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).I 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.To 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.Paper 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.The 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.For 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.
It’s been a while since I took a spin around the galleries at Toronto’s ROM and as I’d been given a “golden ticket” to view the Treasures of a Desert Kingdom: The Royal Arts of Jodhpur, India (selected photos at end of blog) exhibition, I decided to capitalize on the all-access pass and take in some of my favourite displays, in particular the Etruscans (from whom I believe I am descended), the ancient Romans & Greeks, followed by the European 15th – 20th centuries for good measure. There were some exquisite jewellery displays of Etruscan baubles I’d never previously viewed – now I know from where I get my passion for carnelians & garnets…Moving thru the various centuries of ancient civilization, so many great photo opps presented themselves….The Athena Parthenos (above) is recreated here with a model worshiper (bottom right) to show the original scale of this magnificent Greek goddess statue. And I loved the Cypriot busts (below) – the laurel crowned fellow on the right looks like he’s just been told an off-colour joke!Through a set of doors and around a corner, I spied the “In the Age of Rembrandt” exhibition so I flashed my VIP pass and in I went…Such beauty and elegance…several Dutch masters painting during the same era as Rembrandt are featured and as you pass thru the exit of this gallery, you’re bade farewell by a pair of Rembrandt’s stunning portraits…I then proceeded into more recent centuries and viewed the room-scapes set up so visitors can get a taste of furnishings and lifestyles from the Tudors to the mid-20th century.Don’t you just love these mid-century modern chairs (above)? And haven’t we all had our bums in some of these seats, too?
Now back to the Indian exhibit – it closes Sept. 2nd and it’s well worth the museum entry fee just to see it. Stunning artworks, furnishings, royal jewellery & costumes…so much to admire and wonder at.Check out the Royal Ontario Museum’s website for hours & directions: www.rom.on.ca/en
Saturday April 6th dawned bright and early for me…the sun streamed in my bedroom window (pictured below) by 6:30am and the birds were in full chorus! Today was the day AJ was taking me shopping in Old Town, Scottsdale’s touristy section with all the souvenir shops and boutiques complete with wild west themed exteriors. Our first stop was the weekly farmers’ market – not your usual ramshackle clutch of stalls and tents, but a well laid out, clean and welcoming market with free samples, deelish healthy breakfast treats and tons of local produce. Everywhere you looked, there were flowers and happy smiling shoppers. After indulging in a home-made quiche with honey drizzled over it (wow, so yummy) and downing cups of hot local coffee, we headed off to stroll the Old Town streets. There’s a fabulous art gallery, home decor/accessories and artifacts called Bischoff’sGallery that AJ wanted to show me so off we went, passing several stunning western sculptures…I found so many wonderful treasures inside Bischoff’s including this painted deerskin plus numerous kachina dolls…and I picked up a couple of modestly priced carved wooden figurines – a coyote in full howl and a bunny rabbit, plus a string of tiny red glass chili peppers that are now hanging on my front door. www.bischoffsgallery.com
More wanderings in and out of souvenir stores, picking up fridge magnets for friends as requested.We came upon a stunning fountain with several galloping horses…It was getting just a wee bit hot so we ducked into the fab Berdena’s cafe where the staff prepared fresh squeezed orange juice for me and a tea for AJ. Friendly & welcoming staff made for a pleasant visit. www.berdenas.comMore schlepping around the streets before heading to the incredible Museum of the West where I was to find treasures from cowboy history, native American culture and some samples of the great western artist, Charles Russell. I’ll let the photos do the talking…This next one is AJ’s favourite, as if you couldn’t tell!And these are two of mine….They’re also heavy into pot…clay pots, that is…Lots of wild west memorabilia was on display… I was particularly drawn to the Charles Russell exhibition of his paintings and stories about the women in his life…And there were so many amazing bronzes of native Americans…just look at these regal warriors:And of course I found my very own buffalo…Dances with Glenda!The museum has an outdoor courtyard filled with sculptures… …then back inside I discovered a tribute to John Wayne by his artist friend Harry Jackson near the gift shop:The museum also had a “secret garden” of sculptures around back – look what I found there…Big thank you to Jeffrey in the gift store who pointed out some great western books to bring home as well as some cool cowboy fridge magnets (these ones are for me!). Learn more about Scottsdale’s Museum of the West by visiting their website: www.scottsdalemuseumwest.org
More Arizona Adventure stories coming from this lone ranger so stay tuned!