Tuesday, February 20, 2018


Good news about 2 shows yesterday! "Mudcracks in the Canyon" was accepted for the Textiles exhibit, a SAQA Texas regional exhibit debuting at the Conference in San Antonio this April. And "Pods", "Tuning Fork #43" and "By the River" were juried into Escapades in Fiber, the Dallas Area Fiber Artists annual show. I'm honored to have been selected for these wonderful exhibits!
By the River, © 2017, 25"w x 23"h 
Mudcracks in the Canyon, ©2017, 32"w x 48"h
Pods, © 2017. 22"w x 17"h
Tuning Fork #43, © 2017, 12" x 12"

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Japan Part III - Museums

We had the opportunity to visit several museums in Tokyo and Kyoto during our visit.  The first was the Japan Folk Crafts Museum in Tokyo.  It is housed in a lovely traditional building in the middle of a residential neighborhood.  
The museum was showing a special exhibit of the works of Shiko Munakata and Soetsu Yanagi.  Munakata was a wood block artist, active during the Showa Period in Japan.  The work on display was mostly created after WWII.  It was an interesting blend of elegant traditional Japanese painting and mid-century modern design.  No pictures were allowed in the museum, but I photographed the poster showing one of his wood blocks:
Yanagi is credited as the founder of the folk craft movement in Japan in the 1920s and 1930s.  He collected a great deal of folk art and was the founder of the Folk Craft museum in 1936.  And he mentored Munakata.

It is a lovely building in an interesting neighborhood.  Well worth a visit if you are in Tokyo.
One of the highlights of the trip for me was a visit to the Itchiku Kubota Museum on the shores of Lake Kawaguchi, in Kawaguchi-ko at the foot of Mount Fuji.  In 2009, I saw an exhibition called "Symphony of Light" at the Canton Museum of Art in Canton, Ohio.  It was an amazing exhibit -- thirty-six kimonos arranged in a circle depicting the changing of the seasons, together creating a subtly changing landscape from winter through spring, summer, autumn and back to winter.  The artist was Itchiku Kubota, who is best known for reviving the art of fabric dyeing called tsujigahana (literally "flowers at the crossroads").  The technique was common in the 15th century, but it was horribly difficult and it had been lost.

I was very excited to be able to see more of his work.  And I wasn't disappointed.

The museum had a fabulous of view of Mount Fuji across Lake Kawaguchi:
The signpost and front gate:
Our guide told us that Kubota designed the museum buildings.  They are very modern, but somehow fit in with the landscape.  Here is the path leading to the front door:
The main entrance to the museum:
The main building viewed from the exhibition hall:
I loved the tea room in the back of the exhibition building.  It was originally Kubota's studio, and now is a tea room with a delightful view of a water fall:
The kimonos on display were from his "Blossoms" series.  I was very excited -- I hadn't seen them before.  No pictures were allowed in the exhibition hall, so this is from the pamphlet:
The "Symphony of Light" will be shown at the Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute in Utica, New York, this summer. Click here for more information.

In Kyoto, we visited the Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts, which according to its website showcases all 74 of the traditional Kyoto craft industries.  A very tall order!
It was a lovely day, and Natalie and I walked there after a workshop at the Kyoto Handicraft Center.  We were a bit late in the day, so we missed the demonstrations of shibori folding and kimono stitching, but we did get to see the exhibits.  And to shop in the extensive museum store.
In Kyoto we also visited the Nishijin Textile Center.  We walked through the small museum, watched  artisans demonstrating weaving, sewing and hand embroidery and browsed the (again) extensive gift shop. 
The highlight of a visit to the Textile Center is the Kimono Show.  It was pretty fabulous:
Coming Next:  Focus on food and culture.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Japan Part II - Shrines and Temples

No visit to Japan is complete without a visit to a Shinto Shrine and a Buddhist Temple or two.  They are beautiful places, simultaneously serene and peaceful and bustling and crowded.  Feasts for the eyes and for the soul.  

We started our tour of Japan at Asakusa, at the Asakusa Shrine and the adjacent Senso-Ji Temple.  This little guy was guarding the shrine:
Senso-Ji is the oldest Buddhist temple in Tokyo.  Is was very busy!
Inside the temple you could buy charms and talismans:
I loved this big lantern at Senso-Ji:
The grounds are pretty extensive.  The surrounding area is full of open air shops that are a lot of fun to browse.  And there are many beautiful buildings:
In Kyoto, we visited the Fushimi Inari Shrine, dedicated to Inari, the Shinto god of rice.
Foxes are thought to be the messengers of Inari, and there are many fox statues on the grounds.  This guy is holding a sheaf of rice:
This fox holds the key to the granary:
 The shrine features thousands of Torii gates leading up the mountain behind the shrine.  The vermilian gates were beautiful! One of my favorite colors.  I think this photo would make an excellent abstracted landscape:
Or this one:
We bought a few charms halfway up the mountain.  This one is supposed to bring me health, happiness and prosperity.  Certainly that is worth 500 yen!
The shrine was gorgeous.  And, once again, the grounds were jammed with people.  Many in kimonos.
We also visited the Golden Pavilion, known as Kinkaku-ji but officially called Rokuon-ji.  Originally a nobleman's villa, Kinkaku-ji is now a Buddhist temple.  The top two stories are covered with gold leaf, and it glows.  It is surrounded by stunning gardens and set on the shore of a small lake:
I loved the tea house.  Very minimalist.  A good contrast to the very showy Golden Pavilion:
In Kyoto, we also visited the Heian Shrine, also on extensive grounds with a beautiful lake and garden.
 Sake kegs -- offerings to the shrine:
At Shinto shrines you can buy a paper fortune.  It's a fun thing to do -- you make a donation, shake a can and the paper with your fortune pops out.  If you like your fortune, you keep it.  If you don't, you tie it on a rack or tree to ensure that it doesn't come true.  You have to love that kind of flexibility:
In Nara, we visited Todai-ji, a famous Buddhist temple set in Nara Deer Park.  Deer are considered messengers of the gods in Shinto religion, and in the park they are allowed to roam freely.  Perhaps a bit too freely.  At the entrance to the grounds there is a warning about the deer:
But, I thought, deer?  Aggressive?  How can that be?

And then I was attacked by a herd of hungry deer, fully expecting to be fed.  If you don't comply, they nip you on the backside.  Or grab your shirt and pull.  Or butt you on the leg.  Ask me how I know:
If they feel like cooperating, and you have food in your hand, they will bow for you.  It was pretty cute.  Almost made up for being attacked.

The temple itself was huge.  And no deer are allowed in the immediate vicinity, which made it very peaceful:
 I love the stone lanterns.  This one was immense:
The world's largest seated Buddha:
The temple was huge.  There were several other Buddhas:
And this Buddha outside on the porch.  He was dressed for inclement weather.  We were told to rub his knee or his pill box to cure our ailments.  Of course I did.  I'll let you know if it works:
In Nara, we also visited Kasuga-taisha, known for the bronze lanterns inside the shrine and the stone lanterns lining the paths and walkways of the shrine:
 More sake:
In Kyoto, Natalie and I were exploring a huge, bustling, noisy market in the middle of downtown.  At the end of the market, there was a shrine, the Nishiki Tenmangu Shrine.  It was lovely and serene after the chaos of the market:
The entrance from the shopping center was full of paper lanterns:
I bought charms at several shrines. They should cover me for prosperity, health, wisdom and safe travel:
Coming next:  Museums in Tokyo and Kyoto

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