Recently poet Gary Snyder celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of his groundbreaking book of poetry Riprap. Here Robert Hass introduces him in a reading on the UC Berkeley campus, where he had been a graduate student in the East Asian Studies department. Gary will be speaking at the Asian Art Museum this Thursday on the subject of “West Coast Sensibility and Traditional Chinese Lyrics.” The event is certain to sell out, so be sure to get a ticket before coming to attend.
Archive for 'General'
Every clear morning I tuck in my right pant leg and pedal my way over to the museum. After setting my silver wheels up on the bike rack in the loading dock, I take the stairs up to the Education offices on the second floor. The dimly lit entry to the Education office space is located behind the tea room in the second floor Japan galleries. Because I pass through these galleries everyday, I always look forward to new rotations of Japanese art.
The latest additions to the Japan galleries include a pair of near-life-sized Japanese dolls in kimono complete with miniature accessories in a striking installation. Their innocent smiling white faces reflect in the gallery cases behind my own reflection. I know my sister would absolutely shudder at that description because she is one of those people that are just irrationally creeped out by dolls but I find them to be quite cherub-like. They are a part of the thematic exhibition Japan’s Early Ambassadors to San Francisco 1860-1927, currently on display.
This exhibition begins with the arrival of the ship Kanrin Maru and the first Japanese embassy in San Francisco, this year being the 150th anniversary of their arrival. It examines the experiences of some of the first Japanese diplomats and cultural emissaries to the United States. The exhibition also includes artwork and objects relating to Japanese artists active in San Francisco in the late 19th and early 20th century.
A couple years ago, I traveled to Shanghai for the first time on a solo trip. It was awesome! With the World Expo now underway, it seems timely to honor our sister city’s huge “coming out” party with a personal celebration of the unique metropolis.
I’d like to share my pictures from the Shanghai Municipal History Museum. It’s located in Pudong, on the less “interesting” side of the Huangpu River (more developed, boring), in the basement of the iconic Oriental Pearl TV Tower.
Historically, many battles have been fought over the body of the woman. So we knew that the images of Chinese women presented in the Shanghai exhibition would be a hot topic of discussion. Interestingly, the most passionate reactions expressed by the public have been focused on a group of images that have these two characteristics:
- The images were for commercial use, and
- The majority of them date to the 1920s and 1930s.
I am curious to understand why that is. So in this multipart series (I don’t even know how many blog postings I will need!), I will attempt to make connections that may have been missed or misread, using the artworks and the available texts in the exhibition, such as object labels, wall panels, and exhibition catalogue. But right off the bat, I must say, I am having fun with this topic and it is an incredible challenge!
“Hey so you know Mr. C, the history teacher? He is actually pretty cool for a teacher I guess. He set up this field trip to go to the Asian Art Museum next month.”
“Yeah? That place is hecka cool man. I went there a couple times in elementary school and we did some Chinese painting class and another time had a samurai thing.”
“Neat! You know my cousin, she’s really into art, she is doing a program there where they’re talking to a high school in China.
“That’s cool. Yo, I heard that this one time, they even had some kung-fu guys breaking bricks and stuff!”
“No way! That’s awesome. This will actually be kinda fun. Go Mr. C!”
The cherry blossom festival just started in Japan. This annual event takes place in the parks, shrines, and gardens in the Tokyo area where millions of Japanese come out to view the blossoms. So I have this great idea: why not replace the trees surrounding the museum with cherry trees? I can just imagine how spectacular that might look when they start blooming this time of the year.
A while ago, I talked about my experience of eating a notable Shanghai delicacy called xiao long bao. Here’s a video of Andrea Nguyen, chef and author of Asian Dumplings, as she talks about the process of making this dish and what she considers the perfect xiao long bao at Shanghai Dumpling King. (short commercial at beginning of video)
Having now seen the movie Avatar, I can’t say there’s much Hindu lore in it beyond the word “avatar” and an approximation of its ancient concept.
It’s true that the hero of Avatar, like the Hindu deity Vishnu, has blue skin and rides a mighty sun bird, but hey, we’re in the realm of myth, and X doesn’t have to be derived from Y.
Here’s a painting from the museum’s collection showing a very blue Vishnu (and his consort) riding through the sky on the great bird Garuda. It’s from the north Indian state of Rajasthan, and dates from around 1760.
If you see the movie and notice other connections with Hindu lore, write in and tell us, OK?