SAM Art: Summer’s last stand

Summer may be over, but you still have one final weekend to enjoy On-Site, the summer installations at the Olympic Sculpture Park.

Since June, On-Site has brought together new sculptures by Gretchen Bennett, Nicholas Nyland and Carolina Silva. These three artists created objects, often experimental in concept and execution, that respond to the context of the park environment. Their temporary interventions have provided unexpected encounters with sculpture, encouraging fresh perspectives on sculpture and its making. Working in response to the park environment, their diverse works cast a new lens on our experience with sculpture and with the landscape at the Olympic Sculpture Park.

Although Gretchen Bennett’s installations at the Sculpture Park are fleeting, the artist’s  landscape-inspired drawing and video work can be seen in SAM’s permanent collection.

“Walking Stick from Nadonna Beach,” 2011, Gretchen Bennett, American, born 1960, driftwood, carved oak sapling wood from the OSP, latex paint, Courtesy of the artist, © Gretchen Bennett, Photo: Robert Wade. “On-Site” temporary installations on view through Sunday, 2 October, at the Olympic Sculpture Park.

SAM Art: A new acquisition, all about place

Location, Location, Location

My tea and coffee sets relate to the place they are going.
—John Marshall

Destined for an art museum, a home in the San Juan Islands, and a 1950s Seattle residence, a trio of recently installed tea and coffee services glory in their sculptural delight, technical virtuosity, and the promise of a festive gathering around warm stimulating beverages. Each piece, while an exquisite work of art, was designed to be used and pours properly without a drip—the artist’s impeccable touch.

Tea and coffee pots rank as seminal works in the annals of silver production— in fact, teapots are considered a benchmark for the silversmith. Representing three decades of master silversmith John Marshall’s career, these services blend traditional vocabulary—such as towering, vertical coffeepots and shorter, more horizontal teapots—with his evolution of individual expression. The service shown here was produced as a commission for the Seattle Art Museum.

In this video, Marshall talks about his work and demonstrates metalworking techniques.

“Tea and Coffee Service,” 2008-09, John Marshall, American, born 1936, sterling silver, rosewood, Argentium sterling silver (an amalgam of fine silver and germanium), and acrylic, overall: 15 ¾ x 25 x 26 in., The Guendolen Carkeek Plestcheeff Endowment for the Decorative Arts, 2009.27.1-5, Photo: jerrydavisphoto.com. Currently on view in “Here and Now,” the new acquisitions exhibition space, third floor, SAM downtown.

SAM Art: Sydney Laurence and the end of Beauty and Bounty

Our painters revealed to us the matchless splendor of a scenery which shall arouse increasing astonishment and reverential awe and rapture in the hearts of generations yet to be.

—Art critic S.G.W. Benjamin, Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, 1879

 

Sydney Laurence’s career was tied to the popular interest in the Alaska Territory that followed the Gold Rush. From the time he began prospecting in the area around 1904, Laurence painted there. His paintings helped to inspire tourism, and tourism in turn led to Laurence’s commercial success.

This is an early and impressively scaled view of Laurence’s favorite and most famous subject, Mt. McKinley.  It stands as one of his greatest statements on this, America’s highest mountain peak.  He painted this impressive canvas, possibly an exhibition piece, as the U. S. government’s Interior Department was working to establish a national park with McKinley at its center, projecting: “…the creation of this national park would, no doubt, result in… additional visitors to Alaska, and would give an impetus to the settling of the country.”

Beauty and Bounty is on view through Sunday, 11 September.

“Mount McKinley,” 1914, Sydney Laurence, American, 1865-1940, oil on canvas, 38 1/4 x 28 1/4in., Promised gift of Hugh S. Ferguson, T2006.57, Photo: Paul Macapia. On view until Sunday, 11 September, in “Beauty and Bounty: American Art in an Age of Exploration,” Simonyi Special Exhibition Galleries, fourth floor, SAM downtown.

SAM Art: Model Totem Pole

According to legend, Dan-kea was a grizzly bear hunter who was captured by the bears but escaped and returned home. Trying to quell a fever by sitting in the water, a rival chief got a sea-dog to seize him.  Dan-kea put out his tongue to feel what had touched him and his tongue stuck to the sea-dog, then was drawn out to a great length. This model totem pole has three bears with their eyes, hands and feet inlaid with abalone; the bear at the top is Dan-kea, holding his long tongue in his hands.

The small-scale totem pole is an indigenous genre that pre-dates contact: Captain James Cook personally collected one at Nootka Sound in 1778. Some model poles are diminutive, specific versions of the forty- to sixty-foot versions erected to honor the lineages of deceased chiefs and nobles. By the mid-19th century, these easily portable and compelling sculptures were in steady demand by outside buyers (including museums and World’s Fairs).

“Gyaa.angaa” (Model totem pole), ca. 1890, Haida, yellow cedar, abalone shell, height: 23 ½ in., Gift of John H. Hauberg, 91.1.44. On view in the Native American art galleries, third floor, SAM downtown, starting Wednesday, 24 August.

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.

Read More

SAM Art: Some Thoughts from Our Interns, Part I

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 Here At SAM

By: Katie Tieu

My name is Katie, and I am a YWCA GirlsFirst intern. GirlsFirst is an all girls program that teaches us life lessons, how to stay on track in high school, and how to succeed in life. GirlsFirst also helps us get internships by teaching us skills that we need to use to get a job. They taught us many things, like how to type a resume, cover letter, and how to talk properly in an interview. They had a list of jobs for girls to apply for, and I was hired by the Seattle Art Museum to be a Human Resources intern. I am working here for 8 weeks during my summer break, but it’ll be ending soon.

Being here at SAM is very fun and such a great experience. While I was here, I saw and learned how the museum actually operates. I also got to see the exhibitions and the permanent collection here, and what can I say? IT WAS AMAZING. Just by looking at each detail an artist includes is very mind blowing. Like this painting. It was created by Jackson Pollock and is called Sea Change, painted in 1947. Does it look like any ordinary painting that anyone can do? That’s what I thought. But, look closely, every detail you see on the canvas was planned and thought about before it was there.

Read More

SAM Art: Sea Change

Abstract Expressionism was a dynamic fusion of Surrealism and Abstraction, seeking to awaken in the viewer—and in the artist as well—a deeper, often physical, response to the work. Large scale, edge-to-edge compositions and rich colors fill the eyes with often unified fields that are connected by movement and the traces of the brush.

 Sea Change is from a breakthrough group of early “transitional” works that Jackson Pollock made in 1947, which led away from figuration toward a fully abstract application of his drip technique. Its title comes from Shakespeare’s play The Tempest and lends extra narrative content to the composition, suggesting an impending meteorological event.

Installation view, Modern and Contemporary art galleries, third floor, SAM downtown, 2011.

SAM Art: Dance Wand for Sango

Shango is a Yoruba deity who harnesses bolts of lightning and thunder and uses them to reward worshippers and punish deceit. Oral praise poems say he is the one “who destroys the wicked with his truth, leaves in confusion the contentious man, and dances in the courtyard of the impertinent.”

Double axes adorn this woman’s head to show her alliance with Sango’s moral fire. She kneels before his authority to present an offering. Such generosity is considered a noble gesture of morality and ensures that Sango will consider blessing her with children and wealth.

“Dance wand for Sango,” date unknown, Yoruba, Nigerian, wood, 19 7/8 x 7 9/16 x 4 5/8 in., Eugene Fuller Memorial Collection, 67.91, Photo: Susan A. Cole. Currently on view in the African Art galleries, fourth floor, SAM downtown.

SAM Art: The Last Days of Prince Khurram

Before he was the most powerful ruler in the world, Prince Khurram was a young man molding his image and his priorities. Son of the Emperor Jahangir, he was both protégé and upstart, a source of pride and later serious rivalry for his father. For years it was believed that this portrait depicted Jahangir himself, but recent research identifies him as Jahangir’s son and successor, an early image of the supreme Mughal leader, the man who would become Shah Jahan.

This Mughal portrait is on view through Sunday, May 30.

Portrait of Prince Khurram (Shah Jahan), first quarter 17th century, Indian, Mughal period (1526-1858), opaque watercolor and gold on paper, 17 1/2 x 12 1/8 in., Thomas D. Stimson Memorial Collection, gift of Mrs. Charles Mosely Clark, 44.650. Currently on view in the Ancient Mediterranean and Islamic art galleries, fourth floor, SAM downtown.
SAMBlog