She Makes Art!

A rich mix of artwork greets us this fall when Seattle Art Museum presents Elles: Women Artists from the Centre Pompidou, an international survey of works by groundbreaking artists.  Not to be missed, too, are installations and exhibits of pioneering artists from SAM’s own collections that will be on view in Elles: SAM– Singular Works by Seminal Women Artists. Topping off this visual feast is Elles: Seattle, a city-wide celebration of women artists hosted by partnering organizations and your Seattle Public Library is one of them. Continue reading “She Makes Art!”

Los Dias de los Muertos

Several years ago a recently retired teacher who lived in the Beacon Hill neighborhood asked me if she could add a “decoration” (previously used in her classroom) to a branch program. Skeptical but intrigued, we were willing to host her Los Dias de los Muertos altar and we were subsequently awestruck at the charming and ephemeral work of art that turned our staid meeting room into an incandescent art gallery. The altar was covered with skeletons, skulls, bright orange marigolds, photos of the dead, candles, florescent tablecloths and foods. The altar or ofrenda became a bridge to appreciation of this unique cultural celebration of death. In this telling, death seemed less of a spectre and more a shimmering river that extends beyond this life. Picnicking beside this river, one can openly and joyously remember a loved one with gossip and stories flowing, just as at any family gathering. Continue reading “Los Dias de los Muertos”

Gauguin & Polynesia: An Elusive Paradise

“It was the princess who entered my room. I was on my bed dressed only in a simple pareo [wraparound skirt]. No way to receive a woman of class…Vaitua was a true princess if indeed any still exist, since the Europeans have reduced everything in this country to their own level. In fact, she arrived there with bare feet, a flower at her ear and wearing a black dress.”

-From Noa Noa: the Tahiti journal of Paul Gauguin

Gauguin left France, his life as a stockbroker, a wife and five children to pursue his idealized dream of painting in Tahiti. Many of us have a vision in our mind’s eye of Gauguin’s Polynesia. We think of the remarkable portraits he painted of the islanders, so evocative of mystery, romance, or some other mood. We may think of the lovely patterns in the clothing, or the sense of landscape he captured. What do his paintings reveal, aside from the individuals, about his preconceptions and attitudes? What objects and localities inspired him?

Pam McClusky, one of The Seattle Art Museum curators for their current exhibit, Gauguin & Polynesia: An Elusive Paradise, will be at The Seattle Public Library to discuss Gauguin’s Polynesia in an illustrated chat at the Central Library on Wednesday, February 22, at 12:10 p.m. in the Microsoft Auditorium. The exhibit’s focus highlights the complex relationship between Paul Gauguin’s work and the art and culture of Polynesia. McClusky is the Curator of Art of Africa and Oceania for the museum and will bring her insights to the works. According to staff at the museum, the SAM Downtown exhibit includes about 60 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. This exhibition brings Polynesian arts and culture into the center of a Gauguin presentation.

Gauguin, Polynesia is a book that was prepared for the exhibition and you can see more about the book and place a hold on it by visiting the library’s catalog.

-Carl K., Central Library

Sotero Photograph Collection

The Seattle Public Library has a number of interesting visual collections. One example is the Sotero photograph collection, which offers a window into the world of African Americans in uniform during the World War II era. Marjorie Sotero collected these photographs during her time as a director of the African American Servicemen’s Clubs at Seattle’s Fort Lawton and Camp George Jordan.

Courtesy National Archives, photo no. 80-G-23326
"Pin-up girls at NAS Seattle, Spring Formal Dance" Courtesy National Archives, photo no. 80-G-23326. African Americans During World War II # 247

Marjorie described how these local service clubs were used in a 1985 interview: “this was their home away from home, and this was like their living room where they could come after their day’s work was done and sit down and do the things a man liked to do, sit and smoke, and write [a] letter, and listen to music. And maybe in the evening there would be some kind of entertainment that the directors of the club would plan.”

Many of the images in the collection capture military personnel busy enjoying their time off: a group takes a break from bobbing for apples to smile for the camera, fishermen in uniform line up to display their catch of the day, a bride descends a staircase and a group of pie eating contestants smile through whipping cream beards. One intriguing image Continue reading “Sotero Photograph Collection”

Library Imitating Art

As a teenager in the ‘90s, ‘grunge’ was the word. So I was particularly excited to learn about the Seattle Art Museum’s current exhibition, “Kurt,” which features works of art inspired by Kurt Cobain and the Seattle Grunge music movement. But before I throw on my oversized flannel shirt over my baggy jeans and head to the museum, I thought I would get a little inspiration of my own from the library. 

Cobain, by the editors of Rolling Stone, features the magazine’s coverage of the band during their short time together, and includes some amazing pictures.

Cobain Unseen, by Charles R. Cross, includes previously unseen artifacts and photographs from his estate’s archives.

Finally, for some true authenticity, check out reproductions of the actual notebooks written by the legend himself in Journals, Continue reading “Library Imitating Art”