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Maori art at SAM

It's been a busy week. On Tuesday I got together after work with daveon at the Elysian and solved the problems of the world. (Somehow they keep recurring. That's the one problem we haven't solved yet.) On Wednesday I saw The Raid: Redemption at the Metro with holyoutlaw, followed by pizza at the Big Time. (Highly recommended to fans of hardcore martial arts films. The movie *and* the pizza, yes.) Then yesterday I went to the Gauguin and Polynesia show at the Seattle Art Museum with carl and Scott, after a tasting at the Oola Distillery and another visit to the Elysian.

The Gauguin show was utterly packed, probably because it was First Thursday and prices were reduced. The crowd made it very difficult to enjoy the artwork, and I actually ended up being more fascinated by the teeming schools of well-dressed, intellectually-curious faces with guide-phones stuck to their ears. Running through my head was Gang of Four: "He fills his head with culture/He gives himself an ulcer." As many have said, the interesting thing about this exhibit is that it has a lot of Polynesian art in it as well, and it attempts to show how naive Gauguin's understanding of Polynesian culture and history was -- how much he imposed his idealism and ideology on the Polynesian subjects of his art.

If the joint had been less crowded and hectic, that might have been an interesting thing to engage with. As it was, I felt pretty disconnected from the show, and generally found the Polynesian art more interesting to look at, if only because there tended to be fewer people standing around it with guide-phones glued to their ears. There was one painting by Gauguin that I had never seen in reproduction that I really liked a lot (although the JPEG at the link does not reproduce the colors accurately), but other than that my favorite pieces were the Maori carvings in the final room of the exhibit. They were incredibly elaborate, and I particularly loved the use of spirals to depict the muscles of buttocks and shoulders. Or perhaps they represented tattoos. Beautifully detailed stuff.

After that we wandered around some of the permanent collection on the third floor, which was full of fascinating stuff, from the paintings of Morris Graves and Mark Tobey to the early paintings of Mount Rainier and Astoria Harbor to the carvings of Susan Point and other contemporary Coast Salish artists (which reminded me of the work by John and Luke Marston that I saw at a gallery in Vancouver in 2009) and much more. That was a very pleasant chaser to the over-burdened main attraction.

So a busy week, and the weekend comes just in the nick of time. Perhaps I'll relax by mowing the lawn or otherwise digging around in the garden.

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( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
kalimac
Apr. 6th, 2012 06:49 pm (UTC)
Gauguin is OK by me, but for primitivist-influenced French painters, give me Henri Rousseau.
randy_byers
Apr. 6th, 2012 06:55 pm (UTC)
I like what little of Rousseau I've seen, but I'd like to see more.
wrdnrd
Apr. 6th, 2012 10:29 pm (UTC)
Did you see that the Metro is being taken over by Sundance Cinemas?
randy_byers
Apr. 6th, 2012 10:44 pm (UTC)
Yes, I read the Seattle Times article. I'm very curious what niche they're going to try to fill. Will they change the type of programming that the Metro has done, which mixes Hollywood films with indie/foreign films? Will they try a purely indie/foreign mix like the Varsity or SIFF Uptown? Will they show mostly Sundance films? It's all very intriguing, and it also has me thinking about how film festivals seem to be getting into regular theatrical exhibition now. Is this a new shift in the market? I guess I should try to find articles about what kind of movies the Sundance theaters in other towns show. The SeaTimes article says the one in San Francisco works with the SFIFF, but it doesn't seem like SIFF will need a partner like that, now that they own their own theaters.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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