Press Release: From the Verandah: Art, Buddhism, Presence
Stacey Ravel Abarbanel
Tel. (310) 825-4288
For Immediate Use
'From the Verandah: Art, Buddhism, Presence'
Opens at the UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History October 5, 2003
A collaboration of the UCLA Fowler Museum, the UCLA Hammer Museum, and the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center
Enter a darkened vestibule. Remove your shoes. Follow a path. These acts are designed to prepare visitors for ‘From the Verandah: Art, Buddhism, Presence’— on view at the UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History from Oct. 5, 2003–Jan.4, 2004 — an experimental installation designed to encourage visitors to have a heightened experience of a space, works and acts of art, and the present moment.
Central to the exhibition is a large, verandah-like platform, surrounding two open areas, the way a Japanese temple verandah borders a Zen rock garden. Rice House, a marble sculpture by contemporary German artist Wolfgang Laib, occupies the center of one “garden;” a field of cracked clay created by artist Hirokazu Kosaka is in the center of the second.
Laib is known for objects and installations using natural materials, like milk, pollen, rice, beeswax and stone. His work has been selected as a focus of this exhibition because of its purity of materials and simplicity of form, and the inspiration the artist draws from the formal and ceremonial qualities of Asian art and ritual. Just as Laib’s own process is solitary and meditative, so too does his work evoke contemplation and sustained attention.
Kosaka, who was born in Japan and graduated from the Chouinard Art Institute in 1970, is a Buddhist priest and master Zen archer. His works — included the 1994 exhibition ‘In the Mood’ at Los Angeles’ Museum of Contemporary Art — explore memory, identity, and living in the present, a notion particularly suited to this exhibition.
The verandah platform has been designed as a contemplative space where visitors can sit quietly, meditate, and view the works of art. The subtle sounds of falling snow, composed by Yuval Ron, gently interrupt the silence. Visitors may notice dancers performing simple meditative acts in the darkened space surrounding the verandah in a performance score called As Beauty Subsides, by award-winning San Francisco-based choreographer Joe Goode and his performance group.
‘From the Verandah’ explores how cultivation of awareness is primary to creativity — both in the making and the experiencing of art. Underpinning this exhibition is the idea that such deepening of awareness is more than an academic enterprise; rather it is central to artistic expression and reception. Attention to momentary experience through humble materials and simple gestures expresses the Japanese concept of wabi sabi.
In keeping with this notion, numerous special programs have been planned to take place in and around the verandah, such as meditation workshops, conversations with Buddhist thinkers, tea ceremonies, and performances (see “Related Events”).
The opening of ‘From the Verandah’ coincides with the opening of a major traveling exhibition at the Fowler Museum entitled ‘The Art of Rice: Spirit and Sustenance in Asia.’ ‘The Art of Rice’ explores the tremendous influence of rice on cultures across Asia through a study of the visual arts, including works from China, Japan, India, Indonesia, Korea, Thailand, the Philippines, and other Asian countries. Laib’s use of rice in his work, with reference to ritual offerings left for deities in southern India, provides a conceptual link between the exhibitions.
‘From the Verandah’ is the result of the creative collaboration between Hirokazu Kosaka, performance artist, kyudo archer, and Buddhist priest; Michael Rotondi, architect and teacher; Joe Goode, performance artist and writer; Linda Duke, former director of education at the Hammer Museum and now director of education at the Indianapolis Museum of Art; Marla C. Berns, director, Fowler Museum; and Betsy Quick, director of education, Fowler Museum. Support provided by the W.L.S. Spencer Foundation; Ahmanson Foundation; Anawalt Lumber Company, Inc.; National College Choreography Initiative; UCLA’s Office of Research, Graduate Division, School of the Arts, and Japanese Studies Center; the Goethe-Institut Los Angeles; and Manus — the support group of the Fowler Museum.
This exhibition is part of a West-Coast-based initiative called ‘Awake: Art, Buddhism, and the Dimensions of Consciousness.’ This consortium of individuals representing fifty arts institutions has been investigating the relationship between Buddhism and the arts in this country, culminating in various programs, exhibitions, and performances. ‘Awake’ is supported by the Nathan Cummings Foundation, James Irvine Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, and private donors. For more information on ‘Awake,’ please call 510/406-4455.
‘From the Verandah’ will be on view Wednesdays through Sundays, noon to 5 p.m.; and on Thursdays, noon until 8 p.m. The museum is closed Mondays and Tuesdays. The Fowler Museum, part of UCLA’s School of the Arts and Architecture, is located in the north part of the UCLA campus. Admission is free. Parking is available for $7 in Lot 4. For more information, the public may call 310/825-4361.
October 5, 2003 noon–5 pm
2 pm As Beauty Subsides
Award-winning choreographer Joe Goode appears in the premiere of this meditative work he created with his performance group for the From the Verandah exhibition. Pre-performance discussion with Goode @ 1 pm; performance @ 2 pm. Free; no reservations required, but space is limited.
October 23, 2003 7–9 pm
Conversation: On Not Knowing and Creativity
Not knowing — the answer, the goal, or even the next step — is generally associated with deficit and failure in our culture. How then, do artists, writers, and other creative people cope with such indeterminacy, learning to live with the anxiety it produces and even coming to understand it as part of the creative process? Irene Borger, a writer and creator of the AIDS Project Los Angeles’ Writers Workshop, joins Zen Buddhist priest Yvonne Rand in a discussion of these themes. Moderated by Linda Duke. Free; no reservations required.
October 23–25, 2003 3:30 pm daily
Yvonne Rand, resident teacher at Goat-in-the-Road, a center for Buddhist practice in Muir Beach, California, leads participants in daily meditation exercises intended to cultivate awareness and presence. Free; no reservations required.
October 25, 2003 8 pm
An exclusive performance of a new collaborative work created by three artists: Buddhist priest and master Zen archer Hirokazu Kosaka; Japanese butoh dancer and choreographer Oguri; and composer/musician Nathan Birnbaum. Through evocative sounds, images and body movement, Muddy Robe subtly recalls one of Buddhism’s central symbols, the lotus, a flower of exquisite beauty that thrives in the muddy waters of a swamp. Free. Space is limited; reservations required: 310/826-8655.
November 1, 2003 2 pm
Longhaired Monks? A Portrait of Two Chinese Buddhist Masters and Its Many Contexts
The 16th Annual Sammy Yukuan Lee Lecture on Chinese Art and Architecture
Presented by Raoul Birnbaum, Professor of Art History, University of California, Santa Cruz. Lecture in the Lenart Auditorium; reception to follow in the Museum courtyard. Information: 310/825-0007. Sponsored by UCLA Asia Institute, UCLA Center for Chinese Studies, and the Fowler Museum. Free; no reservations required.
November 6, 2003 7 pm
Conversation: Ecce Homology
Can artistic practice and aesthetic experience nurture discovery in genomic biology? Join media artist and molecular genetics researcher Ruth G. West, biochemist Cheryl Kerfeld, media artist Jeff Burke and media artist/computer scientist Eitan Mendelowitz as they grapple with this question in a discussion of their pioneering multi-media installation Ecce Homology, installed in the exhibition ‘From the Verandah.’ For more information on Ecce Homology visit www.insilicov1.org. Sponsored by UCLA Academic Technology Services and the Technology Sandbox Project. Free; no reservations required.
November 9, 2003 12:30 pm
Tibetan Singing Bowls
Kids in the Courtyard Series
Jean Copeland leads a performance and hands-on demonstration of playing and meditating to the sounds of Tibetan “singing bowls,” cup-shaped bells used in Tibet for ceremonial purposes and to induce meditation. Copeland will guide participants in a “listening circle,” utilizing the bowls to facilitate a deep sense of well-being and relaxation. Free; no reservations required.
The Ways of Tea/Cha
Tea, and the ceremonial ways of preparing and serving it, developed in concert with the Buddhist cultures of Asia over much of the past 2500 years. Though many in the West in recent decades have become familiar with the austere aesthetics of wabi sabi, central to the Japanese chanoyu ceremony, fewer have experienced the breadth and diversity of other Asian tea practices to which it is related. Guest curated by tea expert and documentary filmmaker Gaetano Kazuo Maida for ‘From the Verandah,’ The Ways of Tea/Cha brings together masters of the Korean tado, Taiwanese gai wan, Chinese gung fu and Japanese chanoyu tea ceremony traditions for a groundbreaking series of programs designed to introduce audiences to the history, culture, ritual, and ultimately, the taste of tea.
November 13, 2003 7–9 pm
Moderated by Gaetano Maida, documentary filmmaker and self-described “tea evangelist,” this panel discussion will focus on the role of Buddhist practice in various Asian tea ceremony traditions. A tea tasting will follow the discussion. Free; no reservations required.
November 15–16, 2003 12 and 3 pm daily
Four different tea ceremonies, including a brief introduction to their forms and an opportunity for audience questions, will be presented in the From the Verandah gallery by masters of Japanese, Chinese, Taiwanese, and Korean traditions. An informal tea tasting in the Fowler courtyard follows each event. Free; reservations required: 310/825-8655.
December 6, 2003 1–4 pm
Flowers in Harmony: The Japanese Art of Ikebana
A World of Art Family Workshop
Hisoko Shohara, president of the LA chapter of the Ohara School of Ikebana, will teach participants how to create elegant arrangements while learning the design elements key to this art form. $5 material fee for Fowler members; $10 for non-members. Reservations required: 310/825-8655. Not intended for young children.