[Seattle Sights] An Enthralling Experience at the Seattle Art Museum

“Art, at the dawn of human culture, was a key to survival, a sharpening of the faculties essential to the struggle for existence. Art, in my opinion, has remained a key to survival.” – Herbert Read

Located in the heart of Downtown Seattle near the Seattle Aquarium, Pike Place Market and steps from the Starbucks Reserve and colorful bane of my germaphobe existence – the historically disgusting gum wall, the Seattle Art Museum sits surrounded by towering skyscrapers and moody skies – depending on the time of year at least. One of three sister facilities with the Seattle Asian Art Museum and the Olympic Sculpture Park, the Seattle Art Museum opened it’s doors in 1993 and plays host to over 25,000 unique pieces of fine art, sculpture, pottery, design and experimental immersive exhibits from around the world.

Native American Masks

Many Art Museums tend to lay their focus on the European, or Western, historic artistic influence – but one of the many wonderful things about the SAM, is their focus on art and artists from around the globe, and because of that have renowned and fantastic collections of African, Native American, Aboriginal, Oceanic and Islamic Art in addition to more traditional collections of Modern, American and European art.

I was lucky enough to go at a time where there were two fantastic exhibits – which have both catapulted to personal favorites after the Yayoi Kasuma Infinity Rooms at the Broad, and the Crystal Bridges Museum of Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. Finally, at the age of 34, I saw my first Georgia O’Keeffe collection in person and found the colors, shadows and textures mesmerizing and meditative; needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed viewing a retrospective of her body of work.

Another favorite rooms in the SAM was the Porcelain Room; an exquisite collection, immaculately laid out in a wonderfully chromatic aesthetic. Brought in from around the globe, many of the pieces on view can be dated back as far as the 17th century – and are dichotomous and beautifully paired with modern retrospective kiosks which can engage and educate you on each piece. Photos simply can’t do the room justice, either; the innocently creme and pastel colors, paired intricate attention to detail on each individual piece, makes the entire collection even more stunning to take in.

I don’t know what it is about art that works up an appetite for wine, but every time after I go to a museum – I come away with a silly cultured craving for some bubbles and snacks, and couldn’t have been more thrilled to discover Purple Cafe + Wine Bar just a hop, skip and a jump from the museum. Featuring a fantastic array of flights, it’s the perfect afternoon beverage and snack break, and they also have an incredible menu if you’re looking for a full meal.

For a sneak peak into the Seattle Art Museum, peep this fantastic new concept – the First Thursdays Virtual Art Walk hosted by the adorably engaging duo behind By The Hour.

In every corner of the country, albeit the world – there are many businesses that are suffering because they are agreeing to stay closed for the betterment of all of our health, and the preservation of our humanity – and our arts – for the future. If you are in a position to do so, please help your local art and music communities by donating where and when you can. To donate to the Seattle Art Museum, head here – and for more on the Seattle Art Museum, including proposed reopening schedules and practices – head to their socials:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Soundcloud

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The Audiofiles: Keeping the Creative Process Alive

If you want to really hurt your parents, and you don’t have the nerve to be gay, the least you can do is go into the arts. I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”
Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country

I need to preface this post with a teensy-tinsy blanket statement – but I wholeheartedly both stand by and believe in it:

You don’t have to be artistic to be creative;
You don’t have to be creative to be artistic.

Truth be told, there’s people that fall directly in the middle of this Venn Diagram of expression – and over time one can definitely migrate from one end of the spectrum to the other – but for the most part I believe there are those of us that re-purpose the artistic constructs of others to fit our lives and there are those that build them.

Reusable Art by Nicole McGee

Being artistic can be applied to basically one field: the arts.  Dancing, singing, acting, painting, sculpting, modeling, etc, etc – they can all be made into collaborative mediums but at the end of the day, a dance is a dance and a song is a song.  The power of the creative mind is to take an artistic medium and apply what I like to call, the “fuck-it-all” method.

Here’s an example:

A painter gets his canvas and says to himself, “You know what you’re gonna do, you’re gonna paint a cityscape!” So, he grabs his trusty brushes and has it.  When the day is done it might not be a cityscape – it might be a masochistic panda, a whimsical forest or just dots on the page, but – irregardless – it’s still a painting.

The creative is the person that looks at that end result, and regardless of what it is thinks “Hey, this painting of (fill in the blank) could be a lot cooler if I broke it into pieces and assembled it back into a lamp shade.”  Bye bye old form, hello new function.  This is the essence of the creator.

As we grow older, our routines begin to present themselves and we become settled in both our way of life and school of thought – I believe the challenge we’re consistently presented with is how to both maintain the essence of the moment and, conversely, perpetually evolve ourselves.  And that answer is simple: art and creativity.

The biggest challenge the creative type faces is being pigeon-holed: we’re such free spirits that we don’t want no stinkin’ restrictions, even when it comes to a (theoretically) freeform field like the arts.  Just think about picking up an instrument – I’m sure with some coaxing, and deviations from sobriety, that one could pick up an instrument and play a basic tune, chord or scale.  No one expects to hear “Flight of the Bumblebee” but avant-garde noise, as close as some would deem it to dubstep, isn’t an actual genre.  It’s creative, sure; but art? Not exactly.

Light bulb Aquariums; what will they think of next?!

As much as we don’t want to admit it – all art tends to follow some form or function; I wouldn’t say it follows rules but it tiptoes where they deserve to be broken.  Creativity, conversely, blossoms from a world founded more on streams of consciousness and moments of inspiration than conformity.

As a community, as a culture – and even as individuals – we have a collective history creating and repurposing our art; a coat rack turns a purse holder, old CD-$’s become hanging room dividers and broken mirrors can mature into disco balls.   As different as each is to me – there are inherent similarities that one simply can’t shake: both processes require we open our minds to redefining failure.  Neither are perfect, and both are open to public – and sometimes, unpopular – debate.

The goal, for me at least, is to achieve a unique synthesis of both worlds; to fuel my passions as well as fill whatever voids I’ve created in my life.  There is nothing wrong with adding some structure to a world more reminiscent of M.C. Escher’s mind and alternatively, there’s no harm in arbitrarily throwing splatter paint on something with rigid form and bland characteristics.