Breathing Flower by Choi Jeong Hwa
No visit to San Francisco would be complete without a visit to the Asian Art Museum at City Center. There is always a beautifully curated exhibition awaiting, along with an extensive permanent collection.
When I was there in mid May, the city was celebrating the Pan-Asia Festival, which took up several blocks around the museum: it was a treat for the senses, from the opening Buddhist chanting and prayers, the intense odors of spices and exotic foods coming from the food concessions, Choi Jeong Hwa's Breathing Flower, brilliant red against brilliant blue sky, and when I was parched after walking up and down the lines of myriad vendors, an organic smoothy that was truly a banquet.
The Class, video by Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook
Spirit House, by Jakkai Siributr
Admission to the Museum was free that day, but on any given day, the admission price isn't steep anyway. And there are always lots of free hands-on art activities, supposedly for kids, but everyone participates! I really like that fact, because I sometimes feel like the lone "big kid" at the activities table.
My ears caught so many different languages, there were all ages from newborn to ancient, young, smiling couples and large bands of milling teenagers, businessmen, artists, tourists like me, street people and families.
I took an audio guide (excellent, clear descriptions of the work) and spent the entire morning perusing the exhibition, Phantoms of Asia: Contemporary Awakens the Past. This exhibition is up through September 2, 2012.
Some of the work I have seen collected in other exhibitions, but it wasn't a disappointing "oh, been there, done that" sort of feeling upon viewing the show. As an installation, the work flows cohesively, so that there are places of overlap from one artist to the next, yet there's nothing boring or obvious about the placement--I was challenged to really respond to each artist's work individually, and in the greater context of it's neighbor's creative vision...and that was really a lot of fun.
Interactive in a very different way, and provocative as well.
And finally, if you have a little money to spend, the Museum shop is very tempting. Great books!
(And look for the bargain 1/2 price off book bin.)