A rollicking mixed-media revue of a groundbreaking exhibit in Japan featuring a stunningly-reproduced facsimile of the taped-together sc/roll manuscript of what became Jack Kerouac’s seminal, counter-culture-sparking novel “On The Road.”
Blurb: A lively conversation between storymaker Dave Olson and with Professor & President of Beat Studies Assoc., Matt Theado of Kobe City University Dept of Foreign Studies, at BB Plaza Art Museum in Kobe, Japan, summer of 2021 after the event was delayed for a year for *public health conundrums* and re-imagined to include a truly remarkable collection of ephemera, chapbooks, broadsides, posters, typewrtier, records, various editions of On the Road, related book, maps, Japanese language glossary and much more – most provided by Kazu-san of Flying Books of Tokyo.
The fast-placed video includes many artifacts from the exhibit and from the host’s life of travels and evidence of “living beat” to connect the experience to *anyone’s* life (that means “you” if you choose).
Logistics of creating the”authorized forgery/reproduction” of the noted taped-together original manuscript & how the original plan of bringing the original manuscript (and Mr. Jim Canary) was thwarted
The symposium of writers, scholars, translators held at Kobe City University of Foreign Studies (YT archive)
Observations about Jack’s process in writing the work (and dispelling the myth of a benzadrine-induced manic type-athon) including the importance of “working with you got,” notebooks, list taking, knowing where you are going
How he immediately re-typed on “regular paper”, changing names and making ready for publication
Scenes of life of America in transition at the time, the embrace of bohemian culture
In April 2021, we visited a shodo calligraphy exhibition at a saké distillery with special floral arrangements made by Ryoko’s frequent collaborator in arboristing & other natural arts, Oka-san (true salt of the earth tough guy with a deep gravel voice, leathered by perpetual smoking with a heart of gold and an artistic sense of nuance and splendour), who showed us around – along with his wonderful young daughter Momoka.
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.
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.
Catching up on my/our miraculous life, yonder back in December 2021 amidst preparation for Christmas and a few of their ongoing projects, we went to see an exhibit of one of our favourite artists, Noriko Miyake who is just about to head out for creative sojourn in Paris.
The exhibit was in a great coffee shop in which was on board with placemats, menus, table flags and other treats to make the exhibit completely immersive. There was even art hanging in the toilet (yup, we purchased one, a wild collage) and in the hallways (yup bought one from there as well, a sort of jellyfish kite).
Then, you climb a very steep dangerous staircase (watch your head! gonk!) and head into a room FILLED with painted, stuffed and sewn vulvas, yup! Cozy up and lounge in the splendor. We all enjoyed and have one at home now.
The Hash Marihuana and Hemp Museum in Barcelona (also in Amsterdam) is featuring an exhibit called “Cannabis Japonica – A fashionable journey through Japan’s cultural ties with the cannabis plant” on display until 26/02/2023
I was invited by curator Ferenz Jacobs to contribute some stories and items from my extensive archive and numerous essays to which i readily agreed (though my work/research is not currently active/ambitious though i have a few lines of investigation for *some other time*).
Blurb: The highlight of the Barcelona Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum’s 10th anniversary celebrations will be the exhibition “Cannabis Japonica”. On view from May 12, 2022 to February 26, 2023, the presentation leads visitors on a fashionable and fascinating journey through Japan’s cultural ties with the cannabis plant.
A well-known Japanese children’s adventure story tells of a technique used by ninjas to improve their jumping skills. The student ninja plants a batch of hemp when he begins training and endeavours to leap over it every day. At first, this is no challenge, but every day the hemp grows quickly – and so must the ninja’s jumping ability. By the end of the growing season, the warrior can clear the 3 to 4-metre high hemp.