Peninsula residents make trek to Seattle to see Picasso’s work

SEATTLE — “La Celestina,” a woman from his Blue Period, arrests you right at the start.

Then you join the river of people flowing through a rare experience: scores of paintings and sculptures by Pablo Picasso, shipped here from France for their first stop on a global tour.

“Masterpieces from the Musee National Picasso, Paris” has inspired the largest number of visits in the Seattle Art Museum’s history.

After the exhibition’s opening Oct. 8, the tally hit a quarter of a million in December and topped 300,000 this month.

The Picasso show, with its 150 original works of art, will close Monday and go on its way to the Richmond, Va., Museum of Fine Arts.

For this final weekend, SAM has extended its hours to stay open from 10 a.m. to midnight today, Saturday and Sunday and from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

No advance tickets are available. Tickets can be purchased only on-site at the art museum for same-day visits. Visit the museum’s blog,, for updates on ticket availability.

Admission is somewhat expensive — $23 for adults, with discounts for students, seniors and active military — but that hasn’t stopped people from across the state from making the trip.

Laura Alisanne, an artist and writer in Port Angeles, found Picasso’s images nothing short of “energizing.”

She visited in December and was moved not only by the artist’s paintings of muses and mistresses, but also by his words painted high on the gallery wall.

“It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child,” Picasso wrote.

“It takes a long time to become young.”

Shannon Wiggins of Port Angeles went to see the exhibition with her daughter, Andrea Gosling, 23, an artist and Peninsula College student.

“We had a lot of fun doing that together,” Wiggins said.

As art lovers have done for decades, Wiggins also marveled at the sheer volume of Picasso’s work and how it changed from his Blue Period to his Rose Period to his cubist years and beyond.

The cubist “Man with Mandolin” from 1911 entranced Sequim artist Renne Brock-Richmond most.

The painting’s many facets show how “you can look at something and see it from all angles. I like that idea of many possibilities,” she said.

The unfinished “Man with Mandolin” also evokes another idea: that art is an open-ended endeavor.

Picasso, who moved from his native Spain to Paris at age 19 and died in 1973 at age 91, defied the rules of his time over and over.

Refusing to let expectations about art and artists confine him, he strove to stay ahead of his peers.

“I am always surprised by Picasso and what he comes up with,” said Michael Paul Miller, a Peninsula College professor who teaches painting and history of art.

“He was so prolific . . . you always encounter something new.”

Miller took a busload of Peninsula College art students to Seattle to see the Picasso exhibition.

They wound their way through the works, which the artist likened to pages from his diary: “La Celestina,” aka “The Woman with a Cataract” from 1904 when Picasso was just 23; “Paulo as a Harlequin,” a portrait of his son in 1924; “Two Women Running on a Beach” and “Village Dance” from 1922; “Weeping Woman” and “Portrait of Dora Maar” from 1937; and some 70 other paintings and sculptures.

The nearly three-hour drive to the Seattle Art Museum was worthwhile, Miller believes, because it gave students the chance to connect up-close with Picasso’s ferocity.

“We’re so used to seeing the imagery in a book,” Miller said. But that pales in comparison to standing before the full-size painting.

“It’s important,” he added, “to see the artwork in the flesh.”


Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3550 or at diane.urbani@

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