Tag Archives: seattle asian art museum

Dr. Wilda Reviews Seattle Asian Art Museum Reboot

29 Sep

Moi was one of local media invited to attend a press conference which described the current status of the Seattle Art Museum’s (SAM) reboot of the Asian Art Museum. Bryan Cohen   of the Capital Hill Blog provides context in In 2017, Volunteer Park’s Asian Art Museum to close for 18 months for $45M overhaul:

The art museum at the heart of Volunteer Park is preparing for its first major upgrade since it opened its doors 83 years ago. Seattle Art Museum has begun soliciting contractors for an overhaul to its Asian Art Museum that will include adding at least 7,500-square-feet of new gallery and event space, as well as an education studio and art storage space.

SAM plans to close the museum in the spring of 2017 for about 18 months until work is complete. Plans also call for replacing the heating and A/C systems, remodeling the bathrooms, accessibility upgrades, and seismic improvements.

The $28 million project was initially slated to start in 2008 but was delayed due to the financial crisis and collapse of Washington Mutual, which resulted in a “substantial” loss of revenue for the museum. A 2014 agreement approved by the City Council reactivated $11 million of city funds for the project — funds first set aside as part of the 2008 parks levy.

UPDATE: CHS asked for the budget on the project — the $28 million covers only construction. The total planned cost for the overhaul is $45 million, SAM now tells CHS.

“SAM is in the preliminary planning phase of the Asian Art Museum renovation,” a SAM spokesperson writes. “The anticipated total cost for the project is currently estimated to be in the neighborhood of $45 million, but is dependent on the final design to be revealed later this year.”

The building’s Art Deco facade will remain in tact, but some exterior work will be part of the overhaul. The landmarks protected building will also require the approval of the city’s Architectural Review Committee. A spokesperson for SAM said the museum did not have additional details as it is still working with LMN Architects on the designs….                                   http://www.capitolhillseattle.com/2016/06/in-2017-volunteer-parks-asian-art-museum-to-close-for-18-months-for-28m-overhaul/

The project has funds already committed from King County and SAM is hopeful that it will receive funds from Seattle and the State of Washington.

Moi asked two questions during the press conference and after the press conference more questions came to mind. During the press conference moi asked:

  1. Does the update mean that more artifacts now in storage will be permanently displayed?
  2. Since the education space in the proposed building is expanded, does that mean there will be more education programs open to the public?

The questions which moi had after the presentation are:

  1. Given that the expansion is a public-private partnership, why did the public members agree to provide the funds? What is the accountability for the dispersal of the funds, are there benchmarks, and what is the public benefit. This question should probably be addressed to the public bodies.
  2. Does this project fit into the general purpose of the question what is a museum?

A representative of SAM was unsure, at this point, about the amount of new exhibit space and the plan is toward more education programs.

SAM Asian Museum is interesting for a number of reasons including the building and the fact that it is sited at Volunteer Park   http://volunteerparktrust.org/history/  Both the Asian Art Museum and park are on the National Historic Registry and Seattle Landmark Registry. Both the building and park have vocal supporters who are protective of each venue and that loyalty presents challenges to any update or change. Eugene Dillenburg in What, if Anything, Is a Museum?

The Heart of the Matter

Exhibits, I will argue, are the defining feature of the museum. They are what make us different from every other type of public service organization. Exhibits are how we educate. Exhibits are what we do with our collections. Yes, we do other things as well, and those things—research, publication, outreach, programming—are very important. But those things are not unique to the museum. Only the museum uses exhibits as its primary means of fulfilling its public service mission.

Thus, a more robust definition of a museum might be: an institution whose core function

includes the presentation of public exhibits for the public good.A museum can do many things, but to merit that title it must do exhibits….                                                                                      http://name-aam.org/uploads/downloadables/EXH.spg_11/5%20EXH_spg11_What,%20if%20Anything,%20Is%20a%20Museum__Dillenburg.pdf

Dillenburg provides the rationale for the current reboot.

SAM makes the following points at the SAM site:

PRESERVE TODAY. INSPIRE FOREVER.

From its cherished Art Deco façade to the lush urban greenspace that surrounds it, the Asian Art Museum is one of the most beloved treasures in our creative, cultured, and curious city. As SAM’s original home and the heart of beautiful Volunteer Park, the museum is an invaluable anchor in our city’s rapidly changing landscape.

But did you know that our historic museum hasn’t been substantially restored or renovated since its inception in 1933? Join us in this long-overdue initiative to renovate a beloved cultural landmark and preserve a quintessential Seattle experience forever.

Restoring an icon

Think about the first time you saw the Asian Art Museum’s magnificent Art Deco exterior. Or when you played atop the famed camels flanking the front doors—then crossed the threshold to experience exceptional art from around the globe.

These are the experiences that shape Seattle’s visual fabric. The Asian Art Museum has been a part of this shared history since 1933, when Paris-trained architect Carl Gould put the final touches on the museum’s stunning design. In the same year, museum founder Dr. Richard E. Fuller donated to the museum to the city as the first home of SAM, which would eventually be named to the Washington Heritage Register of Historic Places.

In a city where change is as constant as rain in the forecast, our renovation plan ensures the museum’s future.

Protecting our collection

From majestic Buddha sculptures to our iconic early 17th-century Japanese Crows screens to the recently acquired Colored Vases by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, our collection has been imaginatively curated and expanded for 80 years.

Our renovation plan will help us safeguard these precious works through significant improvements in our heating and cooling systems, art storage, and conservation space. These necessary renovations will help us preserve our treasured collection so that it may be enjoyed for generations to come.

Connecting with Asia

The rich programming of the Asian Art Museum has long explored fascinating, diverse perspectives on Asian history and culture and Asia’s presence in the world. With special exhibitions like Garden and Cosmos: The Royal Paintings of Jodhpur and Chiho Aoshima: Rebirth of the World, the popular Gardner Center for Asian Art and Ideas Saturday University lecture series, and our lively Free First Saturday events for families, our mission is to provide a deep, multi-faceted understanding of Asia, one of the most significant cultural and economic regions in the world.

Our exciting renovation plans include expanding our already exhilarating programming and exhibition and educational spaces, allowing all of us to connect with the continent’s cultures as never before.

ENHANCING AND EXPANDING OUR SPACE

After the proposed expansion, doors in the Fuller Garden Court will lead to a brilliant new glass addition, providing views to Volunteer Park, a welcoming green space in our increasingly dense city, and long one of Seattle’s favorite Olmsted Parks. The modest addition will create a new gallery and more space for our community to gather around art and culture, enjoy public programs, and host events. It will also improve circulation to meeting rooms, education spaces, library, and auditorium.

http://www.seattleartmuseum.org/inspire

The architect renderings are impressive and the primary issue in moi’s analysis is what this project would do to impact future exhibit. Clearly, the mechanical updates are needed and necessary to upgrade the types of exhibits which come from other museums and collectors worried about the delicate nature of some artifacts. An huge unanswered question is whether more items in the permanent collection will see the light of day.

Dr. Wilda gives a cautious thumbs up to the renovation.

Here is the 2007 Fiscal Note:

Form revised October 26, 2007

FISCAL NOTE FOR CAPITAL PROJECTS ONLY

 

Department: Contact Person/Phone: DOF Analyst/Phone:
Department of Parks and Recreation Kevin Stoops / 684-7053

 

Jan Oscherwitz / 684-8510

 

Legislation Title:
 AN ORDINANCE related to the Seattle Art Museum, authorizing the execution of an agreement  between the Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation and the Seattle Art Museum, concerning their roles in the planning and design of the restoration of the Seattle Asian Art Museum in Volunteer Park, modifying the City’s obligations under the Construction and Finance Agreement between the said parties for work on public park property associated with Olympic Sculpture Park, and amending the Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation 2007 Adopted Budget, including the 2007-2012 Capital Improvement Program, by modifying appropriations to various budget control levels.

 

Summary and background of the Legislation:

 

This proposed legislation authorizes the Superintendent of the Department of Parks and Recreation to execute an agreement between the City of Seattle (City) and the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) for designing the restoration of the Seattle Asian Art Museum (SAAM) in Volunteer Park.  This agreement allows SAM to serve as the City’s agent in restoration of SAAM through the permitting process.  It also modifies the City’s obligations under the Construction and Finance Agreement between the City and SAM for work on public park property associated with Olympic Sculpture Park (OSP), and transfers appropriations from the OSP Projects to the SAAM Restoration project.

 

The City and SAM have had a long-term relationship and operating agreement regarding the museum building in Volunteer Park currently known at the Seattle Asian Art Museum (SAAM). As part of a 1931 agreement authorized by Ordinance 61998, SAM (formerly the Art Institute of Seattle) agreed to provide funds to build and operate the museum and the City agreed to fund utility costs and janitorial services and keep the facility in good repair.  The building was completed in 1933 at a cost of more than $250,000.  Additions were constructed at City and SAM expense in 1947, 1954, 1959, and again in 1969.  The agreement between the City and SAM was most recently amended in 1981 through Ordinance 109767.  In that agreement, the parties agreed to cooperate in assessing the need for capital improvements and in seeking City funding as well as public and private grants for those improvements.  In the last 20 years, the City has spent about $3.2 million on capital repairs and improvements to SAAM.

 

In 2006, SAM commissioned a study by LMN Architects, McKinstry Essention, Inc., and Sellen Construction that recommended replacing SAAM’s original 1933 boiler and related ductwork, adding a chiller plant and humidification and air handling systems to reduce energy costs, and making significant structural improvements to the building to address seismic concerns at an estimated cost of $23.2 million.  The Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) anticipates hiring a consultant to critique this work with funds provided through the 4th Quarter Supplemental Ordinance.

 

With the approval of this legislation and after completion of DPR’s technical review, SAM will continue design work on mutually agreed upon renovations and act as the City’s agent to secure permits and other regulatory approvals.  Funds from the work will come from a transfer of City money originally pledged to OSP.  SAM has recently been awarded $2 million of additional funds from the Kreielsheimer Remainder Foundation, freeing up City funds for use at SAAM.  The Board of Trustees of SAM has agreed to reduce the amount of City financial obligation for OSP by $2 million, conditioned on the City re-appropriating those funds for exclusive use in planning and pre-construction activities associated with the SAAM restoration project (see Attachment 1 – letter from SAM Board Chair, Jon Shirley).

 

This legislation does not commit the City or SAM to the construction of improvements at SAAM.  These will be negotiated in a future agreement and will be considered in future legislation or as part of a future budget process.

http://clerk.ci.seattle.wa.us/~clerkItems/fnote/116100.htm

Resources:

Seattle Residents Protest Asian Art Museum’s $45 Million Expansion Project                           http://artforum.com/news/id=63170

A brief history of the Seattle Art Museum                                                                                     http://www.seattlepi.com/ae/article/A-brief-history-of-the-Seattle-Art-Museum-1235822.php

Seattle Asian Art Museum Improvements                                                                               http://www.seattle.gov/parks/about-us/current-projects/seattle-asian-art-museum-improvements

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Dr. Wilda Reviews: Chino Aoshima at Seattle Art Museum

7 May

Moi attended the press review for Chino Aoshima: Rebirth of the World at Seattle Art Museum. (SAM) Here are the details:

Chiho Aoshima: Rebirth of the World
May 2 – Oct 4 2015
Asian Art Museum
Tateuchi Galleries

Ms. Aoshima attended the press preview. Moi’s overall impression is a woman who has been seeking solace from a very early age. Here are some excerpts from the material SAM has posted at its site:

Aoshima’s work has undeniably dark images but a positive attitude. There’s no evidence of fear in her art. Her murals, digital prints, and drawings don’t want to escape from society or from the future. Instead, she seems to embrace all possibilities, including a world where the skeletons and ghosts reside alongside the rest of us.
Her work may look like a surreal fantasy. But ask Aoshima, and she’ll tell you she’s showing us the reality that our beautifully chaotic world may be hurtling toward….

Initially, Aoshima created all of her artwork in Adobe Illustrator. Using hundreds of vectors (points, lines, curves, and shapes or polygons that can be scaled), she controls her images with precision. She repeatedly uses the same data for such background elements as trees, and she also spends extensive time making modifications in order to preserve the organic curves of her depictions of nature—such as vines. Within Illustrator, she creates original images for most of the major individual elements of a painting, such as the figures. She then layers in colors….

Unlike other Kaikai Kiki artists, Chiho Aoshima doesn’t have formal training in art. She graduated from the Department of Economics at Hosei University and then went to work for an advertising firm, where a graphic designer taught her how to use Illustrator… http://www.seattleartmuseum.org/exhibitions/chiho

Artspace has a succinct biography of Aoshima.

At SAM, Aoshima remarked about her childhood and the feeling that she got visiting cemeteries as well as the effect of the Shinto faith on her world view. Her current artistic inclination was a rebirth of thwarted artistic inclination of her childhood. Artspace says:

Influenced by anime and manga cartoons, Chiho Aoshima stands apart from her peers through her exploration of the dark currents lying beneath Japanese pop imagery. She presents nature at odds with man, girls at odds with traditional gender roles, and visions of renewal after the apocalypse. She says of her practice: “My work feels like strands of my thoughts that have flown around the universe before coming back to materialize.”

Not formally trained in art, Aoshima graduated from the Department of Economics at Hosei University before going to work for the artist Takashi Murakami, who eventually made her a member of his Kaikai Kiki collective…. http://www.artspace.com/chiho_aoshima

See, Timeline for Aoshima http://www.artnet.com/artists/chiho-aoshima/biography

Moi’s impression is that Aoshima is one of the most technically brilliant pop artists working in the contemporary world. Her technique is crisp, precise and engaging. But, and there is a but that most folk either will not notice or care about if they did notice. The but is the overwhelming sadness of her work, which most will attribute to a bleak future promised by technology. Moi listened to her description of her childhood and the fact that cemeteries offered some solace to a lonely child, who has in moi’s opinion, grown into a woman who has never shaken that childhood sadness.

SAM’s exhibit is divided into three sections:

1. An overview of Aoshima’s work over the past 15 years
2. Digital prints
3. Animated Video

The video has so many levels, one must see it a couple of times to really get clues about nuance and the many different levels of expression. Dr. Wilda recommends Chino Aoshima: Rebirth of the World because of its technical brilliance and the singular world view of Aoshima, which one does not have subscribe to in order to appreciate her authentic, for her, expression.

Resources:

Silenci? – Chino Aoshima – YouTube

A clip from the new animation by Chiho Aoshima, made in collaboration with Bruce Ferguson of Darkroom. The piece will premiere as part of “Chiho Aoshima: Rebirth of the World,” which opens on Saturday May 2 at the Seattle Museum of Art’s Asian Art Museum.
http://www.seattleartmuseum.org/exhibitions/chiho

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Dr Wilda Reviews: Deco Japan: Shaping Art and Culture, 1920–1945 at the Seattle Art Museum

21 May

Moi was invited to a press viewing of the Seattle Art Museum’s Deco Japan: Shaping Art and Culture, 1920–1945. This visually stunning Deco exhibit at the Asian Art Museum until October 19, 2014 is an example of how artists pick up vibrations and interpret the cultural vibrations that move their spirit and creativity. According to the press materials:

Jazz. Gin. Short hair and short skirts. The modern girl. The rise of film, and the advent of skyscrapers and air travel. After World War I, the world was changing rapidly. With the machine age came an increased emphasis on speed.
The art world answered with Art Deco, which had a driving energy that found expression in its use of themes from cultures all over the world, wild appropriation of other art forms, and graphic designs with fast lines that could be adapted and used on everything from housewares to posters, and for everything from politics to advertising.
By World War II, Art Deco had left its mark on almost every medium of visual art…. http://www.seattleartmuseum.org/exhibitions/deco

In addition, in 1923, the Japanese suffered the Kanto Earthquake which destroyed Tokyo and Yokohama. It was an interregnum period between wars as societies and individuals coped with the shifting social norms and political alliances. The Deco movement attempted to not only embrace modernity, but to make the modern beautiful as well as functional.

Some young Japanese women wanted to be modern girls or MOGA:

“Ten Qualifications for being a moga” (Modern Girl)
1. Strength, the “ene?my” of conventional femininity
2. Conspicuous consumption of Western food and drink
3. Devotion to jazz records, dancing, and smoking Golden Bat cigarettes from a metal cigarette holder
4. Knowledge of the types of Western liquor and a willingness to flirt to get them for free
5. Devotion to fashion from Paris and Hollywood as seen in foreign fashion magazines
6. Devotion to cinema
7. Real or feigned interest in dancehalls as a way to show off one’s ostensible decadence to mobo (modern boys)
8. Strolling inthe Ginza every Saturday and Sunday night
9. Pawning things to get money to buy new clothes for each season
10. Offering one’s lips to any man who is useful, even if he is bald or ugly, but keeping one’s chastity because “infringement of chastity” lawsuits are out of style
–by the leading illustrator Takabatake Kashō for the magazine Fujin sekai (1929)

The 200 items in the exhibit show the marriage of Japanese craftsmanship and artistic expression with the Deco movement. It is well edited to tell the Deco story from the Japanese perspective.
Seattle is very lucky to be a stop on the U.S. tour.

This exhibit is highly recommended. Dr. Wilda gives Deco Japan: Shaping Art and Culture, 1920–1945 a definite thumbs up.

Here is information about the exhibit:

Deco Japan: Shaping Art and Culture, 1920–1945
May 10 – Oct 19 2014
Asian Art Museum
Tateuchi Galleries
http://www.seattleartmuseum.org/exhibitions/deco

Art Deco Style defines Art Deco:

Art Deco Terminology

The term ‘Art Deco’ is taken from the name of the 1925 Paris exhibition titled Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes. The most popular and respected French artists of the day showcased their work at this exhibition.
Jewelry makers, graphic artists, painters, architects, fashion designers and all other manner of craftsmen and women displayed their pieces at the exhibition. All of the works had a commonality – they were not only functional, but also very beautiful (i.e. decorative).
The term came up again in an article by the architect, Le Corbusier, titled ‘1925: Arts Déco’ and in 1966 at the retrospective exhibition titled Les années ’25: Art Deco/Bauhaus/Stijl/Esprit Nouveau. But it wasn’t until Bevis Hiller published his book, Art Deco of the 20s and 30s in 1968 that term was used to truly define that style movement.
In essence, Art Deco is a modern interpretation of the art movement that preceded it, Art Nouveau. So it may be helpful to structure the Art Deco definition in contrast to Art Nouveau.

Art Nouveau
Art Nouveau came into existence as a reaction to the purely functional and practical spirit of the Industrial Revolution. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, society was primarily concerned with production, machinery and the output of goods. Less focus was placed on beauty.
If something did not serve a practical purpose, it was in essence useless, regardless of how much pleasure it gave you to look at and admire it. But just like with anything in life, when you focus on one aspect of something at the exclusion of another, the other comes back with a vengeance! And so in came Art Nouveau.

Artists of the day began creating works of art that were highly stylized and purely decorative. The focus started to shift from the cold, dismal, lifeless factories to the energetic, colourful natural environment. Artists began to incorporate naturalistic motifs into their works – dragonflies, insects, flowers, birds, flowing water, etc.
Rounded edges, scrolls and curves were very popular as they evoked a more organic, natural feel. Moreover, the focus was back on beauty and decoration. Everything from architecture to jewellery to common household objects was embellished and beautified – function took a back seat and beauty was glorified.

Art Nouveau to Art Deco
Art Deco followed in Art Nouveau’s footsteps in that it also paid homage to beauty, but it was a more ‘modern’ interpretation. The Machine Age was well underway at this time and function became an important requirement again. The rounded, scroll, naturalistic motifs of Nouveau were replaced with geometric, angular and streamlined motifs like zigzags and chevrons (notice the difference in designs in the two lamp pictures above). Function was important, but not at the expense of beauty and decoration.

Art Deco Definition
To sum up, the Art Deco definition can be outlined as follows:
Art Deco is both a functional AND decorative artistic style that emerged in the early 1920s and influenced all forms of creative design. http://www.art-deco-style.com/art-deco-definition.html

The Victoria and Albert Museum’s 2003 exhibit showcased the global nature of the Deco style. See, Art Deco: Global Inspiration http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/a/art-deco-global-inspiration/

Resources:

Art Services International DECO JAPAN: Shaping Art and Culture, 1920 – 1945 U.S. museum schedule http://www.asiexhibitions.org/Deco-Japan.html

Japan’s art deco interlude http://www.salon.com/2012/03/17/japans_art_deco_interlude/

An Urbane and Unexpected Leap From West to East http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/23/arts/design/deco-japan-shaping-art-and-culture-at-japan-society.html?_r=1&

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