Location: Seattle, Washington, United States

What you have here is an old guy. In education for 30 years, started teaching elementary, ended as library and media director of community college. I've enjoyed mountain climbing, sports car rallying, was pipe major of a bagpipe band, played guitar and sang during the folk revival, walking and hiking later in life. Now fairly sedentary. Enjoy reading, esp. mysteries and fantasy, but my reading is pretty eclectic. Enjoy movies, giving Netflix a workout.

Monday, January 31, 2005

Seattle Asian Art Museum

Sorry I've been missing for a few days. But I lead such a social life, you know. On Friday my wife had an appointment downtown and for some nefarious reason I had to accompany her. Afterward we had lunch and then I said that since we were already downtown we should visit the Seattle Asian Art Museum. Originally this was the main Seattle Art Museum in Volunteer Park. When the new museum was built in the heart of the downtown area, this museum, a couple of miles up the hill, became the Asian Art Museum. Seattle, being part of the Pacific Rim, and having a large Asian population, feels that Asian art is important. There is a permanent exhibit of Buddhist art, jade, furniture and pottery from various nations. But we always look forward to the ever changing exhibits.

The first was the work of a Korean potter, Yoon Kwang-Cho. A video display showed him working in his pottery. Often he works with large pieces, using the coil method. These pieces are not necessarily round pots. Sometime he works with three and four-sided pieces. One of my favorites in this show was a four-sided piece in white glaze with the Bhuddist Heart Sutra inscribed on it. Yoon said that he had to be very careful with this piece since he could not make any mistakes in the Korean lettering of the sutra. A wonderful exhibit with traditional round pots, pieces in the shape of stupas and very irregular three- and four-sided pieces, some of them quite large.

The other changing exhibit was of firemens' coat from the Edo period, 1615-1864. These coats were worn by the firemen when they were called to a fire. They were stitched together in as many as five layers, and then designs painted on them. Dragons, a 'go' game, floral designs, a depiction of a legend of a spider, all very beautiful. Several of the coats displayed were made of deer skin. The designs on them were made by applying paper to the skin, then smoking the leather. The leather darkened but where the paper was placed the skin would remain light. Often the firemen did not so much put our fires but rather tore down adjoining houses so the fire would not spread. There were as many as 24,000 fire fighters divided into eight brigades. They were called machi-bikeshi.

I can't close without mentioning my favorite piece, an almost life-sized sculpture of a Buddhist monk at the moment of enlightenment. His eyes are closed, there is a smile on his face, and his legs, instead of being in meditation posture, look as though they have been released to begin some happy dance. A piece that always brings a smile to my face.


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