Join the Japanese Arts Council!

August 29, 2013
The Four Sleepers

Tsunemasa, The Four Sleepers, Japan, c. 1745, Ink, color and gold pigment on paper, Pacific Asia Museum Collection, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Kamansky, 1988.65.2

Here at Pacific Asia Museum, we have a number of member-led Arts Councils that focus on particular regions and cultures (learn more about them here). All members at the Lotus level and above are eligible to join our Arts Councils, and groups like the Chinese Arts Council and Pakistan Arts Council have been active in supporting the museum’s exhibitions and programs through fundraising and  volunteering while enjoying private tours, field trips and more. We’re excited to announce that starting in September, the Japanese Arts Council will begin meeting regularly once again under new president Maureen Nyhan. An independent scholar and Pacific Asia Museum docent, Maureen earned a degree in Japanese Language and Culture from San Francisco State University and continues to learn and share her love of Japanese art and culture at the museum today.

The Japanese Arts Council will kick off on September 21 at 11 a.m.  with an informal presentation by Maureen on Kazunobu’s celebrated paintings of the lives of the Buddha’s 500 disciples, recently exhibited at the Smithsonian’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. All eligible members interested in learning more about the Council is encouraged to attend. Following the September meeting, the Council will gather regularly to enjoy members-only cultural lectures, food, field trips, collector “show and tells” as well as work together on projects in support of Japanese art and culture at Pacific Asia Museum.

Supernatural Powers, Five Hundred Arhats: Scroll 57. By Kano Kazunobu (1816‐63), Japan, Edo Period, ca. 1854‐63. Hanging scroll; ink and color on silk. Photo: Collection: Zōjōji, Tokyo, Japan.

On September 21, Maureen will give a presentation of the 500 rakan (arhat) exhibition Masters of Mercy that traveled to the Freer Sackler Museum, Washington DC in 2012 after being on display in Tokyo. From 1854 until his death in 1863, Japanese artist Kano Kazunobu (born 1816) labored to produce one hundred paintings depicting the miraculous interventions and superhuman activities of the five hundred disciples of the Buddha. The project was commissioned by Zōjōji, an elite Pure Land Buddhist temple in Edo (modern-day Tokyo). Now widely regarded as one of the most impressive feats of Buddhist iconography created during the Edo period (1615–1868), this remarkable ensemble was largely overlooked through much of the twentieth century.

A revival of interest began in the 1980s and culminated in a major exhibition in Tokyo in spring 2011, held to commemorate the eight-hundredth anniversary of the death of Hōnen (1133–1212), founder of Japanese Pure Land Buddhism. Zōjōji collaborated with the Edo-Tokyo Museum and noted scholars to produce the exhibition, which featured all one hundred paintings along with related works and documentary material. The whole ensemble had not been viewed publicly since World War II.

Lovers of Japanese art and culture won’t want to miss this fascinating presentation and the chance to learn more about the Japanese Arts Council. For more information, visit our website.

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This Week at Pacific Asia Museum: August 26- September 1

August 26, 2013

garden photos 092

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.

Award-winning music: On their first visit to Los Angeles, the Taiwu Children’s Ancient Ballads Troupe will perform at Pacific Asia Museum on Wednesday, August 28 at 3 p.m.  accompanied by Grammy winner Daniel Ho. This group aims to preserve the culture of the Paiwan tribe of southern Taiwan through song. Great for adults and children alike!

Coming Up: Master Rosa Zee teaches a five-week series of Chinese flower arranging from September 6 through October 4. Students should supply own garden scissors and spray bottle; all other materials provided. Series is $125 for members, $150 for non-members. Advance registration required, call 626-449-2742 x 31 for more information.

 


“Constructed Visions” Opens Tomorrow!

August 22, 2013

Atta Kim, On Air ProjectTomorrow, we open Constructed Visions: New Media from KoreaThis 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.

In his ON-AIR Project (top image), Atta Kim explores the duality of existence and non-existence while questioning the basic idea of photography. Instead of documenting and reproducing things that exist, Kim captures the absence of things that no longer exist. Deeply invested in Buddhist philosophy that urges us to understand reality as it is (which is not always as it appears to be), the artist uses a camera to communicate his existential question: how do we define this existence which feels concrete and tangible? By extending exposure times up to eight hours, objects such as crowds and cars eventually vanish in his images: things that move quickly vanish quickly and things that move slowly vanish in the same manner, raising fundamental questions of presence and absence, time and perception. What is left in his photographs is the experience of time, challenging the viewers’ ability to look beyond what they perceive. In Kim’s images, the process of atrophy documented during the hours of exposure becomes a quantifiable evidence of existence: all that exists eventually disappears. At the same time, what captivates the viewer is the striking image embodying a quiet abstract quality, gently guiding the viewer to ponder the meaning of time and existence.

Myoung Ho Lee, Tree #1In his Tree series, Myoung Ho Lee questions the way we view our surroundings by placing a white canvas behind a tree, thereby isolating it from its environment. Trees, viewed as mundane objects, are captured in Lee’s camera as if they were sitters for studio portraits: trees that usually blend into nature as backdrops become centerpieces, objects of aesthetic contemplation and scientific scrutiny. The artist’s way of presenting the trees simplifies our vision, yet complicates our experience of viewing. We are asked to look at these trees and our surroundings with a fresh perspective and to assume a new role as an active viewer, analyzing our understanding of reality which is subjected to much extraneous information. In order to construct his tree portraits, Lee travels around South Korea and observes trees which interest him over the course of the four seasons. Each tree is photographed after laborious preparation. The working process, which Lee describes itself as ‘a performance,’ requires industrial cranes with a sizable group of crew members to erect poles and ropes in order to secure the canvas as if it were floating in air, all of which is removed from the final photograph. The resulting images, poetic and meditative, trigger a series of questions regarding representation, perception and our understanding of our environment.

This exhibition is part of a year-long series that is designed to provide contemporary perspectives on visual art in Asia from four different countries: Japan, Korea, Israel and Pakistan. Begun with Takashi Tomo-oka, the series addresses a variety of underlying conceptual issues and cultural questions, some of which may challenge viewers’ assumptions about Asian art. Make sure to check it out! ~CM

Images:

Atta Kim, ON-AIR Project 160-13, from the series India, 2007, Chromogenic print, Loaned by the artist

Myoung Ho Lee, Tree # 1, 2006, Ink on paper, Loaned by the artist

 


This Week at Pacific Asia Museum: August 19-25

August 19, 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.

Exhibition Opening: Constructed Visions: New Media from Korea opens Friday, August 23. Don’t miss the fantastic work of four contemporary Korean artists who explore concepts of reality in new ways.

Free Fourth Friday: Take advantage of our monthly Free Fourth Friday to take a break from the heat! 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.

Coming Up: On their first visit to Los Angeles, the Taiwu Children’s Ancient Ballads Troupe will perform at Pacific Asia Museum on Wednesday, August 28 at 3 p.m.  accompanied by Grammy winner Daniel Ho. This group aims to preserve the culture of the Paiwan tribe of southern Taiwan through song. Great for adults and children alike!


“Revering our Elders” in the Pacific Islands

August 15, 2013

Pacific Island ObjectsIn addition to Chinese and Japanese objects, The Art of Continuity: Revering our Elders also contains traditional objects from the Pacific Islands. While the cultures differ in many ways, there are commonalities in the important role ancestors and spirits play in ritual settings.

Yam MasksThe objects featured from the Pacific Islands are closely linked to the religious ideas and social customs of the region.  These utilitarian and ritual objects reveal much about the belief systems to which they are related, and are deeply rooted in a reverence for ancestors. The souls of the deceased family members or important figures in tribes have been understood to have a great influence on the living. In addition, certain archetypal ancestor figures such as Father Sky and Mother Earth are also revered broadly. Therefore, various objects such as sculptures, dress, structures and weapons have been embellished with depictions of ancestral figures, either family members or respected members of their villages, to ensure their continuing guidance and protection. When such objects were activated through proper rituals and ceremonies, they could double as vessels which embodied deceased ancestors and forebears.

Yam MasksIn the Sepik River region of Papua New Guinea, yam masks are used in ceremonial contexts and during the annual yam festival. As a main staple in the regional diet, the yam has been venerated to invite abundant harvests and fertility in villages as well as for political and social order. During annual yam festivals, the largest yam would be decorated with a mask such as these, and this yam became the temporary abode of the ancestor spirit. The spirit would be invoked with songs, chants, dances and offerings. The male who grew the biggest yam of the harvest and dancers at male initiation ceremonies would also wear these masks to personify the spirit. This performance strengthened the connection between men, clan ancestors and yams, reaching back through the generations.

Ancestor statueMany sculptures and masks in human forms from Papua New Guinea portray deceased members of family or village elders. By revering communal ancestor spirits, people connect themselves with their larger community and establish shared identities, which have been considered equally, if not more, important than individual familial ties. Life-size ancestor figures such as this were prepared to accompany various ceremonies and rituals like male initiations and yam festivals. This figure embodies a male ancestral spirit, and was embellished with vibrant colors which are still visible in some areas of the sculpture. During ceremonies, such statues were further decorated with flowers and feathers, and after the ceremonies, were housed in the communal spirit house.

These objects are certainly worth a closer look in our exhibition. To learn more, see the exhibition page on our website. ~CM

Images:
Yam Mask, Papua New Guinea; Sepik River, 20th century, Vegetable fiber, pigment, Gift of Dr. Seymour Ulansey, 1982.148.11
Yam Mask, Papua New Guinea; Sepik River; Maprik Area, mid-20th century, Vegetable fiber, pigment, Gift of Harlan Givelber, 2002.6.1
Yam Mask, Papua New Guinea; Sepik River, early to mid-20th century, Vegetable fiber, pigment, Gift of Harlan Givelber, 2002.6.2
Yam Mask, Papua New Guinea; Sepik River, 20th century, Wood, pigment, Gift of Dr. John B. Ross, 2003.48.15
Yam Mask, Papua New Guinea; Sepik River, early 20th century, Wood, pigment, Gift of Harlan Givelber, 2000.40.6
Ancestor Figure, Papua New Guinea, early 20th century, Wood, pigment, Gift of Richard M. Cohen, 1984.87.13


This Week at Pacific Asia Museum: August 12-18

August 12, 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.

Last Chance: Our 2013 season of Fusion Fridays ends on Friday, August 16. You won’t want to miss a Chinese lion dance and a bhangra lesson on top of the usual food trucks, bar, activities and open galleries. More information here, and make sure to reserve your tickets on Eventbrite!

Docent tour: Every Saturday at 1 p.m., check out the highlights of our collection with a free docent-led tour. Even if you’ve taken the tour before, you’re sure to learn something new every time with our brilliant docents!

Coming Up: On their first visit to Los Angeles, the Taiwu Children’s Ancient Ballads Troupe will perform at Pacific Asia Museum on Wednesday, August 28 at 3 p.m.  accompanied by Grammy winner Daniel Ho. This group aims to preserve the culture of the Paiwan tribe of southern Taiwan through song. Great for adults and children alike!


Last Chance for Fusion Fridays!

August 8, 2013

Fusion FridaysOur popular summer series Fusion Fridays is coming to a close next Friday, August 16. It’s been a fantastic season so far, so let’s look at the highlights!

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In May, we kicked things off with an Indonesian shadow puppet show with live gamelan music. Sponsors Wells Fargo and Yelp! provided a fun photo booth for all to enjoy.

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In June, visitors were enthralled by the dramatic Maori haka warrior dance and other Pacific Island dances, with help from the crowd. Audience participation continued with Japanese festival summer dances.

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In July, we had a beautiful Thai dance performance followed by two Korean dances– one of which included not one, but THREE drums for each performer!

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At each evening, visitors also enjoyed the galleries, the evening’s crafts and activities, the food trucks, and the bar featuring our partner Angel City Brewery.

You won’t want to miss 2013’s last chance for late-night performances, activities, food trucks and more in our fabulous courtyard. On August 16, we’ll have a bhangra dance instructor teaching the latest moves from South Asia, and a Chinese lion dance performance. Look for another great photo booth courtesy of Wells Fargo, crafty activities, and more! Make sure to reserve your tickets in advance on Eventbrite! ~CM