Sunday, December 16, 2012

"The Art of the People"

Recently, we visited the Mingei International Museum in San Diego's Balboa Park. It is dedicated to the understanding and appreciation of "art of the people" (mingei) from all cultures of the world; this art shares a direct simplicity and reflects a joy in making, by hand, useful objects of timeless beauty that are satisfying to the human spirit.

At the entrance to the museum is a sculpture by Niki de Saint Phalle entitled "Poet and Muse." It was created in 1998 from glass, stones, mirrors and polyester and depicts a male poet with a female muse on his shoulders, his arms transforming into her legs.

"Poet and Muse" is a tribute to the creative process that drives the folk artists and craftspeople whose works are on exhibit at the Mingei.

One current exhibit, entitled "Nature, Tradition, and Innovation," featured comtemporary Japanese ceramics and each featured item bears a “profound connection to and dialogue with nature.

"This natural inspiration is further evoked by the landscape imagery of photographer and ceramics dealer Taijiro Ito. The photographer and museum staff carefully paired each piece with a print to highlight its wabi-sabi, a Japanese aesthetic emphasizing the beauty and acceptance of the transient, imperfect or incomplete.

“'It’s not meant to be literal, but wonderful suggestions of nature,' said the Mingei’s director, Rob Sidner, standing before a vase (above) by Kaku Hayashi inspired by the Kegon Falls (left) in Nikko National Park.

“'It evokes in pottery the dynamic cascade of water down the rock wall,' he said" (Pat Sherman of the Union-Tribune, news).

Another pairing involved this bowl by Kako Katsumi (below)

and this photograph by Ito.

This piece of Karatsu ware, entitled "Ancient Tree," by Sukurec Okamoto was paired with

this Ito photo.

The pairings of ceramic piece and photograph were quite intriguing.

This oribe ware platter by Ando Hidetake found its match in the Ito photograph.

By the time we reached this Shigaraki vase by Satoshi Arakawa, I was imagining what the paired photograph would show.

I really liked this vase,

but even though I did not guess this scene, I think it was a worthy pairing.

As we moved on to other parts of this ceramics exhibit, I was drawn to this stoneware work by Yukiya Izumita. From this view, I would not have guessed that it was a vase, but a different view revealed its use--a Sekisoh Flower Vase.

We thought the display of the ceramics was nagnificent. The lighting, the display pillars, and the room's layout combined to provide a pleasing display. The room's colors provided a soothing background for the pottery and photographs.

The sake cups by Shuhei Fujioka (left), Yoshitake Hasu (right), and
Shinya Tanoue (below) were beautiful.
Finally, the Bizen ware piece by Naoki Yokoyama needed some flowers to convince me that this striking piece of pottery was also a functional flower vase.
And this was only the first exhibition room.

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