Art At Its Most Patriotic

Photo: Flickr/Antonio CE

Seattle Art Museum’s two current exhibits examine our country through the artist’s eyes.

Who doesn’t love a good road trip? Wind in your hair, sunglasses on, music blaring — and brilliant landscapes whizzing past your windows. Unfortunately, most of us have neither the time off nor the gas money to take a true cross-country excursion.

Photo: Flickr/Antonio CE

For Seattleites craving new scenery, a short trip can be made to the Seattle Art Museum. The new SAM exhibit “Beauty and Bounty” tells the story of America from sea to shining sea — through the eyes of captivated artists who have been painting our country since the 19th century.

This collection of paintings represents their first impressions upon exploring this beautiful new terrain. Incidentally, many of the pieces in the exhibit have never been seen before — just now emerging from private collections for your viewing pleasure.

Photo: Seattle Art Museum

The piece de resistance — and inspiration for the entire exhibit — is Albert Bierstadt’s “Puget Sound on the Pacific Coast.” Northwesterners will notice a familiar scene, but it was something new for Bierstadt when he painted it in 1870. He had just traveled through Oregon and up the coast of Washington, sketching along the way.

Curator Patricia Junker had the privilege of selecting the exhibit’s 120 paintings and photographs.

“[The American landscape] defines us as a place and shapes us as a people,” Junker said. “It inspired the derring-do of our explorers and the enterprise of our railroad builders and the meditations of our great American nature poets and philosophers.”

Who doesn’t crave that kind of inspiration? For even more, check out another new exhibit called “Reclaimed: Nature and Place Through Contemporary Eyes.” Meant as a response to “Beauty and Bounty,” it features 45 works that show the relationship between nature and today’s artists. Several artists featured in the exhibit will take part in Reclaimed: A Round Table Discussion on Thursday, Sep. 1 from 7 to 8 p.m. The event will be moderated by Assistant Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art Marisa C. Sánchez.

Both exhibits will be open until Sep. 11, 2011 at the Seattle Art Museum.

Seattle Art Museum  |  1300 First Ave., Seattle  |  (206) 344-5275