Color and Light at SAM Take Up Permanent Residence Downtown Seattle

A rendering of Mirror, an LED permanent art
installation at the Seattle Art Museum that
was just unveiled
(Photo: Courtesy SAM)

The next time you’re in Seattle, you can take in one of the city’s newest examples of permanent public art that is sure to become a Downtown Seattle icon. It’s called Mirror, and the piece had its unveiling this weekend at the Seattle Art Museum. Created by L.A. and New York-based artist Doug Aitken, the piece was commissioned by the late collector Bagley Wright and his wife Jinny. Mirror is a giant LED screen that wraps around the Northwest façade of the building.
According to the SeattleArt Museum, the installation, Mirror has a main component that “is a glass-covered horizontal band of projected images which dissolve into narrow columns of light that run up and down the façade in a dynamic configuration. The work is conceived as a ‘mirror’ in an expanded sense: the artist will create a video archive of footage shot in the Pacific Northwest that reflects the Seattleregion and is responsive to its surroundings. “
Aitken has utilized a computer program that will make continuous visual sequence changes to the LED. The installation’s computer is designed “to be responsive to changes in the environment around SAM such as weather, light, special events and traffic, giving the impression that the entire building is alive with motion.”
Mirror will essentially become a living part of the cityscape and reflect the city rhythms surrounding it. For more information, visit
Watch a video on HERE:


The 55th Annual Heard Show Features Strong Women and a Touch of the Northwest

Booth Relief Signs Await
Volunteers at the 2013
Heard Show in Phoenix, Arizona
(Photo: Paul Niemi)

This month we celebrated International Women’s Day, and President Obama reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act that stands to protect all women, including Native American women, from domestic abuse.  Now, their abusers can now be arrested and prosecuted on tribal lands.

Paul Niemi wearing a vest by Doralee Sanchez
of the Lummi Nation with Charlene HolyBear
and her beaded fedora and bracelet
(Photo: Paul Niemi)

It’s clear that strong Native women abound in our country, and nowhere is that clear than at the annual Heard Museum Guild’s Indian Fair and Market that takes place every March in Phoenix, Arizona.   This year was the 55th season of the highly competitive Native American art show that juries in just 750 artists from thousands of applicants around the country.


I had the opportunity with my radio job at KGMI News Talk 790 in Bellingham, Washington to head south and interview a handful of artists who attend the Heard every year.   From mask carvers to painters and basket weavers, the beauty of Pacific Northwest Native art is well-represented at the show.

Traditional Tsimshian basketry and
Salish-Style woven clothing by
Loa Ryan
(Photo: Paul Niemi)

This year, I interviewed legendary Tsimshian basket weaver Loa Ryan. While she hails from Metlakatla, British Columbia, she now makes her home in Bremerton, Washington.  Many artists focus on bringing traditional Native art forward and merging it with contemporary ideas, but Loa is wonderfully focused on reviving the basketry of her ancestors and educating others on weaving techniques and her people’s history.

Santa Clara artist Rose B. Simpson
holds a line drawing reminiscent
of her edgy porcelain sculptures
(Photo: Paul Niemi)

Rose B. Simpson is from Santa Clara Pueblo, New Mexico. The edgy, unapologetic artist is the daughter of famed sculptor Roxanne Swentzell and the step daughter of Diego Romero of Cochiti Pueblo.  Both have influenced her work.  Her mother gave her an understanding that it’s okay to be experimental with art, and Diego gave her a love of comic books, which gave her an appreciation for the power and the precision of lines just so she could learn how to interrupt them in her ceramic sculpture and line drawing work.
Animal skin and silk dress along
with skin cuffs and beaded Chilkat
clutch by Shaax’ Saani
(Photo: Paul Niemi)
Shaax’ Saani attended her first Heard show this year and won a blue ribbon in Diverse Arts with her seal skin slouchy bag with wolf fur and abalone shell accents.   She is an animal skin sewer, fashion and accessories designer who makes incredibly gorgeous organic, high-fashion pieces out of traditional materials like seal skin, otter skin, bone, claws and the like.  She is also an amazing bead artist.  As part of her design company Indigenous Princess, she also introduces modern-day elements like sequins and metallic leathers to her work to shake things up and make things “cool” beautiful.
All of these women art smart, strong, and beautiful, were my interview subjects at the Heard Museum Guild’s Indian Fair and Market this year.  Listen to the audio of my radio segment as you see images from the show in a video HERE: