Art in Havana, Cuba

The entrance to the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes featuring Arte Cubano (Cuban Art), Havana, Cuba

The entrance to the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes featuring Arte Cubano (Cuban Art), Havana, Cuba

 

On our first day in Havana we had the opportunity to focus on the art and architecture of Havana, mostly in the Central District and Old Havana.  Our first stop was at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de La Habana where we had an excellent English-speaking Museum employee give us a 90-minute overview of the collection.  After a very good lunch featuring local cuisine at Paladar San Cristobal (pictured in earlier blog posts), we did a walking tour of old Havana (including the Ambos Mundos Hotel, home to Ernest Hemingway for seven years in the 1930s – see an upcoming blog post) and then visited the Lizt Alfonso Dance Academy for private performances by both young students and members of the professional dance troupe.  The next day I wandered around Cathedral Square and discovered the printmaking academy, Taller Experimental de Gráfica.  Our group that afternoon also visited several modern art galleries where we had the opportunity to discuss the contemporary art scene with some of the local artists.

 

A contemporary sculpture (that visitors can walk trough) constructed out of metal espresso pots at the entrance to the museum_s café, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Havana, Cuba

A contemporary sculpture (that visitors can walk trough) constructed out of metal espresso pots at the entrance to the museum’s café, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Havana, Cuba

 

“The National Museum of Fine Arts of Havana (Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de La Habana) in Havana, Cuba is a museum of Fine Arts that exhibits Cuban art collections from the colonial times up to contemporary generations.  It was founded on February 23, 1913 due to the efforts of its first director, Emoilio Heredia, a well-known architect.  After frequent moves it was finally placed on the block once occupied by the old Colon Market.  In 1954, a new Palacio of Bellas Artes was opened, designed by the architect Rodriguez Pichardo.  The original 1954 Palacio was recently reconstructed by the architect Jose Linares and a second building was taken over for the Museum… The Palacio de Bellas Artes (Palace of Fine Arts) is dedicated exclusively to housing Cuba Art collections.  Spanning the 17th and 19th centuries has rooms devoted to landscape, religious subjects and the Costumbrismo narrative scenes of Cuban life.  Gallery devoted to the 1970s is marked by a preponderance of Hyperrealism and the latest generation of Cuban artists whose works all reflect the strong symbolic imagery that has been prevalent in recent decades.  The most notable works are those of René Portocarrero and Wilfredo Lam.  A modernist sculpture by noted Cuban artist Rita Lonja stands outside the main entrance.” — Wikipedia

 

The interior courtyard of the contemporary Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Havana, Cuba

The interior courtyard of the contemporary Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Havana, Cuba

 

A street artist in Old Havana, Havana, Cuba

A street artist in Old Havana, Havana, Cuba

 

Young dancers in training gave us a performance at their studio at Lizt Alfonso Academy, Havana, Cuba

Young dancers in training gave us a performance at their studio at Lizt Alfonso Academy, Havana, Cuba

 

One of the professional members of the Lizt Alfonso Dance Troupe in a special performance for a small group of us in Havana, Cuba

One of the professional members of the Lizt Alfonso Dance Troupe in a special performance for a small group of us in Havana, Cuba

 

“It’s always a hot night in Havana wherever and whenever Lizt Alfonso Dance Cuba performs.  In her ‘Cuba Vibra!,’ Ms. Alfonso’s Havana-based company, in only 95 minutes, will celebrate the development of Cuban music and dance from the 1950s to the present with the aid of 18 dancers and an onstage big band.  The troupe, founded by Ms. Alfonso in 1991 as an all-female group, now includes men.  What hasn’t changed is Ms. Alfonso’s desire to present a kaleidoscopic fusion of ballet, flamenco, cha-cha, rumba, bolero and salsa dance in a theatrical manner that emphasizes ensemble unity: The feelings may be boisterous, but all steps interlock in perfect synchronization.  This is dancing with precise abandon.” – Jack Anderson, New York Times, 4 November 2015

 

The professional dancers of the Lizt Alfonso Dance Troupe in a special performance, Havana, Cuba

The professional dancers of the Lizt Alfonso Dance Troupe in a special performance, Havana, Cuba

 

A contemporary modern sculpture on the sidewalk in Old Havana, Havana, Cuba

A contemporary modern sculpture on the sidewalk in Old Havana, Havana, Cuba

 

A printmaker at Taller Experimental de Gráfica, located at the end of a short cul-de-sac by the Cathedral in Havana, Cuba

A printmaker at Taller Experimental de Gráfica, located at the end of a short cul-de-sac by the Cathedral in Havana, Cuba

 

“Printmaking in Cuba dates back to the 18th century with the illustration of saints and shields, enriched in the 19th century with vignettes of sugar mills and local customs, travelers’ albums, and the dressings on cigars.  In 1959, printmaking became a subject in the art education system, becoming an independent specialty.  In July 1962, the experimental printmaking workshop [Taller Experimental de Gráfica] on Plaza de la Catedral was established by Cuban artist Orlando Suárez and Chilean painter José Venturelli using old printing stones and machinery that had been used for cigar decorations.  Since its beginnings, the workshop focused purely on artistic projects and has been open to the most important Cuban printmakers, who have carried out an intensive work of creation and experimentation, a crucial factor in the boost experienced by the art of printmaking at present.  The small Galería del Grabado upstairs sells excellent, non-touristy prints, including etchings, lithographs, woodcuts and collagraphs.  The workshop also offers courses on traditional lithography (using stone), woodcuts, and etchings (using metal).  Courses for foreigners come highly recommended and include one-on-one instruction by highly specialized professors and all supplies.  Expect to pay around $250 for a month-long course and less for shorter periods.” – www.lahabana.com

 

A second printmaker at Taller Experimental de Gráfica, Havana. Cuba

A second printmaker at Taller Experimental de Gráfica, Havana. Cuba

 

A contemporary print of dancers displayed outdoors at a gallery in Old Havana, Havana, Cuba

A contemporary print of dancers displayed outdoors at a gallery in Old Havana, Havana, Cuba

 

A contemporary conglomerate “metropolis” metal sculpture at a private, modern art gallery in Havana, Cuba

A contemporary conglomerate “metropolis” metal sculpture at a private, modern art gallery in Havana, Cuba

 

Another contemporary metal sculpture at one of the modern art galleries that we visited before a rum and cigar tasting one afternoon in Havana, Cuba

Another contemporary metal sculpture at one of the modern art galleries that we visited before a rum and cigar tasting one afternoon in Havana, Cuba

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2017 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Music and Art in Trinidad, Cuba

On the streets, the first group we encountered was “Los Pimos”, playing traditional Cuban music, Trinidad, Cuba; like music groups around the world, they were selling their CDs, in a

On the streets, the first group we encountered was “Los Pimos”, playing traditional Cuban music, Trinidad, Cuba; like music groups around the world, they were selling their CDs, in addition to seeking tips

 

We had the opportunity to hear quite a bit of Cuban (think “Buena Vista Social Club”) and Afro-Cuban music in Trinidad as we walked around town, as well as a performance featuring Afro-Cuban music and dance at Casa de la Música.  On the street we were greeted by musicians all around town, and many groups were playing in paladares and bars.  We stopped in several art galleries featuring local artists in varied media, all reflecting the local culture and traditions.

 

The most interesting art we saw was in this gallery by a local woman who told her stories through teapots (metal sculptures), Trinidad, Cuba

The most interesting art we saw was in this gallery by a local woman who told her stories through teapots (metal sculptures), Trinidad, Cuba

 

The teapot theme continued in watercolors, Trinidad, Cuba

The teapot theme continued in watercolors, Trinidad, Cuba

 

Seeking shelter from the rain under a tree in the square, this guitarist drew a large crowd (mostly tourists who were out walking the streets in the rain), Trinidad, Cuba

Seeking shelter from the rain under a tree in the square, this guitarist drew a large crowd (mostly tourists who were out walking the streets in the rain), Trinidad, Cuba

 

A quartet played through our luncheon at the popular paladar (privately owned restaurant) Casa de los Conspiradores, just off Plaza Mayor, Trinidad, Cuba

A quartet played through our luncheon at the popular paladar (privately owned restaurant) Casa de los Conspiradores, just off Plaza Mayor, Trinidad, Cuba

 

Once it stopped raining, more musicians came out and played around town, Trinidad, Cuba

Once it stopped raining, more musicians came out and played around town, Trinidad, Cuba

 

A trio at the paladar Casa de la Trova, Trinidad, Cuba, where afternoon coffee was popular

A trio at the paladar Casa de la Trova, Trinidad, Cuba, where afternoon coffee was popular

 

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2017 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Art and Music in Cienfuegos, Cuba

Local musicians, members of the local chapter of UNEAC (Unión de Escritores y Artistas de Cuba), performing their Afro-Cuban musical compositions for us in the Jardines (gardens) de la

Local musicians, members of the local chapter of UNEAC (Unión de Escritores y Artistas de Cuba), performing their Afro-Cuban musical compositions for us in the Jardines (gardens) de la UNEAC near the Parque José Martí in the Central Zone of Cienfuegos, Cuba

 

Our local tour operator, Cuba Educational Travel (CET), arranged a very good architectural and cultural walking tour of Cienfuegos which included a visit to the local chapter of UNEAC (Unión Nacional de Escritores y Artistas de Cuba), where we had the opportunity to listen to a lively Afro-Cuban musical performance, written and performed by local musicians.  Around Parque José Martí in the Central Zone we visited a number of art studios and galleries where frequently we met the artists and had a chance to talk with them.

 

We had the opportunity to see a lot of local art at the Galería de Arte, operated by UNEAC in Cienfuegos, Cuba, next door to the Jardines de la UNEAC

We had the opportunity to see a lot of local art at the Galería de Arte, operated by UNEAC in Cienfuegos, Cuba, next door to the Jardines de la UNEAC

 

“The National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (Unión Nacional de Escritores y Artistas de Cuba, UNEAC) is a social, cultural and professional organization of writers, musicians, actors, painters, sculptors, and artist of different genres.  It was founded on August 22, 1961, by the Cuban poet, Nicolas Guillen.  Initially their objective was uniting the intellectuals within the young Cuban Revolution to maintain a genuine Cuban culture.” – Wikipedia

 

Local artist Adrian Rumbaut holding his original Time magazine cover featuring historic Cubans, in front of his wall collage at the Galería de Arte, Cienfuegos, Cuba

Local artist Adrian Rumbaut holding his original Time magazine cover featuring historic revolutionary Cubans, in front of his wall collage at the Galería de Arte, Cienfuegos, Cuba

 

Art can carry a message (two pieces by local artist Adrian Rumbaut), Cienfuegos, Cuba

Art can carry a message (two pieces by local artist Adrian Rumbaut), Cienfuegos, Cuba

 

Looking through the street window at local children performing in a dance recital in an art gallery adjacent to the Parque José Martí in the Central Zone of Cienfuegos, Cuba

Looking through the street window at local children performing in a dance recital in an art gallery adjacent to the Parque José Martí in the Central Zone of Cienfuegos, Cuba

 

A view of local children performing in a dance recital in an art gallery, as seen by the parents in the audience, Cienfuegos, Cuba

A view of local children performing in a dance recital in an art gallery, as seen by the parents in the audience, Cienfuegos, Cuba

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2017 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Ketchikan, Alaska, USA

Sailing north through the “Inside Passage” from Vancouver, the island city of Ketchikan, Alaska, USA, is the first city that ships encounter and stop at – hence it_s nickname as

Sailing north through the “Inside Passage” from Vancouver, the island city of Ketchikan, Alaska, USA, is the first city that ships encounter and stop at – hence it’s nickname as “Alaska’s First City” and, from it’s location in the midst of abundant wild salmon and very successful fishing and processing industries, “The Salmon Capital of the World”

 

“Ketchikan is an Alaskan city facing the Inside Passage, a popular cruise route along the state’s southeastern coast.  It is known for its many Native American totem poles, on display throughout town [the largest display in Alaska].  Nearby Misty Fiords National Monument is a glacier-carved wilderness featuring snowcapped mountains, waterfalls and salmon spawning streams.  It’s also home to rich wildlife including black bears, wolves and bald eagles… Ketchikan is named after Ketchikan Creek, which flows through the town, emptying into the Tongass Narrows a short distance southeast of its downtown.  ‘Ketchikan’ comes from the Tlingit name for the creek, Kitschk-hin, the meaning of which is unclear.  It may mean ‘the river belonging to Kitschk’; other accounts claim it means ‘Thundering Wings of an Eagle’.” — Wikipedia

 

There are only two forms of transportation to reach Ketchikan, Alaska, USA – boats and seaplanes – hence the city has several marinas full of pleasure boats, along with downtown pier

There are only two forms of transportation to reach Ketchikan, Alaska, USA – boats and seaplanes – hence the city has several marinas full of pleasure boats, along with downtown piers to accommodate several large cruise ships sailing in for typically a one-day visit

 

In the center of downtown Ketchikan, Alaska, USA, is a beautiful carved bald eagle with spread wings, bringing to life one translation of the word “Ketchikan” -- Thundering Wings of

In the center of downtown Ketchikan, Alaska, USA, is a beautiful carved bald eagle [there are many wild bald eagles in and around the city; see photograph, below] with spread wings, bringing to life one translation of the word “Ketchikan” — Thundering Wings of an Eagle

Ketchikan is around Alaska’s tenth largest city with a population of just over 8,000 – the city of Anchorage, with nearly 40% of the state’s population, has approximately 300,000 residents, whereas Juneau, the capital and second largest city, has a population of only 33,000.  Ketchikan is known as a rainy city, with rain occurring over 300 days a year.  According to Wikipedia, “The wettest year was 1949 with 202.55 inches (5,145 mm) and the driest year was 1995 with 88.45 inches (2,247 mm).”  Our visit was typical – the first day was sunny and relatively warm (63 degrees F / 18 degrees C) and the next day was rainy, damp and felt much cooler at 58 degrees F / 15 degrees C.

 

City Hall is in the center of downtown, set amidst shops and restaurants, Ketchikan, Alaska, USA

City Hall is in the center of downtown, set amidst shops and restaurants, Ketchikan, Alaska, USA

 

This Celebrity cruise ship, like most of those sailing through the Inside Passage and calling on Ketchikan, Alaska, USA, dwarfs the downtown shops along the pier; its 3,000 passengers an

This Celebrity cruise ship, like most of those sailing through the Inside Passage and calling on Ketchikan, Alaska, USA, dwarfs the downtown shops along the pier; its 3,000 passengers and crew are equal to nearly 40% of the city’s population!

 

Fog Woman at the lower portion of the Chief Johnson Totem Pole is topped by Raven (replica totem pole raised in 1989), Ketchikan, Alaska, USA

Fog Woman at the lower portion of the Chief Johnson Totem Pole is topped by Raven (replica totem pole raised in 1989), Ketchikan, Alaska, USA

 

Totem poles are carved to honor deceased ancestors, record history, social events and oral tradition.  They were never worshiped as religious objects.  The Chief Johnson Totem Pole was carved by Israel Shotridge and raised in 1989, a replica of the Chief Johnson, or Kajuk, Totem Pole raised in this general location in 1901 for the Ganaxadi Tlinghit of the Raven moiety of the Tanta Kwan (Tongrass) group.  The original memorial pole stood until 1982. Except for Jajuk atop the pole, the figures symbolize a single story about Raven.  Fog Woman is identified with the summer salmon run when fog lies at the mouth of streams.  She produces all salmon and causes them to return to the creeks of their birth.

 

Creek Street_s buildings date back to the late 19th century when the street was built atop poles driven into the bank of Ketchikan Creek, Ketchikan, Alaska, USA; the neighborhood is kn

Creek Street’s buildings date back to the late 19th century when the street was built atop poles driven into the bank of Ketchikan Creek, Ketchikan, Alaska, USA; the neighborhood is known as “Creekside” (home to many brothels in the 20th century)

 

Dolly bought this house in 1919 and was still living there in the early 1970s; she was the last of the former ladies of the line to remain in residence on the creek until her death, whic

Dolly bought this house in 1919 and was still living there, alone, in the early 1970s; she was the last of the former ladies of the line to remain in residence on the creek until her death, which was 20 years after the red-light district was finally closed for good in 1954, Ketchikan, Alaska, USA

 

“Dolly Arthur, nee Thelma Copeland of rural Idaho mining country, was a Ketchikan resident from 1919 until her death in July 1975.  She is probably Ketchikan’s most famous person today… Dolly said her attraction for men was one of her best traits. ‘I just liked men and they liked me, too!’  Her house on Creek Street is now a museum visited by thousands of tourists every summer.  In her lifetime, however, there was nothing much to distinguish it from other small houses of ill repute along the boardwalk.  There was always a temporary look to those little rain-scoured houses tottering atop piling, whose residents used the cleansing tides to serve as sewer, plus bottle (and occasionally body) disposal.  Dolly’s house, however, was not only her business but also her longtime home.  Her claim to present fame was simply because of the more than 50 years she spent on Creek Street.  She bought the house in 1919 and was still living there, alone, in the early ’70s.  She became the last of the former ladies of the line to remain in residence on the creek until her death, which was 20 years after the red-light district was finally closed for good in 1954.  Dolly was not a whore, and would be horrified to be called that.  Dolly called herself a ‘sporting woman,’ a distinction that was important to her.  More than once she said, ‘I never could stand a whore!’  She thought they were tasteless and crude.  She considered herself of a higher class.  And while most of the girls worked and lived in pairs in the small creekside houses, Dolly always worked alone – except for her first year in Ketchikan when she worked at Black Mary’s Star dance hall.  And there were, of course, the postwar years when her true love, Lefty, shared her home, bed and board, but that was at her convenience and business schedule and between the couple’s zesty spats.” – www.sitnews.org

 

The sign on the side of Dolly_s House explains Dolly_s business, Ketchikan, Alaska, USA

The sign on the side of Dolly’s House explains Dolly’s business, Ketchikan, Alaska, USA

 

The salmon sculpture is an artwork titled “Yeltatzie Salmon” by artist Terry Plyes and was dedicated above Ketchikan Creek on July 4, 2013, Ketchikan, Alaska, USA

The salmon sculpture is an artwork titled “Yeltatzie Salmon” by artist Terry Plyes and was dedicated above Ketchikan Creek on July 4, 2013, Ketchikan, Alaska, USA; it is named in honor of the Haida Native carver Jones Teltatzie (1900 – 1976) and replaces a painted wood salmon sculpture carved by Yeltatzie in 1963, which occupied this site for many years

 

Looking down at Ketchikan Creek by the “Yeltatzie Salmon” near the Creekside neighborhood, Ketchikan, Alaska, USA

Looking down at Ketchikan Creek by the “Yeltatzie Salmon” near the Creekside neighborhood, Ketchikan, Alaska, USA

 

Downtown by the piers and the Visitor Center is a sign that notes the extremely high annual rainfall in the region, Ketchikan, Alaska, USA

Downtown by the piers and the Visitor Center is a sign that notes the extremely high annual rainfall in the region, Ketchikan, Alaska, USA

 

While somewhat rare these days in the “Lower 48” (the continental United States of America), bald eagles are numerous in the Ketchikan, Alaska, area; this one was photographed from o

While somewhat rare these days in the “Lower 48” (the continental United States of America), bald eagles are numerous in the Ketchikan, Alaska, area; this one was photographed from our “Duck Boat” as we sailed out of the northern marina

 

The rains came and passed and returned again and again all day in Ketchikan, Alaska, USA; our ship at anchor

The rains came and passed and returned again and again all day in Ketchikan, Alaska, USA; our ship at anchor

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2017 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Chihuly Garden and Glass, Seattle, Washington, USA

Dale Chihuly, considered one of the most innovative and iconic figures in contemporary art, has a dedicated museum and garden exhibition in the downtown Seattle Center at Chihuly Garden

Dale Chihuly, considered one of the most innovative and iconic figures in contemporary art, has a dedicated museum and garden exhibition in the downtown Seattle Center at Chihuly Garden and Glass, Seattle, Washington, USA; a section of the glass “garden” called “Mille Fiori” 

 

The Chihuly Garden and Glass is an exhibition (in a combination of a museum building and an outdoor garden directly next door to, and underneath, the Seattle Space Needle in Seattle Center in the heart of the city) that explores the inspiration and influences of Northwest artist Dale Chihuly. Dale Chihuly is considered one of the most innovative and iconic figures in contemporary art. Chihuly has been working with glass as an artistic medium for over fifty years, to increasing critical and popular acclaim. His work is in the permanent collections of more than 200 museums worldwide.

 

In a 1977 visit to the History Museum at the Washington State Historical Society Chihuly was impressed by a collection of Northwest Coast Indian Baskets and then created a series of Bask

In a 1977 visit to the History Museum at the Washington State Historical Society Chihuly was impressed by a collection of Northwest Coast Indian Baskets and then created a series of Baskets, freeing himself from the tradition of symmetry in glassblowing; Chihuly Garden and Glass, Seattle, Washington, USA

 

A true Northwesterner, Chihuly has pioneered new techniques in art and influenced generations of artists.  His creativity and generosity of spirit led him to be invited by Space Needle LLC to help create the exhibition at Chihuly Garden and Glass in Seattle Center, Seattle, Washington.  The exhibition includes both indoor and outdoor spaces and a new Glasshouse.  Chihuly Garden and Glass brings together all the elements of Chihuly’s work, including drawings, signature glass series, large architectural installations, and personal collections.  The artwork in the exhibition reveals how Dale Chihuly has pushed the boundaries of glass as an art medium in concept, execution and presentation.  A walk through the Galleries, the Garden and into the Glasshouse is an immersive experience that sparks wonder and inspiration.

 

These glass sculptures, known as the “Persian Ceiling”, are viewed through a glass “shelf” above visitors and appear as an “aquarium” full of sea life; Chihuly Garden and Gla

These glass sculptures, known as the “Persian Ceiling”, are viewed through a glass “shelf” above visitors and appear as an “aquarium” full of sea life; Chihuly Garden and Glass, Seattle, Washington, USA

 

A small segment of the glass “garden” called “Mille Fiori” which occupies a very long gallery floor, Chihuly Garden and Glass, Seattle, Washington, USA

A small segment of the glass “garden” called “Mille Fiori” which occupies a very long gallery floor, Chihuly Garden and Glass, Seattle, Washington, USA

 

In another gallery are the “Ikebana and Float Boat”, Chihuly Garden and Glass, Seattle, Washington, USA

In another gallery are the “Ikebana and Float Boat”, Chihuly Garden and Glass, Seattle, Washington, USA

 

Three pieces from the Macchia series that Chihuly began in 1981 with the desire to use all 300 colors available to him in the hotshop; they are named Macchia after he asked his friend It

Three pieces from the Macchia series that Chihuly began in 1981 with the desire to use all 300 colors available to him in the hotshop; they are named Macchia after he asked his friend Italo Scanga the word for “spot” in Italian; Chihuly Garden and Glass, Seattle, Washington, USA

 

Dale Chihuly began the Macchia series in 1981 with the desire to use all 300 colors available to him in the hotshop, and named it such after asking his friend Italo Scanga  (who he befriended as a visiting professor at the Rhode Island School of Design when he was a graduate student) the word for “spot” in Italian.  Thinking about the colors and intensity of stained glass windows, Chihuly realized that the glass panes looked more clear and vibrant against a cloudy sky than a blue one.  This idea inspired his experimentation to separate the interior and exterior colors by adding a white layer in between, a “cloud”,  and as he mastered the technical complexities, pushed the scale up to four feet in diameter.  Each work is speckled with color, which comes from rolling the molten glass in small shards of colored glass during the blowing process.  To complete the piece, he adds a lip wrap of a contrasting color.

 

Details of one piece from the Macchia series, Chihuly Garden and Glass, Seattle, Washington, USA

Details of one piece from the Macchia series, Chihuly Garden and Glass, Seattle, Washington, USA

 

The Glasshouse Sculpture is an expansive 100-foot-long (30.5 meters) installation in a palette of reds, oranges, yellows and amber that is made of many individual elements Chihuly calls

The Glasshouse Sculpture is an expansive 100-foot-long (30.5 meters) installation in a palette of reds, oranges, yellows and amber that is made of many individual elements Chihuly calls Persians; Chihuly Garden and Glass, Seattle, Washington, US

 

The Glasshouse is the centerpiece of Chihuly Garden and Glass.  Throughout his career, Chihuly dreamed of working on the design for a glasshouse and the artwork within it.  This is the first opportunity he has had to realize that dream.  The design draws inspiration from two of his favorite buildings: Sainte-Chapelle in Paris and the Crystal Palace in London.  Chihuly signed a bean during the dedication ceremony at Chihuly Garden and Glass on 21 May 2012.  The Glasshouse Sculpture is an expansive 100-foot-long (32 meters) installation in a palette of reds, oranges, yellows and amber.  Made of many individual elements, it is one of Chihuly’s largest suspended sculptures.  Chihuly calls the intensely colored blown-glass forms of this monumental work Persians.  The perception of the artwork varies greatly with natural light and as the day fades into night.

 

A segment of the Glasshouse Sculpture with the Seattle Space Needle visible through the roof of the glasshouse, Chihuly Garden and Glass, Seattle, Washington, USA

A segment of the Glasshouse Sculpture with the Seattle Space Needle visible through the roof of the glasshouse, Chihuly Garden and Glass, Seattle, Washington, USA

 

Garden sculptures, Chihuly Garden and Glass, Seattle, Washington, USA

Garden sculptures, Chihuly Garden and Glass, Seattle, Washington, USA

 

“I want people to be overwhelmed with light and color in a way they have never experienced.” – Dale Chihuly about Chihuly Garden and Glass

 

Pacific Sun, 2011, 15.5 feet x 15.5 feet x 15.5 feet (4.72 x 4.72 x 4.72 meters), installed 2012, Chihuly Garden and Glass, Seattle, Washington, USA

Pacific Sun, 2011, 15.5 feet x 15.5 feet x 15.5 feet (4.72 x 4.72 x 4.72 meters), installed 2012, Chihuly Garden and Glass, Seattle, Washington, USA

 

Close up of garden sculptures, Chihuly Garden and Glass, Seattle, Washington, USA

Close up of garden sculptures, Chihuly Garden and Glass, Seattle, Washington, USA

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2017 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum, Takamatsu, Shikoku Island, Japan

Sculptures outside the wall of the outdoor sculpture garden at the Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum, Takamatsu, Shikoku Island, Japan, set against the surrounding mountains

Sculptures outside the wall of the outdoor sculpture garden at the Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum, Takamatsu, Shikoku Island, Japan, set against the surrounding mountains

 

Following his death, prominent Japanese-American sculptor Isamu Noguchi’s workshop was converted into a captivating museum – the Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum in Takamatsu, Kagawa, Japan – approximately 30 minutes from the pier where our ship docked.  Originally an Edo-era storehouse, the workshop holds the artist’s original sculpting tools.  Outside, nearly 150 sculptures, some incomplete, stand as silent testimony to his skill and vision.  The restored Meiji-period warehouse contains one of his largest and most famous, “Energy Void,” carved out of Swedish black granite.  We were able to see Noguchi’s nearby home (from the outside) and had the opportunity to also walk in the hillside gardens that the artist designed for his 80th birthday, a few years before his death in 1988.

 

A sculpted stone, "The Egg", at the top of the hillside garden walk above Noguchi_s home and studio, Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum, Takamatsu, Shikoku Island, Japan

A sculpted stone, “The Egg”, at the top of the hillside garden walk above Noguchi’s home and studio, Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum, Takamatsu, Shikoku Island, Japan

 

Sculptures in the hillside garden walk above Noguchi_s home and studio, Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum, Takamatsu, Shikoku Island, Japan

Sculptures in the hillside garden walk above Noguchi’s home and studio, Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum, Takamatsu, Shikoku Island, Japan

 

In the reception area of the museum after we had gotten our tickets, I found a book on the museum with this beautiful poem by Noguchi, written on 7 November 1983:

Gift for the Future

I approach my 79th birthday this month with growing awareness.

I celebrate it by building a garden in my place of refuge in Shikoku.

It is a gift to the future, and to the people who harbored

my mother and gave me my years of childhood.

How true it is that all things worth while must end as gifts.

What other reason is there for art?

 

Finished and unfinished sculptures outside the outdoor sculpture garden at the Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum, Takamatsu, Shikoku Island, Japan

Finished and unfinished sculptures outside the outdoor sculpture garden at the Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum, Takamatsu, Shikoku Island, Japan

 

Finished sculptures in the shed within the outdoor sculpture garden at the Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum, Takamatsu, Shikoku Island, Japan

Finished sculptures in the restored Meiji-period warehouse within the outdoor sculpture garden at the Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum, Takamatsu, Shikoku Island, Japan

 

One of Noguchi_s largest and most famous sculptures, “Energy Void,” carved out of Swedish black granite is in the shed within the outdoor sculpture garden at the Isamu Noguchi Gard

One of Noguchi’s largest and most famous sculptures, “Energy Void,” carved out of Swedish black granite is in the restored Meiji-period warehouse within the outdoor sculpture garden at the Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum, Takamatsu, Shikoku Island, Japan

 

Isamu Noguchi (1904–1988)

Isamu Noguchi (1904–1988); photograph courtesy http://www.noguchi.org

 

“Isamu Noguchi (1904–1988) was one of the twentieth century’s most important and critically acclaimed sculptors.  Through a lifetime of artistic experimentation, he created sculptures, gardens, furniture and lighting designs, ceramics, architecture, and set designs.  His work, at once subtle and bold, traditional and modern, set a new standard for the reintegration of the arts.  Noguchi, an internationalist, traveled extensively throughout his life.  (In his later years he maintained studios both in Japan and New York.)  He discovered the impact of large-scale public works in Mexico, earthy ceramics and tranquil gardens in Japan, subtle ink-brush techniques in China, and the purity of marble in Italy.  He incorporated all of these impressions into his work, which utilized a wide range of materials, including stainless steel, marble, cast iron, balsa wood, bronze, sheet aluminum, basalt, granite, and water.

“Born in Los Angeles, California, to an American mother and a Japanese father, Noguchi lived in Japan until the age of thirteen, when he moved to Indiana.  While studying pre-medicine at Columbia University, he took evening sculpture classes on New York’s Lower East Side, mentoring with the sculptor Onorio Ruotolo.  He soon left the University to become an academic sculptor.  In 1926, Noguchi saw an exhibition in New York of the work of Constantin Brancusi that profoundly changed his artistic direction.  With a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, Noguchi went to Paris, and from 1927 to 1929 worked in Brancusi’s studio.  Inspired by the older artist’s reductive forms, Noguchi turned to modernism and a kind of abstraction, infusing his highly finished pieces with a lyrical and emotional expressiveness, and with an aura of mystery.  Noguchi’s work was not widely recognized in the United States until 1938, when he completed a large-scale sculpture symbolizing the freedom of the press, which was commissioned for the Associated Press building in Rockefeller Center, New York City.  This was the first of what would become numerous celebrated public works worldwide, ranging from playgrounds to plazas, gardens to fountains, all reflecting his belief in the social significance of sculpture.

“In 1942, Noguchi set up a studio at 33 MacDougal Alley, in Greenwich Village, having spent much of the 1930s based in New York City but traveling extensively in Asia, Mexico, and Europe.  The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the backlash against Japanese-Americans in the United States had a dramatic personal effect on Noguchi, motivating him to become a political activist.  In 1942, he started Nisei Writers and Artists Mobilization for Democracy, a group dedicated to raising awareness of the patriotism of Japanese-Americans.  He also asked to be placed in an internment camp in Arizona, where he lived for a brief seven months.  Following the War, Noguchi spent a great deal of time in Japan exploring the wrenching issues raised during the previous years.  His ideas and feelings are reflected in his works of that period, particularly the delicate slab sculptures included in the 1946 exhibition “Fourteen Americans,” at The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

“Noguchi did not belong to any particular movement, but collaborated with artists working in a range of disciplines and schools.  He created stage sets as early as 1935 for the dancer/choreographer Martha Graham, beginning a lifelong collaboration; as well as for dancers/choreographers Merce Cunningham, Erick Hawkins, and George Balanchine and composer John Cage.  In the 1960s, Noguchi began working with stone carver Masatoshi Izumi on the island of Shikoku, Japan; a collaboration that would also continue for the rest of his life.  From 1960 to 1966, he worked on a playground design with the architect Louis Kahn.  Whenever given the opportunity to venture into the mass-production of his interior designs, Noguchi seized it.  In 1937, he designed a Bakelite intercom for the Zenith Radio Corporation, and in 1947, his glass-topped table was produced by Herman Miller.  This design — along with others such as his designs for Akari Light Sculptures which were initially developed in 1951 using traditional Japanese materials — are still being produced today.

“In 1985, Noguchi opened The Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum (now known as The Noguchi Museum), in Long Island City, New York. The Museum, established and designed by the artist, marked the culmination of his commitment to public spaces.  Located in a 1920s industrial building across the street from where the artist had established a studio in 1960, it has a serene outdoor sculpture garden, and many galleries that display Noguchi’s work, along with photographs and models from his career.  Noguchi’s first retrospective in the United States was in 1968, at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City.  In 1986, he represented the United States at the Venice Biennale.  Noguchi received the Edward MacDowell Medal for Outstanding Lifetime Contribution to the Arts in 1982; the Kyoto Prize in Arts in 1986; the National Medal of Arts in 1987; and the Order of Sacred Treasure from the Japanese government in 1988. He died in New York City in 1988.” – www.noguchi.org

 

Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo, Japan

The main entrance to the Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo, Japan, located in Ueno Park which was full of cherry blossoms during our visit [see our previous blog post, “Sakura (Cherry Bloss

The main entrance to the Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo, Japan, located in Ueno Park which was full of cherry blossoms during our visit [see our previous blog post, “Sakura (Cherry Blossoms), Tokyo, Japan”]

Japan’s oldest and largest museum, the acclaimed Tokyo National Museum houses an impressive assemblage of art and artifacts.  The unrivaled collection encompasses Asian paintings, calligraphy, sculpture, ceramics, arms and armor, textiles, and historical documents.  Each season the museum rotates its collection to feature art that pertains to the season.  Thus, during the Sakura (cherry blossom) season in March and April, the permanent collection of Japanese art and artifacts had many pieces focusing on the celebration of Sakura.

 

Designated as a National Treasure in 1953- “Merrymaking under Blossom Trees” by Kano Naganobu (1577-1654), color on paper (screen), Edo period, 17th century, Tokyo National Museum, T

Designated as a National Treasure in 1953: “Merrymaking under Blossom Trees” by Kano Naganobu (1577-1654), color on paper (screen), Edo period, 17th century, Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo, Japan

 

“Depicted on this… screen is a scene of [Sakura] cherry blossom viewing by people dressed in garments with the latest designs.  Whether it was intended to portray a particular event or setting is unclear.  The surrounding trees and curtains, however, create a dramatic effect in which the people performing a folk dance and the ladies watching them appear as though they were on a stage.” – Tokyo National Museum.  Note that the tradition of celebrating the arrival of spring Sakura (cherry blossoms) goes back a long time in Japanese history – we were fortunate to be in Tokyo for the height of this year’s cherry blossoms and to mingle with locals in appreciating the delicate blossoms signaling the end of winter and the new annual cycle.

“The Museum Garden behind the Honkan main building is open during the spring.  We invite you to enjoy strolling among the five teahouses, each with their own history, as well as the cherry blossoms, which about 10 varieties bloom from one to another.  The flourishing garden is most beautiful at this time of the year.” – www.tnm.jp    The Garden was full of cherry blossoms during our visit [see our previous blog post, “Sakura (Cherry Blossoms), Tokyo, Japan”, for several photographs of the Sakura in the Tokyo National Museum Garden].

 

Ichinotani Style Helmet, Iris leaf design, Azuchi-Momoyama-Edo period, 16th-17th century, Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo, Japan

Ichinotani Style Helmet, Iris leaf design, Azuchi-Momoyama-Edo period, 16th-17th century, Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo, Japan

 

Gusoku Type Armor with two-piece cuirass with dark blue lacing, Edo period, 17th-18th century, Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo, Japan

Gusoku Type Armor with two-piece cuirass with dark blue lacing, Edo period, 17th-18th century, Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo, Japan

 

“The Tokyo National Museum features one of the largest and best collections of art and archeological artifacts in Japan, made up of over 110,000 individual items including nearly a hundred national treasures.  At any one time, about 4,000 different items from the permanent museum collection are on display.  In addition, visiting temporary exhibitions are also held regularly.  The large museum complex is home to six separate buildings, each large enough to be considered a museum on its own, which specialize in different types of art and exhibitions.  The main Honkan building [which we focused on] was opened in 1938 and exhibits a variety of Japanese artwork from ancient times to the 19th century including antique Buddhist statues, painted sliding doors, scrolls, ceramics and maps in addition to cultural items such as masks, costume, armor and weapons among other historical artifacts.” – www.japan-guide.com

 

“Kanazawa, Musashi Province” by Kano Osanobu {Seisen_in} (1796-1846), color on silk, Edo period, 19th century, Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo, Japan

“Kanazawa, Musashi Province” by Kano Osanobu {Seisen’in} (1796-1846), color on silk, Edo period, 19th century, Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo, Japan

 

Primary Textbook for the Noble_s Children by Prince Hachijo-no-miya Toshihito (1579-1629), ink on decorated paper (SCROLL), Edo period, 17th century, Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo, Japa

Primary Textbook for the Noble’s Children by Prince Hachijo-no-miya Toshihito (1579-1629), ink on decorated paper (SCROLL), Edo period, 17th century, Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo, Japan; this spectacular section of the “textbook” features Mt. Fuji in the colored background, painted by the Prince before adding the text

 

Uchikake (Outer Garment, [like a kimono]), Tachibana and screen design on figured satin ground, Edo period, 19th century, Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo, Japan

Uchikake (Outer Garment, [like a kimono]), Tachibana and screen design on figured satin ground, Edo period, 19th century, Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo, Japan