Muse/News: Life Pockets, Dance Artists, and Explosive Joy

SAM News

Seattle Met’s Allison Williams with a “Guide to Tide Pooling and Beach Combing around Seattle”; she includes the Olympic Sculpture Park’s pocket beach among the best places to observe sea life. 

Curiocity points readers to “11 awesome free or cheap date ideas in Seattle this summer,” including a visit to SAM using the Seattle Public Library’s Museum Pass. Hint: Here’s a long list of discounts or free days for visiting the Seattle Art Museum and the Seattle Asian Art Museum. (The Olympic Sculpture Park is free to all, every day!)

Make that date a deep dive into Our Blue Planet: Global Visions of Water, SAM’s spring exhibition that closes May 30! Seattle Met includes it on their list of “things to do” this week

Local News

royal alley-barnes, interim director for the City of Seattle’s Office of Arts & Culture, talks with KUOW’s Kim Malcolm about Hope Corps, a new program “to help put artists back to work.”

Converge Media shares the news that ARTE NOIR has named Jazmyn Scott its new executive director; the Black arts & culture space opens this summer in the Central District’s Midtown Square.

“Seattle was once a hub for contemporary dance. What happened?” Local journalist Marcie Sillman for Crosscut on the city’s long history of nurturing dance artists—and the challenges they’re facing right now.

“Even as pandemic restrictions ease and theaters and clubs start to re-open, choreographers like Graney, Gosti and many others are struggling to stay in Seattle. Graney charges that nobody at City Hall, or anywhere outside the dance community itself, seems concerned that artists are being priced out of the city. ‘There’s no one at the helm who has an interest in dance,’ Graney maintains. ‘People don’t care, they just don’t care.’”

Inter/National News

Emmanuel Balogun for Artnet: “6 Artists at the 2022 Venice Biennale Who Are Shifting the Way We Visualize the African Diaspora.”

ARTnews’ Angelica Villa on the record-setting sale of an Ernie Barnes painting, which sold at 80 times more than its estimate.

The New York Times’ Robin Pogrebin on Lauren Halsey’s new work now on view at David Kordansky Gallery. You can see her work at SAM through July 17!

“At a time when many Black artists are being recognized for figurative art, Halsey has been making large-scale sculptures and reliefs. And while her installations may allude to economic hardship, gentrification, or gang violence, they convey an explosive sense of joy.”

And Finally

Via the Seattle Times: “9 great hikes in WA for people with wheelchairs, canes, crutches or strollers.”

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Image: Chloe Collyer.

Muse/News: Art for the Earth, Fair Reflections, and Venice Prizes

SAM News

Earth Day is every day! Get inspired to create change with Our Blue Planet: Global Visions of Water, now on view at SAM. Aesthetica Magazine features the exhibition on their list of “5 exhibitions for Earth Day” from around the world. So does the Stranger’s Everout list of things to do in Seattle for the important holiday. And Seattle Met includes the exhibition on their list of things to do in Seattle right now.

JiaYing Grygiel for ParentMap offers up “Best Things to Do With Kids on the Seattle Waterfront,” sharing fun secrets for a visit to the Olympic Sculpture Park (and very cute pictures of her kids zooming around sculptures!). 

“Every hour on the hour, a bell chimes and the Father and Son water fountain reverses. Take the walkway over the railroad tracks, where transportation-obsessed kids will love that you can watch train, car, plane, and boat traffic all from the same vantage point.”

Local News

Grace Gorenflo of the Seattle Times continues on the arts recovery beat, with recent stories on creative pandemic fundraising and this look at Mayor Bruce Harrell’s plan for the arts–and what arts leaders think

The Stranger’s Jas Keimig heads to the Henry Art Gallery’s new exhibition and reports back on “Finding Yourself Inside a Magma Slit.”

“How a 1962 art critic reviewed the Seattle World’s Fair”: Crosscut’s Brangien Davis looks back on the 60th anniversary of the Seattle World’s Fair and its “World of Art.” (She also shouts out some exhibitions to see for Earth Day, including Our Blue Planet at SAM.)

[Seattle Times art critic Ann G.] Todd was much more impressed with the Fine Art Pavilion’s exhibit of ‘Northwest Indian Art,’ curated by University of Washington anthropology professor and ethnobotanist Erna Gunther (who also served as director of what is now the Burke Museum). Previewing the show in the very first issue of ArtForum magazine (June 1962), Todd gushed, ‘It would be difficult to imagine more stunning proof of the expressive genius of the Northwest’s aboriginals.’”

Inter/National News

“5 Incredible Art Pieces From World-Class Contemporary Artists That Anyone Can Afford”: Jeff Miles for ARTnews with some very cool artist editions you can buy. Might we also recommend a visit to SAM Gallery and SAM Shop?

Tabitha Barber for the Art Newspaper reviews: “A new visual history of domestic service spanning 400 years examines the lives of those working within the home.”

Artnet reports back from the Venice Biennale: “Sonia Boyce and Simone Leigh Win Golden Lions at the Venice Biennale for Work Honoring the Visions of Black Women.”

“Both Boyce and Leigh were the first Black women to represent their nations at the 127-year-old biennale. They are also the first Black women to win Golden Lions… Asked about her plans after the award ceremony, Boyce told Artnet News, ‘I’m going to close the blinds, lie down, and cry for an hour.’”

And Finally

We would really like to be in one of these jazz clubs right now. 

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Image: Natali Wiseman.

Muse/News: Support Arts, Depression-Era Shakespeare, and a Posthuman Biennale

SAM News

“Support arts in long road to recovery.” That’s the message from the Seattle Times editorial board, reviewing the data from the recent COVID Cultural Impact Study conducted by ArtsFund. SAM participated in the study, and director and CEO Amada Cruz was interviewed about SAM’s recovery process so far.

“While there is reason to hope the worse days of the pandemic may soon be behind us, the arts community faces years of uncertainty…How quickly creative organizations recover has a big impact on the region’s quality of life. A vibrant arts scene is good for the economy, good for the community, and good for the soul.”

Seattle Met is out with a new compendium of “Seattle’s essential museums,” including, of course, SAM with its three locations of globe-trotting art.

“The museum’s 2017 Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors, a trailblazer in the now wildly popular genre of immersive art installations, exemplifies its ambitious global reach, while its 2021–22 retrospective on the work of photographer Imogen Cunningham speaks to its enduring local commitments.”

Local News

A change approaches for the Frye Art Museum: The Seattle Times reports that its director and CEO Joseph Rosa will step down at the conclusion of his current contract, saying he wants to make room for “an emerging talent within our field.”

Seattle artist Michael Spafford has died at the age of 86. The Seattle Times shared about the legacy of the beloved painter, printmaker, and teacher.

Dusty Somers for the Seattle Times on the forthcoming shows by Seattle Shakespeare Company: Hamlet and As You Like It, both performed entirely by actors of color and using the Depression-era Works Progress Administration’s support for theater as a framing device.

“We could have just done it set here in present day, but we were like, ‘There’s an opportunity to tell a greater story here,’ ” [diversity programming coordinator Lamar ] Legend said. “There are just too many parallels with that period of history and the one we’re currently in.”

Inter/National News

Via Artdaily: The American Federation of Arts announced Kimerly Rorschach named President of the AFA’s Board of Trustees.” Congratulations to SAM’s former director (2012-19) and best wishes for this exciting new role!

Dorian Batycka for Artnet on how Ukrainian artists and cultural producers are responding to the tensions within the country as Russia threatens to invade.

ARTnews shares the full list of artists to be featured in this year’s Venice Biennale, which is curated by Cecilia Alemani, director and chief curator of High Line Art in New York.

“The exhibition is rooted in posthuman thought,” Alemani said. “Many contemporary artists are imagining a posthuman condition challenging the presumed Western condition using the white man as a measure of all things. They propose difference alliances, fantastic bodies. This is why the exhibition includes a large amount of female and gender nonconforming artists.”

And Finally

David Byrne does T Magazine’s artist’s questionnaire.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Photo: L. Fried

Muse/News: Summer fun, earthy art, and a wish

SAM News

Heads-up, parents and caregivers: summer in Seattle is upon us! Here’s Elisa Murray for the Seattle Times with great ideas to keep the learning going and keep the fun going while school’s out. She includes Summer at SAM, our annual series of free programming at the Olympic Sculpture Park, held this year July 11 through August 22.

And Artdaily and Patch.com both shared the news about Regina Silveira: Octopus Wrap, the mind-bendingly cool site-specific installation at the Olympic Sculpture Park’s PACCAR Pavilion.

Local News

At this week’s event featuring Tayari Jones (she was AMAZING), Seattle Arts and Lectures announced their exciting 2019-20 lineup, including Ta-Nehisi Coates, Min Jin Lee, and Jodi Kantor & Megan Twohey.

Musical hooks and a “subtle new take on its sexual politics”: Seattle Magazine’s Gavin Borchert on “Why You Need to See Seattle Opera’s Carmen.”

Crosscut’s Brangien Davis examines the dire news about climate change and looks at how art could be a vital way to confront the challenges ahead.

“It might seem too-little-too-late to argue for sublime beauty in the face of urgent statistics about habitat loss, mass extinctions, droughts, wildfires and coastal erosion. But the introspective state that art is so adept at conjuring might be the only angle from which our modern brains can process and address the monumental facts.”

Inter/National News

Farewell to I.M. Pei, the Pritzker Prize-winning architect who passed away at the age of 102. He designed the glass pyramid entrance of the Louvre in Paris and the East Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.

The team at Artnet has a gondola-full of reads on the Venice Biennale, including the recent news that Lithuania’s beach-opera installation and Arthur Jafa’s film “The White Album” took the event’s top prizes.

Renée Reizman for Hyperallergic on Dandelions, an installation by the anonymous Los Angeles art collective Art Department that turned a decommissioned substation into “a secret wish-processing facility.”

“The bureaucrat asked more general questions. Could the wish be categorized as altruistic or selfish? Did it pertain to romance or your career?”

And Finally

“We sat them up on chairs, they were smiling for the camera. It was the greatest day of my life.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Object of the Week: Inflammatory Essays

Originally plastered around New York City without attribution in the late 1970s and early 80s, Jenny Holzer’s Inflammatory Essays were made to confront passersby. Though she was relatively unknown at the time, Holzer’s careful combination of poetics and politics soon drew international attention and acclaim. In 1990, she became the first woman to officially represent the United States at the Venice Biennale, and was awarded the Golden Lion—the Biennale’s top prize. Just six years prior, Seattle Art Museum’s Contemporary Art Council sponsored the installation of Essays along a wall at Second Avenue and Pike Street in 1984. The posters would resurface 16 years later at SAM as part of the 2001 exhibition, Art of Protest.

Each essay, comprising 100 words and neatly arranged in 20 lines, is laden with conflicting views. As Leah Pires recently wrote in Art in America, “The concision and conviction of the language invites easy agreement—a feeling that is quickly complicated by the contradictions that become apparent when the statements are read together.” The commercial history of offset printing, coupled with Holzer’s typographic choices (the essays’ typeface is reminiscent of billboard advertisements), suggests a mass-distributed message in an aggressively declarative tone. The first line in one essay reads: “FEAR IS THE MOST ELEGANT WEAPON, YOUR HANDS ARE NEVER MESSY.”

These texts do not mirror Holzer’s own sentiments, but are rather drawn from the writings of anarchists, dictators, and revolutionaries around the world. Such voices include Emma Goldman, Adolf Hitler, Vladimir Lenin, Mao Tse-tung, and Leon Trotsky. Whether directly stated or implied through irony, Inflammatory Essays critiques power and control, sex and abuse—themes that continue to inform Holzer’s practice today. Her work is meant to provoke, but Holzer is well aware of the weight words carry. In a 2016 interview with Even Magazine, she says, “Later I found it necessary and proper at times to be careful…I’ll put tough stuff out, but not what might incite gratuitous, hideous violence. I’m pro-expression but not pro-murder…I think it is utterly irresponsible and reprehensible…to incite violence in a political campaign, or anywhere else. One should not do it. We are a murderous species. We don’t need encouragement. Once we get rolling, it’s hard to stop.” 

Produced 40 years ago, Inflammatory Essays feels eerily contemporary. In a polarized era marred by fake news, the quick dismissal of credible journalism, and our self-imposed curation of media, Holzer urges us to question the statements we are bombarded with on a daily basis. Through their challenging and, at times, aggressive statements, Inflammatory Essays continues to elicit critical public discourse by means of self-examination.

Rachel Hsu, SAM Exhibitions Coordinator

Images: Inflammatory Essays, 1979-82, Jenny Holzer, offset posters on paper 17 x 16 3/4 in., Gift of the Contemporary Art Council of the Seattle Art Museum, 2012.9.20 © Artist or Artist’s Estate. Poster Project, Seattle, Washington, USA, 1984, © 1984 Jenny Holzer, member Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY. Installation view Art of Protest, Seattle Art Museum, 2001, photo: Nathaniel Wilson. Inflammatory Essays, 1979-82, Jenny Holzer, offset posters on paper 17 x 16 3/4 in., Gift of the Contemporary Art Council of the Seattle Art Museum, 2012.9.16 © Artist or Artist’s Estate. Inflammatory Essays, 1979-82, Jenny Holzer, offset posters on paper 17 x 16 3/4 in., Gift of the Contemporary Art Council of the Seattle Art Museum, 2012.9.21 © Artist or Artist’s Estate.

10 Surprising Facts About Yayoi Kusama

There are eleven days left to see Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors at Seattle Art Museum and by now, you’ve probably seen an infinite number of images of her artwork in your Instagram and Facebook feeds. Hopefully you’ve seen the exhibition in person as well! If not, learn more about Yayoi Kusama below and plan to line up at SAM for day-of timed tickets between now and September 10 to experience infinity through the immersive art of this icon, rebel, and visionary.

  1. Yayoi Kusama arrived in Seattle in 1957 with two kimonos and 200 paintings. This is the first city Kusama visited when she moved to the US.
  2. Kusama was pen pals with Georgia O’Keeffe, Richard Nixon, and the President of France.
  3. She partnered with Louis Vuitton to design a clothing line in 2012.
  4. Narcissus Garden, a rogue performance piece by Kusama, was installed outside of the 33rd Venice Biennale in 1966 with the support of one of the curators, however she was asked to leave the premises.
  5. She was making Pop art before Andy Warhol.
  6. Assemblage artist and filmmaker, Joseph Cornell and Kusama had an intimate friendship that prompted his mother to dump a bucket of water on them once when she caught them kissing.
  7. The quintessential polymath, Kusama has published numerous literary works.
  8.  A firm believer in love forever, Kusama performed a gay marriage way before gay marriage was legal.
  9. In 2016, she was ranked as the most expensive living female artist on aggregate.
  10. Yayoi Kusama has been producing art work for more than six decades.
Image: Yayoi Kusama with recent works in Tokyo, 2016, Courtesy of the artist, © YAYOI KUSAMA, Photo: Tomoaki Makino.
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