Monday, February 6, 2017

SAM What Not I Am

Exploring Seattle

I love visiting art museums.  From the great ones like the Louvre and the Prado to the smaller more intimate ones like the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.  It is my own reaction to the art within that is the draw.  What is going to move me?  Will it be the Mona Lisa?  The Night Watch?  Or some obscure work in the far recesses of the building.  More often than not, it is the latter.
The Seattle Art Museum (SAM for short) has several stellar exhibits ranging from the art of Ancient Greece to contemporary American.  But it was the masks, this time, that stopped me in my tracks.  Ethnic art has always been a singular interest of mine, but something deeper was going on here--something that I hadn't really explored until I walked through room after room of masks collected from all corners of the world.
Masks have always been a part of the arts.  We wear costumes in theater, dance and opera.  Masks bring alive cultural history, morality tales and folk lore.  They teach and enlighten.  But something else goes on when you put on a mask.  You transmogrify into a different being.  I witnessed this phenomenon as a young dancer.  Put me in a beautiful costume and my confidence soared.  A triple pirouette?  No problem.
But masks aren't just for artists.  Masks are a necessity in a civilized world.  They hide our bigotry.  Our xenophobic tendencies.  They hide those shameful, politically incorrect thoughts that are best hidden if we are all to live together in peace.  Taking off the mask exposes the true nature of our souls.  And that nature, I have come to realize, is not one that inspires.  It is dark.  Ugly.  Self-centered and cruel.

Best to cover our true nature up.
Best to wear a mask.


  1. I agree - masks are so powerful. But I don't believe that we are all ugly, self-centred, and cruel. I know that you are not - or you are a really GREAT faker with a fantastic mask. Heh. Have a drink of your choice, a snack, and stay away from The Evils! if you can. I love imagining you dance.
    Beautiful photos. Thanks for sharing them!

  2. Thanks, Mel. Been going dark lately, so rattled by what is going on down here. Think I need to get out with my fellow Americans (the ones who don't need masks) and march.

  3. Dear Marea, I beg to differ! :) We can be dark, ugly, unkind - of course we can! But we also can be beautiful, brave, compassionate! And the choice is ours! We all are creators by nature...

    I've been to SAM many times, but mostly for their special exhibits (last time, it was fashion). They do great job introducing us to folk cultures around here - Burke Museum in Seattle is another good one for that!

    Just so you know, all Seattle and Tacoma museums have free days - once a month, so it isn't always convenient, but if it falls into your travel plans, maybe you can take an advantage of it. There are also some free museums around the Sound!

    1. Thanks, Natalia. I look forward to returning to Seattle and taking advantage of those free days and seeing more of the neighborhoods. It's a city that explodes with beauty, diversity and optimism. I think Seattle will help me get my mojo back!