Monthly Archives: January 2020

fansonstage-2

EXQUISITE EXHIBITION OF KABUKI & NOH FANS @ JAPAN FOUNDATION

As many of you know, I’m a huge fan lover and am never caught without my own beautifully designed fan to keep cool. My prized fan possession is one that Canada’s Grammy-nominated flutist, Ron Korb, brought back for me from Hiroshima where he performed at a memorial concert. It was so beautiful, covered with tiny origami cranes, that I had it framed (below).20200110_154553I couldn’t believe that I forgot to attend the spectacular exhibition of theatrical fans from Japan’s Noh and Kabuki theatre worlds at Toronto’s Japan Foundation located at 1 Bloor East (Royal Bank bldg) but after a reminder email, I dashed in today for a visit and boy, am I happy I did. Fans Onstage closes tomorrow Saturday Jan 11 so hurry hurry hurry!  Admission to the Foundation’s gallery is FREE.20200110_121738 20200110_121843 20200110_121804To quote the information found on their website:  Japan’s association with fans can be traced back to the Nara period (8th century) with the cypress fans made of wooden hinged strips, followed by the invention of paper folded fans in the Heian period (9th century).  As early as the late 10th century the paper folded fans, which differed from flat unfoldable fans, were exported from Japan to the Korean peninsula and China as luxury imports.  In the West, in ancient Egypt and Greece, there were records of folded fans, but the tradition of using fans died out during the Middle Ages.  Whereas in the East the new technique of making fans – the application of paper on both sides of the fan ribs – was brought from China to Japan at the beginning of the Muromachi period (early 14th century).  This new method of manufacture revolutionized the production and export of fans.  Through Portuguese and Dutch traders folding fans were spread out from Japan to the global market and other cultures.20200110_122019 20200110_122028 20200110_121724Paper folded fans have been widely used in people’s daily lives in Japan, but also in the ceremonies of religions and politics, and particularly most effectively in the performing arts.

Noh theatre, which originated in the 15th century, uses fans in the same symbolic way as its masks.  Noh actors are aiming on stage for some kind of unification of their souls with the spiritual being they find in the masks and fans.  Therefore, the treatment of the objects is as rigid as the actors’ own bodies in order to achieve internal energy flow.  The faces are covered by masks and the hands are often invisible, covered by the costume.  One can see the fans as the replacement of hands, but the performers keep their wrists immobile to create concentrated, abstract movements.  On the contrary, in Kabuki theatre – founded in the early 17th century – the actors’ wrists and arms are freely moving their fans.  In Kabuki, the external effects are established by fans, reflecting commoners’ aesthetics.  This is the opposite of the Noh theatre aesthetic which reflects Samurai warriors’ philosophy.  In Kabuki dance, performers turn their fans from front to back quickly, or create swaying waves, maneuvering their fans with their arms and wrists.  They even toss fans into the air and catch them.20200110_12210920200110_12210120200110_122138The difference of the internal versus external use of fans in Noh and Kabuki is physically evident in the proportion of the fans.  Noh theatre fans have a silhouette almost like an upside-down equilateral triangle, whereas Kabuki fans are wider horizontally.  In spite of these physical differences, one thing is common: they are all beautifully handcrafted.  In both Noh and Kabuki, fans are far beyond decoration or props.  They are the handheld splendours which can conjure universal imagery in the theatrical experience.20200110_12215620200110_122204For directions and times, visit the Japan Foundation’s website: www.jftor.org and remember – only 1 day left to see these magnificent works of art.20200110_122545

20191219_110913

ADVENTURES IN SCOTTSDALE OLD TOWN – Pt. VI

So this was my last day in Scottsdale Old Town – I’d got all my souvenirs and gifts purchased, toured all the cultural hot-spots so all that was left was a visit to the fabulous Museum of the West where I’d spent a few happy hours last time I was in town. https://scottsdalemuseumwest.org/ They have spectacular sculptural installations inside and out…20191219_110813 20191219_110845The museum has multiple levels/floors, all easily accessible, displaying artifacts and memorabilia covering the history of Arizona, stunning artworks, native American culture and even film/TV cowboy ephemera, vintage saddles, spurs…and a wonderful collection of photographs from the late, internationally renowned State Senator Barry Goldwater, pictured below with his wife in the lobby. 20191219_111800Following are photos that are pretty self-explanatory but they showcase some of my fave displays of western art and native artifacts that I had previously discovered. I sincerely recommend a personal visit to experience the awe and wonder of Arizona.20191219_112137 20191219_112157 20191219_112827 20191219_112942 20191219_112900 20191219_113511 20191219_113058 20191219_113904 20191219_113932There’s a spectacular sculpture garden courtyard and they had changed the pieces since my last visit (you can search my previous blogs dated last April to see those pics). These are the stunning works currently on display – all life sized or larger.20191219_114403 20191219_114455 20191219_114528 20191219_114539 20191219_114606There’s a gorgeous rusted and tarnished wall installed as a backdrop…just look at this:20191219_114619 20191219_114642 20191219_114655Back inside, I found even more fab paintings from Arizona artists. I love the donkeys below, and of course, my beloved saguaro cactus…20191219_114135 20191219_113343 20191219_113245 20191219_113253Before I left the museum, I had to visit the gift shop and say hello to my friend Jeffrey who reigns over the souvenirs, art prints, books and touristy nic-nacs. He’s full of cool information about the museum and the local area, and made me feel so welcome last time I visited, I just had to bring him a wee Christmas moose from the great white north! I think he liked it…LOL20191219_111414If you ever visit the  museum, please go inside the shop and say hi to Jeffrey.   Afterwards, I decided to walk back down to the main centre of Old Town, passing more cowboys…20191219_121541…and popped into the beautifully restored Mission church.The stained glass windows were created by local artisans many many years ago.20191219_131825 20191219_131852 20191219_132103 20191219_131907I spent some money on souvenirs there and dropped a few $s into the donation box, hoping to be blessed with a safe journey home….and I was. Less than 15hrs later, I was speeding away from Toronto’s Pearson Int’l Airport in a limo, home to my downtown apartment, a bit sleepy but thoroughly invigorated by my 8 days in sunny Scottsdale Old Town.20191220_072900If you take a trip to Old Town, here are 2 great transportation companies that will get you out and about, and to-and-from your hotel and airport:
Local tours courtesy of Quick Silver Golf Carts: www.ridequicksilver.com   and for affordable taxis & town cars, contact Scottsdale Sedan-Taxi (call Frank at 602-714-9833).  I can recommend both. Happy trails, dear readers…..20191219_113220