You know you’re in for a treat when you see the giant figure working a hammer as you approach the entrance to the Seattle Art Museum. “Hammering Man” represents working men and women. The 48-foot statue has been in place for about a quarter century.
The SAM offers an impressive collection of artwork. The museum’s exhibits include permanent and temporary pieces. During my visit, the special event exhibits included a Native American view, as well as some of the design pieces by Yves St. Laurent. Upcoming exhibits include Infinity Mirrors by Yayoi Kusama, and an Andrew Wyeth retrospective.
The Native American exhibit offered a look at traditional culture, colonialist history and contemporary views. The Portland, Oregon-based artist included a series on “Grandmothers,” which combined the portraits of photographer Richard Throssel on mirrors. The goal was to bring us into the relationship as we see out reflection with the Grandmothers’ photos.
The St. Laurent exhibit covered the history of the designer’s works. His collection was unique, and included jewelry with sketches and dresses he created over a 44-year career.
One exhibit that stood out to me was “Film is Dead.” Jennifer West uses old film to create her stories. Film strings hung from the ceiling and lay on the floor in a display that took up a room of its own.
The SAM’s main exhibits take visitors from early Europe to the Pacific Northwest. “Virgin and Child with Saints Peter and Paul” is a painting from the early 1300s. It would have been displayed above an altar.
Pomponne II De Bellievre is a 17th century oil painting depicts a French ambassador to Britain. Anthony Van Dyck spent almost a decade in the court of King Charles I.
A room featuring tea sets intrigued me. The tea pots, cups and small plates were exquisitely designed. I feared I would become a bull in a china shop as I entered the room; fortunately, the tea sets are secured behind protective glass. Bull crisis averted.
I’m a fan of contemporary art, so I checked out the unique exhibits the museum had in that genre. A mouse on a pillow stood out the most among the pieces. Who doesn’t think a giant mouse standing on a pillow isn’t cool?
Oh, and there was an Andy Warhol piece featuring a “Double Elvis.” The 1963 artwork highlights Warhol’s photo silkscreen work.
The Seattle Art Museum features a strong complement of ethnic-related art. I checked out art from Asia, Africa and the United States’ Pacific Northwest.
Japanese art included vases, figurines, bowls and paintings. A full-sized tea room highlights the collection.
The African art section features a casket resembling a car, among its paintings, sculptures, photographs and clothing. I was impresses with a collection of colorful clothing.
Pacific Northwest Native Americans provide some of the most beautiful art, in my view. I love the style used in creating sculptures and busts.
Native American humor is unique, based on history with governments. It’s tongue-in-cheek, taking bad chapters of history and applying humor. The museum has a display of cereal boxes reinterpreted with Indian humor. “Frosted Treaty Flakes” and “Salmon Pops” are among the cereals used.
The Seattle Art Museum extends beyond the gallery on First Avenue. It also has the Asian American Art Museum in the Capitol Hill District and Olympic Sculpture Park along the Waterfront. The Asian Art Museum will be on our list to visit during out next trip to Seattle.
If you love art or just want to see some impressive pieces, the Seattle Art Museum needs to be on your must-see list. We recommend visiting it.
For more information, please visit www.seattleartmuseum.org.