Sunday, May 6, 2007

I am not SAM, but I went to his party

I've been living in Seattle for about a year and a half now, but I somehow never made it to the Seattle Art Museum. What with the stress of grad school and SAM's great restructuring, it just wasn't possible. But thanks to the Rethinking Museums Conference, I was invited to one of the many special openings that led up to this weekend's general opening.

I was jazzed about getting free admission, food, and booze from the most elite of all Seattle's museums (SAM is even overly-discerning in their volunteer opportunities), but after all the hype, I didn't feel SAM lived up to its PR campaign. Maybe it's just because the most elite museum in my hometown is bigger & better than SAM, or perhaps it's because I wasn't expecting the exhibits to be so focused on modern and contemporary art, but either way, I was pretty disappointed.

However, my trip was not in vain! Besides the free wine in tiny plastic glasses, two pieces of art defined my overall experience at SAM, and they're what I remember best. Mark Rothko's #10 and Georgia O'Keeffe's Celebration are paintings I'd never seen before in RL or in another medium. They are both effusive and hopeful and, for me, stood as reminders that there is indeed light at the end of the (graduate school) tunnel, that sometimes you just have to believe that everything will turn out okay.

Granted, I took that feeling home and threw up all over it (too much wine), but what matters is that I had an unforgettable encounter, and that's what museums are all about.

Image: Mark Rothko, No. 10

No comments: