The photos of Soichi Sunami at Cascadia Art Museum

Just back from the little museum that could, Cascadia located in Edmonds. An absolutely gorgeous photography exhibit is currently the main attraction, showcasing the work by photographer Soichi Sunami who I had not heard of before stepping foot into the show today. The exhibit is appropriately titled Invocation of Beauty, The Life and Photography of Soichi Sunami.

Cascadia focuses on artists who were here in the Pacific Northwest in the early part of the 20th century. The curation places an emphasis on giving the art a historical context, so there is always a local history lesson to be had too.

Soichi Sunami was born in Japan and came to Seattle in 1907 at the age of 22. His stunning gelatin silver prints are elegant and evocative reminders how sophisticated and intellectual the dance and art world could be in that era spanning the late 1920s to early 1940s.

He was known locally at the time as a member of the Seattle Camera Club where “in 1920, with the art museums yet established in Seattle, the local department store Frederick & Nelson sponsored a photography salon” -1

At that time he was working for the  Ella E. McBride Studio which is how he started documenting the visiting dancers who came through the region. Subsequently a large portion of his most acclaimed work focused on portraits of modern dancers. 

There are dramatic images of such greats as the dancer/ choreographer Martha Graham, who I was unaware spent a year teaching at Cornish College here in Seattle in 1930.

Sunami moved to New York City where eventually worked for The Museum of Modern Art as their internal photographer (from 1930 until 1968) a position that kept him safe from internment during World War II

It was also in New York that he met author Anais Nin, and become the photographer for many of the cover for her books. At this point again I ask, why am I unaware of him having spent a large part of my 20s reading all of The Nin Diaries.

Here is Peggy Guggenheim’s daughter Pegeen and husband painter Jean Hélion.

Photos from when he was at the Museum of Modern Art line one wall, then rounding the corner you are pulled back to a poetic photograph of Mount Rainier seen from the vantage point that you yourself have witnessed from living here.

It is hard to express how consistently lovely the photos are as one looks around the exhibit from wall to wall.

Cascadia has also given room to video clips of a handful of modern dances he photographed as added context to his work. 

The exhibit coincides with the publication of a book of the same name by Cascadia Curator David F. Martin, an art historian who has been a long running champion of our regional artists.

Invocation of Beauty, The Life and Photography of Soichi Sunami has been published by the University of Washington press.

Cascadia Art Museum is located in Edmonds, WA
They are open Wednesday – Sunday: 11am-6pm
Art Walk Edmonds: Third Thursdays, 5-8pm  – FREE

I was unaware of this institution until recently. They opened in 2015 in a building that used to be a Safeway grocery store and then an antique mall. They are genuine in their championing of local artists and are taking their job as cultural historians quite seriously.

The Sunami exhibit is on view through January 6th. -2
Free parking is ample in Edmonds.

Here is the Everett Herald’s Review of the Exhibit.

Seattle Time’s piece on Curator David F. Martin.

 

Footnotes:

1- Invocation of Beauty, The Life and Photography of Soichi Sunamipage 21

2- This is a total aside but after pondering it for a bit the imagery in this exhibit reminds me of the 1928 movie the Passion of Joan of Arc by director Carl Theodor Dreyer.

 

For some reason this is my favorite from the exhibit, it strangely could have been taken today:

Lake and Diebenkorn Again

I’m backlogged on my thoughts from my recent Portland trip but through no small irony, the two artists I went to Portland to see a week ago are found together again in at Bellingham’s Whatcom Museum.

When I found out there was another Diebenkorn show in the vicinity I made the two hour trek north as soon as I could .

The Whatcom Museum is a fairly tiny but pleasant museum in the very pleasant (I would even say tranquil) town of Bellingham, Washington.

Their Diebenkorn offering is: THE INTIMATE DIEBENKORN: WORKS ON PAPER, 1949-1992 a small collection of Richard’s Diebenkorn drawings spanning 40 years of his career. Sometimes it is the small works, the not so precious experiments that can give you insight into someone’s head over the larger and more seriously executed paintings. One of my favorite pieces in the show was made with a ball point pen and watercolor.

Contained within the exhibit is a small room you can sit down and watch an 1988 CBS Sunday Morning interview with Diebenkorn as well (here you go if you’re interested). The concept of interviewing an artist, especially a painter these days on television seems so foreign. Diebenkorn stated in the interview that some days he will just sit with one of the works for hours doing nothing. Yet then he will feel guilty for wasting time. Such a mild mannered soul, it is a privilege to take a moment to hear his thoughts.

What I wasn’t expecting was to cross the room into their other non-permanent exhibit to find my artist friend Eva Lake on the wall as she is part of the Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts at 25 exhibit. This is a survey of over 70 prints from their archive, showcasing the variety of artists who have worked with them through the years. A wonderful variety of print accomplishments are represented here.

Imagine my surprise when I turned a corner and saw this print titled Golden No. 2,  (2011, eight color lithograph).

I had to text her that I had unwittingly stumbled acrossed her work.

Here is Crow’s Shadow Institute’s website. They are based in Pendleton, OR and offer invitational only residencies to artists to create print work.

“Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts (CSIA) is a nonprofit organization aimed at providing opportunities for Native Americans through artistic development. With an emphasis on contemporary, fine-art printmaking, we also function as a venue to practice traditional Native American art practices — weaving, bead working and regalia making — of the Plateau region.”

Eva Lake’s print work can be found here on their site.

I also really liked Jim Denomie’s piece below as well.

These are small shows in a small museum but to me the drive was worth seeking out such rewarding content. I also spent the morning looking at Western Washington’s University campus sculpture collection, which I’ll write about soon.

Info:

The Intimate Diebenkorn: Works on Paper, 1949-1992

Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts at 25

Both shows are on on view through August 19, 2018 at the Whatcom Museum Lightcatcher Building (open Wed-Sun, 12-5p)

Now after all this driving I want to find out why Seattle has not had a recent a Diebenkorn exhibit for me.

I’ll only say this once…..

Wow. But seriously, what happened to The Henry?

Went to see the Elizabeth Murray Project tonight, which was small yet lovely.
Thankfully the Turrell Skyspace was open because that was about it. I felt like I was in a white cube ghetto*.

I see this has been going on for awhile (When Did The Henry Art Gallery Fall Asleep) and now there is no one here to write a follow up.

I did love seeing the collaboration between Elizabeth Murray and Anne Waldman (Her Story), although one could wonder if it was two guys collaborating would they call it ‘His Story‘? You of course know the answer to that and sure you can ask yourself if I’m being cranky enough. Go ahead.

At any rate that has nothing to do with the actual work which is a thoughtful collaboration between words and printmaking. I was glad I stopped by to see it being a large Murray fan. I could learn more about Waldman. I hate crowds and there was really no one there on this Thursday night so I shouldn’t complain about that either.

The Her Story exhibit is up until November 4th, 2018.

  • That’s supposed to be funny. Of course there are no white cube ghettos.

A World of Paper

borchgrave9_0

[The Fortuny Tent at Pulp Fashion]

Back in the spring of 2011 I coerced my sister into accompanying me to an exhibit at San Francisco’s Legion of Honor called Pulp Fashion. Both of us came to this visit with no expectations and were quite blown away at the exquisite exhibit. Isabelle de Borchgrave is a Belgian artist who works mainly with paper and paint to recreate to scale reproductions of historical costumes. I believe the exhibit at the Legion was the first large scale exhibit of her work in the United States.

Tonight, the Bellevue Arts Museum opens an exhibit called A World of Paper which focuses on  a specific body of work inspired by painter and textile designer Mariano Fortuny. I am very excited to have an opportunity to see the work of this world class artist again.

I have to mention to see this work up close is a bit mind boggling when you realize every bit of it is created from paper. I hope people “go over the bridge” and take the opportunity to visit BAM with their own eyes. I’ll be reporting back on my own visit.

As an aside, for anyone who hasn’t been to the California Palace of The Legion of Honor, it is quite the grandiose pleasure. The location is a bit out of the way, so you feel like you are making a pilgrimage, with a pay out of spending time with the mainly European collection of art. For Hitchcock fans, you might recognize the interior from the famous museum scene in Vertigo.

5756681852_72d84ea16c_o

 

The Girl With A Earring

20GUIDE1-popup

I came across Ken Johnson’s brief mention in the NYTimes that Girl With Earring and Entourage will be coming to The Frick. Sure enough Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Hals: Masterpieces of Dutch Painting from the Mauritshuis opens today. I had no idea that Vermeer’s Girl With A Pearl Earring had not been shown in New York City since 1984. She will be in good company since The Frick is privy to three Vermeers in it’s own collection.

I was lucky enough last April to see this show when it was installed at the de Young in San Francisco and it was quite the treat. I was reminded once again that my brief excursions down to the Bay Area have enriched my museum going life far more than I give credit. This year I was lucky to go more than once getting a chance to return to the de Young in July to see their Diebenkorn exhibit, which I am still trying to wrap my mind around.

I would like to point out the de Young and the Frick enlisted two entirely different marketing campaigns for the same exhibit. Much to my disappointment, there will be no winking girls with pearls at the Frick.

Future Beauty

Made it to the last day of Future Beauty .

9702485489_c04d2e4f86_c (1)

If I was still thinking about making clothes I would have elbowed my way up to the garments for further inspection but enjoyed them strictly as a passerby.

I was glad to see the exhibit, but the layout at SAM was hard to follow. I almost missed the room I enjoyed the most with the wallpaper (hiding behind a scrim of fashion shows).
Future_Beauty__30_Years_of_Japanese_Fashion__London___ARTS_THREAD_Blog
Part of me couldn’t help thinking the video footage of runway shows was unnecessary. The super tall models seemed not quite right with the interesting construction, especially Rei Kawakubo, with the padded elements  falling into that category.

I spent the end of last summer learning to sew. I felt like I was making sculpture, and these clothes, especially afore-mentioned Kawakubo dignified that concept.

I made it to the exhibit the last day before it gets packed off to the Peabody. I would love to see more contemporary shows in Seattle.

Things about Diebenkorn

skitch

There are entire places and things I witnessed on this day that I neglected to comment on, became unable follow through on or was unable to think about  in any articulate manner. The Diebenkorn Exhibit, a meditation on the Sausalito Six, The Heath Factory all occurred on this day. I was sick. I was tired from driving and managing and lonely as hell. I know they were important things.  Things I had made a pilgrimage out of. But sometimes you need to wait.

Vogel 50×50 at SAM

9706262874_22a2f61da4_h9703027743_a61add5d83_h9703042561_3f4c61995f_h9703049209_1f94a373ac_c9706260496_e71e2eafe9_h 9703022533_ac9a7bc504_b

It feels like it was years ago that a friend of mine insisted I see the documentary Herb and Dorothy. I have no idea why I resisted, why it would creep back onto the bottom of the rental queue. This month on a lark I finally settled in for a viewing and was so taken that I actually watched the movie three times in 24 hours. Three times for god’s sake. I felt fortunate enough that SAM still had their Vogel 50×50 exhibit up, and I made a point of visiting this week. First of all, can I just say Richard Tuttle. Spare genius. I have no idea if every state received comparable allotments of Tuttle, but Washington has a nice assortment.

The best thing about the collection when you see parts of it in person is it feels very human scale. It also readily boasts the beauty of drawings and other works on paper, undoubtedly for their affordability. Looking from wall to wall, the exhibit made my heart glad.

I discovered one artist I was unfamiliar with: Danica Phelps. Her watercolor by the way is above sadly reduced to a pile of digital shambles. I loved that piece, which in my mind was a nice little to-do list turned art. Well, now I see her entire body of work is systems based, which intrigues me. I like the paint swatches she puts at the bottom of each piece, like a test strip.

51TQKFN93VL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

[Danica Phelps: Every Day Life]

I look forward to the upcoming documentary 50×50 with much anticipation.

HERB-articleLarge

[Fine Line Media ]

 

SFMOMA and De Young

8664883044_209d4593b5_k
I am exhausted. Finally a good night’s sleep and the SF garbage trucks wake me up at 5:04A. I’m fighting off some bullshit cold that I’ve been trying to get since Thursday.

Yesterday we met at SFMOMA. But first I got hopelessly lost for a good half hour after getting off BART. It had already been a long day with the flight. A quick coffee at SFMOMA coffee shop, a wait in line to see The Clock, which was brilliant and entertaining, lunch at that tea place in Yerba Beuna Gardens which was more chi chi and small portioned than we had hoped ( and at lunch time not as relaxing). The weather yesterday was downright perfect. back to SFMOMA to see the Garry Winograd exhibit which was important but honestly we buzzed through it. A cab ride to Golden Gate Park to see The Girl with A Pearl Earring.

The Girl w/ Earring show at the de Young was perfect and strangely not too crowded. It was such a treat to see the Vermeer, Rembrandt, Jan Steen, Frans Hals, a lovely show. We looked at the permanent modern art collection and I opined in front of the DeKoonig how much I wish I was still painting. Cab to San Remo then we hoofed it back downtown to have dinner at a food court in a mall which was actually nice. Then on to BART and I took a cab to City Lights. That and the Italian coffee shop up here in North Beach are my two SF touchstones. It was calming to just browse, listen to earnest 20 something discussions about poetry and just be.

I walked back to the San Remo, dropped my stuff and ventured two blocks to Safeway to get a bottle of wine.