Still operating with the same boiler since its opening in 1933, the Seattle Asian Art Museum has reopened after a two-year and $56 million, top-to-bottom renovation. I had a chance to go to the opening night event, and was pleased to see how well they had preserved the beautiful Art Deco building—home to the Seattle Art Museum’s Asian Art collection and set in the midst of beautiful Volunteer Park.
Be sure to pay attention to the dates on the pieces I’m featuring. Do the math on some of them (especially those from the Jomon period.) The fact that they are still around and in such amazing condition can take your breath away. It did mine. I plan to go back a lot.
I didn’t take photos of the museum itself from the outside as it was a dark and rainy Seattle night, but you can read this to get an idea of the beautiful building and setting. I also decided not to resort to including photos of my kids’ elementary school graduations or proms, though the museum exterior and the lovely Volunteer Park setting was always the go-to location for great group photos.
This piece was on display at the Seattle Art Museum as long as I can remember. I was happy to see it again, as it is magnificent in person. “An assignment at the Rhode Island School of Design—to express identity through clothing—made the artist think about ‘my identity as a Korean in the United States.’ Recalling his two year mandatory service in the Korean military, Suh built a a garment out of thousands of dog tags, soldiers’ IDs that reduce individual lives to a handful of letters and numbers. The sculpture, taking the shape of an Asian armor, embodies a recurring theme from Suh: the relationship of the individual to the larger society.” (Asian Art Museum)
“The Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei is known for provocative art that challenges the status quo. In this work, one from his iconoclastic oeuvre, he gathered a group of supposedly ancient earthenware vases and coated them with modern industrial paint. Covered with new paint, what is underneath—like history itself—is ‘no longer visible, but is still there.’ “
“Growing up in postwar Japan, Akio Takamori was exposed to a wide range of people through his father’s medical clinic, which was located near a red light district. Years later, as a mature artist working in Seattle, Takamori recalled his childhood experiences by creating communities of individuals with carefully crafted identities, such as this group of villagers. The artist remarked: ‘I create my figures from memories. I examine and visualize the meaning of scale, space, material and dimension of my memories.’” (Asian Art Museum)
You may remember seeing Faig Ahmed’s pieces in my earlier post on the UNTITLED, ART fair at Art Basel, Miami.
My friend Judy introduced me to the Jomon period a few years ago, and it quickly became a favorite of mine. I was thrilled to see a piece from that era at the Metropolitan Museum of Art this past Fall, and now there is one right in my neighborhood! I hope this one stays on display for a long time. Call me crazy, but I find this so exciting.
“Haniwa, meaning clay cylinders in Japanese, are hollow earthenware funerary objects made during the Kofun period. They were not included in the burial chamber with the deceased but were placed on the open surfaces of the burial mound. Warrior figures such as this one would have been placed in a group with other figurative haniwa around the mound.” (Asian Art Museum).
“Nandi (‘joy” in Sanskrit) is the common name for the vahana (vehicle, symbol devotee) of the Hindu god Shiva. (Asian Art Museum)