This Week at Pacific Asia Museum: September 30- October 6

September 30, 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.

Storytime: Join storyteller Sunny Stevenson on Saturday, October 5 at 10:30 a.m. for stories from Korea, plus play a traditional game, make a craft and enjoy a snack. Free and open to the public.

Curator’s Tour: On Saturday, October 5 at 2 p.m., don’t miss the chance to get a closer look at the art of Focus on the Subject: The Art of the Harari Collection as curatorial staff lead a special tour of the exhibition, which demonstrates how Japanese artists shared their appreciation for a range of subjects.

Mid-Autumn Moon Celebration: On Sunday, October 6, enjoy traditional dance and musical performances, Shaolin kung fu, crafts, calligraphy and painting demonstrations, tea and mooncake samples plus historical Chinese costume dress up. A full schedule and a link to discounted tickets is on our website, and learn more about Mid-Autumn festival traditions in our recent blog post.

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New Contemporary Art in the new Chinese Gallery

September 26, 2013
Miao Xiaochun Beijing Hand Scroll 08.024.25B detail

Miao Xiaochun, Beijing Hand Scroll 08.024.25B (detail)

Back in June, the Collectors’ Circle of Pacific Asia Museum voted to purchase two contemporary Chinese works at their Annual Purchase Dinner. Specifically considered with our Chinese Gallery renovation in mind, these new works demonstrate how artists have responded to and reinterpreted traditions throughout history.

Ballots cast by the Collectors’ Circle members selected Beijing Hand Scroll 08.04.25B (2007-2009) by Miao Xiaochun (top) and a new work by Bovey Lee in her Vase series.

Qingming Festival

Along the River during the Qingming Festival. Click to enlarge. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Miao Xiaochun Beijing Hand Scroll 08.024.25B

Miao Xiaochun, Beijing Hand Scroll 08.024.25B. Click to enlarge.

Miao Xiaochun’s respect for and delight in the revered hand scroll Along the River during the Qingming Festival by the Song dynasty painter Zhang Zeduan (1085-1145) (above) inspired his Beijing Hand Scroll series. Miao was born in Wuxi, Jiangsu Province, China, and lives and works in Beijing. His work shows the continuing impact of prior centuries of Chinese art history on the most cutting-edge of contemporary artists. He is known for playing with exaggerated scale in other works, and with this series creates images that frequently reach widths of close to 4 meters. Our newly acquired work has a visual rhythm that echoes the earlier hand scroll, while capturing today’s Beijing: hutong are demolished to make way for new construction, migrant workers rest in the streets under propaganda posters, and alley ways are choked with cars and urban debris.

Bovey Lee, C[ouch]

Bovey Lee, C[ouch]. Click to enlarge.

Bovey Lee, born in Hong Kong and residing in Pennsylvania, pays homage to her cultural nexus through the paper-cut, a well-known Chinese folk art. In spite of her Vase series’ seemingly clear connection to traditional practice, she challenges and complicates the genre with  themes like the tension between man and the environment in the context of sacrifice and survival–an issue that is present throughout the world today, especially in contemporary China. Pacific Asia Museum has was pleased to receive a new work from this series titled Vase-C[ouch], which brings together the landscapes of the natural world and contemporary urbanism.

Miao Xiaochun’s piece will be on view in our new Chinese Gallery when it opens to the public on Friday, October 18. The new gallery will take the same thematic approach as our Introductory Gallery and Gallery of Korean Art– this particular work will reside in the “Tradition and Innovation” section, which combines contemporary and historic art to demonstrate how artists have referenced the past in their own work. Mark your calendar for opening day, and if you’re a member, don’t miss the Members’ Opening on October 17. More on our website here. ~CM


This Week at Pacific Asia Museum: September 23-29

September 23, 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.

Free Friday: It’s the fourth Friday of the month, and you know what that means– free admission all day! Make the most of your visit by dropping in on our 30-minute docent-led tours at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

…and Free Saturday: We’re participating in the Smithsonian’s Museum Day Live! on Saturday, September 28. Tickets are required, so make sure you get yours here.

Dress up for a good cause: Our annual Festival of the Autumn Moon gala is celebrating Korea this year– we’re sold out, but if you’re lucky enough to have tickets, you can explore the live and silent auction catalog on the Festival website.


Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!

September 19, 2013

mooncakeToday marks the 15th day in the 8th lunar month of the year, which means many cultures throughout Asia are celebrating. This date marks the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox, and is celebrated with harvest festivals in many parts of Asia. These festivals are usually celebrated as a family or community holiday, when all come together to share traditional food and spend time with each other.

Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋節, also known as Moon Festival or Mooncake Festival) is celebrated in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. You may be familiar with the dense mooncakes traditionally given as gifts during this time, which involve a rich pastry crust usually filled with an egg yolk (symbolizing a full moon) and red bean or lotus seed paste. These cakes are given to friends, family and coworkers in the days leading up to the holiday. Lion dances and dragon dances are also common in parades and community celebrations, and bright lanterns adorn houses, temples and city squares.

Dragon Dance

A dragon dance performed at Pacific Asia Museum.

The tale most commonly associated with the Mid-Autumn Festival is that of Chang-e, the moon goddess. While there are many different versions, one common story begins with the couple as immortals living in heaven. Houyi is an expert archer, and when the ten sons of the Jade Emperor transform into ten suns, scorching Earth, Houyi shoots down all but one. The Jade Emperor is furious and banishes them to Earth as mortals, and Houyi goes on a quest to regain immortality. He finds it in the form of a pill which he brings home and hides. Chang’e discovers the pill and swallows it, and flies to the moon (in certain versions, she’s fleeing her angry husband. In others, he tries and fails to save her from floating away). Houyi is devastated and builds himself a palace on the sun, and once a year can visit Chang’e on the moon– a day celebrated as the Moon Festival.

In Vietnam today, the Mid-Autumn Festival also references the Chang-e story and involves similar traditions as in China, though historically the holiday originated as a festival to honor the mythical dragon who brought rain for crops. In addition to practices shared with the Chinese, there is a special emphasis on children during this holiday (Tết Trung Thu in Vietnamese). The community plans a number of activities for children that day, including crafts, parades and performances in which the children participate. Adults also give children small presents for the occasion.

Chuseok gift sets

Chuseok gift sets for sale in Korea. Source: hojusaram on Flickr.

In Korea, Chuseok (추석) is celebrated on the same day of the lunar calendar as the Mid-Autumn Festival. As in China and Vietnam, families spend this holiday together, and traditionally thank their ancestors for the harvest. Games, sport and dances accompany other traditions including visiting ancestors’ graves to remove weeds and offer special food for the occasion. One particularly important dish is songpyeon, a dumpling of sorts made of rice and filled with sesame, red bean, chestnut or other ingredients. These are steamed on pine needles, which give the songpyeon a distinctive flavor (and fill the home with the scent of fall). Families will often make these together, emphasizing the importance of family during this holiday. Koreans will also exchange gifts, though not usually of mooncakes– cookies, fruit, gift sets and even Spam are popular.

Want to experience Mid-Autumn Festival for yourself? On Sunday, October 6, we’re holding a celebration in partnership with Chinese Culture Development Center complete with performances, food, crafts and more. This event is free for members and included with admission for non-members– discounted advance tickets are available here! ~CM


Ask a Curator on Twitter Tomorrow, September 18

September 17, 2013

photoAre you on Twitter? If you are, you won’t want to miss tomorrow’s worldwide #AskACurator day. Pacific Asia Museum curators Bridget and Yeonsoo are joining curators from over 500 museums all over the world to answer your questions. Want to know their favorite object backstory, how we protect our collection, or what that symbol on your grandma’s vase means? Tweet it to @PacAsiaMuseum with #AskACurator for the answers! Our Assistant Curator Yeonsoo Chee will be taking your questions from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. PST, followed by Curator Bridget Bray from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. PST. 

Check out the full list of participating museums here.


This Week at Pacific Asia Museum: September 16-22

September 16, 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.

Haiku: Practice counting your syllables and so much more! The Southern California Haiku Study Group holds its monthly meeting on Saturday, September 21 at 2 p.m. All are welcome!

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: Our monthly Silk Road Storytime series continues on Saturday, October 5 at 10:30 a.m. Sunny Stevenson will share Korean stories this month along with a craft and snacks. Free and open to all!


Contemporary Art in “The Garden in Asia”

September 13, 2013

"Katsura Kyoto" by Kiyoshi SaitoAs you’re enjoying the contemporary works in Constructed Visions, don’t forget that there are several more contemporary works throughout our galleries. In The Garden in Asia, you can find two wonderful contemporary Japanese works on paper that complement the more traditional objects that surround them.

In the section “The Garden’s Ambiance,” you’ll see objects that convey the artist’s appreciation of how nature can elicit emotion. Whether meditative, imaginative or wistful, emotions can be communicated by the artist through his or her depiction of a space. The two contemporary pieces in this section are no exception– both reference specific spaces in Kyoto that elicit contemplation.

Katsura Imperial Villa in Kyoto has been widely recognized for its extraordinary garden and pavilion designs. Set in wooded surroundings and commissioned by Prince Toshitito (1579-1629), the complex expresses the idea of rustic simplicity. Each garden in Katsura Villa makes a reference to real or mythical landscapes in its design. Depicted here is the garden surrounding Shokin-tei, or Pine Lute Pavilion, and its distinct features include the “rocky shore,” shown as the white pathway to the villa here. It was laid out with carefully chosen white pebbles to evoke the long sand spit of Amanohashidate, one of the most famous of Japan’s scenic spots. The view from the villa could have served to facilitate meditation, bringing the viewer in touch with the illusion of alluded landscape.

Kiyoshi Saito successfully conveyed the minimalist aesthetic of the tea house and its garden in this simple composition, seen at top. Gardens such as this were created for viewing pleasure as well as to be a place for reflection and spiritual refreshment. While looking at this garden, one could empty his or her mind of worldly concerns, or gain spiritual energy from a quiet contemplation.

"Stone Garden in Kyoto" by Masayoshi KasugaiStones have a special place in East Asian gardens. The Chinese have long valued scholar’s rocks for their natural beauty as well as symbolic meaning, and the museum’s garden features several fine examples. Although the idea of including stones and rocks in the garden was borrowed from Chinese prototypes, the Japanese further developed the idea of karesansui, or dry landscape, in which stones became the main material of the garden landscape. Karesansui, literally meaning ‘dry mountains and water,’ at its early stage metaphorically stood for rocks, waterfalls, streams and ponds. During the medieval or feudal period (1185-1603) in Japan when Zen Buddhism gained popularity among the elite class, rock gardens had more philosophical and spiritual associations. Compared to gardens with lush greenery and blooming flowers, the harsh and ascetic appearance of the stone gardens was thought to better represent the rigorous spiritual process of Zen meditation.

Masayoshi Kasugai, a master papermaker and fiber artist, conveyed the dry and arid surface of a stone garden onto his canvas with this collage of hand-dyed mulberry fibers. By presenting layered rocks in a folding screen format, Kasugai creatively replicated the spatial composition of the karesansui with slopes and hills.

You might also remember another contemporary woodblock print in this exhibition– Noriaki Okamoto’s Ginkakuji, which was mentioned in a previous post. Viewed alongside works that are substantially older, these contemporary works show that the garden and nature continue to influence artists today. When you visit this exhibition, make sure to visit Pacific Asia Museum’s own courtyard garden, and see how you’re inspired too! ~CM

Kiyoshi Saito (1907-1997), Katsura Kyoto, Japan, 1956, Woodblock print on paper, Gift of Peter Ries, Pacific Asia Museum Collection, 2002.37.6

Masayoshi Kasugai (b. 1921), Stone Garden in Kyoto, Japan, 1952, Paper collage, Gift of Margot and Hans Ries, Pacific Asia Museum Collection, 1986.78.1