As temperatures turn cooler and daylight hours wane, we say “farewell” to warm weather outdoor performances and turn indoors for arts and entertainment. In the Triangle, our local art museums plan enticing exhibits for this Fall. Presently in Chapel Hill, the Ackland Art Museum promises to draw enthusiastic crowds to view multiple exhibits featuring various aspects of Japanese art and culture through the centuries in the impressive “A Season of Japan“.
The Ackland’s exhibits feature Japanese arts across a variety of mediums: print, ceramic, film, photography, poster art as well as painted screens and scrolls, offering the opportunity for total cultural immersion. The largest of the exhibits, appropriately titled “Elegance & Extravagance”, is a collection of 86 posters from 22 artists, as selected from the collection of Merrill C. Berman. The posters span four decades beginning in the post World War II Japan of the 1950s, continuing through the 1990s, depicting the emergence of Japan’s consumer culture as well as Western pop culture influences. The images range from serene and simplistic to colorfully surreal examples of graphic design excellence. This exhibit will be displayed through January 6, 2013, as will short films from two of the poster artists, running in an adjacent gallery. Neither exhibit should be missed.
Additional exhibits as part of “A Season of Japan” feature traditional and modern Japanese prints and printmaking techniques. The currently displayed print exhibit “East Faces West” includes modern prints and will be switched out with an exhibit of earlier traditional prints in mid October when “Pictures of Vanity Fair” opens. In addition, the current contemporary ceramics installation will change at the same time to an installation of five works from the Ackland’s collection. The delicate and fragile painted screens and scrolls of “New Light on Japanese Painting” remain on display until October 14th. If you’re interested in learning about the meticulous process of restoring and conserving these types of works, the Ackland has an informative slide show here.
For those seeking to delve even further into Japanese culture, the Ackland Art Museum has scheduled several special programs and curators’ seminars over the coming months. A sake tasting will be hosted by Jujube restaurant on September 27th (advanced registration is required and those interested should send an email to reserve a space). On October 4th, a free public film lecture, discussing directors such as Hayao Miyazaki (director of Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away) precedes the viewing of Isao Takahata’s Grave of the Fireflies (1988). A tea tasting, including information on traditional and contemporary tea practices, is scheduled for October 18th. Finally, Japanese Culture Day (Bunka no Hi) will celebrate culture and arts in a free, public, family-friendly event at the Ackland on November 3rd.
That the exhibits are freely available to those wishing to visit another culture without leaving the familiarity of our Triangle neighborhood is the cherry (blossom) atop the breadth and beauty of the works included in “A Season of Japan”. I encourage you to take time this Fall for a special season at the Ackland Museum. It’s a short journey, well worth exploring at length.