Praise for Emerald Cities, and the best time to visit

The best time to visit is now. This exhibition had a relatively modest PR budget, so its opening was softer than that of some other shows. But everyone I’ve talked to who has seen it says it is fantastic. That means it will be a word of mouth show, where attendance is likely to build as time goes by. Visit soon if you like a little elbow room.

Okay, fair warning: as you may have gathered, I like this show, and what follows are excerpts from and links to some of the press and online reviews (and a couple of videos), which I hope might convey something of the quality of the show. If a litany of praise is not your thing, then you can stop reading here. But if you’re considering visiting and want to hear what others are saying, then read on . . .

So here’s a rundown of some of the early reviews:

  • The San Francisco Chronicle says that the Doris Duke gift has provided the museum with “a trove of Southeast Asian artifacts that has given the institution a depth in this collection area unique among American museums,” and it notes that “the exhibition, and the glorious catalog that accompanies it, mark the completion of that marathon of remedial work.”
  • Continuing the conservation storyline, the Wall Street Journal tells the story of how “Some of the Buddha paintings and gilded bronze sculptures that are part of a major upcoming exhibition at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco took an unusual detour en route to the museum: They spent decades in storage in a shooting gallery at tobacco heiress Doris Duke’s New Jersey mansion.”
  • The New York Times reports that “in galleries painted smoky lilac, charcoal or bright green, inlaid glass chips gleam on upholstered benches, shadow puppets of monkeys fight demons and princes ride elephants on cloth paintings.”
  • The San Francisco Examiner praises “fascinatingly detailed paintings of royal hunts, historical tableaux, legends and Buddhist images. A particularly haunting work is the Burmese gilded wood statue of the monk Shariputra, the body leaning at a strange angle, every detail of it and the robe signifying something.”
  • Bay Area ArtQuake says that Emerald Cities is “another beautifully organized, elegantly presented exhibit with a catalogue that’s a ‘must buy.'”
  • There has also been online video coverage, such as this report from ABC7 (which calls the show “spectacular”)

  • and one from View from the Bay (which I’m having trouble embedding, so follow the link).

There’s your quick rundown. (Apologies to reviewers who I missed in my roundup of reviews.) Judge for yourself. Personally, I think this is a sleeper that shouldn’t be missed.

3 Responses to “Praise for Emerald Cities, and the best time to visit”

  1. Nancy  on October 29th, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    I’ve been posting glowing reviews of the show to my Chez Namaste Nancy blog as well as to my Examiner.com webpage. I’ve also taken the liberty of putting up more of the historical information on Burma and Siam that I’ve found here and on xesen’s blog, with proper attribution of course. Links, links and links galore. I’m also plugging (OK – shilling) your great downloads on iTunes and the catalogue. I’m a history buff as well as an artist and there is just so much information out there now, when there wasn’t before. I love the contrast between this show and the last one, the differences in aesthetic outlook and materials. Wasabi vs Rococo flamboyance! Viva to both!

  2. xensen  on October 29th, 2009 at 4:11 pm

    Thanks, Nancy! Can we have you cloned?

  3. Nancy  on October 29th, 2009 at 11:19 pm

    LOL! Maybe you’d want to clone somebody who has more pull and a wider readership than I do! However, you make it easy for me and for anybody who wants to read more about the back ground to this show and what went into preparing it. This website is a gold mine of information; I just try to make it accessible to more people.


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