Northwest NEWS

June 19, 2000


19th century American art at SAM

by Deborah Stone

   This summer, Seattle Art Museum hosts the first major exhibition of works by Eastman Johnson (1824-1906), one of the 19th century's most important artists. The show promises to be one of SAM's highpoints in the museum's "Year of America," which opened with "An American Century of Photography: From Dry-Plate to Digital, The Hallmark Photographic Collection" last fall.

   "Eastman Johnson: Painting America" includes over one hundred paintings and drawings ranging from rural genre subjects to Civil War scenes to portraits and interiors. The show is a comprehensive exploration of the range and depth of this prolific artist's work and is arranged into chronological themes.

   The first section focuses on Johnson's amazing drawing talents with portraits of literary figures Emerson, Hawthorne, and Longfellow, as well as a selection of studies from private and public collections and a group of rare personal portraits of Native American Ojibwe tribe members created on the Midwest frontier in the mid 1800s.

   In the section titled "New Man in New York: The Civil War Years," several depictions of African-Americans in the South are featured, including the famed "A Ride for Liberty: The Fugitive Slaves" and "Negro Life in the South." The exhibition also explores Johnson's postwar domestic and rural imagery and closes with a small group of portraits; among them is the well-known "Old Man, Seated."

   "Eastman Johnson: Painting America" runs through September 8th.

   Also opening at SAM this month is a special exhibition featuring a diverse assembly of contemporary works in several media, titled "2000-1/2: going forward looking back."

   It is billed as an informal, experimental, and playful project, which examines the diversity of contemporary art, ranging from painting, sculpture, photographs, and works on paper to installation, sound, and video art. Many of the works are from the museum's permanent collection.

   Included are three new installations commissioned from local artists Charles Krafft, Rachel Maxi, and David Nechak. The show invites viewers to consider ideas about the past and future, memory, and the passage of time. "2000-1/2: going forward looking back" runs through July 16th.

   For more information, call 206-654-3100.