Seaside Prize Winners include Walter Chatham, NA


2018 Seaside Prize Winners: Ernesto Buch, Walter Chatham, NA, Robert Orr, Alexander Gorlin, and Deborah Berke.

Walter Chatham, NA and Co-Chair of the Board, is a six-time winner of the Distinguished Architecture Award from the American Institute of Architects, a fellow of the American Academy in Rome, a fellow of the American Institute of Architects, and a board member of the Architectural League of New York. Walter has a long association with Andrés Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk and their firm, DPZ, having collaborated on numerous charrettes that champion both modern architecture and traditional urban planning. He and his firm were early leaders in the environmental design movement. They seek to design all projects to LEED standards, completing multiple projects with state-of-the-art energy management and conservation strategies. Walter is active in building rehabilitation, with multiple projects in Soho, Providence, and Miami. He received a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Maryland, completed post-graduate studies at the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies, and is a LEED Accredited Professional. Walter's Seaside work - along with three Ruskin Place live/work units and two cottages - includes Chatham House on East Ruskin Street.

The Seaside Institute awards the Seaside Prize each year to individuals or organizations who have made significant contributions to the quality and character of our communities. The recipients of the Prize influence how our towns and cities promote walkability, diversity, beauty, and sustainability. Seaside Prize fellows are leaders of urban design, planning, architecture, development, and education.

Please join us to recognize the 2018 recipients of the Seaside Prize - the Pioneer Architects of Seaside - during the Seaside Prize weekend February 22-25, 2018. “The Seaside Prize weekend will be a wonderful reunion of people who were part of Seaside’s infancy. We look forward to a celebration of Ernesto, Walter, Robert, Alexander, and Deborah’s pioneering work in Seaside as well as their distinguished careers on a larger stage,” says Robert Davis, co-founder of Seaside.

Plan now to join the celebration. Everyone is welcome! Click here for registration information, or download the registration form. 

Wendy Evans Joseph, NA

“Americans,” at the National Museum of the American Indian, in Washington, D.C. is a product of Studio Joseph founded by Wendy Evans Joseph, NA, Architect, PC.

Learn more about Wendy Evans Joseph, NA on her website here and here.


America as Indian Country

The omnipresence of Native Americans in popular culture.

 Images of Native Americans ossified in kitsch awaken complicated, living truths.  Courtesy National Museum of the American Indian

Images of Native Americans ossified in kitsch awaken complicated, living truths. Courtesy National Museum of the American Indian

By Peter Schjeldahl

I don’t often cotton to museum shows that are educational in character—when I want instruction, I’ll read something—but I love, and I wish everyone would see, “Americans,” at the National Museum of the American Indian, in Washington, D.C. It is keyed to the ubiquity of Native Americans in popular culture. Spectacularly installed, in a grand hall, are hundreds of Indian-themed artifacts, from movie posters, toys, and commercial and sports-team logos to weaponry (a Tomahawk missile, on loan from the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, intimidates overhead). “Indians Everywhere,” the display is entitled. Other sections unpack the legends of Pocahontas, the first Thanksgiving, the Trail of Tears, and the Battle of the Little Bighorn—stories that everybody knows, at least hazily. Apt photographs and entertaining videos abound. So do irresistibly readable texts. There’s no through line. You bounce, pinball fashion, among the show’s parts, seduced into cognizance. Is it worrisome to relish aspects of a harrowing history that commonly stirs feelings of guilt, shame, anger, and fear, perhaps smeared over with sentimental treacle? Yes, and that’s a thought that “Americans” anticipates but leaves hanging—and haunting—to deal with as one can and will.

“We want viewers to feel smart,” Paul Chaat Smith remarked while I toured the show, which he co-curated with Cécile R. Ganteaume. Smith is Comanche on his mother’s side and a member of the tribe. Born in Texas, he grew up in Oklahoma and Maryland. In 1974, he dropped out of Antioch College to join the American Indian Movement, shortly after that radical group’s seventy-one-day, at times violent standoff with federal and local law-enforcement agents at Wounded Knee—the infamous site of a massacre of Sioux men, women, and children by U.S. Army soldiers in 1890—on the Pine Ridge Reservation, in South Dakota. (The immediate issue was a rebellion against the reservation’s elected leader, but news of the event stoked Indian militancy nationwide.) Smith is a daring thinker and writer. He co-wrote, with Robert Warrior, a consummate history, “Like a Hurricane: The Indian Movement from Alcatraz to Wounded Knee” (1996). A collection of his essays, “Everything You Know About Indians Is Wrong” (2009), one of my favorite books of recent years, does indeed make me feel smart, abruptly wised up to ramifications of a modern “embrace of love and hate and narcissism” between post-1492 latecomers to the continent and inhabitants who “only became Indians once the armed struggle was over in 1890. Before then we were Shoshone or Mohawk or Crow.”

Smith joined the American Indian museum in 2001, three years before its opening, on the Mall, in an exuberantly curvilinear limestone building by the Blackfoot architect Douglas Cardinal. Smith has concurred in a policy of congeniality to the museum’s overwhelmingly non-Indian, though not wholly white, audience of around a million visitors annually. This puts him at odds with some of his former comrades. In 2004, the American Indian Movement demanded that the museum “forever be named and referred to as the National Holocaust Museum of the American Indian,” detailing the reduction by violence, disease, and displacement of the native population from the millions—estimates vary widely, from a few million to tens of millions—in the fifteenth century to barely a quarter of a million by the end of the nineteenth. (Today, there are about three million people who identify as members of more than five hundred tribes.) Smith hardly dismisses the tragedy, an unhealable wound like that left by slavery, but he cedes protest to such other Indian intellectuals as the Choctaw historian Jacki Thompson Rand, whose eloquent essay “Why I Can’t Visit the National Museum of the American Indian” (2007), in the online journal Common-Place, rejects any notion of compromise with “colonial privilege.” Smith, having chosen to be a diplomat rather than a combatant for the interests of Native Americans, proposes conciliations that needn’t be sought, because they are baked into American memory and hope.

Start with “The Invention of Thanksgiving,” a funny and moving four-minute animated video narrated by Smith in a style that he has of deadpan drollery with gravitas at its heart. As generally understood—general understandings, including clichés and stereotypes, being grist for the show’s mill—the holiday commemorates a neighborly feast that was shared by Pilgrims and Indians in 1621: a true event that was little known for two centuries, until mention of it turned up in a footnote to a document from the time. The narration admits that the promise of comity wasn’t kept: America is “a national project that came about at great expense to native people.” The video succinctly acknowledges the national consciousness of Indian suffering, and also of African slavery, with an animated image of a brain on fire. But it proposes that we—all Americans—like the annual observance because it helps us aspire to “our best selves,” even amid the difficult travel, emotional turmoil, and family fights that typically attend it. Stating a premise for the show, the narration avers, “However imperfectly we remember Indians, we’re remembering Indians.” The video ends with a cartoon of Smith, taciturn and sporting a feather, at a middle-class white-family table. “I’m glad to be here,” he says. Pause. “Better than the alternative.” But something in his laconic tone hints that the alternative—upending the table, perhaps—has been well considered and retains an attractive rationale.

The show tells the tale of Pocahontas, who, in 1617, died in England, at the age of twenty-two or so, after having a son with the early Jamestown settler John Rolfe, in terms of her strange posthumous prestige for aristocratic and, of course, slaveholding Virginia families. A bit of Indian blood from her line could be an ornamental exception to pure whiteness. (Thomas Jefferson’s daughter married a direct descendant.) The Trail of Tears—the forced relocation, in the eighteen-thirties, of whole tribes from Eastern states to Western territories—occasions the show’s deepest dive into historical detail, citing characters and quoting testimony in a national debate that raged for years before and after the passage, by a close vote in Congress, of the Indian Removal Act, in 1830. There’s nothing revisionist in the show’s assessment of the Trail, which was atrocious: thousands of Indians perished on the way to mostly barren lands. But the plenitude of contending voices, white and Indian, has a you-are-there effect, demonstrating positions that, with minor editing, could be at one with both the enlightenments and the bigotries of our day. Regarding the 1876 Little Bighorn battle, the show exposes, without quite espousing, a triumphalist Indian point of view. Featured is a wall-filling blowup of a terrific—and terrifying—contemporaneous ledger drawing of the battle, by a Sioux artist. Custer’s men spout blood from well-aimed spears and arrows or, often decapitated and dismembered, litter the ground.

As an old white man, I can’t propose my pleasure in “Americans” as a model response to it, given the plurality of brains that burn with variants of rage or anguish in this time of identity politics. But I’ll dare to endorse an approach—a specialty of Smith’s—that lets identity and politics float a little free of each other, allowing wisdom to seep in. The show attempts it by parading crudely exaggerated understandings of Native Americans, ossified in kitsch, to awaken reactive senses of complicated, deep, living truths. (Not all the items are crap, by the way. I found it hard to take my eyes off one of the most beautiful machines in existence: a butter-yellow 1948 Indian Motorcycle.) The project gains drama, and a degree of peril, from occurring in the tax-funded Mall museum that is physically the nearest to the Capitol Building. Absent any correct attitude or even argument on offer, viewers will be thrown back on their own assumptions, if they think about them—and I expect that many will. The show’s disarming sweetness and its bracing challenge come down to the same thing: a Whitmanesque idea of what Americanness means not only involving Indians but as a possible solvent of antagonisms past, present, and fated.

At Age 85, Living Legend Sam Gilliam Is Enjoying His Greatest Renaissance Yet


The market for Sam Gilliam's, NA work is stronger than ever. Just don't call it a comeback.

Eileen Kinsella, January 2, 2018

 Installation view of "Sam Gilliam : 1967–1973 at Mnuchin Gallery. Photography Tom Powel Imaging. Artwork © Sam Gilliam.

Installation view of "Sam Gilliam : 1967–1973 at Mnuchin Gallery. Photography Tom Powel Imaging. Artwork © Sam Gilliam.

Critical and market attention for the abstract painter Sam Gilliam is at an all-time high. But longtime collectors and fans of the artist—who have watched him rack up accolades for at least five decades—consistently, and perhaps a bit defensively, caution against the word “comeback.”

Whatever you call it, Gilliam has been enjoying an unprecedented level of attention in recent years. The 85-year-old artist represented the US at the Venice Biennale way back in 1972; he was the first African American artist to do so. But his market has been slow to catch up—until now.

“This is his greatest renaissance yet,” says Jonathan Binstock, who organized Gilliam’s retrospective at the Corcoran Gallery of Art over a decade ago. “He’s had a couple of them at the very least.” Binstock is currently preparing another major Gilliam show, “The Music of Color,” at the Kunstmuseum Basel, scheduled to open ahead of Art Basel in June.

Eleven of Gilliam’s top 20 auction results were set in 2017. All of them have been set since 2013. And the three highest auction prices ever paid for his work came in quick succession this past fall. His current record is $684,500 for Rays (1971), a large acrylic on canvas that smashed its presale estimate of $100,000–150,000 at Sotheby’s in late September.

Nevertheless, Gilliam’s auction prices still lag behind many of his peers (who, not coincidentally, happen to be white). Fellow Washington Color School painter Morris Louis’s auction record is $3.6 million; Kenneth Noland‘s is $3.3 million.

 The Central Pavilion, with a work by Sam Gilliam. Image: Ben Davis.

The Central Pavilion, with a work by Sam Gilliam. Image: Ben Davis.

A Late Renaissance

If it feels like you’ve been seeing Gilliam’s work everywhere lately, it’s because you have been. Forty-five years after Gilliam first represented the US at the Venice Biennale, he returned to the city this past summer. His brilliantly colored unstretched canvas Yves Klein Blue (2017) exuberantly welcomed visitors to Giardini’s main pavilion.

In 2016, a major new commission, Yet I Do Marvel, was hung in the lobby of the highly anticipated National Museum of African American History and Culture in his hometown of Washington, DC.

In London, Gilliam’s work figured prominently in the Tate Modern exhibition “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power” (which opens at the Crystal Bridges Museum in Arkansas next month) and in Pace Gallery‘s recent group show of Washington Color School painters.

Meanwhile, in New York, Mnuchin Gallery mounted a presentation of his early paintings from 1967 to 1973. Surprisingly, it was the artist’s first solo show in the city for more than three decades.

Gilliam’s career is long “and it has been a successful one for many years,” says Binstock, who is now director of the Memorial Art Gallery at the University of Rochester. “As with many artists, there’s a cycle. There’s a process of growth or expansion and then perhaps a cooling or retrenching period. It’s hard to be the focus of everyone’s attention incessantly.”

 Sam Gilliam,  Idylls I  (1970) sold for $370,000 at Freeman’s in Philadelphia last month. Photo by Thomas Clark, Courtesy Freeman’s, Philadelphia.

Sam Gilliam, Idylls I (1970) sold for $370,000 at Freeman’s in Philadelphia last month. Photo by Thomas Clark, Courtesy Freeman’s, Philadelphia.

A Long Time Coming

Gilliam’s late-breaking commercial success comes despite—or perhaps because—he eschewed a conventional path for most of his life.

He did things his own way, Binstock says, “by not signing on with a gallery; by selling out of the studio; by making abstract art when abstract painting was unfashionable; and by making abstract painting when black artists were being called upon by other culturally influential people in the black community to make art that was in line with the political cause. In other words, he actually did nothing that he needed to do in order to become successful.”

Indeed, for years, Gilliam showed only with smaller galleries: Marsha Mateyka in Washington, DC, and the now-shuttered Galerie Darthea Speyer in Paris. (It was, of course, also harder for a black artist to get major gallery representation.) But things began to shift four and a half years ago, when Gilliam had his first show with Los Angeles power dealer David Kordansky.

 Sam Gilliam,  Green Web  (1967). Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Woodward Foundation.

Sam Gilliam, Green Web (1967). Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Woodward Foundation.

The gallerist was introduced to Gilliam through the contemporary art star Rashid Johnson, who organized a show of his work at the gallery in 2013. It was quickly followed by solo presentations at Frieze New York (2014) and Frieze Masters (2015), another show at the gallery (2016), and an accompanying monograph (2017). Yet another solo show is on the schedule for 2018.

During this period, Gilliam’s prices have risen dramatically. As recently as five years ago, a small painting with his signature beveled edges might bring about $10,000 to $15,000, says John McCord, a specialist in Phillips’s 20th Century and contemporary art department. “Now, you’d see that work would bring well over $100,000 or $150,000.”

 US Secretary of State John Kerry congratulates Sam Gilliam during an Art in Embassies Medal of Arts Award event at the US Department of State in 2015 in Washington, DC. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

US Secretary of State John Kerry congratulates Sam Gilliam during an Art in Embassies Medal of Arts Award event at the US Department of State in 2015 in Washington, DC. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Prices for classic drape or beveled edge paintings from the late ’60s and early ’70s—Gilliam’s most sought-after work—can be significantly higher on the private market, ranging from $350,000 to just shy of $1 million, sources say.

A Market Finding Its Footing

Nigel Freeman, the director of the African American fine art department at Swann Galleries in New York, agrees that the market for Gilliam is “at an all-time high” following an acceleration over the past two years.

But some believe the work is still undervalued, particularly “when you consider how seminal some of the 1960s and ’70s paintings are,” McCord says. He notes that Gilliam’s auction prices have consistently outperformed relatively conservative estimates, a sign that the market is still finding its footing.

Indeed, Gilliam’s current record of $684,500 was more than four-and-a-half times its high estimate. His second- and third-highest prices, also achieved this past fall, vastly eclipsed expectations too. A 1970 drape painting, which sold for $370,000 at Freeman’s Philadelphia, was estimated to sell for a mere $50,000–80,000, while a 1970 abstract painting sold for $332,400 at Weschler’s in Maryland, more than double its low estimate of $150,000.

 Sam Gilliam,  Not Spinning  (2001-04) The work sold on October 5 for $57,500 at Swann.

Sam Gilliam, Not Spinning (2001-04) The work sold on October 5 for $57,500 at Swann.

“Demand surged this year,” says Sukanya Rajaratnam, a partner at Mnuchin Gallery, citing the gallery’s show, as well as the Tate exhibition and the Venice Biennale, as catalysts. At Art Basel Miami Beach earlier this month, the gallery sold a work on paper from 1974 priced at $80,000. (That price is very close to Gilliam’s auction record for a work on paper, $81,250, set at Phillips in 2015.)

The artnet Price Database lists 400 auction results for Gilliam. Of these 326, or nearly 82 percent were sold. The lowest price listed is $100 for a 1974 print sold at Leslie Hindman in 1993.

The Birth of the Drape Painting

Gilliam first rose to fame in the late 1960s with his drape paintings, which came out of his experiments with unsupported canvases. He said the works were partly inspired by watching women hang laundry on clotheslines from his studio window in Washington, DC.

He began to drape and suspend large paint-stained canvases, imparting an innovative sculptural element to the works. “These are perceived to be his biggest contribution to the history of art because they took painting off the wall and off the stretcher,” says Rajaratnam of Mnuchin.

The other particularly sought-after body of work is Gilliam’s “beveled-edge” or “slice” paintings, which he began creating in 1967. The works’ edges extend off the wall and toward the viewer.

 Sam Gilliam,  Idle Twist (1972). Courtesy of Tom Powel Imaging. © 1972 Sam Gilliam.

Sam Gilliam, Idle Twist(1972). Courtesy of Tom Powel Imaging. © 1972 Sam Gilliam.

Both series “highlight his interest in pushing the traditional boundaries of painting and creating innovative works that alter our perception of the picture plane,” says Dunham Townend, head of the modern and contemporary art department at Freeman’s, where the $370,000 drape painting sold last month.

Rajaratnam notes that Gilliam has been influential to younger artists who similarly blur painting and sculpture, from David Hammons to Oscar Murillo. “People are only now realizing the huge debt that is owed to Gilliam,” she says.

 Sam Gilliam,  Green April  (2016). Installation view at David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles. Photo Brian Forrest. Courtesy of David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

Sam Gilliam, Green April (2016). Installation view at David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles. Photo Brian Forrest. Courtesy of David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

A Growing Re-Evaluation

Kurt Mueller, a director at Kordansky Gallery, notes that in addition to being formally innovative, Gilliam’s work has another important element going for it: “undeniable beauty.”

Museums that had moved their Gilliam paintings into storage are now organizing shows around them, he says. And institutions that did not own major examples spanning his entire oeuvre—including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Rose Art Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Museum of Modern Art—have acquired pictures in recent years.

 Sam Gilliam,  Whirlirama  (1970). Photograph by Fredrik Nilsen. Courtesy of David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

Sam Gilliam, Whirlirama (1970). Photograph by Fredrik Nilsen.
Courtesy of David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

The Met, for example, owns two major Gilliams. It acquired Whirlirama (above) from Kordansky in 2014. It bought the other, Leah’s Renoir (1979), the year it was made—a testament to the artist’s long track record of institutional interest.

So what’s behind the uptick in attention today? Binstock sees a combination of factors at play, including recent interest in the work of older African American artists, particularly those who worked in abstraction; a broader push to re-examine artists from the ’60s and ’70s who have either “fallen through the cracks or not been the focus of the lens”; and the “sheer importance of Sam’s contribution to our understanding of what painting can be.”

Roxanne Cohen, director of art advisory at Pall Mall Partners, notes that market interest in the artist coincided with a shift away from young, emerging painters whose prices eclipsed those of Gilliam during the recent art-market boom.

“Collectors are looking to see something new and different, but at the same time to collect an artist who already has an established career,” she says. “They are moving away from the emerging market as it can be more volatile.”

 Installation view of “Sam Gilliam : 1967–1973” at Mnuchin Gallery. Photography Tom Powel Imaging. Artwork © Sam Gilliam.

Installation view of “Sam Gilliam : 1967–1973” at Mnuchin Gallery. Photography Tom Powel Imaging. Artwork © Sam Gilliam.

Gilliam was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, in 1933, the seventh of eight children. He began painting when he was in elementary school and graduated from the University of Louisville in 1955. After serving in the US Army in the late ’50s, he completed his MFA in 1961. He has lived in Washington, DC, since 1962.

After making his name with the drape and slice paintings, his approach changed dramatically in the 1980s, when he began adding multiple layers of thick acrylic paint to the canvas. These so-called “quilt” paintings involved cutting geometric shapes from the encrusted surface and rearranging them in patterns reminiscent of the African American patchwork quilts he remembered from his childhood.

Freeman of Swann says that as many of the ’70s works find their way into museum collections, there is growing interest “in his earlier ’60s hard-edge paintings and his later collaged paintings made in the early 1980s.”

For those who have followed his career for decades, this latest embrace of Gilliam’s full body of work is already overdue.

Gilliam, Binstock notes, “is the missing link in the history of abstract painting from the mid-century to its current state of absolute glorification by museums and the market. He’s the missing link not because he was an African American artist making those paintings. It was because he was making those paintings.”

John Portman, NA + Architect Who Made Skylines Soar, Dies at 93

Our deepest condolences on the passing of John Portman, NA architect, developer, and National Academician last Friday at the age of 93. Portman’s leadership and vision were instrumental in moving Atlanta from a gracious Southern city into a vibrant world capital through his reimagined hotels and skylines. As an architect, entrepreneur, artist and altruist he had a dramatic impact on Atlanta's success and growth as a major international city, and was instrumental in other cities throughout the world. He will surely be missed!