Friday, July 22, 2016

EXHIBITIONS: Seattle Art Museum's vast and fascinating collection

The Seattle Art Museum (affectionately known to the locals as SAM) comprises not just a single building but three different venues: the tony, modern SAM itself (very close to the Pike Place Market -- but do not expect to be able to check your fish in their cloak room!); the Olympic Sculpture Park, a 10-minute walk away; and an Asian Art Museum, located in Volunteer Park.

Exterior of Seattle Art Museum
all photo credits to SAM, unless otherwise noted

SAM's permanent collection includes African art (both traditional and contemporary),
ancient Mediterranean, Australian aboriginal, decorative arts and design, 
Native American, and of course art of the Pacific Northwest. 
Special exhibitions and new acquisitions are always being added.

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Hair Portrait #20, Mickalene Thomas (2014
Plastic rhinestones and acrylic on panel
photo credit to Michael Schonbach 

The shimmering silvery chic of this piece, an homage to Andy Warhol's style of  
celebrity portraiture, acknowledges the glamour of black women that has
often been overlooked by modern artists. Here, thirty repetitions of the same image  
segue from light to dark, assertive presence to ethereal shadow. The piece is an especially beguiling new acquisition to the museum; it greets the visitor quite close to the main entry, 
and is difficult to pull oneself away from (especially if "oneself" loves glitter!)

 Tumbleweed, James Rosenquist, 1963-1966
Chromed barbed wire, neon and wood
Photo credit to Michael Schonbach

This is a rare sculpture by Rosenquist, who was primarily known as a painter.
The piece, which was donated to the museum in 2014,
was intended to allude to the political turmoil of the 1960s. I see it also as
expressing the feeling that even in the darkest of times, there is always a ray of hope.

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The special exhibition Go Tell It: Civil Rights Photography
is a stunning pictorial narrative of the decades-long struggle to end segregation and
discrimination against African Americans. Depicting daily, small indignities 
suffered by black citizens, as well as great leaders and the momentous
events at which they were in the forefront, the exhibit is a deeply moving 
and profound journey through a time that changed America forever.
Go Tell It will run through Jan. 8, 2017.

Above: A Negro Entering a Movie Theatre by Outside "Colored" Entrance,
Belzoni. Mississippi
Marion Post Wolcott, 1939
Gelatin silver photograph 

Harry Belafonte, Martin Luther King Jr. and
Coretta Scott King arriving at Montgomery Airport,
March 24th, 1965
Photo by Dan Budnik

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At the Asian Art Museum, the current special exhibition 
Mood Indigo: Textiles From Around The World 
is proving to be a hit. It's a wide-ranging homage to the color blue and the many 
moods it evokes, from the cheerfulness of a bright sky, to waves sparkling in the ocean,
to the sultriness of dancers under a midnight moon. 

The exhibition is drawn mainly from SAM's global textiles collection, and includes
tapestries from Flanders, a silk court robe from China, batiks and ikats from 
Indonesia and Africa, an extensive array of kimonos from Japan,
and ancient cloth fragments from Peru and Egypt.

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And don't forget the Olympic Sculpture Park --
"a free museum without walls"!

 Above, at Olympic Sculpture Park: 
 Father and Son fountain and Eye Benches by Louise Bourgeois

Below: Alexander Calder’s Eagle 

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There is always a plethora of new exhibitions coming to SAM, way too many 
to mention here! A brief preview would include

• Big Picture: Art After 1945 (opening July 23, 2016)
       • Yves Saint-Laurent: The Perfection of Style (opening Oct. 11, 2016)

 Mondrian dress by Yves St. Laurent
Photo by Alexandre Guirkinger

            • Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors (opening June 29, 2017)

For more information about the Seattle Art Museum, visit

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And from the Okumpku Masquerade Players,
 happy trails until we meet again ... 

Photo credit to Michael Schonbach

~ oOo~

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