Experiencing the Andrew Wyeth in Retrospect exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum is a day well spent, especially on a rainy Seattle Sunday. Room after room filled with amazing art. Damn. I’m in such awe of this artistic talent.
When my antique phone couldn’t download the app for the SAM audio tour, I forked over $4 to rent the old school technology wand to listen to the audio tour. How embarrassing!
Quite the scoundrel, Wyeth painted up until his death at age 91, sneaking away starting at age 53 to secretly paint a neighbor’s caregiver, Helga, in the nude during a 15 year period without telling his wife. Oops. Of course, this was after he had started doing other nudes in a dramatic pivot to erotic art and his wife, Betsy, had told him, “If you do this again, don’t tell me.” So, he didn’t share and painted nude Helga privately while also cranking out landscapes that he DID show his wife. Hmmm….
I appreciate the audio tour interpretation of the paintings because I gaze upon them and think simplistically, “pretty picture” when I should be seeing all kinds of imagery and subtexts telling me about the meaning of life. Nope. Not unless I’m told by the kindly intelligent audio guide do I see the “death as a subtext” message and “sex as a rebirth” theme. I’m an idiot but I do enjoy viewing art as did the huge crowd packing the museum today.
One masterpiece did speak to me, after the audio guide explained that “Snow Hill” was a memorial piece created in 1989 and dedicated to his models, both living and dead, symbolizing renewal and reevaluation of life’s purpose. The models dancing around the May Pole was quite evocative. Well done, Wyeth.
Wyeth painted in tempura and watercolor and pencil sketches. The attention to detail was incredible especially the blades of grass in the landscapes. His dad was a famous illustrator who taught him starting at 15 years old. Wyeth sold out his first NYC show at the ripe old age of 22 and continued to paint until he died in 2018. He is known for his realism.
“I search for the realness, the real feeling of a subject, all the texture around it…I always want to see the third dimension of something…I want to come alive with the object.” -Andrew Wyeth
The exhibit will be at the SAM until January 15, 2018. In addition to the paintings and sketches, the SAM has done a nice job incorporating videos about Wyeth’s life and an interactive area with touch screen devices where you can create your own art. I highly recommend it. Enjoy!
The grey skies are endless in Seattle in the winter but that doesn’t stop us from exploring and having fun. No way does rain deter true Seattlites-wet is the norm. So hoods up and off we went!
First up, fueling up on Marionberry Pie Greek Yogurt at Elenos at Pike Place Market. Yum with a capital “Y”. Okay, so not exactly diet food but Thom and I endulged in a small container, perching at the counter at the market with a view of the ferris wheel all lit up in pink. Too soon the yummy, creamy treat was consumed and it was off to the Seattle Art Museum. Taking in “Jacob Lawrence: The Migration Series”, this journey illustrates through 60 paintings the mass exodus of African Americans from the rural South to the industrial North in the decades after the First World War. Stunning.
Artist Jacob Lawrence made Seattle his home and was a professor at UW, actively painting up until his death in 2000. The MOMA in NYC and The Phillips Collection in DC jointly own his series. They decided to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Jacob Lawrence by coming together for the first time in two decades on the West Coast to present this special exhibit. Check it out. Thought-provoking artistic experience.
Reading the story behind each piece, I was struck that our society has not radically advanced from this time in history. We still see discrimination and the struggle to be treated equally. We must keep up the fight for equality for all.
After a quick walk through the rest of the second floor, we hopped on the C bus to West Seattle to indulge in another one of our passions, music. If you haven’t checked out Easy Street Records yet, GO. Not only for the vinyl selection on the 2nd floor but just to soak up the vibe of good music, good people and good food. Our old car doesn’t have Bluetooth but it does have a CD player so we have been indulging in buying some music to listen to with the top down this summer should the rain ever stop. With CD’s from The Clash and Jonny Lang in hand, we also got a “Greetings from West Seattle” t-shirt for me to wear to the Springsteen concert in Auckland, NZ. Two more weeks and then we’re off to the South Pacific for rock and beach time. YOLO!
When the craziness of the political landscape is driving me to drink and getting me down (and how could it not?), then I turn to art and music to lift my spirits. Okay, whiskey and wine work too but art and music are better for my soul AND my health. So, off to the museum we went for a day away from the madness of politics.
After waking up just in time to witness a tweet storm of epic proportions in real time on Saturday morning when “he who must not be named” thought it would be a good idea to take on esteemed Congressman John Lewis, I felt a need to disconnect from the nightmare that is about to begin. So, taking advantage of a sunny, not-so-freezing day in Seattle, we set out to experience the Seattle Asian Art Museum.
Set in a gorgeous location in Volunteer Park near Capital Hill, we were blown away by the stunning collection in the 1933 Art Deco building. Originally the site of the SAM, it now houses classic Asian art pieces and special exhibits like the contemporary Japanese artist Tabaimo Homage with thought-provoking video installations. One made me think WTF but the piece set in a women’s bathroom was interesting and the crows were subtly freakish. Art!
The more classic art pieces featured such intricate details that you could look at just one piece all day to appreciate the artistry to make it. Carvings, pottery, tapestries, etc. from ancient times to contemporary pieces are just for viewing but the cement replicas of Ming Dynasty camel statues that grace the entrance are meant to be climbed on by the kids and serve as a backdrop for fun photo ops. We didn’t take the tours offered but there were two on Sunday at 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. which would probably be very informative.
While you are there, cross the street and check out the water tower observation deck. Challenged by Thom, I chugged up the 107 stairs to enjoy the 360 degree view of Seattle. Gorgeous!
Water Tower Observation Deck
We are SAM members but if you aren’t, the museum is open free on the first Thursday and Saturday of each month. Tear yourself away from social media, turn your back on politics at least for a day and take advantage of the museum and the park-both gems in Seattle!
It was a dark and stormy afternoon with sheets of torrential rain coming down. In other words, a typical Seattle day-perfect for a stroll through the fantastic fashion exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum featuring Yves Saint Laurent in all his glory. YSL truly experienced an amazing journey from teen fashion prodigy to world famous designer and this exhibit running through 1/8/17 invites you into his world of fashion through a behind-the-scenes look at the designer’s life.
The exhibit is so much more than the 100+ gorgeous outfits that YSL created. You can see his early sketches and paper dolls that he created as a teen fashion prodigy, the swatches and drawings that he used to create his collection, personal photos and much more.
YSL was born to create unique and original works of art that spanned a long and turbulent career. Like most artists, YSL fought childhood bullying first and then, later in adulthood, depression and addictions while somehow creating masterpieces that you can now view at the Seattle Art Museum. I loved seeing not only the final product but the genius behind the creations.
Despite a busy work day on Friday, I managed to squeeze in some shopping at the new and “only one in the world” Amazon Bookstore at University Village that just opened up and then joined the “IT” crowd at the Seattle Art Museum REMIX event in the evening. Fun in Seattle despite a dreary day!
While working at UV, my team and I tried to get into Din Tai Fung for lunch but to no avail–still widely popular (also in China!) this dumpling superstar restaurant had a one hour wait time at 11:30 a.m. just after opening. WTF!!! They’re good but they’re just pork dumplings people! Okay for tourists and leisure shoppers to wait it out but, on a work lunch hour, not so much for us. So we traipsed across the street to another place that probably loves being so close to Din Tai Fung because it gets people like us who can’t wait. After some lovely fish tacos, I just had to check out the Amazon Bookstore that was all the rage in recent national headlines. Thom shared with me some source that quipped, “first they killed the bookstore and now they’re wearing their dead skin”– pretty graphic but true. As most online retailers are learning, you can make a lot of money online but it doesn’t replace the experience of being able to serve customers face-to-face and hear their feedback.
The Amazon bookstore is not a comfortable place-no overstuffed chairs or cafés like Elliott Bay Bookstore, my favorite on Capital Hill, though they do have ledges by the window to perch on uncomfortably while checking out the merchandise. Message here is: stay but not too long-buy our stuff and get the hell out for the next customer. Their hardware takes up the center of the store, Kindles and such, but the true star of the store is the authentic, not electronic, books that beg to be bought and curled up with on a rainy Seattle day. I actually liked how the signs for each book feature a customer review and their endcaps have delightful curated selections like “if you like George R.R. Martin, try these” or “if you enjoy series, try these” which helps guide voracious readers like me who are always looking for new material to consume. I finally had to put a halt to my Amazon Kindle book habit as it was costing $100ish a month. I turned to the Seattle online library lending of Kindle books which, while not a huge assortment, still helps feed my reading habit for free. Reading is one of life’s pleasure however you enjoy it but there is nothing better than a cozy bookstore–just don’t go to the Amazon bookstore if that is what you want. Try Elliott Bay or Third Place Books!
On to the evening’s entertainment! After work I trotted home and changed into my evening attire to check out the Seattle Art Museum REMIX scene. I found out about it through a Meetup group I joined, Seattle Arts & Culture Events, that lets you know about cool stuff happening around town. We got a $5 discount on the $25 tickets for the 8 p.m.-midnight event “after hours” at the museum. We showed up around 8ish and there was line stretched down the block to get in-what a crowd! This is definitely a place to go not only with a date but also to meet and greet new people, i.e. pick up someone. The crowd (about 2500 people, mainly 20-30ish crowd) was dressed to the nines-we even saw a stylish guy with the whole pirate ruffled shirt thing going on paired with a jacked and jeans. Somehow he pulled it off! Kudos to him! While the majority of the guys were still rocking jeans and major plaid, the ladies were going all out with dresses and fierce heels. Very rarely have I seen such a display of fashion in Seattle. Loved the people watching!
What is REMIX? A packed house for the quarterly event enjoying adult arts & crafts, bands, drinking (on the lower level only away from the masterpieces) and celebrity-led tours. We joined Lorrie Cardoso, founder of our meetup group, as she led us around sharing her favorite and least favorite pieces of art. She was not a huge fan of the golden urinal in the Modern section of the museum. Agreed.
We had planned to enjoy the Impressionist exhibit anyway so this gave us new perspective with her guidance. Since most of the pieces in this collection are from the National Museum of Art in DC, we had already seen them but Monet, Renoir, Van Gogh, etc. never disappoint no matter how many times you are lucky enough to view them.
We were probably the first to leave around 10 p.m. just as the dancing was getting going but it had been a long week and we had a long walk home on a beautiful fall evening. So thankful, as always, that we live in a great town and are able to enjoy wonderful experiences.