Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Animals and us, Japanese-style

                  From The Twelve Zodiac Animals

   One of the most stunning exhibits of Japanese art ever at the National Gallery of Art in Washington just opened. The entire lower gallery of the East Wing is dedicated to The Life of Animals in Japanese Art, a gorgeous dip into Japanese culture as a whole that’s unique in presentation: paintings, sculptures, prints, screens, ceramics, kimonos, carvings and even costumes from the fifth century to the present.
   Animals there certainly are, all integrated into the Japanese aesthetic, a kaleidoscope of pleasurable, exquisitely rendered objects and images. These animals often reflect human aspirations and desires, and many of the pieces are beyond the western imagination - and much of the east’s, too.
Twin Monkeys, sixth century, wood
     Some of these works astound with their sheer beauty, complexity, and audacity. Check out, for instance, the erotic The Octopus and the Diver in the catalogue, in which one “pleasures” the other. I’ll let you discover how: https://shop.nga.gov/item/752464p/the-life-of-animals-in-japanese-art-exhibition-catalog/1.html))
New Year's Eve Foxfires at the
Changing Tree, Utagawa Hiroshigo, 1857,
woodblock print
       As the excellent commentary points out, many of these animals enact human narratives and human desires, a kind of marriage in the shared drama of life. The yearning reflected is both fond and prophetic here at the outset of our common, disastrous Anthropocene.

              Swallow-tail Pleats Issey Miyake Miyake, 1999, polyester
For more read Phillip Kennicott's piece in the Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/museums/cute-puppies-and-octopus-sex-a-japanese-art-exhibition-reveals-our-fascination-with-animals/2019/05/29/7b4c0c8e-8221-11e9-933d-7501070ee669_story.html?utm_term=.06f70068571f

Friday, June 7, 2019

Integrity can be contagious


The following is an excerpt from a reader's hopeful letter:
    There is no way not to notice the lifestyle marketing of wine that has taken over advertising, online and beyond (and which bears not a small resemblance to some form of fraud).  It has reshaped communities left and right and asserted a very smothering to to my eye an odd vision of luxury that drowns out other values such as hard work, knowledge, quality, and more.
    I hope that the better wine makers and enthusiasts are preparing new generations and have thoughtful proteges...  The greatest thing [winemakers] can do is to light a spiritual fire where one can and encourage people to pick up the training they need to become the stewards of the next generations. In our drive to create monuments to ourselves we lose sight of our better contributions. The better stewards aren't always who we expect. They could be from the environmental community or from the distribution community, or even an outcast from the USDA who falls out of favor with the administration.

   Napa ultimately may have more value for wine makers across the country who decide that what works for their communities is some other model, and who are somewhat more isolated from the lure of big money. As you have said, there is a discerning clientele forming across the United States.