This show at the Academy of Arts is a must see on so many levels. Granted I don't find myself writing about art very often and even on this occasion I will attempt it at a very superficial level. Chinese landscape art for me is mesmerizing. Nature is depicted in such grandeur and although humans are an integral part of the painting, they play a very small role. Majestic landscapes transport me to a different time and place. I find myself looking deeply into the painting enjoying the finer and finer details. You can view these works up close and afar.
On the tech side I encountered something new for a major exhibit at the Academy, QR codes. This might have been started at previous shows at the Academy but it was a first for me. Usually there are no photographing allowed in the exhibit but an exception is made for the QR codes. I shot
10 different codes and they take you to the following links:
There is one introductory video by Stephan Jost, Director of the Academy of Arts and 8 video podcasts. (The video numbering seems to have missed #8 and I was unable to find it on the Academy Youtube page.) If you plan to visit the exhibit, I would suggest watching these first. The only thing about reading a QR code and loading a video is the Internet connection. I wasn't able to connect to the Academy wifi and viewing a video on 3G is slow.
Nevertheless, I thought it was innovative of the Academy to incorporate QR codes and video podcast into the exhibit. It offered a chance to get more out of the displays, almost like having your own personal docent. The show continues to Jan. 8, 2012 but plan to go a couple of times as you will want to spend some time gazing at these masterpieces.
Graffiti art or street art as I like to refer to these pieces, stirs feelings that range from awe to disgust in those that view it. Born out of the street punk movement dating back to the late 70's and early 80's in the subways of New York City, this was a statement by rebellious youth. Personally I don't condone the defacement of public or private property by illegal graphic expressions but on some occasions I am truly amazed at the artistry. So when I saw these pieces at the Academy Art Center at Linekona, I was quite captivated.
As timing would have it, the two artists responsible for this masterpiece (and one right around the corner
) were just finishing up, Prime (on the right) and Estria (on the left). I half expected them to grab their spray cans and run as I approached but this was obviously a commissioned work. Prime holds classes at places like Palama Settlement to teach youth art technique and appreciation, mentoring and leadership development. The artist collective known as 808Urban
works with kids in underserved areas like Kalihi. In addition to teaching art they work with communities to create mural art, the legitimized version of street graffiti. I've seen their work in various places like the Palama Settlement and a recent mural at Kokua Foods. Checking out Estria's Flickr site
, he's got all kinds of work going on in Oakland and the San Francisco Bay Area. Most of it revolves around bringing graffiti artists together to showcase their work and to collectively work on murals like the Four Guardians
in Oakland. It's very impressive, in-your-face, vibrant, "happy to be alive" expressions of creativity.
The Honolulu Academy of Arts is in the process of launching an ambitious project to put 50,000 pieces in their collection online in the newly minted eMuseum. I got an early preview of the system which coincides with the opening of Hokusai's Summit: Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji
this week. The eMuseum project started with the Academy's Japanese Woodblock Print collection with approximately 4500 prints already photographed and online. This process involved the historical information gathering, cataloging, photographing and tagging of all pieces. The goal is to have 5000 piece placed into the eMuseum system each year. If you do the math, this will take about 10 years. The project is funded by the Lange Foundation and the initial startup costs and data migration into the eMuseum database ran about $50,000. The database is searchable by keywords and date ranges. Besides the historical information, you can view an enlarged photo to see more detail in the piece. This is useful for art aficionados, students and researchers worldwide, looking for specific pieces without having to go through the physical collection.
Launching the eMuseum at the same time with the Hokusai exhibit was more than a coincidence. Many of the woodblock prints that are on display are also in the database. At the exhibit everyone will probably spend most of their time gazing at Hokusai's Great Wave off Kanegawa
and probably spend much less time viewing the other prints.
It is estimated that people will spend less then 5 seconds viewing each piece. This print
by one of Hokusai's younger contemporaries, Utagawa Hiroshige caught my eye. But as you can see the photo of it without any flash is quite blurry. A search of the database using a combination of "Related People" (Hiroshige) and "Title" (Kai Province) produced this image
. This search is not intuitive. The more information you know about the piece the easier it is to find it. In this case I remembered a portion of the title which yielded the image. Otherwise I would have to sort through hundreds of Hiroshige prints. With this resource you can spend much more time looking at the details of the print and reliving the exhibit.
Something new in this show is the incorporation of the education section within the exhibit. Normally the education section is in a totally different wing of the Academy. During this show you can stamp your own woodblock print and write a exhibit inspired haiku. The show runs from Sept. 24, 2009 to Jan. 3, 2010 but the eMuseum
is up right now 24/7, forever.