of the ashes and falling apart, that just seems really natural in wood. You don’t have to reach very far and it doesn’t seem mockish or melodramatic.

The work to me is on the one hand is quite light-hearted and fun and on the other hand is very much about entropy and death and stuff. I feel like that material spans that emotional distance really well. I do want all of that stuff kicking around in there somewhere.

SAM: Something that occurred to me while looking at this project and some of your other work is that you start with block of wood and you start carving. And with this project, you’re going to keep carving until—

Dan Webb: Exactly.

SAM: —you can’t keep carving anymore.

Dan Webb: Right.

dan-webb-break-it-down-mortise-1000px

SAM: This is unique to carving. That if you keep going, your medium will disappear. If a painter just kept layering on paint and paint and paint and engaging in the process, his material would get thicker. His canvas would eventually get thicker but yours will eventually disappear.

Dan Webb: Exactly. Yeah, it’s very much a reductive process—it’s something you think about. It’s something you notice as you carve, you know, that every time I take a little bit off, there’s very much a reference. It’s not a metaphor. It’s very much like a tick of the clock. There’s a little bit gone, you know, and that just percolates through the work.

It’s hard to keep it away so that’s really the beginning of it. I hope that doesn’t sound like a big fat bummer but it’s in there. But along that path of that life and all the stuff that I’m going to make, there’s all sorts of stuff that’s great.

You know, I’m really already planning on making a salad set for the table that I’m supposed to make in the park or making some kind of implements for people when they sit around their table and we have dinner in the park that will come from that tree [Dan is a featured artist for Party in the Park]. I want those things to really live a life and to be touched, to be in the hands of people and to go somewhere. That’s just one idea. There’s a few others too related to that.

Dan Webb: Break It Down - Olympic Sculpture Park

SAM: That’s one of the things I want to ask. How will you decide what to carve?

Dan Webb: There’s a lot of improvisation in what happens with a particular piece of wood and some of it is just—to me—sort of silly inside jokes.

I always think of the phrase “ripped limb from limb” because I make so many limbs out of the limbs of trees through what amounts to a whole lot of violence, really. That just seems so dumb and obvious, to carve a limb from a limb, but I can’t help myself.

It’s still great. Not really worrying about the starting point is more of my process. The idea that [Marcel] Duchamp had of chance—the standard stoppages and all that kind of stuff of making, building into his process the way that he does—he isn’t really sure what it’s going to be. I’m sympathetic to that way of working.

I think illustrating my deep thoughts on things as they are would be a whole lot less interesting than discovering things along the way and being sensitive to the serendipity of certain shapes, certain ways that the wood seems to be doing certain things. Just listening to that makes it more than I think I could plan for it to be.

Dan Webb: Break It Down - Olympic Sculpture Park

SAM: Is there a point in the carving where you either discover something and your path forward is set or because you get to a point where you’ve made enough decisions that you’re now limited—?

Dan Webb: There is a point at which it’s set. I’m starting to make things where I take a single block and I start cutting chunks out of the block and carving different things from them with a simple joint at the top, a dove-tail joint, and then sliding all those things together that I pull out of the block.

And I’ve found that it doesn’t take very long before there’s something going on with that initial piece that leads to the next piece and then I’m trying to really find that in the block. I’m trying to make sure that I can find that in there. So while there’s improv, there’s also me trying to exert my will on it. There’s a tension between the two.

SAM: We tend to think about the artist as a solitary, isolated figure. I read somewhere that you work in a studio in Georgetown with other artists so you aren’t necessarily that on a daily basis anyway. But now you’re bringing your studio to the park, which is this very public space.

What are your expectations? Why are you interested? Are there things here you’re excited about or worried about?

Dan Webb: Yeah, I know. Well, I think that really has to be part of the work. I am really interested in Robert Smithson’s work, Partially Buried Woodshed, that he made in the 70s. I got a chance to see it actually. It was a woodshed where a bunch of woodworkers were and he poured a whole bunch of dirt on it and left it and it rotted. His work was really about entropy and everything like that. But I was really interested in what happens to those woodworkers inside of that. I know he pulled them out before he poured dirt on it—but the whole idea of what happens to the people, and how do people fit into that work, and his thinking in some ways informs this piece.

I’m very much the woodworker there in the shack. The activity of it, the pretty slow quotidian boringness of it will be on display, as well as the conversations I’ll have and all the rest of it. I hope that’s very much a part of the work.

Dan Webb: Break It Down - Olympic Sculpture Park

SAM: What are five things you’ll bring with you? What do you need to work when you’re carrying your studio with you?

Dan Webb: Well, I’m going to have a rolling cart that I’ll have to roll into the shack from the pavilion and roll back at the end of the night because there’s—I’ll probably have fifty or sixty chisels with me and saws—a lot of stuff will be required to do this. So I’d be pretty stumped if I had to think of just five. A cup of coffee, my toolbox. What else? What else do I get? Is that two? Technically I’ve already listed more than a hundred because of the tools so I better stop. I’m cheating already.

SAM: I want to ask you about some of your influences and I have to be honest—I’m hoping you’ll talk a little bit about Robert Morris’s Box With a Sound of Its Own Making.

Dan Webb: Oh, yeah, which I just paid homage to ten minutes ago. I love it. I love talking about other people’s work. Well, it’s just a towering work of genius, first of all.

I think what it does for me as a maker of things—it really says that there’s this life lived by someone who made that thing. That new object was brought to this place by a person who thought things through, had all these problems to solve, and was having a hard day that day, and told a really hilarious joke at lunchtime to his friends.

So there’s that really clear, awesome humanity to it.

The other thing too that becomes maybe even more important than the piece—the physical artifact really takes a backseat (maybe) to the idea, to the circumstance, to the context. There’s a lot of things that go into it and the object becomes the artifact of that.

I think about that when I look at the Michelangelo “Slave” Series as well. It’s not that they’re finished or that’s even important. They’re sort of struggling to get out of this block environment. But you can just see his chisel. More than any other piece that Michelangelo made, you see these tourists just running by these things in Florence. Nobody looks at them. I was the only person.

You can see the chisel marks and you make the connection that there was this funny little shrunken dude who was making that stuff.

It seems to be pretty profound to me that there’s the things that you think and feel and hope for. And then there’s the artifact of that life—which is your work. Not forgetting that, not ever forgetting that, is really important.

SAM: That art is made by humans.

Dan Webb: Art is made by humans who are muddling through, and trying to make sense of it, and the issues are pretty much the same [then that they are now].

I think with a lot of other work, before I saw Box With a Sound of Its Own Making, it was harder for me to access some of that stuff. It seemed like this thing had just arrived—rather than feeling like there was a context for why that thing existed or there were conflicts and difficulties with them, which leads to it looking a certain way. You have to grapple with the thing.

Dan Webb: Break It Down - Olympic Sculpture Park

SAM: How do you define mastery?

Dan Webb: You know, that word is a real—whenever I hear that word, I think of Caine in Kung Fu or something like that, an impossible TV black belt in a Shaolin temple. I don’t know.

I know that it’s easy to point to history and say well, Michelangelo was and Bernini was and Sam Maloof was. You could point to these people but I wonder if they would say that. I wonder if any of them—I bet they were champing to get to work so that they could get a little bit better that day, the day that they died.

I think at best what you can maybe access is total effort. I don’t know that a lot of people understand what total effort is. It’s not 99 percent. It’s 100 percent and when you’re absolutely, completely—then there’s nothing left.

And to do that over the course of a long period of time, in order to get to a place where something like mastery becomes part of the question or part of the discussion—I think that’s a pretty awesome, gratifying thing. But I don’t know anybody that’s even come close who would say, “Yeah. Yeah, mastery, that’s me. Look up mastery in a dictionary and my picture’s right there.” I think the goal posts keep moving further.

Dan Webb: Break It Down - Olympic Sculpture Park

SAM: I have this—well, it might be sort of a sillier question but I know in this book, Jenni Sorkin provides one of the essays and writes that there’s this “uncommon sensuousness” of wood.

Dan Webb: Oh, right.

SAM: And I think romance novels and romantic comedies often cast their male leads as oh, first architects.

Dan Webb: Oh, wow.

SAM: And then often carpenters.

Dan Webb: Wow, really? Man, I need more of this stuff.

SAM: So I’m wondering if you think there’s anything to this romanticizing of wood.

Dan Webb: Oh. Oh, okay. I was thinking romanticizing carpenters. I sure was a carpenter a lot and they’re a bunch of smelly, gassy dudes that just told terrible jokes so I don’t know that worked with the ladies but…

SAM: Maybe it’s tied to this larger phenomenon where our culture romanticizes working with our hands at this point.

Dan Webb: I think we’re very, very much in that mode of romanticizing working with our hands. Nobody really wants to do it and nobody knows very much about it. But my wife is a farmer, for example. And there’s all these farm blocks where kids from Brooklyn buy a sheep farm in New Hampshire. Then they start a blog about it and the husband is always a guy who was a part-time model for J. Crew and he looks great when he’s holding the sheep and you just wonder if they’re making money or whatever. They’re probably not, you know, and—

SAM: There’s a trust fund behind them.

Dan Webb: Yeah, so I think now, especially with our super-curated lives that we can do on social media, I think it takes on even more of the patina, this luster. We’ve made chefs into celebrities—the beautiful food that comes out and it just seems like magic—but at the end of the day, who really does want to do that stuff? You know, who really wants to castrate sheep and feed a hundred of them and shear a hundred of them? I mean, that’s a small herd.

It’s pretty romanticized, I would say, and I don’t want to be privy to that. To me, it’s a job, which is totally awesome. I’m super lucky and grateful that I get to work every day and do the thing that I get to do, but it’s really hard. It’s a really hard job for the most part. People will see when I’m in the park how romantic it really is.

That said, it’s not totally crazy to talk about the sensuality of wood. I could definitely go on for a long time about that. I agree with it on the one hand. On the other hand, the nuts and bolts of how to make something are pretty hard, one, and, two, it’s not a path for everyone. Let’s just say that.

Dan Webb: Break It Down - Olympic Sculpture Park

SAM: I have one question left about art and craft and their contentious recent history. Historically, they were tied closely together. How do you negotiate that?

Dan Webb: I still think we really fall prey to seeing things in a really binary way so if it’s art, it’s not craft; and if it’s craft, it’s not art; or if it’s a conceptual, then it’s not an object; or if it’s an object, it’s not conceptual. I’m a little disappointed at how binary even smart people can be about that stuff.

I think we’re at a point in history where an artist can do anything that they want to do and call it art. In fact, if anything’s art, then everything’s art and if everything’s art, then the word just lost all specificity. There’s no meaning to that word and it’s by design.

I think a lot of modernist artists and the post-modern artists, with a lot of effort and foresight, made that word meaningless, functionally meaningless. If you have knocked all those walls down that surrounded this idea of art, where are you?

I think when art gets subsumed by life and the bigger world rather than the art world—then it’s all just the world. And that’s not scary. And art didn’t go away. The idea of having to digest the experiences that’ll happen to us didn’t go away. It’s just that it starts to be more integrated into something bigger and I think it’s a really exciting time for that. Whatever you want to do, it’s all good.

For example, I think the move towards social practice is really interesting. But then you’re in a realm where essentially telling a story or interacting with people becomes your art. If you do that, then you have to understand that—the nurses at the children’s cancer ward, what’s their story? I mean, you’re elevating your story because it’s “art.” When what you’re actually doing is saying, let’s just realize that all stories are part of this conversation.

I think it’s binary to say that the social practice story must be art but that the other stories that are so prevalent in all of our lives are less so because they haven’t identified themselves as that.

If you really want to understand the repercussions of making the word meaningless, then you’re in a big environment with a lot of really incredible stuff. I talk about that with technology. There’re a lot of kids that are really interested in making art with technology. Technology’s got to be this new cool thing and great art will be made from it—but maybe great art already has been made from it. There’s a rover on Mars right now. The rover’s totally rad. If you’ve seen it—it’s so awesome. It’s a six-wheeled super-cool thing and they [the people that made it] become your colleagues. If you want to go down that path, they become your colleagues.

For me, my colleagues happen to be woodworkers and carvers. I really jettisoned the idea that I’m going to fetishize originality or I’m going to say something that no other person in history has ever thought of. That ship has sailed, luckily. I’d way rather feel like I was stepping into a conversation and I was part of something rather than reinventing the wheel and feeling proud of myself for doing that. I just think that’s a function of where we are.

Modernists made art and their brave, cool selves became their lives, but I think now we live a life and the result is our art. So it’s flipped. A lot of it is flipped and that’s a good place, exciting. It means that I get to have cool conversations about what I do with the lady that comes and reads my gas meter because she’s able to get a little bit of what I do and it’s not for art people. It’s not designed just for the super-smartypants that went to art school.

That’s just a facet of a lot of really incredible stuff that’s happened. Like T.S. Eliot said, you’ve got to read everything. Knowing about contemporary art really puts you in that category. You have to know a lot about visual information and some of that is cats flushing the toilet on YouTube, and there’s an equality to that. You know, there’s Marcel Duchamp on the one hand and cats flushing the toilet on the other and there’s all spectrum in between. I think a lot of us now are interested in putting all that together so—

SAM: All our pieces based on toilets?

Dan Webb: You could do it. I’m sure there’s somebody that is doing it.

SAM: Where we started, to where we are now.

Dan Webb: Yeah.

SAM: Well, thank you, Dan.

Dan Webb: Yeah.

SAM: We really appreciate your taking the time.

You can follow Webb’s progress this summer at the sculpture park. Learn more about the project on our website.
Photos: Matt Sellars

The Masks We Wear / The Ghosts We Share

Artist Sam Vernon’s stunning black-and-white graphics just took over the PACCAR Pavilion of the Olympic Sculpture Park. The installation, How Ghosts Sleep: Seattle, is a prelude to Disguise: Masks and Global African Art, which opens June 18 at the Seattle Art Museum.

Her project for the sculpture park’s pavilion began with a visit to see the Seattle Art Museum’s collection of African masks and the Art Deco architecture of the Asian Art Museum. Afterwards, she mixed in designs from textiles and inspiration from formal studies of leaves, trees, flowers, and animals; which she fit into a frame of bold, abstract shapes.

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And all that’s before you get to the ghosts. Her wallpaper covers the interior of the pavilion and fabric canopies hover overhead, filling your eyes with visions of hidden characters who emerge from and then disappear into the walls and ceiling. Vernon has digitally combined photocopied drawings of ghost characters with a hand-drawn/collaged pattern of disembodied figures so that the ghosts are no longer visible—they’re masked. If it sounds layered, it is.

It’s a heady, expressive environment that Vernon hopes will “allow spectators to live in the world of the work rather than next to the work…”

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When I met Sam, she was just coming from the sculpture park with Loide Marwanga, the graphic designer who worked with her on the installation. They had just spent their first day in Seattle overseeing the installation of Vernon’s wallpapers and canopies.

Even though it was the end of the day, Vernon was full of energy and enthusiasm (maybe her super cool black-and-white Nike sneakers helped her keep her pep). She said she couldn’t wait to see it all come together.

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What’s it been like working on this installation, working with SAM, working with SAM curator Pam McClusky and consultant curator Erika Dalya Massaquoi?

From the project’s conception, I wanted to create an installation to highlight the stunning architecture of the space, stimulate the imaginations of all who enjoy the park and explore the proposition of disguise as a drawing technology. It’s been an honor to work with Pam and Erika—they’re innovative, open, and willing to deeply engage in the critical aspects of my work and practice. Bringing this project to fruition is truly a team effort and I can’t thank them enough for their scholarship, insight, and thoughtfulness.

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What speaks to you about the exhibition of Disguise: Masks and Global African Art as a whole? What are you excited about?

I’m drawn to the way in which Pam and Erika have developed a challenging exhibition by including a diverse group of artists working in different parts of the world. We have varied conceptual ideas and unique subjective approaches addressing the past, present and future of disguise as it relates to the museum’s collection and contemporary media.

It’s exciting to be included in an international dialogue about this complex reality—it offers significant links between us and our perceptions of space and time. In this way the exhibition generates important questions about connectivity instead of converging answers for fluent coherence.

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What do you think about the Olympic Sculpture Park? When you first saw the site, what did you think?

The Olympic Sculpture Park is breathtaking! I was immediately drawn to the views of the water and the works of one of my favorite artists, Louise Bourgeois.

sam-vernon-osp-2Artist Sam Vernon and graphic designer Loide Marwanga

Artist Sam Vernon and graphic designer Loide Marwanga

Follow Sam on Facebook and Instagram to see pictures of her time in Seattle & the art that’s drawn her eye while she’s been here.

Words: Maggie Hess
Photos: Natali Wiseman

Sun’s Out, Fun’s Out: Five Exciting Things to See & Do at the Olympic Sculpture Park This Summer

After many overcast months, I want nothing more than to spend as much time as possible outdoors and to enjoy the fleeting Seattle sun. Unfortunately, as a broke college student, I have little money to spend on summer activities. My solution? The Olympic Sculpture Park’s free summer programs. So, here are my top five favorite things to see and experience at this summer at the sculpture park.

1. YOU ARE HEAR
Music, and more broadly sound, plays a huge role in my focus and aesthetic appreciation of the world. YOU ARE HEAR, created by respected artist and sound engineer Trimpin, recognizes the complexity of sound. This exhibit is a hands on, interactive approach to the concept of sound and how we as listeners and viewers experience it.

2. Echo
This is a 46-foot-tall sculpture by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa and inspired by the Greek mountain nymph who was cursed by goddess Hera by restricting Echo’s speech to be only the words of another. I’m fascinated by Greek and Roman mythology, so this statue struck an academic chord in me.

3. Seven Cubes with Color Ink Washes Superimposed
This piece is absolutely beautiful. On display in the PACCAR Pavilion, this contribution by Sol LeWitt brightens up the sculpture park, and is a joy to see from now until March 8, 2015. I haven’t seen it in person yet, so I’m looking forward to seeing it in reality.

4. Food, art, and music
When local music, delicious food, and interesting art are in one place, I’m there. Every Thursday, starting July 10, SAM entices the community with art activities, live music performances, food trucks, and art tours. Because the event runs from 6-9 pm, attendees will get a beautiful view of the waterfront during sunset.

5. Yoga and Zumba
If you’re excited about yoga and Zumba, or have never done either before, I highly encourage you to stop by every Saturday (beginning July 12) for free yoga lessons at 10:30 am, and then for Zumba at 2 pm. This is a great opportunity to get the weekend started on a relaxing note.

I’m so excited for everything the Olympic Sculpture Park has to offer this summer. There’s something for everyone almost every day of the season. Check out a full schedule of what’s happening at visitsam.org/summer.

I hope to see you there!

Erin Dwyer, Seattle Art Museum communication’s intern

Meet Echo

Echo, Seattle Art Museum’s massive new addition to the Olympic Sculpture Park, is starting to take shape.

A spectacular and iconic addition to the park, the 46-foot-tall sculpture by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa, will greet visitors as they wander the shoreline.

Echo has been given to the Seattle Art Museum from the collection of Barney A. Ebsworth. It was originally commissioned by the Madison Park Association in New York and installed at Madison Square Park in 2011 to great acclaim. It is made from resin, steel, and marble dust, and altogether weighs 13,118 pounds.

Echo was modeled on the nine-year-old daughter of the owner of restaurant near the artist’s studio in Barcelona. With computer modeling, Plensa elongated and abstracted the girl’s features. The sculpture’s title references the mountain nymph of Greek mythology of the same name.

As told in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Echo offended the goddess Hera by keeping her engaged in conversation, and preventing her from spying on one of Zeus’s amours. To punish Echo, Hera deprived the nymph of speech, except for the ability to repeat the last words of another.

Plensa offers us Echo with her eyes closed, seemingly listening or in a state of meditation. Envisioning Echo looking out over Puget Sound in the direction of Mount Olympus (a further reference to Greek mythology that is already embedded in the landscape), Plensa also intends for the sculpture to serve as a gathering point for introspection and contemplation. In our increasingly networked culture where information is endlessly copied and repeated, it is a work that invites viewers to pause.

Drop by the park and check out the progress when you have a moment. It’s easy to spot Echo. Join her near the water and spend a few quiet moments next to her thoughtful presence at the Olympic Sculpture Park.

A Dog’s Blog: Rupert visits the Olympic Sculpture Park

Meet Rupert: He loves the park and has agreed to guest blog for us. Here’s what he has to say:

 

Dear humans, or, as I like to call you, hairless dogs with thumbs,

Hello! Nice to meet you. My name is Rupert Putdownthatshoe. I’m five and I recently moved into a new home in downtown Seattle, where I live with my roommate, Kristen. She pays the rent, and I let her scratch my stomach.

Every afternoon, when my human comes home from work, I take her for walks around the city. I like to think of these walks as daily mini-vacations from my otherwise full-time occupation of protecting our home from intruders like helicopters and the mailman. My favorite mini-vacay destination these days is the Olympic Sculpture Park.We went there yesterday, and I had so much fun giving my roommate a tour of all my favorite smells.

Yesterday’s tour’s highlight was the Park’s newest smell box – it’s called The Western Oracle: We Will Tear the Roof off the Mother by Heather Hart. Inside the smell box, we looked out a window at the Puget Sound, which made me think of the fish I like to eat. There’s also a chimney looking up to the sky, which made me think of the ducks I like to chase. I like this smell box.

 

Until next time!

Woof, Rupert.

 

-Carter Stratton, intern for Communications

Rupert enters “The Western Oracle”

SAM Art: Sitting pretty

Summer dancing, yoga, and Zumba in the Olympic Sculpture Park will keep you moving throughout the summer. When you are ready to take a break, look for these witty seating designs by local artist, architect and designer Roy McMakin. McMakin brings impeccable craftsmanship and spectacular finish to his work, making materials perform in new and surprising ways. Matte concrete becomes a warm bench, a plastic lawn chair turns out to be made from monumental bronze, and an enamel stool masquerades as a banker’s box. This is seating with a story.

Suspended between art and design, form and function, McMakin’s artistic practice combines the usually separate creative activities of sculpture, architecture, and design. McMakin coyly uses slight changes in context, scale, and material to alter our understanding of ourselves and our relationship to our environment.

Untitled, 2004-07, Roy McMakin (American, born 1956), concrete, bronze, and steel with porcelain enamel, overall dimensions variable, Gift of the artist and Michael Jacobs, in honor of the 75th Anniversary of the Seattle Art Museum, 2006.32, © Roy McMakin. Currently on view in the Olympic Sculpture Park.

SAM Art: A Surreal seat

A contemporary Surrealist, Louise Bourgeois’ career stretched from the 1940s until 2010. Her lifelong fascination with myth, ritual, and totemic figures had its roots in French Surrealism, which reached a high point between the World Wars. In these Eye Benches, furniture takes the form of giant, observant eyes. Visitors encounter the disembodied eyes, which seem to follow their every movement around the Olympic Sculpture Park’s lower plaza, discovering that the enigmatic sculptural objects play a functional role: providing comfortable outdoor seating.

Louise Bourgeois was born in 1911 in Paris. She entered university in 1932, intending to study mathematics, but turned to art the next year. She studied in art schools as well as apprenticing in artists’ studios in Montparnasse and Montmartre. She emigrated to New York in 1938, where she continued her studies, eventually having her first solo exhibition in 1945. She lived and worked in New York until her death in 2010.

Eye Benches II, 1996-97, Louise Bourgeois (American, born French, 1911-2010), black Zimbabwe granite, 48 x 76 15/16 x 46 1/2 in. each, Gift of the artist, in honor of the 75th Anniversary of the Seattle Art Museum, 2005.114.1-2, © Louise Bourgeois, photo: Paul Macapia. Currently on view in the Olympic Sculpture Park.

“GREEN” Eggs and SAM

In the past couple of weeks I’ve heard a lot of talk in the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) offices about an infamous group called The SAM Goes Green Team. The more email notices the Green Team sent out about daily “green” tips or “green” contests between staff members, the more I became curious about who takes part in this coalition, and what it takes to initiate “green” practices at SAM.

 

To investigate further, I decided to interview the head of the Green Team, Liz Stone. Liz holds the title of Operations Assistant/ Digital Media Support Specialist at SAM.  Liz is a spirited, young woman who brings a lot of light to the busy offices here at SAM. When I asked to interview her, she was very excited for the opportunity to represent SAM’s “green” roots and sustainability concerns.

I asked Liz, “When did the Green Team start at SAM?”  She provided the following information:

 

The Green Team was started in 2006, shortly before the Olympic Sculpture Park opened in January 2007. It began with a handful of staff representing different departments who were interested in making a difference. The excitement around Olympic Sculpture Park gave the museum the momentum it needed to develop an environmental face for SAM. Examples of how SAM conducts green operations in many different capacities include:

  • Reduced the museum’s carbon footprint, including cuts in energy use, paper conservation, and waste reduction
  • Switched to 100% recycled copy paper
  • Earned Salmon-Safe certification of land management practices at the Olympic Sculpture Park.
  • Supported SAM’s museum educators in designing art activities that use repurposed, recycled and non-toxic supplies
  • Created a culture of sustainability within SAM, including meeting with departments to identify barriers to “going green”

 

“There have been a few different Green Team leaders at SAM, but I was approached in 2011 and asked if I would take the reins of the Green Team to keep it moving forward,” Liz says.

 

In overseeing the Green Team, Liz presents green tips and activities in media posts and helps maintain sustainability around the offices. Each division at SAM—from IT to Exhibition Design to Engineering—has a representative on the Green Team.

 

SAM is also a Presenting Partner with Seattle Center Foundation and Central District Forum for Arts & Ideas in presenting the performance, red, black, GREEN: a blues. This performance is coming to Seattle Center’s Intiman Theater May 30–June 2 for the Next 50 Festival and brings artists Marc Bamuthi Joseph and Theaster Gates back to Seattle once again! Both artists, as educators and social activists, strive through their work to ignite our collective responsibility towards social and environmental sustainability for every community. This performance shares SAM’s values in combining community engagement with art to work towards a greener, more sustainable community. The Green Team and Liz Stone are working hard to activate everyone’s involvement in “going green”.

 

You can also find more details about SAM’s environmental commitment and the SAM Goes Green initiative, as well as a list of partners joined in this initiative when you visit the SAM website. Some commitments involve joining the City of Seattle’s Seattle Climate Partnership and Seattle Climate Action Now to reduce SAM’s carbon footprint. You can also read more about the SAM Goes Green Team history on previous SAMblog posts, including SAM’s recent participation in the worldwide Earth Hour event.

 

This Time Drawing on the Walls is Allowed

Brazilian artist Sandra Cinto is bringing a literal sea change to the Olympic Sculpture Park.

At the beginning of April, Cinto and two assistants started work on a site-specific installation titled  Encontro das Águas (Encounter of Waters), an expansive wall drawing in the park’s PACCAR Pavilion. In addition to her two assistants, Sandra wanted to involve people from SAM’s community, so 20 volunteers and three SAM preparators have helped complete the piece.

Volunteers assist artist Sandra Cinto with her new installation at the Seattle Art Museum's Olympic Sculpture Park

Here is more detail on the installation from Marisa C. Sánchez, SAM’s Associate Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art:

The Seattle Art Museum unveils Brazilian born, São Paulo–based artist Sandra Cinto’s site-specific installation for the Olympic Sculpture Park’s PACCAR Pavilion. Influenced by artists as diverse as Sol LeWitt and Regina Silveira, and the woodblock prints of Japanese artists including Katsushika Hokusai, Cinto’s Encontro das Águas (Encounter of Waters) includes an intricate wall drawing, whose ambitious proportions convey a mesmerizing view of an expansive waterscape. Through humble materials—including blue paint and a silver paint pen—Cinto works directly on the wall and transforms a single line, repeated at different angles and lengths, into a titanic image of water that expresses both renewal and risk. As a counterpoint to this unbridled seascape, Cinto incorporates stories about individuals who were rescued at sea, to show the endurance of the human spirit in difficult circumstances.

Progress on Sandra Cinto's installation "Encontro das Águas" at the Seattle Art Museum's Olympic Sculpture Park

Cinto’s work has been shown internationally, including Argentina, France, Portugal, Spain and the United States. She was included in the XXIV Bienal Internacional de São Paulo, in 1998; Elysian Fields, a group show at the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, in 2000; TRANSactions: Contemporary Latin American and Latino Art, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia, in 2007–08; and the second Trienal Poli/Gráfica de San Juan: Latin America and the Caribbean, San Juan, Puerto Rico, in 2009; among other solo and group shows. She is represented by Casa Triângulo Gallery, São Paulo, Brazil, and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York.

Artist Sandra Cinto at work on her installation "Encontro das Águas" at the Seattle Art Museum's Olympic Sculpture Park

Artist Sandra Cinto

Encontro das Águas will be on view at the Olympic Sculpture Park’s PACCAR Pavilion April 14, 2012 to April 14, 2013.

-Madeline Moy, Digital Media Manager

Photo Credit: Robert Wade

Last Call for Color

Time is running out to bring your collection of lids in to the Olympic Sculpture Park!

In Trenton Doyle Hancock’s wildly fictitious narrative, color is the source of salvation to a race of creatures who are seeking spiritual nourishment. For his installation, A Better Promise, Hancock playfully encourages you to pour color into his work by bringing plastic tops in all colors. The plastic caps add a whole spectrum of light into the installation and, for Hancock they “are in a way the surrogates for the color salvation.” As the artist has said, this installation “has to do with hope, color, connecting with people, connecting with community.” And you all have shown that he’s definitely connected with this community. Read More

Celebrate the Olympic Sculpture Park’s 5th Birthday with Cupcakes, Caramels and Some Seriously Cool Hats

It’s hard to believe, but the Olympic Sculpture Park is already 5 years old! By the numbers, that’s:

  • 5 seasons that salmon have been able to rest in a protected area just off our beach after hatching
  • 60 months of growth to the native plants, 1,800 sunsets over the Olympic Mountains
  • About 2.5 million people walking (and running!) through the park.

And that doesn’t even account for the art in the park – over 20 pieces of monumental sculpture sited on 9 acres, with new and temporary works installed regularly.

To celebrate this milestone, we’re inviting everyone to a FREE birthday party at the Olympic Sculpture Park’s PACCAR Pavilion on January 21 from 11 am – 3 pm!

We’ll be:

  • Handing out cupcakes and chocolate caramels (courtesy of TASTE Restaurant)
  • Giving away Olympic Sculpture Park T-shirts for kids (to the first 400)
  • Making birthday hats (with Mark di Suvero’s Bunyon’s Chess as inspiration)
  • Giving special tours of the park

What do we want for our birthday, you ask? Most importantly – you! But if you must, we’re accepting $5 donations to SAM’s Annual Fund, which helps SAM put on great exhibitions and programs. Come join us for fun and festivities!

Here’s vintage coverage by the Seattle Channel of the Olympic Sculpture Park’s opening day festivities on January 20, 2007.


-Madeline Moy, Digital Media Manager

Photo credit: Sean Fraser

Top photo: From left to right: SAM staffers Madeleine Dahl, Emily Eddy and Carlos Garcia model the birthday hats guests will have the opportunity to make at the Olympic Sculpture Park’s 5th birthday party.

Resolve to See More Art in 2012!

Finally a New Year’s resolution that will be fun to try and keep–come experience the art at SAM Downtown, the Seattle Asian Art Museum and the Olympic Sculpture Park! Here are our top five picks for what to see and do with SAM in January.

1. Walk through Do Ho Suh’s Gate.
Luminous: The Art of Asia closes January 8, which means there are only five more days to see Do Ho Suh’s magnificent multimedia installation and to take in this gorgeous exhibition representing  5,000 years of Asian art.

2. Take a spin in Theaster Gates: The Listening Room.
Visit the “church of wax” at SAM Downtown and touch, feel and play the records (yes-vinyl records!)  in this installation at SAM Downtown. The Listening Room also extends beyond the walls of the museum to a storefront in Pioneer Square called the Record Store, where you can be part of a listening party.

3. See a unique perspective of 1930s Seattle.
Painting Seattle at the Seattle Asian Art Museum features two painters, Kamekichi Tokita and Kenjiro Nomura, known in 1930s Seattle for their American realist style of landscape painting. They shared the cultural legacy of Japan and the active cultural life of Seattle’s Japantown, while they found a public audience for their work in mainstream art institutions and participated alongside the city’s advanced artists, such as Mark Tobey, Ambrose Patterson and Walter Isaacs.

4. Get ready for Gauguin & Polynesia: An Elusive Paradise.
Seattle Art Museum presents the only United States stop for this landmark show highlighting the complex relationship between Paul Gauguin’s work and the art and culture of Polynesia. The exhibition, on view at SAM Downtown February 9 through April 29, includes about 50 of Gauguin’s brilliantly hued paintings, sculptures and works on paper, which are displayed alongside 60 major examples of Polynesian sculpture that fueled his search for the exotic. Organized by the Art Centre Basel, the show is comprised of works on loan from some of the world’s most prestigious museums and private collections. Buy your advance tickets now!

5. Celebrate the Olympic Sculpture Park’s 5th Birthday Party.
Five years ago Seattle’s waterfront was transformed forever. Come to the Olympic Sculpture Park on January 21 to help us mark this very important milestone with food, art and other activities.

Combine some of your other New Year’s resolutions with art. Trying to exercise more? Take a walk through the Olympic Sculpture Park or ride your bike to the Seattle Asian Art Museum. Looking to save money? Take advantage of First Thursdays or SAM’s suggested admission, which allows you to pay what you can. Art can even help you decrease stress.

SAM is always happy to connect art to your life, and we look forward to seeing you more in 2012!

-Madeline Moy, Digital Media Manager

Favorite 2011 Moments at the Seattle Art Museum, Seattle Asian Art Museum and Olympic Sculpture Park

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

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

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

Read More

All Roads Lead to SAM: New and Improved Visitor Information

At the suggestion of one of our customers, SAM’s online visitor information just got tricked out. In an effort to encourage people to use different forms of transportation and to make it easier to find us no matter where you are, we’ve added several links to maps that show people how to bike, bus and even walk to SAM Downtown, the Seattle Asian Art Museum and the Olympic Sculpture Park. Some of the exciting new features include:

  • Bike rack information (did you know that there are bike racks at all three locations?) as well as maps that have bike and bus directions.
  • Links to three different public transportation sites with a SAM location already entered as the destination, as well as a link to Metro that lists all the buses that go nearby.

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Dear SAM: A Love Letter From a Summer Intern

Dear SAM,

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

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SAM Art: Some Thoughts from Our Interns, Part II

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

My experience at the Seattle Art Museum    

Jasmine Graviett

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

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

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7 Tips for Having an Awesome Time at SAM Remix

1. Print your tickets at home.
We’ll admit it: the Will Call line can be a little slow. So we suggest you print your tickets at home and skip it altogether.

2. Get in the right line.
The PACCAR Pavilion will close at 4:00 pm and the park will close at 6:00 pm to the public. The doors for Remix will open at 8:00 pm. Print-at-home ticket buyers enter at Western Avenue and Broad Street. Will Call ticket holders and ticket buyers enter at Broad Street and Elliot Avenue (near the Neukom Vivarium).

3. Bring cash and your ID.
There isn’t an ATM machine at the Olympic Sculpture Park. We suggest picking cash up before coming to the park. The nearest ATM to the park is located at Ellington Grocery & Deli, corner of First Avenue and Clay Street.

Remix is an 18+ event. All guests 21 and older will need to show ID at the two ID Check stations in order to receive a wristband to consume alcohol. There will be one ID check station at the main entrance on Western and Broad and a second ID check station along the Z path. Look for the white tent with lights.

4. Wear warm clothes and comfy shoes.
The weather forecast for Remix is sunny with temperatures in the 70s. However, once the sun goes down, it can get a little chilly at the Olympic Sculpture Park. Ladies (and some gents), remember that you will be a park with grass so we would advise against wearing heels.

The first 50 people wearing gingham will get into Remix for free. The first 50 line will be at the Western Avenue and Broad Street entrance.

5. Know where the restrooms are located.
Inside the PACCAR Pavilion, there are restrooms available for use. Additionally there will be temporary facilities along the Z Path in the park.

6. Carpool, bus, bike or take a taxi.
We encourage using public transportation or cabs to the Olympic Sculpture Park. The parking  garage will be closed to the public there is some street parking and several pay lots surrounding the Olympic Sculpture Park.

7. Reap the benefits of being a SAM member.
Get the VIP treatment at the Remix Members Lawn. Perks include the opportunity to mix and mingle with Remix artists, and a first-class viewing area of performances in the Gates Amphitheater.

Not a SAM member? Join tonight! Turn your Remix ticket in for $10 off a new SAM membership. Offer good on Student- ($30) through Patron-level memberships. Please present your Remix ticket at the Membership Table or Members Lawn to redeem this offer. Offer good onsite only during Remix.

Get to Know the Olympic Sculpture Park After Dark at Remix

At SAM Remix on August 12, experience the Olympic Sculpture Park in new and unexpected ways with highly-opinionated tours led by artists, Remix co-hosts and special guests.

  • 8:30 pm: Steven Vroom, Executive Director & Curator of Exhibitions, 911 Media
  • 8:45 pm: Erin Fetridge, Canoe Social Club, Remix Co-host
  • 9 pm: Sharon Arnold, Artist and Youth Program Manager, Gage Academy
  • 9:15 pm: Julie Parrett, Landscape Architect
  • 9:30 pm: Susan Robb, Artist
  • 9:45 pm: Stephanie Pure, American Institute of Architects Seattle, Remix Co-host
  • 10 pm: Kathy Lindenmayer, One Reel/Bumbershoot, Remix Co-host

Tours will meet on the Mosley Path near Dante’s Inferno Dogs. If you don’t have your Remix tickets yet, click here to buy them now!

-Madeline Moy, Digital Media Manager

Photo: Robert Wade

Art You Can Touch, Throw and Smell at SAM Remix

My co-workers and I were talking about the upcoming SAM Remix at the Olympic Sculpture when someone mentioned that there would be artist-designed cornholes at the event.

I must admit that the term “cornhole” made several of us first think of this, but we soon learned that cornhole is actually a bean bag toss game, which fits in nicely with this Remix’s county-fair theme. Remix cornhole will feature play boards designed by Troy Gua and Dumb Eyes.

One of the best things about Remix is that you get the chance to experience art in unexpected ways:

  • Contribute to a collective massive paint-by-numbers landscape, and watch the image take form as the night progresses.
  • Join Seattle artist Nicholas Nyland and guests for a journey to the East Meadow. Illuminate the path with luminaria and admire the sunset from Gretchen Bennett’s sculpture, The Jetty.
  • Witness the newest iteration of Carolina Silva’s Air Below Ground, a series of actions composed by the artist to take place on, in and around her wooden platform and frame sculpture.
  • Sample the Olympic Sculpture Park’s signature scent, created by artist Susan Robb. Inspired by the park’s geography and art, the artist’s “spritzers” will offer Remix guests the chance to wear the scent of their choice.

So not only will you be surrounded by the amazing art of the Olympic Sculpture Park, you’ll have the opportunity to create, share and talk art all night long at SAM Remix. Click here to buy your tickets now!

-Madeline Moy, Digital Media Manager

Love Takes SAM by Storm

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

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

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