Editorials — December 24, 2011 16:58 — 0 Comments

Happy Holidays, Seattle Art Museum

Early this morning, the Seattle Art Museum received a gift on its doorstep, wrapped in a big red bow. Artist (and former Monarch visual arts editor) Todd Jannausch installed Gallery (206) at the foot of the Hammering Man, one of the city’s most recognizable icons, and left the following letter:

Dear Seattle Art Museum,

Artists are fortunate to have an institution like the Seattle Art Museum, which brings so much wonderful art to our city, expands our creative horizons, and encourages our artistic endeavors. To say thank you I would like to give you my installation piece, Gallery (206), as a gift.

Gallery (206) contains the work of over 206 Seattle artists. The eighteen windows contain original artwork by artists such as Robert Hardgrave, Jesse Higman, Doug Jeck, Rumi Koshino, Robert Yoder, Cait Willis, Sharon Arnold and more. The phone now plays a musical composition by Dave Abramson when the receiver is lifted, while a lighted installation by Troy Gua illuminates the gallery each evening. The phone book is a directory containing images of work by 206 Seattle artists.

I hope that you will consider Gallery (206) for your long-term collection, however I would also support a decision to auction off the piece to benefit the SAM.  If you decide that the installation does not meet the needs of the museum, I hope you would allow it to stand in its current location and be available to the public for the holidays. It would be a wonderful show of support for all that Seattle’s artists do to make our city great.

Happy Holidays,
Todd Jannausch

Go see it while you can. Who knows if the museum will be congenial to impromptu art installations on its property. If so, you could spend some time looking through the directory, which has more Seattle artists than you could shake a stick at, including poetry by Rebecca Bridge (yes the same poet whose work is featured in our print edition) and Jennifer Borges-Foster, printer extraordinaire and publisher of Filter, as well as artists Amanda Manitach, Lauren Klenow, Eric Elliott, and several of your beloved Monarch editors. And literally hundreds more.

Gallery (206) was installed in Occidental Park for three months last summer, with the blessing of the Parks Department. Since August, Jannausch has attempted to find a permanent home for the gallery. After much wrangling with the Seattle Department of Transportation and the Parks Department over a permanent install location, he seems to have found a temporary one.

 Update (10 Jan 2012):

Shortly after The Holidays, Chiyo Ishikawa and Catharina Manchanda declined to accept Gallery (206) as a gift, writing Todd this reply:

Dear Todd:
On behalf of the Seattle Art Museum we truly appreciate your gift of Gallery (206) and your kind words about SAM.  Our visitors and staff very much enjoyed seeing the piece in front of the museum during this holiday season.
Seattle has one of the most vibrant art scenes in the country and we greatly value the creative energy and support of our artist community. At this time, we are not able to bring Gallery (206) into our collection but if you decide to auction the work off to benefit SAM, we would be delighted and use the proceeds for our modern and contemporary art program.If it is possible to collect the piece from the plaza this week, that would be ideal.  Again, thank you for this incredibly kind gesture, and we wish you a very happy new year!With best regards,

Chiyo Ishikawa, Deputy Director for Art and Curator of European Painting and Sculpture

Catharina Manchanda, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art

The Future of Gallery (206) remains uncertain. Perhaps the value of the collaborative project will become clearer in time. I have to say, I’m not surprised that the SAM respectfully declined the gift.  Despite the fact that professional artists who produce museum quality work are included, I feel that Gallery (206) is essentially a piece of folk art. Like the Watts Towers, the phone booth was produced out of the need to create rather than for any commercial purpose. It’s true that Todd is no crazy Italian man with a single-minded vision to produce a monument, though perhaps Simon Rodia’s impulse is not so strange after all. If the Watts Towers suggest communication through cellular waves, then Gallery (206) is hard-wired, and its lines run underground.


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The answer isn't poetry, but rather language

- Richard Kenney