Archive for 'Community'

Happy Lunar New Year!

Red Envelope - Year of the Horse

Happy Lunar New Year! It’s Year 4712, the Year of the Horse.

Pick up a snazzy red envelope this weekend at the Asian Art Museum during our free Target Sunday. The envelopes contain discount admission tickets good for a future visit. We’ll have a limited quantity on hand, so get them while you can! Then enjoy our day of Lunar New Year festivities, including acrobatics by Red Panda Acrobats.

Can’t make it? Keep an eye out for us at the Chinatown Community Fair or visit us at the museum on Feb 15 or 16.

IDCA Awards: We’re Finalists!

We’re very excited today because we are finalists in two categories of the International Design Communication Awards.

Our website made the finals in Best Website, and our Lost Warrior campaign is a finalist in the Best Exhibition Communication category.

Our Lost Warrior says goodbye at SFO

Our Lost Warrior says goodbye to our marketing team, Ami and Jenn, at SFO.

Both these projects were huge for the museum, so kudos to the team who made it all happen. Special thanks to our partner Carbon Five, who designed and built the website, to partner JVST who built the Lost Warrior site, and to the remarkable Calvin Kai Ku, who truly made the warrior come to life.

The winners will be announced in a cavern in Stockholm (yes, really, a cavern) on July 5. Wish us luck!

Artists Drawing Club: Between, with Amy M. Ho

Artist Amy M. Ho talks about her Artists Drawing Club:

For the March edition of the Artists Drawing Club, I led a group of museum visitors on a sensory exploration of the space.  I started out explaining my own interest in the subject matter.  Most of my artwork is installation based and deals with our understanding and experience of the spaces and environments we inhabit.  Our relationship to space is key to our emotional and physical experiences but we often take it for granted.   In walking through the museum, I was hoping that the group would learn something new about their own experience of space and see how lighting, architecture and sound work together to choreograph our experiences.

After the introduction and as an icebreaker of sorts, we each mentioned a favorite space or an experience with space that we’ve had.  It was great to hear how experiences of space can shape our memories.

Next, I gave a short tour of the spaces that stood out to me in the South Court area of the museum.  We looked at some of the various shadows cast by the light coming in from above.  We closed our eyes and listened to the sounds echoing though the atrium.  We went to the back of the escalator to a nook that is often ignored.  Finally, we explored the corridor behind the museum store.

After the short tour, each person was assigned to a specific part of the museum and was asked to spend the next twenty minutes there observing the lights, sounds, architecture and anything else that stood out to them.  Each person was asked to sketch, photograph or write about what they saw.  Below are some of the photos and sketches.

Carey Lin

Carey Lin was assigned to the back staircase. Here’s her graph of the sound in the space.

Jamie Emerick

Jamie Emerick was up in the third floor galleries. Here is a sketch she made of an art piece and its shadows.

Dave Lyons

Dave Lyons was assigned to the Chinese Jade Gallery on the third floor. Here’s his image of the underside of the display.

Brandon Drew Holmes

Brandon Drew Holmes stayed downstairs in the South Court. Here is a sketch he made of how the light changed.

Amy Ho

I assigned myself to the escalators and the landing at the top of the escalators. Here is a view of the building across the street through the streaked window.

Owen Lawrence

Owen Lawrence went up to the Loggia. Here is a sketch of the architecture.

Marc Mayer

Marc Mayer stayed in the Contemplative Alcove in the Japan Galleries. Here is his sketch of the floating wall.






SFUSD Arts Festival at the Asian Art Museum


“What’s this?  Student work in a museum?  What a wonderful way to support art in schools!” commented a visitor who’d come to see the Terracotta Warriors exhibit and discovered the San Francisco Unified School District’s Arts Festival at the Asian Art Museum.  The Asian Art Museum had the extraordinary opportunity this spring to host the 27th annual SFUSD Arts Festival from March 2nd through March 10th.  The Arts Festival is the culmination of a collaborative effort between the SFUSD School District and the Asian Art Museum to fulfill the district’s Arts Education Master Plan “for equality and access in arts education for every student, in every school, every day.”  Public school arts teachers from across the city submitted student work to the Asian Art Museum, resulting in a week of vibrant art installations, poetry readings, screening of student films, and musical performances.



Student Terracotta Warriors.

After a year of planning, the actual installation of the festival brought museum curators, exhibition and preparation staff, education department staff, and museum and SFUSD volunteers together to showcase 500 two-dimensional and three-dimensional student pieces.  Display cases were pulled out of the basement, given a fresh coat of paint, and student work curated for display.  Over 50 student groups performed in Samsung Hall during the festival, showcasing styles from taiko drumming to choral music.  Meanwhile, yellow school buses brought over 4,000 students from city schools to see and participate in the Arts Festival.  “This is what education is all about,” stressed SFUSD Superintendent Richard Carranza at the festival’s opening ceremony.



Professional Development Work Honoring Legacy. Credit: Marissa Kunz

One of the major themes of the Terracotta Warriors exhibit is legacy, and museum staff applied this theme to the Arts Festival to showcase and preserve the legacy of San Francisco teachers and administrators in art education.   Professional development throughout the week for San Francisco principals, elementary, and secondary school teachers created an opportunity for district and museum staff to dialogue about the connection between arts education and the museum’s collection.   During the awards evening,  Dreamcatcher Awards honored individuals who inspire the educational community with “the power to capture dreams.”  Eight individuals from local schools and arts programs were recognized, including: Melecio Magdaluyo as Artist Partner, Elizabeth Brodersen as Community Arts Partner, Jan Link as Administrator, Eric Guthertz as Principal, Carla Lehmann and Jackey Toor as Credentialed Arts Teachers, and Sandra Berger and Jeff Larson as Arts Coordinators.


Redding March By City Hall

Redding March By City Hall

In collaboration with the Arts Festival, Japanese artist Takayuki Yamamoto brought his “Children’s Pride” project to both Rosa Parks Elementary School and Redding Elementary School in San Francisco.  Yamamoto’s artistic process includes working with school children from around the world on co-created art.  Students worked with Yamamoto to identify a personal desire for change to make their world a better place, representing their desire on a placard.  Students then took their placards, advocating everything from “No Guns!” and “Be a Better Reader!” to “Turn into a Fairy!” on a protest march with their classmates to the Asian Art Museum.  “It is okay for them to be different, to want different things, and to advocate for them,” says Yamamoto.  The ability to share their personal perspective through art is something Yamamoto’s students will take with them from their experience of the SFUSD Arts Festival.  And every student who visited the SFUSD Arts Festival at the Asian Art Museum will take home with them the importance of art in public education.  “Just as athletes need to exercise every day, children need to make art every day,” concludes Ruth Asawa, San Francisco arts educator.

Becoming Durga

Durga killing the buffalo demon

The Hindu deity Durga killing the buffalo demon, 900-1000. India. Granite. The Avery Brundage Collection.

A recent article in the New York Times about the most publicized of India’s rape victims described women of New Delhi taking to the streets to commemorate and mourn the 23-year-old student who died last week. One participant, a 44-year-old mother of two teenage girls pronounced, “We can only tackle this by becoming Durga.” Durga is a fierce warrior form of the divine mother goddess. She is worshiped in India, the Himalayas and Hindu communities throughout the world. Shown here she holds the weapons given to her by many of the the male Hindu gods. The Devi Mahatmya story describes Durga’s defeat of a buffalo demon that terrorized the world, and whom the male gods could not kill. With news headlines blaring horrifying stories, at times it is hard to get past our own unspeakable sorrow and impotent rage. In dark days it is a small token of hope that we may some day transform our outrage into political action and collectively rise up and become Durga, putting an end to the vicious cycles of violence around us.

The staff of the Asian Art Museum are saddened to hear of the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, this morning. Our thoughts are with all those who are suffering today.

Sho Kannon is one of the most popular deities in the Japanese Buddhist pantheon. As an agent of the Buddha Amida, he watches over all of humankind and extends his limitless compassion to all sufferers.

Sho Kannon

Standing bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara (Sho Kannon), approx. 794-1185. Japan. Wood with traces of lacquer and gilding. The Avery Brundage Collection, B60S420.

A Tribute to the Giants

Here we are again, in a position that just three years ago seemed impossible: World Series Champions.

From 1954—when they still called the NY Polo Grounds home—until the charmed 2010 season, the Giants had not won a championship. Now, two years later, another one? After waiting 56 years, after watching even the Red Sox win (twice), after coming within eight outs in 2002, finally, two titles in three years seems almost greedy, an embarrassment of baseball riches.

For those that consider baseball a slow, even dull game, I ask you to reconsider. It is a game of finesse, of inches, of highs and lows stretched across a season of 162 games. It rewards those with patience. In fact, it is remarkably like the practice of calligraphy. Talent is helpful, of course, but more important is training, repeating each movement so that it becomes an instinctual reaction. There’s no room for error – one slip of the brush or a dropped ball and the game, or calligraphy, is dramatically changed. Both are tests of endurance and provide the powerful possibility of redemption. And if there was one overarching theme of this entire postseason—as opposed to 2010’s torture—it was redemption. From what was arguably Barry Zito’s greatest pitching performance of his (Giants) career, to Tim Lincecum’s resurrection out of the bullpen, to Gregor Blanco’s defense eliminating all memories of the disgraced Melky Cabrera, to Pablo Sandoval’s offensive streak (in stark contrast to his abysmal 2010), to journeyman Marco Scutero’s NLCS MVP performance, this postseason was about coming back from the brink of disaster to achieve greatness.

And achieve it they did. Despite what the media may have claimed, the Giants did not win with lucky breaks. Their performance in the World Series was remarkable in its simplicity: extraordinary defense, masterful pitching, and timely hitting. Executing each play to perfection quieted even the most skeptical of critics, and more, importantly, the Tigers.

So when you’re done celebrating all things orange and black, come by the museum (please note we’re closed on Wednesday for Giants festivities) and check out our current exhibition Out of Character: Decoding Chinese Calligraphy.

Giants on Parade, Asian Art Museum Closed

If you live in San Francisco, you know by now that the Giants won the World Series last night, and they did it in style.

The victory parade is coming to our neighborhood on Wednesday, October 31. It will be a day of celebration, and since much of the celebration will be going on outside our doors the museum will be closed this Wednesday.

If you’re getting into the party spirit, have a great time and stay safe. We’ll look forward to welcoming visitors back to the museum on Thursday.

A Model Week: 3D Scanning at the Museum


Model of Nandi the Bull printing on a MakerBot 3D printer

Model of Nandi the Bull printing on a MakerBot 3D printer.

UPDATE: The event was featured this week in Wired.

This week we embarked on an exciting new technological journey. Along with friends from Autodesk and the MakerBot community, we hosted a 3D Scanathon at the museum.

What on earth does that mean? Well, because this is the future, it’s possible to take 3D scans of objects using ordinary things lying around your house. Like your phone. Autodesk recently released the iPhone app of 123D catch, a free application that allows you to create digital 3D models using photos. That means you can make a 3D model in minutes; it’s perfect for a museum like ours, because we allow photography in our collection galleries, phones are small and portable, and you can’t use flash photography to create the scans. So on Monday and Tuesday, a group of artists and (let’s face it) geeks came to the museum and photographed obejcts. They then uploaded the images to 123D Catch, which gives you back a nice 3D model (don’t ask me how that bit works).

Now, that’s super fun. But the next bit is really cool. Because if you have a 3D printer, (like one of these) you can print those objects. I mean literally print a physical object. I know, right? The models are made from ABS plastic (what Legos are made from) or other plastic filaments. The printing process can take a while; our larger models were printed overnight, taking about 11 hours. The little Nandi pictured printed in about half an hour on our friend Gian Pablo‘s MakerBot, which he kindly brought in for the second day. Nandi the Bull is featured on MakerBot’s Thingiverse, a place where artists and other enthusiasts can share their models, and use models to create new things (like the iPhone 4 case Christian from Autodesk made for our chief curator).

Christian holding the iPhone case next to Scene from the epic Ramayana: Kumbhakarna battles the monkeys

Christian with the iPhone case next to the original lintel, which depicts a scene from the epic Ramayana: Kumbhakarna battles the monkeys.

So what’s next? We’re hoping that artists will create remixes of our objects, as they did when the Met held a similar event earlier in the year. We want to scan more objects (and heopfeully our visitors will download the app and scan some, too). And after that, who knows? It’s limited only by our imagination. Well, ok, there are a few technical limitations. Still. Next time you see someone wearing one of those “where is my jet-pack?” t-shirts, point them at a 3D printer.



UpSideUp FLy

My morning walk to work is bleary eyed and trance like, and I don’t even like to snap out of it, since it seems like the final few moments of rest and quiet before the day begins. Tuesday, though, I was jolted out of my stupor: a rainbow of of origami butterflies perched on the wall outside the museum. Evidently they materialized overnight, for God knew what reason. Walking closely along the wall, I could see the things were arranged in a pattern, but honestly, I couldn’t—forgive me—I couldn’t read the writing on the wall. It wasn’t until I took a photo and saw the installation from a different angle that I realized it: the butterflies spelled out fly.

Later that morning, all the museum had seen the wall, and people were excited. I emailed my photo to the staff to see what everyone made of it. Jason in Creative Services suggested it might be the work of a French artist named Mademoiselle Maurice. There followed a good deal of speculation. It wasn’t until later in the day that Jenn, our ruling queen of social media, solved the mystery: Des Moines street artists The UpSideUp had graced our wall with their work.

It’s amazing how something so simple but so lovely can add color to an entire day. John, our librarian, said, “Talk about a wonderful East-West example of contemporary art.” The director said he loved it. Tom in Publications said it reminded him of a Wu Mali exhibition from several years ago—one of my favorites.

Jenn met the UpSideUp artists yesterday, and she gave them a message from all of us: however ephemeral their piece might be, it has permanently altered our perception of the museum—our walls are porous. Art shines from the inside out, but contemporary expressions also flow in from the community around us, and the two interact with one another.