“The Cars” at SAM are Coming Down, January 19, 2016

Posted on November 18, 2015, 3:34 pm
5 mins


It seems like this week on VS Daily, we’re saying goodbye to a lot of things. We say goodbye to Manhattan Seattle. We reflect on the legacy of Suyama Space as it enters its final year. And now…we prepare to bid adieu to one of the local art scene’s more iconic (and polarizing) installations, Cai Guo-Qiang’s Inopportune: Stage One, more commonly known as “The Cars.”

I’ve heard many reactions to this installation over the years. Some seem to think it looks a bit dated by now (because of the model of the cars or because it has just been there since 2008). Some love the dramatic juxtaposition it makes with the traffic on 1st Avenue. Still others wouldn’t mind a change of pace, but like the overall effect of seeing a car explode in slow motion across The Brotman Forum. Reactionaries who oppose change in general certainly won’t be thrilled, but I have to say I’m ready for something new.

"Saint George and teh Dragon" by Kehinde Wiley. Image courtesy of SAM.

“Saint George and teh Dragon” by Kehinde Wiley. Image courtesy of SAM.

That something new will be a large-scale work by painter Kehinde Wiley titled “Saint George and the Dragon,” which, in the words of SAM, is “A thrilling, large-scale piece from his equestrian series,” and will “enliven the space with its dynamism and beauty.” Wiley is getting a big solo show at SAM, Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic, opening February 11, 2016. The de-install of “The Cars” will begin January 19, following the close of the current exhibit Intimate Impressionism from the National Gallery of Art on January 10.

What does this mean for the daily operations of the museum during the changing of the guard? Not much. From the press release:

De-installing the work will be a major undertaking. Some portions of the Brotman Forum—as well as the south entrance at First Avenue and University Street—will be closed during much of the process. However, the museum will be open on regularly scheduled days throughout the removal of the work. SAM constantly refreshes what’s on display at all three of its locations (Seattle Art Museum, Asian Art Museum, and Olympic Sculpture Park) through its special exhibitions, gallery reinstallations, and new acquisitions.

And regarding Inopportune: Stage One

“We’ve loved having this thought-provoking installation at the museum—and in such a special spot, greeting our visitors and lighting up our events,” says Kimerly Rorschach, SAM’s Illsley Ball Nordstrom Director and CEO. “I hope that visitors come to SAM during the holiday season to see Intimate Impressionism and say goodbye to the cars.”

Originally from China, Cai Guo-Qiang lives and works in New York. His vibrant, internationally renowned work—primarily in installation, performance, and land art—combines Eastern and Western symbols and narratives to critique and reflect on historical and social changes. Creating this context allows him to break down the barriers between cultures, emphasizing the realities of our global society. 

Some people are no doubt wondering: “How will I make my crowd shots at SAM Remix look interesting without those cars?!” The answer is, “You probably can’t,” so we can all stop taking those obligatory shots from the top of the escalator or the lobby level. (No judgment. We’ve never missed an opportunity. See below.) I guess we’ll all just have to up our style at the next Remix (March 11, 2016) so we can all just start taking more compelling pictures of each other. Challenge accepted.

Do check out the Intimate Impressionism exhibit while it’s up and grab a last view of “The Cars” before they fly off to their next destination.

Guests anxiously finding their seats for dinner at the SAMS Gala @seattleartmuseum #gala #party

A photo posted by vanguardseattle (@vanguardseattle) on

Things are heating up at #SAMRemix #party @seattleartmuseum A photo posted by vanguardseattle (@vanguardseattle) on

Obligatory crowd and car overhead shot no. 24956 at SAM Remix. #seattle #art #party

A photo posted by vanguardseattle (@vanguardseattle) on

T.s. Flock is a writer and arts critic based in Seattle and co-founder of Vanguard Seattle.

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