Crosscut has a piece extolling the expanded Seattle Art museum. Call me a skeptic. The original SAM, the old Seattle Art museum, was quite wonderful. A jewel case of a building in an amazing location with an idiosyncratic collection of Asian Art. I am not convinced that expanding this place will solve the underlying problem of poor taste.
The downtown SAAM emerged when the uppah crust organized themselves to turn a JC Penney's into what I call "SAAM and the other SAAM." One SAAM, of course, is the Seattle Asian Art Museum, the heiress of the original SAM. Sadly the new SAAM ...stripped the old girl of her wonderful camels .. now replaced by faux dromedaries.
With hard labor, many PONCHO auctions, and subsidies from YLC (your loyal city), the poobahs hired an incompetent architect to build an ugly building cloned from standard plan #25. Venturi's build-a-museum is nothing if not ran inferior imitation of suburban shopping centers. The first time I saww his building, I had to go to South Center t relieve my anxiety.
Other than a trite exterior, Venturi's SAAM has weird shaped galleries, a grand stair case to nowhere (with the real camels), and a cheapo post WWII wind up Japanese toy as its grand symbol.
And what is this SAAM called? of course the Seattle Aren't Art Museum. So, in my head, SAM still exists in Volunteer Park, while SAAM lives downtown.
It is not that there hasn't been any art in downtown SAAM. The African collection is wonderful, if you can find it hidden in back. And there are a few pieces from the era of Seattle's great painters. A glance at Toby and Graves but nothing to rival a show at Foster White or at Tacoma's Glass Museum. . Instead we see restrikes, ......Jasper Johns' 12th version of his flag or some ... other piece that stood the test of time. lasting unpurchased on the wall of some New York gallery. It is not that I am ungrateful to the donors of this stuff, but anyone unprivileged to visit the MFA in Boston, The Art Institute in Chicago, the Whitney, the Guggenheim , or even the LA Musum of Art, must find relief that there is nothing new in Seattle.
Perhaps the most disturbing SAAM exhibit for me has been the Disney-esque presentation of Coastal peoples' art .. gathered on the floor. A kitchen midden of sculptures, lit from below by red lights evocative of a bar on skid row. I cried when I spotted a Mungo Martin Raven trying to free himself from this flotsam and jestsam. OH YEH .. there were two totem poles at the entrance, pushed up against the faux ceiling , groaning with the weight of the building. Someone should tell the curator that this is great art, not ethnic trash.
Then the poobahs built us a sculpture park. Wunnaful, wunnaful. Calder # 32, Stella #12, Northwest artists??? Northwest sculptors ??? Must be too expensive for the poobahs. Hell I like Calder, Gotta get down there some time. me
So now we will see the grander, newer, bigger downtown emporium of art. I will have to go look. I will have to go look.
Given my depression from the past, it has to be better????