My Visit to the Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

Written by  //  September 5, 2011  //  MY LIFE  //  No comments


August 2010

There is something about seeing art in person that endears it to one’s soul. I found this effect to be especially pronounced at the Seattle Art Museum.

For a long time now, I’ve been a fan of Frederic Church, a painter in what’s called “The Hudson School.” I wasn’t surprised to come across one of his paintings at the SAM, but I was surprised by the impact it had on me.

“A Country Home”

I stood in front of this painting for a good 10-15 minutes. What I was so perplexed by was the light coming through the clouds: it seemed real! I couldn’t believe it! It was just astounding and I loved every minute of it. People walked past me and must have thought that I had noticed something particularly amazing, because they kind of tried to stand behind me to see it from my angle to figure out what all the fuss was about. I just smiled and stood enthralled.

I liked this painting by Francesco Guardi, which depicts “The Grand Council Hall of the Doge’s Palace, Venice.

I was stunned by this next piece. Lin Onus painted this beautiful piece that depicts the reflective nature and depth of a body of water.

“Gathering Storm”

Moving through the museum, it became apparent that a majority of the art at SAM is not up my alley. But there was certainly enough to catch my attention.

Gloria Petyarre (depicted) must have an eye for simplistic beauty.

Her paintings called “Leaves” are truly amazing:

This piece by Do-Ho Suh is called “Some/One” and is made entirely of dog tags; it’s like a giant kimono. While I was standing there, a child ran across the piece…. it was awkward and funny all at the same time.

And this was a very cute piece by Katharina Fritsch called “Mann und Maus.” Ahhh!

There was something about this painting, “Morning Greene” by Arthur Dove, that I particularly liked, but the effect is lost when not viewing it in person. I remember thinking “I’d buy that!”

Here is a quilt by Anissa Mack that forces your perspective into thinking the piece is laying on the ground, even though it is flat against the wall; I was impressed by the fact that the entire feat was accomplished through well-placed stitching:

I honestly didn’t get Pollock until I saw this in person. In person, there is no doubt that the work is viable and unique. It’s striking! I stood enraptured for nearly five minutes. This is called “Sea Change.”

There was some extrmely skilled glass work by John La Farge: “Peonies in the Wind

I also saw some extremely creative pieces of colored glass, including a few striking pieces by Ginny Ruffner & Mary Ann “Toots” Zynsky.

“The Invention of Games You Shouldn’t Bet On” by Ginny Ruffner

“Spirale” in Glass by Lino Tagliapietra

There was also a piece entitled “Why Painting” by Elizabeth Murray that I liked a great deal, as well. And there was a 2,500 year old statue head that was surreal to sit across from, knowing that the artist was long since dead. I tried to imagine carving something that someone in the year 4,500 A.D. would sit in a museum and look at. I couldn’t.

Now, there was this small, dark painting hanging in the corner of a dimly lit room. The image I’ve provided here does not to it justice. Firstly, the majority of the painting was as black as soot. One had to stand extremely close to get a hint of the details. The piece is by Egbert van der Poel and he is apparently known for painting images of burning buildings at night. This picture was particularly pleasing to me, as the contrast between the fire and the night was exceptionally well expressed. Seeing this piece was a real treat, because it’s not particularly famous and there aren’t any prints of it in existence. Seeing the painting in person is perhaps the only way to truly appreciate what the artist accomplishes here.

“The Burning City”

There was a 6 ½ foot wide painting by one of my absolute favorite artists, Albert Bierstadt: “Puget Sound.”

Of course, being as large as a king-size bed was much more striking and a real treat to see in person!

Over 65 works of Pablo Picasso were on presentation as part of a visiting exhibit. It was fantastic to see them all in person, partly because it made me realize that much of his work is just mediocre – perhaps the appeal comes from how avant garde his work was at the time it was being produced. Maybe the only reason why I think it’s only mediocre is because I was born after it was produced and simply take it for granted. Who knows?

One painting that I particularly liked was “La Celestina.” SAM had apparently publicized the exhibit amongst local schools as part of an interactive cooperation, because several hundred elementary students had copied down their own version of this painting, all of which were on display in one of the SAM hallways.

Another painting, which I’ve always liked, was featured in the exhibit, although it was not on display itself: “Guernica.”

One piece that I particularly enjoyed was one of a cubist guitar:

I would also say that a fair amount of the architecture in one wing of SAM was astoundingly gorgeous, in particular a marble staircase.

To sum up, my visit to SAM was excellent!

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