Thursday, July 16, 2009

Culture on a budget

I just posted an article on all of the Bay Area museums that I could think of that have free days and/or free admission for kids under 12. I never realized that a "simple" newspaper article could be so much work. I had to check and double check my spelling and my facts. The good thing is that I can post to a "real" newspaper web site. The bad thing is that I don't have an fact checker/outsider eye making sure I don't goof up before the fact. I'm reading Lillian Ross' book "Reporting Back: Notes on Journalism" which makes me very nostalgic for the good old days. She had superb editors who helped her develop her skills but she also pays tribute to the fact-checking department of the magazine where she worked for so many years. Remember to click on the link - I'm aiming for one happy meal a month.

The image on the left is from the current show of Mithila paintings from northern Bihar. For centuries, women’s paintings have been used to consecrate space for human habitation and ritual purposes. The paintings are filled with magical properties and cover the walls near their hearths with images of their gods and goddesses. For weddings and festivals, they embellish the outer walls of their homes with elaborate drawings based on familiar mythological stories. Hence a major theme here is women’s art for the domestic world, and especially art that is found in association with life-cycle events.

Paper was introduced into the Mithila painting tradition in the 1960’s. The changeover to a portable support for the paintings moved the locus of the artists’ efforts out of the home and removed the creation of this art from its ritual setting. Despite the persistence of traditional themes, the change to paper also allowed the women artists to experiment with newer themes, and allowed them a broader freedom of expression. The works at the Asian are a mixture of old and new and even include one work by a male artist. The current show is up until July 26th and then, it will go into storage for almost two years to preserve the fragile works.

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