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MAM
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Ellen Garvens and Barbara Weissberger: Perception
Through March 07, 2020

Organizing exhibitions can be a complicated process. In the case of Ellen Garvens and Barbara Weissberger: Perception, MAM Associate Curator John Calsbeek and Senior Curator Brandon Reintjes contemplated the right approach, direction, and artists to create an exhibition focused on new approaches to photography at a pivotal moment when the medium is undergoing such drastic changes and broad redefinition.

Calsbeek and Reintjes were familiar with Barbara Weissberger’s work from her time spent in Basin, Montana in residence at the former Montana Artists Refuge. They maintained correspondence with the Pittsburgh-based artist during her annual visits to Montana. When she began making elaborate ‘set up’ compositions from the detritus of studio practice using common objects like string, white paper, and cardboard to make photographs about photography as a subject, they took notice. Wanting to exhibit this new series, Calsbeek and Reintjes began to plan an exhibition. Rather than include every photographer who uses nontraditional approaches to photography, they chose to keep a narrow focus and looked to another artist on the opposite coast whose work covered remarkably similar ideas and approaches—Ellen Garvens.

Garvens, who teaches photography at University of Washington, was trained as a painter, but uses photographs and videos in her current practice. MAM curators introduced Garvens and Weissberger and proposed a joint exhibition of ‘set up’ photographs that subvert the viewer’s perception in many different ways. Calsbeek and Reintjes were able to do a studio visit with Garvens in Seattle and select work, followed by a studio visit with Weissberger in Basin. The resulting photographs included in Ellen Garvens and Barbara Weissberger: Perception undermine the usual aesthetic relationships such as perspective, orientation, figure/ground, viewpoint, spatial relations, light, focus, and depth, causing viewers to reassess what is fundamental to their aesthetic experience. Each artist creates a fiction, a make believe that is both humorous and absurdist, a bit like a magic act or how theater can suggest a world of imagination, limitless possibilities, and a sense of excitement.

Ancestors and Remembrance in the MAM Collections
Through February 22, 2020

In honor of the Elder roles held by exhibiting artists Rick Bartow and Lillian Pitt and the theme of Ancestry that runs through their concurrent solo exhibitions, MAM's Association of Art Museum Directors Diversity Intern Dylan Running Crane selected 10 works from the MAM Collections. The works represent a variety of artists and perspectives, inviting viewers to examine the different connotations the term ‘ancestor’ can hold for different cultures. Ancestry will be will be the subject of the Indian Country Conversation discussion with Lillian Pitt on November 9.

RICK BARTOW: THINGS YOU KNOW BUT CANNOT EXPLAIN
Through February 15, 2020

This exhibition speaks directly to the personal and cultural aspects of traditional Native art within Bartow's oeuvre while demonstrating his close engagement with the work of 20th century artists, such as Francis Bacon, Robert Rauschenberg, and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Rick Bartow (1946–2016) is one of the nation’s most important contemporary Native artists. This fall MAM features his work in a national traveling exhibition organized by The Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at the University of Oregon.

Bartow–a member of the Mad River Band Wiyot, a tribe that thrived in Northern California before being massacred in large numbers in the 1860s by vigilante settlers—created art drawn from his personal history, Native American ancestry, and friendships with artists from around the world. Born in Newport, Oregon and educated at Western Oregon University where he graduated with a degree in secondary arts education, Bartow served in the Vietnam War immediately after college.

Awarded a Bronze Star for his service, Bartow worked as a teletype operator and hospital musician in Vietnam from 1969 to 1971. By the time he finished his tour, he suffered post-traumatic stress and turned to substance abuse. After a period of recovery, making art allowed Bartow to confront parts of his history that were difficult. While he avoided depicting specific wartime experiences, his work came to feature haunting combinations of human and animal forms seemingly caught in the act of transformation. Author Barry Lopez called Bartow’s art, particularly the animal images, “penetrating.” He observed that Bartow’s art was made “to be in service, to work through the mess and make something comprehensible.”

Bartow is known for his large-scale paintings, drawings, prints, and sculptures that have been featured in many solo and group exhibitions nationally and internationally and are in numerous public and private collections. One of the highlights of his career was the completion of We Were

Always Here, a monument commissioned by The Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian and installed on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

In 2013, Bartow suffered a major stroke. Within days of nearly losing his memory and motor skills, he was back in the studio, drawing and painting his way back to health. Until his death just three years later, Bartow continued to produce art.

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