We talked to storyteller Fred and docent Bob about their experience volunteering at the Asian Art Museum. Check out the interview with one of our favorite couples, and join us this weekend for Pride!
Archive for 'Community'
Pride is around the corner and on our doorstep, and we can’t wait.
We are offering $5 entry all weekend, but like everyone else we want to be out where the action is. We’ll have booths on our front steps and in front of Breathing Flower in Civic Center Plaza. Stop by to get your picture taken with the lotus (we’ll give you a temporary tattoo in return—while stocks last!) and grab a coupon for discounted entry. Some lucky visitors might even find themselves with a free ticket.
Look out for the hula hoops out the front of the building, too. That’s right, we said hula hoops.
See you there.
PS check out our latest video, featuring Bob and Fred, two of our favorite volunteers.
Contemporary artist Takayuki Yamamoto got together with the Asian Art Museum and local art education non-profit Artseed to create the latest chapter of his ongoing artwork called What Kind of Hell Will We Go To.
Under the artist’s direction, and with help from staff and volunteers, children in the after-school program run by Artseed at Leola Havard Early Education School in the Bayview district of San Francisco devised and constructed their own “hells”. These are places where they imagined miscreants of all types might end up. The young denouncers were then filmed describing their creations; the transgressions, and the curious, often torturous, and sometimes hilarious, situations that awaited the guilty within.
Organizing and scheduling all the different players and components took super-human effort by the artist, staff, volunteers, and parents. One initial challenge was in finding the perfect group of kids to partner with. After a lot of searching Artseed’s after-school program was recommended and we knew it’d be a great fit.
The week of the project itself was an eye-opening and invigorating spin-cycle of activity. Takayuki’s calm confidence and child-like sense of playfulness and curiosity brought a sense of shared purpose and joy to the children and adults alike. The results are funny and cute, bitter and grim, and altogether quite thought-provoking. We’re all looking forward to seeing Takayuki Yamamoto’s (and the kids’) What Kind of Hell Will We Go To on display as part of the Phantoms of Asia exhibition beginning May 18. Yamamoto will also be participating in our teacher program Shh! We’re not Supposed to Talk About Religion and a panel discussion with other contemporary artists on May 12. Hope to see you in new hell!
Nowruz (“New Day”) is the Iranian New Year, or Persian New Year, and marks the first day of spring.
The holiday started 3,000 years ago in ancient Persia (modern day Iran), derived from Zoroastrianism, one of the world’s oldest religions. Important themes are reverence for nature, respect for family and community, doing good deeds, and forgiveness.
In the week prior to the new year, rituals take place that symbolize a fresh start and the triumph of good over evil. Families conduct spring cleaning as a symbol of forgiving others. Some participate in a fire-jumping ritual, which was a traditional Zoroastrian rite of purification, singing, “Fire, you give me your redness and energy, and I give you my paleness and sickness.”
I don’t know about you, but food consumes my mind almost every waking moment (pun intended).
It should come as no surprise then, that when I had a long visit with our Maharaja exhibition (closing April 8), I got a bad hankering for Indian food. I loved this rich art going experience, gallery by gallery, beautiful object by beautiful object.
But you get hunger pangs from museum fatigue, and the craving is fueled when you see a jade wine flask here or a spice box there.
We’ve had a mild winter in San Francisco this year, but this week will bring a colder, wetter spell. Time to find some indoor activities. We asked our museum family for kids’ favorites at the Asian; come in out of the rain and check out our top 5:
1. A perennial favorite is the glass elevator that takes you from the first floor up to the galleries. Nathaniel, aged 3, insists on riding in it every time he comes to the museum.
2. Bobby, aged 6, is fascinated by the sculpture of Vaishravana stepping on the demon. He and his Dad walked the galleries looking for more images of people stepping on other people, and they found a lot. We’d love to hear about any you can find.
3. Recently a mom approached one of our staff at a conference to share the story of her 7-year-old son’s love of our samurai armor. Not only does he like to visit the armor on view in the galleries, he’s also completed many of our make-at-home art projects. They’re great for a rainy day when you can’t make it in to the museum.
4. Our librarian’s son, Peter, is all grown-up now and an artist himself. His favorite piece has always been the Ganesha that greets you at the top of the escalators. Young Peter was struck by the offerings people left; these made Ganesha seem not only wonderful, but all the more real. His Dad writes:
“He was especially impressed with the offerings of Hershey kisses. “Why kisses?” he once asked me. I said, “Those must be Ganesha’s favorite.” Peter replied: “I think he’s got good taste.”
5. Ishaan, aged 2, is very taken with Sanjay Patel’s depictions of Maharajas. You can enjoy them on the banners outside, but if you come in there’s more kid-friendly fare in Patel’s exhibition on the second floor. Ishaan also recommends the video ‘How to Dress an Elephant’, which can be viewed in the Maharaja exhibition.
This weekend is our monthly Target Free Sunday, so there’s no better time to get your kids out of the rain and into the museum. Maharaja: The Splendor of India’s Royal Courts closes in a little over a month, so Sunday is a great opportunity to see this colorful exhibition for only $5 before it goes away.
Is your child a fan of the museum? Share your favorite pieces in the comments.
Perhaps you need a new frock for our Phantoms of Asia opening gala; maybe you just need a trip to the store. This February, you can indulge in retail therapy AND help your favorite arts organization (that’s us, right?). For the month of February, 2012, Saks Fifth Avenue will give 5% of all registered purchases made with a Saks Fifth Avenue credit card back to charity. The donations will benefit local organizations, keeping support within each Saks Fifth Avenue store’s immediate community. Saks San Francisco has chosen four arts organizations–including the Asian Art Museum–to be part of this program.
“Saks Fifth Avenue is committed to our local communities. We appreciate our customers’ charitable involvement and look forward to giving back locally with this exciting and newly implemented national program,” Steve Sadove, Chairman and CEO, Saks Incorporated, said.
Whatever you’re shopping for, you can select an organization to allocate your 5% contribution to; we hope you choose us! Registration is one simple step when you check out, and will link your customer account with your chosen organization.
We’d like to thank Saks for including us in this initiative.
APPLICABLE SAKS FIFTH AVENUE CREDIT CARD PURCHASES. PURCHASES AT LOUIS VUITTON AND FUR SALON ARE EXCLUDED. PARTICIPANTS MUST BE REGISTERED SAKS CARD HOLDERS AND SELECT FROM ONE OF THE PARTNERING CHARITIES. CUSTOMERS ENROLLMENT AND DESIGNATION IS FINAL. SPEND WILL BE CAPTURED FROM 2/1/12 – 2/29/12 AUTOMATICALLY AND ALL SPEND DURING THIS PERIOD WILL COUNT FOR THE PROMOTION REGARDLESS OF ENROLLMENT DATE. HSBC IS NOT INVOLVED WITH THE SELECTION OF THE CHARITABLE ORGANIZATIONS. PROGRAM COMMENCES AS OF THE DATE FEBRUARY 1, 2012 AND SHALL END FEBRUARY 29, 2012.
With humans, it always comes back to food. We love our feast days, and most of our celebrations have some kind of special food associated with them.
New Year is no exception. I celebrated new year recently with a friend for whom sour cream and cheddar chips are an integral part of the evening. He also cooked us a Chinese roast duck; much closer to my ideal celebration.
We spoke to a couple of Bay Area experts about two specialties that are close to us at the museum: Japanese mochi and Buddha hands.
Last weekend, we celebrated the new year here at the museum with mochitsuki (mochi pounding). Local Japanese teacher Yoko Hara writes:
I am from Tokyo, but I’ve never seen mochitsuki there. We bought freshly made big square mochi (Tokyo style) and my father used to cut it into small rectangular pieces. So mochitsuki by Kagamikai was a surprise and delight.
We used to live pretty close to the old site of Asian Art Museum so when my children were still young, we used to enjoy the mochitsuki with Taiko drumming every year. Being a Japanese Teacher, I now spread the word about this lovely event to all my students and friends.
Buddha’s hand has become a common sight at Heart of the City Farmers’ Market, which takes place on Wednesdays and Sundays right behind the museum. Former curator Terese Bartholomew, now a board member of the San Francisco Botanical Garden, shares her knowledge of this funny-looking cousin of the lemon:
One interesting citrus that has appeared in the farmers’ markets in recent years is the Buddha’s hand citron (Citrus medica ‘Sarcodactylis’). This yellow citron with wavy tentacles takes its common name from the shape of its fruit, which resembles the idealized fingers of the Buddha. This fragrant fruit is used as an altar offering during Chinese New Year. The fruit runs completely to rind, and is not edible unless preserved with salt or sugar. Sliced into pieces, the fruit can be prepared the same way as candied citron; dipped in chocolate, these make a most delicious snack. The Buddha’s hand citron is beloved by the Chinese because its name, foshou, puns with blessings and longevity.
Tell us what’s on your Lunar New Year table – or share your recipes for Buddha’s hands.
This weekend the museum is hosting a special event at our Target Free Sunday. Be The Match Marrow Registry, a nonprofit organization that matches patients with unrelated bone marrow donors, will be conducting registrations at the museum—complete with cheek cell swabbing!
Why? Great question. Be The Match approached the museum because they have a shortage of South Asian donors in their registry. Bay Area entrepreneur Amit Gupta shared his experience:
Two weeks ago I got a call from my doctor because I’d been feeling worn out and was losing weight, and wasn’t sure why. He was brief: “Amit, you’ve got acute leukemia. You need to enter treatment right away.” I have a couple more months of chemo to go, and then the next step is a bone marrow transplant. Minorities are severely underrepresented in the bone marrow pool, and I need help.
With the Maharaja exhibition in full swing and Sanjay Patel’s show opening next week, the museum is quite a hub for South Asian cultural happenings right now. Be The Match thought it would be a great opportunity to reach out to the South Asian community, and we agreed.
Volunteers from Be The Match will be at the museum from 11:00 am until 3:00 pm this Sunday, November 6. No matter what your background, Be The Match would be grateful for your participation! For more information on what’s involved, check out Be The Match’s ‘Understanding your Commitment’ page.
Remember, admission to the museum this Sunday is free, so come see some art, and maybe save a life as well.
We recently received the following letter from Mike Thompson, a friend of the museum who is teaching English near Tokyo. He has given us permission to share it. The letter speaks to the rebuilding that must occur within the heart after a major tragedy such as Japan has experienced.
I would like to update you on the situation in Japan. The radiation danger is still present, but our lives have returned to something approaching normal. My friend Tom Gally has a web site where he has been culling the Japanese news outlets and translating them into English for his family and friends, and he said I could give out his link. His sources are better than mine, and he has links to other web sites with earthquake / tsunami / nuclear recovery information. His page has his daily routine for his family members to read, but also general information about post-disaster Tokyo that might be interesting (I met Tom in the student dormitory at UCSB many years ago, and now he teaches at the University of Tokyo):
Along with milk and spinach, now add cauliflower, broccoli, most leafy green vegetables and tap water to the radioactive contamination list! Bottled water is being rationed and distributed to families with infants. Nobody really knows how far the fallout from the Fukushima reactors will spread, or how long this will go on. The news can be depressing. Some workers have been hospitalized for radiation sickness. As the death toll climbs, individual stories are coming up in discussions with friends and colleagues—A 24-year-old American woman who was a schoolteacher in Fukushima drowned. A bus with kindergarten children was caught in the tsunami and the children died, but the bus driver was swept onto the roof of a two-story building and lived. But then there is this—a grandmother and her grandson were rescued from the wreckage of their house nine days after the earthquake. And we are hearing about babies that were miraculously born in the midst of the deluge and survived.