Of Bowls and Paintings


Happy Puppy Bowl Sunday, everyone! Today is the day when every true-blooded American buys some beer and chili and snacks and gets together with their friends to watch a cuteness explosion of puppies romp around a room and play with toy balls. The event is so named because of the water bowls from which the puppies drink – there are cameras that give the viewer the water-bowl’s-eye-view of the puppies’ tongues as they quench their thirst.

At some point in history, humans foolishly thought that they too could win hearts and minds and television viewership in a way that only pooches can, and human beings copied the Puppy Bowl idea and invented their own version of it. Trying to outdo the Puppy Bowl, the humans named their event the Super Bowl. The human version involves two teams of people romping around a field and playing with a ball.

This competition, in turn, led to the tradition of the annual art wager, in which an art museum from the losing Super Bowl team’s city lends a piece from its collection to an art museum from the winning team’s city. This year, the Seattle Art Museum (in the home city of the Seahawks) is wagering Albert Bierstadt’s Puget Sound on the Pacific Coast, and the Clark Art Institute, located in Williamstown, Massachusetts and representing the New England Patriots, is betting West Point, Prout’s Neck by Winslow Homer.

The Mitt. Photo by Diana Lai Peters

The Mitt. Photo by Diana Lai Peters

I have some ties to New England, but ultimately, the Seahawks are my team. In a post last year, I explained why a non-football-fan like me even has a favorite team, and why it is the Seahawks.

Seattle is full of art. There is the Seattle Art Museum (which I did not visit during my 2008 trip), which is part of the Super Bowl art wager, and its Olympic Sculpture Park (which I did visit). Internet searches list too many other art museums and galleries to name here or to visit in one long weekend. And you can’t walk around outside in downtown Seattle without running into a work of art.

One example is The Mitt by Gerard Tsutakawa, pictured here (with me in blue and green). My friend and I happened upon this sculpture as we were walking to Qwest Stadium to volunteer.

By the end of the night, we will know which painting will be making its way from one coast to the other. However you are spending your evening, stay safe!

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About Laura

Paralegal with Master of Arts in Teaching in Museum Education, frequent museum visitor, based in Washington, DC. I care about what museums can do, both in terms of public offerings and internal practices, to make the world a better place. I blog about museum education ("informed"), the social work of museums ("humane"), and visitor experience ("citizenry").
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