Nothing as exciting as Aaron’s day (his neighbor’s apartment burned down) but I had a pretty good day today-
First, when Diane went to work (her project is behind schedule) I ate seriously about a pound of “European style” (raw and salted) salmon Rachel shipped me from Seattle. I played some videogames and worked a little on my taxes (hear that ticking sound? Like a time bomb? That is your taxes) and then headed to Sunnyvale to visit my mom-
Mom and Bob and I went to The Barefoot Coffee Roasting Company in Santa Clara, which was totally awesome. The baristas are real artisans there- look at the beautiful foam pattern on the cafe latte on their home page. Very very nice.
I had one of their special drinks, a “Voodoo” which is a cafe latte with coconut milk. They have a special called “The Whim of the Barista” in which the barista on duty… makes whatever they feel like! One that has gotten rave reviews is the Wasabi latte, and is only made by a particular barista (“Eugenia”). She was out competing in Seattle at a barista contest today, so I was out of luck- according to her coworkers, she tends to be in in the mornings. Apparently there is another barista who makes a curried latte.
Afterwards, we went to the Palo Alto Art Center for the three-part exhibit on various Japanese items from the Edo period (The exhibit runs from January 28, 2005 – April 24, 2005).
The first segment, Moving Cabinetry: Tansu from the Zenter Collection, was a collection of tansu– essentially wooden boxes used to hold and often transport posessions. I’ve seen a lot of tansu in antique stores recently, and some really cheesey fake ones at some of the furniture stores.
These tansu from the Zentner Collection were nice in that not only were they excellent examples of cabinetry, which personally doesn’t get me all that excited by itself, but most of the pieces had lots of lucky symbols worked into the iron hardware embedded into the wood- pine, chrysanthemums, lucky gods, peaches, and family crests. Also the guards on the keyholes were interesting; a variety of warded lock with a rotating piece in the center; presumably as a precaution against compromising the lock. Some of these boxes had secret compartments.
Historically, tansu are interesting by themselves, because previously the only people who would be able to afford these things or even have enough possessions to need them, were the members of the nobility. However, in the Edo period, with the rise of the merchant class, suddenly there was a new middle class with disposable income, as well as a need to transport large amounts of goods around.
The second part of the exhibit, Spring Pool/Floating Sky: In Praise to Indigo, was made up of various things dyed with indigo. Sort of a weak theme…. some of the pieces were modern, and not very interesting to me… one thing I learned about was the incredibly anal-retentive technique of ikat, where you dye the fibers BEFORE you weave them into cloth. Yeesh.
The third part, The Gift: Surimono Prints from Bay Area Collections, was a surimono exhibit. Surimono always look like napkins to me… they are little woodblock prints, usually with a poem written next to them. They tend to commemorate something- but they were made for private occaisions, instead of big releases. It’s like having a private hallmark card. My favorites of course were the ones with obake in them. There was one with a tengu and another one which had the rabbit in the moon, in a visual pun with a prostitute in the foreground (“white rabbit” = prostitute).
I was thinking… there is a lot of art that has languished because artists are only looking for big-ticket work- and maybe I could revive some of this high-labor art piece industry by commissioning small things like this from starving local artists or even from artists farther away where the cost of living is lower.
Samir was saying that some of what causes the diminishing of art is the intention of artists to appeal to a large market- most of these works were for small audiences, even a single person in the case of some of the surimono on display. I think I agree with him.
You know what is incredibly stupid? While we were looking at the tansu I was thinking I had heard of the Zentner Collection before… my mother, who has been following art for decades, had never heard of it. I couldn’t figure out where I had heard of it before… then tonight I realized- I see it every day. It’s an antique store/gallery on my way to work. They have open houses at least every week, and I drove all the way to Palo Alto to see some of their pieces. Duh!