Tag Archive | Seattle Art Museum

Blue Mountain Cider Company Raspberry Hard Cider

I’m home from a busy weekend, after spending last night in Seattle.  We watched my brother-in-law’s band play at a little hole-in-the-wall pub a couple of hours from home.  Jon and I went down a bit early to do a bit of wine tasting in Woodinville, then met Jon’s parents for the evening.

The band was good, and the venue reminded me that I’m old, and I’m terrible at staying up late.  Being out until after midnight is brutal!  Today we slept in, and before coming home, we visited the Seattle Art Museum and saw the Impressionist exhibit, a collection on loan from the National Gallery of Art.  It was a great exhibit, and we had some time to check out other areas of the museum too.

Now, at home, I’m enjoying a glass of Raspberry Hard Apple Cider, by the Blue Mountain Cider Company, in Milton-Freewater, Oregon.  If you haven’t heard of Milton-Freewater, it is right next door to Walla Walla.  The Raspberry Hard Cider is a great balance of sweet and tart, with just a hint of carbonation.  Delicious!  If you are in the area, be sure to stop by and grab some – according to the Blue Mountain website, it is only available in the tasting room.

A line up of several Blue Mountain Ciders, courtesy of the Blue Mountain website.

A line up of several Blue Mountain Ciders, courtesy of the Blue Mountain website.

Cheers to the end of a great weekend!

Elles: Women Artists from the Centre Pompidou

In 2009, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the largest modern art museum in Europe, did an amazing thing.  It emptied all of its galleries, all of its permanent collections, of every piece of artwork done by a man and put them in storage.  And then filled the entire museum with art by women.  Every single gallery.  Every single piece.  By women.  It exhibited only women artists for a period of two years.  Now, some of the collection is on the road, and it is currently at the Seattle Art Museum.

On Saturday, Jon and I headed down for a little break from all the holiday hustle and bustle for a visit.  The exhibit is only in Seattle until January 13, 2013, and we wanted to see it before it leaves.

So, the first thing I want to say is… this is the painting that was on their flyer.

The Blue Room by Suzanne Veladon, 1923

The Blue Room by Suzanne Veladon, 1923

This painting by Suzanne Veladon was painted in the Post-Impressionist style in 1923.  Although it was painted during the roaring twenties, and there were plenty of glamorous upper class women to paint, she chose to paint a member of the working class.

So, why is this painting significant?  Well…  The exhibit started out fine, with several very nice works by artists I had never heard of before.  Natalia Gontcharova, Romaine Brooks, and Tamara de Lempicka.

Romaine Brooks was born to wealthy American parents in Rome, but unfortunately, her father abandoned the family and her mother was emotionally abusive, preferring to dote on Romaine’s mentally-ill brother.  Romaine moved to Paris and lived as a poor art student until her mother’s death in 1902 gave her the money she needed to live independently and paint what she wanted to paint.  Sadly though, Brooks largely stopped painting after 1925; she only completed one painting after World War II.  The self-portrait below was in the exhibition, and it was one of my favorite works.

Au Bord de la Mer (The Edge of the Sea), Self-Portrait by Romaine Brooks, 1914

Au Bord de la Mer (The Edge of the Sea), Self-Portrait by Romaine Brooks, 1914

Tamara de Lempicka was another artist I was unfamiliar with, but whose artwork really resonated with me.  Tamara was Polish, born to wealthy parents in Warsaw, and went to boarding school and traveled extensively as a child.  She married a ladies man whom she was enamored with, and when he was arrested by the Bolsheviks during the Russian Revolution, she searched for him in prisons and managed to secure his release with the help of a Swedish consul.  She and her husband then fled to Paris where she took up a bohemian lifestyle, with multiple lovers of both genders (her first husband left her in 1927 and they divorced in 1931).

Tamara de Lempicka was one of those artists who knew success early on, and her paintings of the 1920s and 1930s are apparently her most well known.  She painted with a clear Art Deco style, and her works exude sexuality.  She fled Paris in 1939 when she saw the writing on the wall that World War II was coming, and moved to Hollywood, where she lived a life of high style with her second husband, the Baron Raoul Kuffner von Diószeg.  Her works are collected by Madonna and Jack Nicholson.  I really like the painting that was in the exhibition.

Girl in a Green Dress, by Tamara de Lempicka, circa 1930

Girl in a Green Dress, by Tamara de Lempicka, circa 1930

After that, the exhibit went downhill.  I got a little worried when an exhibit room had a warning label before you entered.  “This Exhibit Contains Mature Content.  Discretion Advised.”  Oh boy…

That room contained a giant-sized (I’m talking about 20 feet tall) woven textile (probably wool) representation of a vagina.  Other notable works included a whole wall of photographs of a topless model adorned with different patterns of chewed gum, a video of a woman violently brushing her hair, a series of photographs of a woman with crotchless pants posing with a machine gun, and what I like to call the “Feel-Up Box.”  This was a video of a woman wearing a box over her upper half, with a piece of fabric covering the front.  She then invited men to put their hands in the box and feel her up.  But not for too long, because she was timing them with a watch.

Much of the remainder of the exhibit was overtly sexual, and angry.  It just seemed like the entire exhibit was angry feminist art, and I didn’t think it was very representative of several decades of art by women.  I guess I just don’t understand modern art; to me art will always be something that requires talent, and putting a nylon over your face and filming yourself as you cut holes in it with scissors just isn’t art to me.  And in case you weren’t completely weirded out at this point, the exhibit ends with two more disturbing works.

The first – dead birds in crochet.  Yep…  Three cases of dead, taxidermied sparrows dressed in little crocheted sweaters.

And the finale… A film of a nude woman on a beach, hula-hooping with a hoop of barbed wire.

I won’t make you endure any photos of these later exhibits…  I’m sure I’ve already scarred you enough.  And if you want to visit Elles: Women Artists from the Centre Pompidou, and you don’t have to pay out of pocket (hooray for our membership!), I would suggest that you quit after the second gallery.

Gauguin at the Seattle Art Museum

Recently, Jon and I made a trip to Seattle to see the Gauguin special exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum.  It is a short term exhibit through April, 2012.  The SAM has spent the last several years compiling and organizing an exhibit documenting Gauguin’s time in Polynesia towards the end of his life.  They made arrangements for loans of 60 Gauguin artworks and the same number of Polynesian artifacts, including headdresses, tiki statues and decorative weapons.  Apparently bringing the Polynesian artifacts into the U.S. was quite the undertaking, because all of the artifacts that contained shell, animal hair, feathers, bone and teeth had to be cataloged with their exact animal components.  That can be tough when they were made 200 years ago, and since now the art form has pretty much died out.

Paul Gauguin was born in Paris, France in 1848 to a French father and a part-Peruvian mother.  He spent the first several years of his life in Peru with his mother, after his father died on the trip there.  They returned to France when he was 7, where he grew up and became, of all things, a stockbroker.  After working for 10 years as a stockbroker, and becoming increasingly more interested in studying and purchasing fine art, the stock market crash in 1882 convinced him to leave the profession for good.  He didn’t begin painting until he was in his thirties, and started out in the Impressionist movement before becoming disillusioned with the art style.  He spent a period of nine weeks collaborating with Van Gogh, spending time and painting with him while both fought depression.  At the end of this nine weeks, Van Gosh threatened Gauguin with a razor and then fled, culminating in Van Gogh cutting off his own ear in a brothel.  Although he didn’t harbor any ill will, and even invited Van Gogh to collaborate again, Gauguin never saw his colleague again.

After the market crashed in the 1880’s and Gauguin lost his job as a stockbroker, he became increasingly disillusioned with the European scene.  He began dreaming of traveling to the Polynesian islands to escape from the developed world and be a part of a simpler, less corrupted lifestyle.  Unfortunately, when he arrived in Tahiti, he found a culture and people that had been devastated by 100 years of colonialism and disease.  The people had almost lost their native cultural traditions and art.  Gauguin proceeded to drown his sorrows by shacking up with a 13 year old girl (because that’s different than what the colonists did!), and using her as his muse.  She appeared in several paintings, including The Spirit of the Dead Keep Watch.

The Spirit of the Dead Keep Watch

Unfortunately, as is the case with many artist muses, Gauguin fathered her child and then left her when he made the trip back to Paris.  There he contracted syphilis after having sex with a prostitute.  His health started to decline, and he was unable to sell many of his paintings in Paris.  He went back to Polynesia, this time to the Marquesas islands, which were less developed and had maintained more of their native culture.  He created several more paintings,  and had several more children with his mistresses, and managed to piss off the colonial authorities when he sided with the natives on some colonial matter.  Some accounts state that the colonists were also tiring of his hard drinking/drugging lifestyle and the fact that he was spreading syphilis around among the local population (what a charmer right?).  He was convicted of libel and sentenced to a month in the island’s jail.  Before he could begin his sentence though, he died of a heart attack coupled with an overdose of morphine.  The year was 1903, and Gauguin was 54.

Anyway, I’ve digressed, because I couldn’t help much give a few more of the juicy details of his life.  But if you have a chance, take the time to see this exhibit – it is worth it.  It makes you wonder what more he could have contributed to the art world, had he not died so young.  Of course, on the flipside, the Marquesas might have been wiped out by syphilis if he had lived much longer!  I’ll leave you with one of my favorites from the exhibit – Three Tahitians.

Three Tahitians