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Upcoming Exhibitions


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Poke in the Eye: Art of the West Coast Counterculture

Jun 21 – Sep 2 2024

Seattle Art Museum

Special Exhibition

This exhibition celebrates an alternative and oft-overlooked story in art history: the aesthetic practices that emerged in the West Coast in the 1960s and ‘70s as counter to the New York-centric avant-garde.

Reacting against the sleekness, formality, and coldness of Pop Art, minimalism, and other dominant modes of artistic production, artists based on the West Coast (and particularly centered in Seattle and the Bay Area) began making work that was intentionally more off-beat. Utilizing traditional craft techniques (especially ceramics), centering figuration and narrative, using bold (and at times garish) color, and often employing an irreverent sense of humor, these artists organically crafted an aesthetic that curator Peter Selz described in the pivotal 1967 Funk exhibition catalogue as “senselessness, absurdity, and fun” and “loud, unashamed, and free.” Subsets of artists working in this mode have been categorized as California Funk artists, Bay Area Figurative Painters, and Northwest Studio Ceramicists. However, this antiestablishment aesthetic had roots up and down the coast and encompassed a much greater diversity of artists than is typically recognized by these categories, and this exhibition will draw primarily on SAM’s permanent collection to present a broader, more inclusive view of these overlapping countercultural art movements.

Presenting Sponsors

Additional Support
Herb and Lucy Pruzan
Contributors to the SAM Fund

Image: Red Hot Pot, 1969, Patti Warashina, American, born 1940, ceramic with glaze, 11 x 19 1/4 x 19 in. (27.9 x 48.9 x 48.3 cm), Gift of Lucy and Herb Pruzan, 2023.23.3 © Patti Warashina. Photo: Scott Leen

Seattle Art Museum respectfully acknowledges that we are on Indigenous land, the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. We honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future.

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