JICC, Embassy of Japan - Cherry Blossom Festival 2015
March 2015
Multiple Locations

Invisible Companions: Layered Meanings Of Journey In Japanese Art

Date: Sunday, March 15, 2015, 1:00-2:00pm
Sponsor: Freer Gallery of Art
Location: Sublevel 1
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

The landscape of Japan is a complex and invisible topography of interlocking histories and metaphors. As with any ancient and highly evolved culture, there are few places that do not reside atop an accretion of multiple meanings, imposed over centuries by historical events, literary interpretation, or religious explanation. Similarly, sacred and secular literatures are replete with tales of journeys—searches for salvation, flights into exile, and determined conquests. Few places or routes are untouched by a template or metaphor that can transform a quotidian excursion into a trip through other spheres and dimensions.

As Japan moved to modernity in the mid-nineteenth century, references to these "template" journeys were used to great effect in art. James Ulak examines the diverse and rich veins of these journey types as depicted in Japanese works. Examples include how the imposition of sacred geometries onto landscapes transform a Buddhist pilgrim’s trek into a ritualized progression, and how a courtier-poet’s exile becomes a lyric reflection on loss, ephemerality, and longing.

Dr. James Ulak is senior curator of Japanese art. After joining the F|S staff as curator of Japanese art in 1995, he served as deputy director (2003–10) and head of collections and research and chief curator (2002–3). A specialist in the history of narrative painting production in fourteenth- and fifteenth-century Japan, Jim received his PhD from Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland) in 1994. Before his arrival at the Freer|Sackler, he was a researcher at the Cleveland Museum of Art, associate curator of Asian art at Yale University Art Gallery, and associate curator of Japanese art at the Art Institute of Chicago. Jim has produced more than twenty exhibitions and has published on a wide range of topics in Japanese art, including medieval Japanese narrative painting, eighteenth-century "eccentric" painters, and Japan's artistic encounters with modernity in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In 2010, he was inducted into the Japanese Order of the Rising Sun, an honor accorded by the Japanese government, for his outstanding contribution to the field of Japanese art.

Workshop: Bonsai Basics With Junipers 

Date: March 21, 10:00am-4:00pm
March 29, 10:00am-4:00pm
April 18, 10:00am-4:00pm
April 19, 10:00am-4:00pm
Sponsor: National Bonsai & Penjing Museum
Location: National Bonsai & Penjing Museum, National Arboretum

Create your own juniper bonsai in this all-day class designed for the beginner. Learn the horticultural, aesthetic, and cultural elements of bonsai, and then apply your new knowledge during the hands-on workshop. All necessary materials, including the plant, pot, soil, and wire are provided, and some tools will be available. Please bring tools if you have them. Bring lunch for a noon break. Your tree will need an outside space at home. 

Fee: $129 ($103 FONA/NBF) Registration required. These popular workshops sell out so please register early.

Bonsai Repotting Workshop

Date: Sunday, March 22, 2015, 1:00 –4:00pm
Sponsor: National Bonsai & Penjing Museum
Location: National Bonsai & Penjing Museum, National Arboretum

Is it time to repot your bonsai?  Learn how to do this important procedure correctly with expert guidance. Bonsai museum staff will teach repotting concepts and skills, giving individual attention to each tree the student brings in. Limit of one large or two small bonsai per student. Soil and tools provided. (Note: Often bonsai will be repotted into the same container. For repotting questions, call 202-245-5307.)

Fee: $29 ($23 FONA/NBF) Registration required.

The Japanese Landscape Through Prints: A Forum

Date: Saturday, March 28, 10:00am-3:00pm
Sponsor: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
Location: Leslie Cheek Theater
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

International speakers discuss the vibrancy and history of the Japanese landscape through prints, including the legacy of Kawase Hasui. Scheduled speakers include:

  • Dr. Ken Brown, professor of Asian Art History at California State University, Long Beach and guest curator of Water & Shadow: Kawase Hasui and Japanese Landscape Prints and author of studies of Hasui, the Shin-hanga movement and Japanese Art Deco.
  • Dr. Christine Guth, Head of Asian Design, Royal College of Art, London, and History of Design Program, Victoria and Albert Museum.
  • Dr. Noriko Kuwahara, Lecturer at Seitoku University, Chiba, Japan
  • Dr. Mitchell Merling, Paul Mellon Curator & Head of the Department of European Art, VMFA

Cost: $10 (VMFA members $8)

Register here

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