Saturday, June 17, 2017

West to East

Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art
on the campus of Cornell University

June, 2017 is turning out to be a most enchanting month, and I have been on the road ( literally ) from western New York sites like Niagara Falls to the eastern metropolis of New York City.  As we stayed in Ithaca, New York overnight after a wonderful visit in the Finger Lakes region we wanted to take our Swiss visitors up to the Cornell University campus to see the panoramic view from the fifth floor of the Johnson Museum.

Olive Tjaden Hall houses Fine Arts 
as part of the 
College of Architecture, Art, and Planning at Cornell University

We paused for pictures outside of the museum, and I notice that the building where I earned my MFA had not changed much at all over the years.  Then we went up to the Johnson Museum and took the elevator up to see the panorama.

Our view up Lake Cayuga, from the Johnson Museum

When we got off the elevator we checked out the view and some ancient cuneiform tablets and Tibetan thangkas.  I was also attracted to art from Java: shadow puppets with intricate cut patterns and almost comic characters made out of buffalo hide and pigments.

Shadow puppets from Java, Indonesia

19th century Japanese Screen

A dramatic screen painting from Japan caught my eye, it took up most of one wall and depicted a dragon, known to live in the water - creating wind and waves.  Similar images could be found on ceramic plates and vases. On the way down we stopped to look at a painting by Roger Shimomura called: " Desert City" painted recently in 2010.  This is part of a series and this painting, made in the style of 19th century woodblock prints, presented an ideal view of an internment camp like the ones created in the U.S. for Japanese American citizens who were detained during World War ll.  This brought a dose of reality to us and prepared us for what we would see downstairs.

Roger Shimomura's "Desert City", 2010
Acrylic on canvas

Some truly striking portraits of young people who suffer from autism became a focal point for the show in the lower gallery of the Johnson Museum.  The photos were made by Amran Malik Hakim and the show features his portraits and nine other contemporary photographers.  These photographers are heavily invested in the social ramifications of their art form, and they do their best to document the family life, the people, and social consequences of when and where they live.  Amran Malik Hakim lives in Jakarta, Java, Indonesia and became interested in autism when we was working as a teacher after graduating the Jakarta Art Institute.

Portraits by Amran Malik Hakim

The art that we saw at the Johnson Museum in Ithaca was a dress rehearsal for what would follow in Manhattan for me later the next day.  I received a surprise invitation to come to an opening at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.  I would have to get dressed up to go to the show of a collection of Japanese baskets that my cousins Diane and Arthur Abbey were giving to the museum.  I was thrilled to get the invitation and find out more about this gift to The MET.

"Leda and the Swan" 
Cornelis Bols   ( ca. 1540 )

Before we left for New York, we saw a collection of prints being shown at the bottom floor of The Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, that took us back in time, to Europe in the 16th century.  I was interested in the Flemish print by Cornelis Bos of Leda and the Swan, and also a print of a landscape by an artist from the Netherlands - Hieronymus Cock.  It just so happens that years ago I bought a similar print by the same artist, and I was really enjoying the luck of seeing this print at the end of our day.

"Mercury with the head of Argus in His Hand"
by Hieronymus Cock
etching,  1558

In my next post, read about my journey in the museum world of Manhattan.