Wednesday, May 12, 2010

All Asian Focus at the Civic Center This Weekend

Well, “Three Head Six Arm Buddha” by Shanghai artist Zhang Huan was dedicated today in Civic Center but the Internets are already burning up with talk of the Rapture.

Why the Rapture?  SF Citizen has the scoop: ‘Cause this 15-ton monster portends the arrival of the Antichrist Maitreya (or something). And then things will go downhill fairly quickly after that, apparently. (Actually, we were supposed to get the Rapture on January 11, 2009, because of Barack Obama of course, but then….)

 Newsom gets into the act as well, asking a bunch of students attending the ribbon cutting ceremony what the Buddha represents. "Buddhism," they holler back. Well, that was insightful.

I went to the ribbon cutting ceremony today and didn't see one sign of transcendence or the second coming. Nobody ascended to heaven and the envelope supposedly separating this world from the next remained firmly in place. There were a lot of news people around interviewing the guys in suits. Maybe they were the manifestations of the demons of evil? You think probably not?

Personally I think that it's more a sign of expensive dubious taste ($100,000 to ship it over here - or so I read), artistic ego and my art piece is bigger than your art piece (neiner, neiner), rather than an object of real spirituality or a protest against the Chinese destruction of Tibetan culture. But it's an interesting addition to the Civic Plaza. It's much more striking than Manolo Valdez's  Infantes (aka, The Cowbells) up in 2008.

 Manolo Valdez' Infantes (from 2008)

I just wish that we have been able to keep one of Louise Bourgeois' huge spiders in the city- there could be a face off of Giant Spider at one end and Buddha at the other. Horror in the plaza at high noon (rather than the usual horror show at City Hall). But that's a lot less colorful. Where is Ray Harryhausen when you need him? We could offset the cost of shipping and installation by making a horror movie. Instead of Godzilla and Mothra destroying the Tokyo, we could have Buddha vs Spider aided by a cast of the floating denizens of the Civic Center Plaza, whomping and stomping evil Old San Francisco into rubble.

If you want to see some beautiful Buddhas, check out the marvelous ones at the Asian Art Museum, right across the street.

©Asian Art Museum: USS Powhatan carrying the First Japanese Embassy to America, approx. 1860. Woodblock print, ink and colors on paper. Asian Art Museum, Gift of Mr. Richard Gump, B81D10

Speaking of the Asian, there's a lovely exhibit up now to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the ship Kanrin Maru and the first Japanese embassy to the United States. This exhibit focuses on some of the first Japanese diplomats and cultural emissaries in San Francisco, and how they responded to the experience of being in America. There are more than 40 artworks and other visual media associated with the first mission, with Japanese artists and cultural leaders active in San Francisco between 1880 and 1927.
It’ll be in the Japanese Galleries ’til November 21, 2010.

Plus, there's the Asian Festival In Little Saigon this weekend. There will be a whole lot of shaking going on. I did remember reading that there will be Balut which will not please the vegan protesters that SF Mike wrote about recently.
Civic Center

Buddha and Valdez images @ Nancy Ewart.


Zoomie said...

The cowbells looks like a decapitated sphinx. What passes for art sometimes, these days, is truly puzzling.

namastenancy said...

HAHAHA! I didn't show the rest of his sculptures - one was supposed to be a hat but it looked like the planet Saturn, with rings of steel around it. The sad thing was that SF had to post police around the sculptures to keep people from tagging them which made it a very expensive piece of city art.