Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Balboa Park Family Festival

A week or so ago, I volunteered at the Balboa Park Family Festival on behalf of the San Diego Museum of Art. Apparently they have a Family Festival every 4 months, and the theme corresponds with the current exhibition, which in this case happened to be the Kimono as Art: The Landscapes of Itchiku Kubota exhibition.

First of all, let me just say this exhibition was absolutely unbelievable. Beyond my already obsessive love for all things Japanese, and all things artsy, the sheer time that must have been spent by Itchiku Kubota to become a complete master of this trade is unfathomable. The Museum did a fantastic job of installing the kimono in an arc, which facilitated the viewer's eye around the collection from his 4 Seasons series. He actually died before he could complete his masterpiece, so now his sons have taken over the museum in his name and have vowed to complete it. The San Diego museum has on display the Autumn and Winter kimono, which numbers about 30 or so. I wish I had been able to take pictures of the collection, but if you haven't already clicked on the exhibition link, do so now. It's absolutely worth it.

My volunteering time was first assigned to the ink painting tent, where we passed out rice paper and demonstrated the Japanese style of ink painting and washing. Unfortunately, this totally cushy, easy, fun, sitting-down-in-the-shade job was replaced with helping James (last name ?) put together the giant paper kimono that was to be "unveiled" at the end of the festival. Basically people would paint their ink paintings at the tent, and then bring them over to us so we could attach them onto a giant paper kimono as an assemblage. It was hit or miss with the wind, but we actually had a great time despite major difficulties dealing with the paper tearing and a pretty hot sun beating down on us.

In the end, it looked something like this:

Okay, those are kind of terrible depictions of the final product. At the beginning, it really was a large paper kimono with sort of wing attachments flowing from the bottom. Since this made it pretty unstable and vulnerable to the wind, we had to add those at the very end. Regardless, we got so many ink paintings that it ended up being difficult to attach them all on the kimono, but we managed.

In the end, it was a pretty awesome day. There were Japanese drum dancers, kimono ceremony, origami folding, ink painting, and even a puppet show! Basically my ideal day. Plus I got to make a few friends and hang out with kids teaching them how to be crafty. Awesome stuff.

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