Art Guide Northwest

Museum Shows in 2012

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by Brenda Tipton

From Gaugin's Polynesia to Lino Tagliapietra's latest glass masterpiece: there's a lot to see during the next year in our museums

For glass lovers, Tacoma is the place to go with the distinctive stainless steel cone of the Museum of Glass serving as a beacon. Since it's Dale Chihuly's home town, it is no mere coincidence that the Museum of Glass, one of only a handful in the entire country, is located here. They celebrate their tenth anniversary in 2012 with a special exhibition of glass from world-famous Italian Maestro Glass Blower Lino Tagliapietra titled Lino Tagliapietra from Murano to Studio Glass. The exhibit runs from July 7, 2012 through January 6, 2013. Because of the anniversary, there will be all kinds of extra activities and exhibits, so be sure to log on to the Seattle Art Blog at to stay informed or go to the museum's web site. While you're at the museum, make it a point to stop in the Hot Shop where you'll usually find glass artists at work.

Sure to be a hit in the coming year is Gauguin and Polynesia: An Elusive Paradise, on view from February 9 through April 29, 2012 at the downtown Seattle Art Museum in the Simonyi Special Exhibition Galleries. According to SAM, "The show will display about 60 works by Gauguin (paintings, sculpture, works on paper) that fully reveal the extent of the influence of Polynesian art and culture on his work. It will also highlight about 60 works from the Pacific that exemplify the dynamic exchanges of Pacific Island peoples with Europeans throughout the nineteenth century."

Lino Tagliapietra

Lino Tagliapietra blowing glass in the Hot Shop at the Museum of Glass.

Paul Gauguin: Arearea no Varua ino

Arearea no Varua ino (Words of the Devil, or Reclining Tahitian Women) 1894 Oil on canvas Paul Gauguin, 1848 - 1903, 23.625 in. 38.5625 in. Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen

On view from March 15 through August 5, 2012 at the Seattle Asian Art Museum in Volunteer Park is Colors of the Oasis, Central Asian Ikats. Some 40 colorful robes created during the 19th century using the labor intensive process of ikat will be on view. SAM's renowned collection of Chinese art was started by Dr. Richard Fuller, the founding director of the Seattle Art Museum, in the early 1900s and contains representative works from each dynastic period with particular strength in jades, ceramics and sculpture. If you've never been to this museum before, it's a great place to visit with its beautiful grounds and great view of  the city, not to mention the marvelous collections inside.

The Frye Art Museum, located at 704 Terry Avenue, Seattle's only free museum, is featuring Isaac Layman, Paradise, on view through January 22. This is the first museum exhibition of work by one of Seattle's leading artists: Isaac Layman. Layman's photographic work has garnered increasing attention across the United States and earned reviews on National Public Radio and in leading journals. The Frye's permanent collection of 19th-century German painting, Alaskan landscapes, Russian exiles of the "Santa Fe School," and early 20th-century American art is always on view.

Hungry Planet, What the World Eats, will be showing from January 28 through May 10, 2012 at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture on the University of Washington campus. Based on the book of the same title by Peter Menzel and Faith D'Alusio, this unique exhibit features families around the world from 10 countries through photographs where they are surrounded by a week's worth of groceries. Additionally, the Burke will feature a section devoted to recent research involving 5,000 years of traditional tribal diets.

On view through February 12 at the Bellevue Arts Museum is George Nelson: Architect, Writer, Designer, Teacher. As design director for Herman Miller, Nelson invented numerous classics of modern furniture and interior design. In conjunction with the 46th Annual Conference of NCECA (The National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts), taking place in Seattle March 26 - 31, the museum presents Push Play: The 2012 NCECA Invitational, the work of more than 35 important and emerging ceramic artists from across the globe. Mary Lee Hu's jewelry exhibit, Knitted, Knotted, Twisted & Twined runs from February 7 - June 17.

About an hour north of Seattle in the town of La Conner, is the Museum of Northwest Art, possibly the only museum in the state devoted strictly to Pacific Northwest artists. Their growing collection includes over 2,500 contemporary art objects from the early 1900s to the present day. Continuing further north stop off in Bellingham to explore the Whatcom Museum and more Pacific Northwest art as well as American art from the middle of the 19th century to the present.

Nearly every city and small town throughout our area has a monthly art walk these days where the galleries and museums are open later at night. Art walks are a great opportunity to get out and mix and mingle with artists and gallery owners who are opening new shows, or, in many cases, showcasing all their artists' works. First Thursday in Pioneer Square is probably the biggest art walk in the state and most definitely has a festival atmosphere with all kinds of surrounding businesses open to accommodate the crowds. It's fun, and, like all art walks, it's free. 

For daily art information, log onto where I religiously post current openings along with pictures and a blurb about the shows.

I hope you enjoy visiting the museums and galleries in Washington. Believe me when I tell you they will be glad to see you. Enjoy!

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