This Week at Pacific Asia Museum: July 29-August 4

July 29, 2013

This Week at Pacific Asia Museum

This is our weekly post to make sure you know what’s coming up at Pacific Asia Museum! Make sure to check back every Monday to stay in the know. And as always, you can sign up for our e-newsletter at the bottom of our homepage, or check out our full events calendar here.

Chinese Fairytales: For our August 3 Silk Road Storytime, Join storyteller Sunny Stevenson for Chinese fairytales, a fun craft, and Asian snacks. Free and open to the public.

Learn Something New: Our weekly classes continue! Whether you’re interested in yoga, Chinese brush painting, or the ukulele, we’ve got something for everyone. Check out our list of ongoing classes here.

Coming Up: Mark your calendars for Sunday, August 11, when we’ll host internationally acclaimed poets Linda Galloway and Ron Moss as they present “The Silent and Spoken Word: Art & Short Form Poetry,” an innovative program of art images and Japanese short form poetry (tanka and haiku) with live Japanese music.



More Contemporary Art to Come

July 25, 2013

This is the final week of our contemporary Japanese exhibition Takashi Tomo-okaWhile we’re sad to see this amazing exhibition leave, we’re excited to continue showing contemporary art in the same gallery through the rest of the year. Here’s what’s coming up:

Tree #1 by Myoung Ho LeeConstructed Visions: New Media from Korea
August 23 – November 24, 2013
This exhibition introduces four contemporary Korean artists who construct striking examinations of their environments, both urban and rural, using the seemingly infinite possibilities of digital media such as video and photography. For example, in Atta Kim’s photographs, busy cities such as New York and Paris become eerie ghost towns as rows of cars and crowds disappear due to extended exposure times, sometimes up to eight hours. While Kim captures known locations modified by time, Minkyung Lee intentionally creates a new reality in her images. She ‘builds’ her own spaces in miniature and then captures them with the camera; some are then subjected to further manipulation, thereby creating layers of constructions for the viewer to unpack.  Junebum Park’s videos capture mundane moments in busy cityscapes such as pedestrian and automotive traffic, or the passing of weather over a building, but deliver an uncanny sense of omniscient observation through the insertion of a figure at a super-human scale. In his Tree series, Myoung Ho Lee questions the concepts of reality, experience and representation by forcing the viewer to look at trees in their natural surroundings, isolated by artificial backgrounds and lighting.

Ralli quiltRalli Quilts: Contemporary Textiles from Pakistan
December 20, 2013 – March. 2, 2014
Ralli Quilts: Contemporary Textiles from Pakistan features quilts made by women in the areas of Sindh, Pakistan, western India, and surrounding areas. This exhibition helps expand the conception of ‘contemporary art’ by looking at their form, color and pattern rather than solely how they are made, what they are for and the meaning of each color and pattern. The book Ralli Quilts: Traditional Textiles from Pakistan and India by Patricia Ormsby Stoddard, Ph.D. will be available in the Museum Store during the exhibition’s run.

These exhibitions are generously supported by the Pasadena Art Alliance and the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, Toyota Financial Services, and Mike and Sookie Garrison. Make sure to check back here as we post in-depth about these exhibitions in the coming months! ~CM

This Week at Pacific Asia Museum: July 22-28

July 22, 2013

This Week at Pacific Asia Museum

This is our weekly post to make sure you know what’s coming up at Pacific Asia Museum! Make sure to check back every Monday to stay in the know. And as always, you can sign up for our e-newsletter at the bottom of our homepage, or check out our full events calendar here.

Become a Docent: We’ve got a great group of new docents who will begin training to tour our galleries in September. Want to join them? Learn more about becoming a Pacific Asia Museum docent here.

Free Fourth Friday: Take advantage of our monthly Free Fourth Friday to catch the final days of Takashi Tomo-oka! Check out the full list of exhibitions on view here, and don’t miss the free docent-led tours at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Photography in Korea: Award winning photographer Mark Edward Harris speaks on Sunday, July 28 at 2 on his two new photography compilations North Korea and South Korea as part of our Authors on Asia series. Come hear his unparalleled experiences with extensive access to both sides of the DMZ.

This Week! Pakistani Artist in Residence

July 18, 2013

Today, we welcomed acclaimed ralli artist Naina as she began her time as an artist-in-residence here at Pacific Asia Museum. Visiting from Pakistan’s Sindh region, Naina is demonstrating the creation of these traditional quilted textiles. She’ll be here through the weekend practicing her craft alongside completed pieces, some of which are for sale. Our website has her full schedule.

Naina comes to Pacific Asia Museum after appearing at the prestigious Santa Fe International Folk Art Market, the largest international folk art market in the world. Born and raised in a small village in Pakistan, Naina has spent decades on her craft alongside other women from her village through Lila Handicrafts, a Pakistani cooperative of women from a small village in the Thar Desert region of Pakistan, Tehsil Diplo. The proceeds of their work goes directly back to the women and towards educational opportunities for children in the region. In 2011, Naina became the first member of Lila Handicrafts to travel internationally to appear alongside her work at the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market.

Ralli quilts are made in Pakistan and western India by women artisans, many of whom do not travel out of their own village without male supervision. Requiring almost 200 hours to create, patchwork ralli quilts are richly patterned textiles made of old cloth from discarded fabrics. The cloth is torn or cut into geometric shapes, then stitched together on a palm mat using a large needle and cotton thread with patchwork, applique and embroidery techniques. Traditionally, ralli quilts were used as a form of currency, and would be included in a woman’s dowry. Today, they have become increasingly popular on the commercial market.

Naina’s visit is a great opportunity to watch the creation of a traditional ralli quilt. But if you can’t make it in the next few days, don’t despair– in December, we’ll open a new exhibition focused entirely on this beautiful art form. Stay tuned! ~CM

This Week at Pacific Asia Museum: July 15-21

July 15, 2013

This Week at Pacific Asia MuseumThis is our weekly post to make sure you know what’s coming up at Pacific Asia Museum! Make sure to check back every Monday to stay in the know. And as always, you can sign up for our e-newsletter at the bottom of our homepage, or check out our full events calendar here.

ArtVenture: Pacific Asia Museum kicks off Paseo Colorado’s Summer ArtVenture series on Wednesday, July 17 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Bring the kids to this drop-in event and enjoy crafts and our hands-on cultural trunk! More info here.

Pakistani Quiltmaking: We’re honored to have Pakistani ralli artist Naina visit us from Thursday, July 18 through Sunday, July 22 to demonstrate this traditional art form. Enjoy watching the artist at work and peruse completed pieces available for purchase. See her full schedule here on our website.

Fusion Fridays: Our popular series continues on Friday, July 19 with Thai dance and Korean drums! Make sure to get advance tickets here on Eventbrite. For our members, you’re invited to an exclusive pre-party from 6:30 to 7:30! As a bonus, ralli artist Naina will demonstrate her craft from 7:30 to 8:30.


Mitate-e metaphors in Japanese art

July 11, 2013
Courtesan Dancing to Daruma's Accompaniment

Ishikawa Toyonobu (1711–85), Courtesan Dancing to Daruma’s Accompaniment

Our current exhibition Focus on the Subject: The Art of the Harari Collection is full of fun details to explore. One particularly humorous section examines mitate-e, which literally means “look and compare.” This is a category of Japanese art that uses metaphorical images that juxtaposes historical and contemporary events and figures, often fusing the religious with the vulgar, the high with the low, added layers of meanings that could be playful, critical or ironical references enjoyed by the educated classes. Here we’ll look at two works from the exhibition in this category. If you want to get a closer look at these paintings, don’t miss the Curator’s Tour of this exhibition this Saturday, July 13 at 2 p.m.

Mitate-e became popular in the Edo period when urban culture blossomed. As the Tokugawa shogunate secured relative peace, the newly established capital Edo (today Tokyo) grew rapidly in population and economic status. The merchant class accumulated wealth but their relatively low social status limited their participation in public affairs. As a result, they looked for outlets in various forms of entertainment, and embraced mitate-e, which allowed the indirect critique of current events and élite culture. The inclusion of witty prose or poems next to images heightened the complex allusions embedded in mitate-e. Text could also nuance or disguise the interpretation, further stimulating the viewer or confusing the authorities who regulated mass-produced images. 

Among the most popular subjects in mitate-e are pairings of courtesans with religious figures such as Daruma (Bodhidharma in Chinese), the Indian monk who transmitted Chan (Zen in Japanese) Buddhism to China, as seen at the top of this post. The juxtaposition of this ascetic with a courtesan of the pleasure quarters humorously critiqued religion as well as the culture of the ruling samurai class who boasted of their dedication to Zen. It also underscores the core values of the genre known as ukiyo-e (or ‘pictures of the floating world’), to which this painting belongs. The word ukiyo (‘transitory world’) was derived from Buddhism, referring to the ephemeral nature of this world. By replacing the character for uki 憂き (meaning ‘transitory’) with a homonym 浮meaning ‘floating,’ a profound Buddhist idea was turned upside down to express the attitude of  joie de vivre characteristic of the pleasure quarters.

Zen Buddhism teaches that anyone is able to reach enlightenment through simple, banal activities such as chopping wood or taking naps. Here, the courtesan’s knowledge of the ‘floating world’ (ukiyo 浮世) is compared to Daruma’s enlightened realization of the ‘evanescence of the world’ (ukiyo 憂き世). It also suggests that one can find enlightenment, or release, in the carnal activities of the pleasure quarters. Pious Daruma playing the shamisen, a popular musical instrument among courtesans and geisha, further increases the wry humor.

The poem accompanying the image is by Old Priest Rinsen in the Jōkyō era (1684–88). It reads:
Why have you come from the west?
Don’t ask and cause me to regret it.
In playing the shamisen, the bridges do not count.
The heart alone sings:
Is it the plectrum or the strings
Which makes the music?
(Translation by Kuniko Brown)

Courtesan with a Crane

Kawamata Tsunemasa (flourished 1716–48), Courtesan with a Crane (detail)

Rinnasei (Lin Hejing in Chinese) was a famous Chinese poet of the Song dynasty (960–1127). A hermit renowned for never writing down his poems as well as his love for the crane and plum tree, he was often depicted with them in paintings. In this mitate-e, Tsunemasa provocatively replaced the reclusive poet with a courtesan resplendent in a sumptuous kimono. She gently rests her hand on a crane under a plum tree, echoing Lin’s reputation for treating these birds as his surrogate children. Courtesans were given names using auspicious words; tsuru (crane) and ume (plum) were often chosen for their association with longevity and resilience. Plums were also compared to courtesans for their sensual fragrance and showy blossoms.

The companion poem (not pictured) wryly alludes to the carnality of the plum:
The plum is called the “literature-loving tree.”
The hedge-row plum tree
To men gives freely
Its fragrance.
(Translation by Jack Ronald Hillier and Kuniko Brown)

You’ll certainly want to take the time to appreciate these works in person– and soon! While this exhibition is on view through March 30, 2014, it will undergo a full rotation this fall to introduce new works from our collection and protect the objects from prolonged exposure to light.


Kawamata Tsunemasa (flourished 1716–48), Courtesan with a Crane (detail), Edo period (1603–1868); c. 1745, Ink, color and gofun (ground shell) on silk, Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Calvin Frazier, 1986.67.3

Ishikawa Toyonobu (1711–85), Courtesan Dancing to Daruma’s Accompaniment, Edo period (1603–1868); c. 1755, Ink, color and gofun on paper, silk, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Kamansky, 985.56.14

This Week at Pacific Asia Museum: July 8-14

July 8, 2013

This Week at Pacific Asia MuseumThis is our weekly post to make sure you know what’s coming up at Pacific Asia Museum! Make sure to check back every Monday to stay in the know. And as always, you can sign up for our e-newsletter at the bottom of our homepage, or check out our full events calendar here.

Learn while you caffeinate: Art and Coffee continues on Friday, July 12 at 3 p.m. This month, we go in-depth with Focus on the Subject: The Art of the Harari Collectionand arrive a minute or two early to enjoy a leisurely cup of iced coffee in our courtyard, compliments of Starbucks.

The inside scoop: On Saturday, July 13 at 2 p.m., our curatorial team gives a Curator’s Tour of Takashi Tomo-oka. This exhibition is closing soon, so this is the perfect opportunity to get a last look with an expert.

Play that ukelele: Our Sunday morning class Hawaiian Music and More begins a new session on Sunday, July 14. Advance registration required, learn more on our website here.

Coming up: Ralli artist Naina will visit Pacific Asia Museum July 18-21. This is a unique opportunity to see this traditional quilting art from Pakistan live and in person– select pieces will also be available for purchase.