About Me

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Yilan, Taiwan
I'm a Social Studies teacher and single mom from Colorado and have lived here for 9 years. Taiwan is an excellent base for us explore Asia, while living in relative (gun free) safety, while benefiting from a cheap and efficient national health care system. The people are amazing too. I have friendships that are 14 years old and I'm always making new ones.

Friday, September 8, 2017

The Art of Summer

Over the summer we were fortunate enough to catch a couple of world class exhibitions as well as our local gallery.
"Day Walker" at the Yilan Museum of Art, mid June

I waited patiently for summer vacation and the end of school to take my kid to the National Palace Museum to catch the Musee D’orsay exhibit in July. We went during the work week but it was still so crowded. Tickets were about 700 NT  total and afterwards we walked around the adjacent garden and then had pizza near Shilin MRT station. It was a rare Taipei day trip.

Musee D'orsay exhibit at the Nat'l Palace Museum

The exhibit from the infamous French museum included 69 iconic masterpieces from artists such as Cezanne, Monet, Van Gogh, Millet, Renoir and Gauguin. The most moving works for me were Renoir's "Young Girls at the Piano" as it reminded me of my recently deceased niece with my daughter. The painting always did remind me of them, even when they were just toddlers at my parents' piano (my daughter was blond then). My daughter mentioned it, she knew. 

In my mid 20's living in Capitol Hill Denver I had this calendar of these same masterpieces that I framed and hung around my apartment. I've been to the famous museums of Madrid, Amsterdam, London, Berlin, to the Louvre, but that was so long ago, when I was 18 or 20 years old. I was so grateful to bend the knee to these classics in person, especially Millet's Shepherdess which was always a personal favorite. The colors in person, the lighting can't be appreciated in a replica photograph.

First installation of the Imaginarium exhibit

When we were in Singapore in early July, we enjoyed a guided tour with a Swedish expat who had been in Singapore for 25+ years at the Singapore Art Museum. They were having an exhibit called "Imaginarium" featuring several up and coming SE Asian artists which were quite interactive. My kid liked the remote control wheeled paintbrushes that were linked up with students all over the world.

Last room of the Imaginarium
It was because of our Swedish guide that we just happenstanced upon the "Life is a Heart of a Rainbow"exhibit from Yayoi Kasuma at the National Gallery Singapore. I had no idea she was in town. We changed plans and headed there on foot immediately.

The queen of avant-garde had this all encompassing, colossal exhibition spanning 70 years from her post WW2 early works until recent pieces/installations from this year. It was astounding. It was multiple mixed medias, film, video, sculpture, lighting, music, she even recorded some haunting song she sung in Japanese, playing over and over in a video room.  We enjoyed several of the interactive installations where you'd have to stick your head into a cube and using mirrors, see yourself inside these psychedelic kaleidoscopes. Of course I knew Kasuma's circle obsessions, her spotty universe, and those gigantic canvasses were just brilliant. Yet I really loved her pumpkins and her phallic fascination as a women, trying to make sense of that in a political and intimate way. There was a room for adults only during her 1960's anti -war, nude photographs. My kid indignantly waited outside, craning a neck out of curiosity.

 We waited in line for about twenty minutes,  two by two to go into the Infinity Mirrored Room's Gleaming Light of the Souls installation. They kicked us out after a minute, but it was basically imagining what it would be like to be in Kasuma's brain. It was dark and spotted colored lights absolutely floating all around us. I felt dizzy. 

We had a little time to kill before our High Tea at the Raffles Hotel and admired the permanent exhibits on the first floor of Singaporean artists from the past. It was excellent. It was better than a history book to see life under British colonialism from the point of view of the Chinese.

Kasuma in person

I'd like to think the summer had some kind of positive influence on me. I recently bought some art supplies and started sketching landscapes of my new living quarters and will work up the nerve to delve in watercolors which had always been so scary for me. There was a time I used to draw and paint and I miss it. Beholding these masters' treasures filled the void. 

Yilan Museum of Art in June

In the meantime, (of working up the nerve to paint again) the Yilan Museum of Art as of today began a new exhibit, "The Landscape of Taiwan," ink paintings by the educator/politician Huang Kuang-Nan 黃光男. Admission is free for Yilan residents and the adjacent cafe sells decent tea and sparse lunch dishes.

In June we caught the local exhibit, "Day Walker" at the Yilan Museum of Art across from Luna Plaza. The large blue landscapes, the rich verdent green trees on gigantic canvasses were my favorites. It was all mostly mountains which is my familiar safe place, my reoccurring childhood dream. I love to see artists sketchbooks, and they had several of the artist's (Li Zanheng) encased in glass. This museum is so underrated and never cited in the English speaking newspapers art exhibition weekly sections.

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