While in Sri Lanka for extended Ayurveda treatment, and later rambling a bit, I met an earnest young artist named Rasika specializing in postcards, diligently hand-painted and reflecting visual motifs of his culturally unique homeland.
I, unsurprisingly, purchased many many postcards from him and struck up a friendship. He would come to my villa to work on paintings and I would sometimes visit him at his stand at the market in historic Fort Galle.
I mailed many of his postcards around the world so hope his spirit lives on refrigerators and in shoeboxes and scrapbooks as well as in hearts.
I purchased him a special ink stamp as a token of friendship and he also help me acquire a return address stamp.
Adding to my collection of precious items from Nick Bantock, writer of epistolary literature (noted for Griffin and Sabine series), fine artist of the finest – and exceptionally versatile –type, stamp maker (both inky and postal), and a font of wisdom and kindness.
As magnificent as this wrapping is, the contents were even more remarkable, to be shared under separate cover at some point.
Truthfully, I am partial to small/quirky/cozy museums and this was quite different… an expansive modern building with many many halls of exhibits (but only some were photo friendly) including (as i recall):
Impressional/post impressionist/modern art (Picasso, Chagall, Toulouse-Latrec, Klee, Munch et al)
Installation of an urban lonely-ish bar street corner complete with sound
An exhibit/installation involving various nets and recycled materials
Various giant friendly bears
A capsule hotel segment
Art made from packing/duct tape by (as I understand it a fellow who works as a custodian on site)
Another hall of modernist art (Pollock, Dali, Miro…)
A few other installation rooms (a rather disorienting as was the purpose)
An incredible collection by an art benefactor of her magazines, prints, brochures, books and what not
A collection of 20th century chairs and posters (not about chairs), like high design chairs you *must not* sit upon these chairs (they are not comfortable and on display) – showing the great print / industrial design sense of modern Japan
And (my favourite) a collection of items given to a Japanese poet, art critic, artist Shuzo Takiguchi by his other artist friends (like a load of big timers and worldwide interesting cats), all “bric a brać” and seemingly simple one-off creations and sorta – at-first-glance – rather “nonsensical except for the source” items (seemed like was going into my head/archive, exhibit was called “Shop of Objects” or “Notes about things”
Another permanent collection from a benefactor couple called Goldberg
Also a ‘hands-on” Atelier area, a library, and long halls of upcoming and legacy items (including interactive panels)
As usual, purchased a museum/exhibit guide at the gift shop as well as other postcards and artefacts but really it was quite overwhelming and required some fresh air and a café visit at the end.
I mean besides mentioned already, in the collection were Henry Moore, Jasper Johns, Henri Matisse, Andy Warhol’s Marilyn x4, Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp… goes on and on… plus loads of contemporary-ish Japanese artists i wasn’t familiar with so was great to see *not the usual classic Japanese art* styles.
Especially interesting a Japanese-French painter called Tsuguhara Foujita (aka Léonard Foujita) with “Two Nudes” from 1929 made me curious about how he came to be there and who he collaborated with.
Though I have the exhibit guidebook, I am not going to annotate all these photos, just let them flow, gently assembled. [Update: went out to the archive and pulled out the “Selected Works from the Collection”book, so heaven help me, gonna add notes where i can… oh geez, even looked up the exhibits from 2019], on we go:
Aside note: the guide book shows the staff uniforms for Spring 2019 were designed by Issey Miyake (who at this writing in Summer 2022, has recently passed away with a legacy of importancy and acclaim).
As such, while visiting with Hongo-sensei on Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa-ken, amongst the other activities including a fishing/ whaling/Marine Museum, an early morning fish market / auction, the dismembering and preparation of an ankou fish, a picnic on the beach…, we visited Miwakai ruins with well-preserved archeological history from the Jomon period.
While obviously not original, there was a great recreation of Jomon-era housing with fire-pit and various accruements.
the time in Japanese prehistory, traditionally dated between c. 14,000–300 BCE, during which Japan was inhabited by a diverse hunter-gatherer and early agriculturalist population united through a common Jōmon culture, which reached a considerable degree of sedentism and cultural complexity
The museum building was very interesting and both shape and contrast to the contents which were rustic pottery, natural building materials and organic art whereas the structure was a brick cylinder with various halls attached.
And, along the way, made a top at a remarkable “scenic waystation” in Niigate-ken which commemorated a unique piece of Japan geography which (in brief): in olden times posed an incredible challenge to pass from one region to the other because of steep mountains and minimal coastline/headlands.
As such, travellers *could* risk going right along the coast at low tide but the distance was too great to travel without getting swept out to sea,. Later, a variety of pathways were constructed along the side of the mountain, rather treacherous to say the least, especially when carrying cargo. The area, now popular for hiking and exploring also showed evidence of pedestrian tunnels and other engineering marvels.
As “modern times” came along, new roads were built including the highway now clearly visible built on pilings high above the sea and skirting the coast line. Driving along it later was quite a ride, felt like a playland attraction of sorts as we “levitated” after the crashing waves of the Sea of Japan as well as going through extensive modern tunnels.
This esteemed gentleman was largely the driving force for introducing the concept of Zen Buddhism to the “west” in contemporary times. He spoke several languages and traveled widely, certainly influencing notable figures as Alan Watts and Gary Snyder and possibly you.
The museum is a modern, rendered concrete designed by Yoshio Taniguchi largely assembled rectangles with a water courtyard with large windows playing with light against the garden.
As one might expect, lots of space for contemplation throughout the buildings, long empty hallways, simple signage, a few large pictures and wonderful scrolls.
Primary aims were to visit friends, stay at all manner of accommodations and see loads of museums, especially, spontaneous, small-ish and quirky if possible.
As such, in the town of Obuse, Nagano-ken, we made a stop at a museum for the famous print block artist, Hokusai. His name may not be as recognizable as his work (yup, that big wave from the “37 views of Mt Fuji” series) the museum (current exhibit anyhow) didn’t really pack in the well-know pieces but rather focused on his work making soerta pre-cursors to manga comics with endless “clip art” doodles, characters and life shape studies.
The museum wasn’t “photo friendly” (that’s fine) but including a few atmospheric snaps to recall that “yes, we went here”. As usual loaded up at the gift shop (so many postcards and books!). Pardons for underwhelming post (we did get tasty dessert afterwards nearby)
Field Notesregarding exhibit/museum/gallery/garden dossiers:
These posts, such as they are, are for recollection, inspiration, reference and possible remixing. I say this to remind myself these round-ups are not meant to be textbooks, comprehensive guides, analysis – critical or otherwise, or a “master’s thesis”. So much goodness in these exhibits – whether grand and well-funded museums or (my favourite) grassroots operations, or even spontaneous art around the edges in unexpected circumstances – that i enjoy archiving.
Also noting often, museums have a “no photo” policy and of course, art and artifacts are best experienced in-person, or with fine reproductions at least, so consider my humble dossirs as a stand-in, in the meanwhile, with a special eye to shut-ins and other who have a hard time getting out and about.
As such, these round-ups will be lightly annotated with usually (just) the name of the museum, possible circumstance and/or approximate date of the visit, possible link to museum website and or map for your reference and then a flow of photos.
I almost always buy museum exhibit books, as well as many other items from the gift shop, so if you have any specific questions about any of the pieces displayed, please leave a comment and I’ll do my best to add some additional colour commentary – no guarantees.
Basics about Shinse Kinenkan:
This culture and folk art museum in Kanazawa, Ishikawa-ken (visited on our Shinkonryoko Ramble in May/June 2019) was wonderfully charming. Notably, was inexpensive (came with commemorative ticket) with cozy/comfortable feeling coming from a real community effort with volunteers on hand. The neighbourhood around was exceptional with loads of small museums, teahouses and historic lane ways to wander (additional stops referenced below), and much less hectic compared to “the old capital” :).
The first floor features the re-created apothecary of a traditional Japanese/Chinese pharmacy (as such, special dedication to my dear friend TCM Dr. Trevor) plus, in the back, a tearoom where Basho the haiku poem visited (dude was everywhere) and other rooms filled with handicrafts. The upstairs more art and artefacts from the historic neighbourhood in Kanazawa.