on December 12, 2008
I have to admit I'm bit of an art snob. There is nothing better then a day spent wondering a museum and taking in some great art. With that said I'm also a big fan of the east coast museums especially the MOMA. Now, hearing about SAM, the Seattle Art Museum, I was more then ready to go and on top of that admission was included with my Go Seattle card. I was stoked; then I saw the museum. Let me state my case on art before I continue. I love good art. I appreciate the masters, and I love Picasso and Andy Warhol. I can see the passion in Pollock's paintings and have defended Dadaism (the anti-art movement itself). There is no question in my mind that modern art is relevant, but some is just plain crap. That was SAM. Okay so that wasn't my only complaint about SAM, but I'll get to that in a minute. First walking into the building I found that the first level was nothing more then lecture halls and the second level is where the ticket booth is. In the main lobby there was a car sitting in the corner with six more of the same cars attached to the ceiling at various angles with light sticks coming out of it. I should have known better then to continue, but my judgement failed me. The gallery started on the third level with little phone like things available that you type in a number (usually next to the "art") and background information is given about the artist, the work, or the area of the world that the piece came from. I was impressed with this and since one of the first paintings I came upon was a Warhol and a Pollock I was giddy with happiness. Little did I know that I was in for a disappointment. The contemporary art lead into the American art gallery and then into the Asian art area, Native American art, and a random gallery. All of which were so uninspiring that I almost died of boredom. The textile room was even more of a let down and for someone who has studied both art and fashion I was ready to cry. Two interesting areas on the second level were the family room and the teahouse. The family room offered a lot of creative things for kids to do including dress up and coloring among an array of other things. I know this would have been my favorite area when I was little. The teahouse was also great. It was a small stage where three people were acting out a traditional Japanese tea ceremony that was being narrated by one of the museum staff. This was a very popular area that way to many people were trying to see, but due to the construction of the stage there was a very limited viewing area. I left.The fourth and last level was horrible. There was no identifiable flow between galleries and even two of the museum staff who were working on an exhibit said how sick they were of looking at several of the pieces on that level. I couldn't help but laugh as one pointed out how horrible some of the pieces were and the other agreed. The only gallery of value was the African art which consisted of clothing from Africa. It was great, but I've seen much bigger and better (case in point the Albuquerque Art museum had an impressive array of African art on loan from a museum in Louisiana after Katrina hit).The most impressive area was the gallery that featured the Aboriginal art. I've never seen it outside of history books or the internet, but the intricate patterns were enough to pull me in from across the gallery. Looking up close at their massive works of art were hypnotic. There distinct patterns created a harmonious movement through the pieces, and the closer I got the more stunning they were. Every museum should have these in their collection. I highly suggest for anyone who has been to a museum before to stay away from SAM. It's a let down on the most historic proportions. However there are a few good things to be said about it. Go to see the Aboriginal and African art, but leave before you become so disappointed in the art world that you give up on it completely.
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