Slog News & Arts

Line Out

Music & Nightlife

« The Art of Emergency Urbanism | Sexually Transmitted Infection... »

Monday, June 9, 2008

‘If You Have to Sell Impressionism, Haven’t You Already Lost?’

posted by on June 9 at 11:36 AM

That’s what my partner said to me last night as I gasped when I opened up my New York Times to find a 30-page, glossy, full-color insert from Seattle Art Museum advertising its upcoming “Inspiring Impressionism” show.

The insert must have cost a staggering amount of money, and for what? To advertise what is already going to be a popular show? To express sentiments like this one?: “They say diamonds are a girl’s best friend. On the diamond anniversary of SAM’s arrival on the Seattle scene, we’re here to tell you that SAM wants to be Seattle’s best friend.” (This is not the first time SAM’s marketing team has proved its, uh, skills: Remember the slogan “I AM SAM,” quick on the heels of the Sean Penn movie?)

And in the bottomless pit of these 30 pages, which boast about everything from a Nordstrom fashion show to the talents of SAM’s cafe pastry chef, there was no room to list, describe, or recommend the “Black Art” exhibition?


RSS icon Comments


An Impressionism exhibit at the much for moving beyond nice safe art that won't offend (or inspire) anyone. Perhaps Gates' supposed influence to move beyond the blue hair set is over-rated.

Posted by Sad Comment | June 9, 2008 11:45 AM

Sounds like somebody's got themselves a free 30 page resume in the NYT. Smells like more Nickels graft to me.

Posted by left coast | June 9, 2008 11:49 AM

They're marketing the shit out of this to the Nordstroms society circles, not art critics. It's probably a good move, dollar-wise. They need the show to be a sensation, a talked-about blockbuster exhibit. It doesn't matter if it's any good. Personally, Impressionism mostly bores me.

But it does make us look like rubes, though. Best friend? I don't want a new best friend.

Posted by Fnarf | June 9, 2008 11:53 AM

Most of the SAM collection is second rate. That's natural for a west coast museum in a medium sized town (less "old money" donating priceless art from private collections). Some of their shows aren't that exciting either. But they need to stop trumpeting everything they do and own as if it's all first rate; they set expectations way too high and just underscore their shortcomings.

Posted by yuiop | June 9, 2008 11:54 AM

Why is SAM advertising in the New York Times? I don't think New Yorkers are actually aware there [i]is[/i] a Seattle, nor would they ever be interested remotely in traveling here, never mind traveling here to tour some relatively tiny museum.

Posted by bluh? | June 9, 2008 11:55 AM

"But they need to stop trumpeting everything they do and own as if it's all first rate; they set expectations way too high and just underscore their shortcomings."

Precisely the reason they should NOT recommend the "Black Art" exhibit.

Posted by w7ngman | June 9, 2008 12:01 PM

The New York Times they deliver to Jen is printed in Tacoma- and it is not the same one you buy on the street in NYC, where, I am pretty sure, you dont get the SAM booklet.

Targeted Media, Dude.

Posted by Ries | June 9, 2008 12:19 PM

It's not an ad, it's the SAM member newsletter. It is ungodly humongous.

Posted by john | June 9, 2008 12:31 PM

In all fairness, SAM has been overdoing its promotional materials since the re-opening, but that fucking blows. They're a weird outfit (heard the one about them declining to lend work they owned until they were threatened with public exposure?), and it's bound to get weirder soon.

Posted by bronkitis | June 9, 2008 1:00 PM

the didn't mention the "Black Art" gallery because they're ashamed at their institutional racism.

Posted by max solomon | June 9, 2008 2:08 PM

I found the tag line of the Impressionist exhibition a true gem...

"Impressionism and the Art of the Past"

What a ridiculous and meaningless descriptor.

Posted by Stephanie | June 11, 2008 8:16 AM

Comments Closed

Comments are closed on this post.