Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Bryant Park and Japanese Book Store!

We LOVE Bryant Park, behind the New York Public Library.  Many years ago the park had become a little derelict, and a group of concerned citizens decided that it needed a restoration and redesign, one that would bring lots of people into the park.  And it worked!  A private  not-for-profit company was formed to manage the restoration and maintenance.  Bryant Park has been a huge success, and it is one of our favorite places to visit in NYC.  Tree shaded avenues find people reading, chatting with friends, eating, exercising, playing games.  There are even book carts and a kind of open air library.

The day we visited a "small" yoga class was being held in the open space used for movies, performances, etc.  The girl in pink was a perfect yoga devotee.  (You can enlarge a photo by right clicking and choosing "Open in new window.")

The guys playing ping pong looked like they were having more fun.  I told Kathy she should take up the sport -- good exercise and meet men at the same time.  But does she take my advice?  Nooo.

Best public rest rooms in New York City.  Seriously nice!  Don't forget to tip the attendant.

We enjoyed our shared gourmet sandwich (from one of the park food kiosks) while watching the ping pong players, then headed across the street to our actual destination:  JAPANESE BOOK STORE!  I love Japanese design!  When I lived in Arlington I used to take the 77 bus down Mass Avenue to Porter Square in Cambridge.  There was a sweet tea room, the Paper Source, and a small but wonderful Japanese mall in the old Sears building.  The bakery, mmmmmmm, sweet bean & cream filled, light-as-a-feather donuts; food court with tampopo and miso offerings; a grocery store with the cutest snack section for kids this side of Japan; and a gift shop that carried beautiful hand printed papers for crafting, or just hanging on the wall.

Helloooo Kitty.  The Japanese are genius at design and marketing.

Every so often I would run across a Japanese craft book in a bead, quilt, or needlework store, like these below.  It never mattered that the books were not translated into English -- the design and craftsmanship were enough to study and be amazed at, and the instructions so well illustrated that an experienced crafter could figure them out.

Here is a doll I made from one of my old Ondori doll books.  I remember that I used a coat hanger inside and it was really hard to bend it.  But the doll came out so cute.

My daughter told me about a fabulous Japanese book store, Kinokuniya, she had discovered in NYC that I had to experience.  Omg, when she brought me to the basement craft section, I was in book heaven!  I couldn't believe the number and variety of books, covering all the fiber arts including some that are increasing in popularity and interest.

I had to get this precious book which looks a lot like stumpwork embroidery -- lots of detached buttonhole stitching of little animals, butterflies, beetles, & fish to make into a brooch, cover a purse, or simply decorate your home in hidden, whimsical ways.

The designs are amazing, and so is the photography:

Back cover of "Small World by Felt," a needle felting book:

"Irish Crochet Lace."  The designs are charted, and Japanese charts are very nearly like American crochet charts, but even so this book might be too difficult for me.  I'll start with a small motif.  Why do they have to make it even cuter with the little bird placed delicately on the cover crochet?

Here is the address of the bookstore in New York City.  But if you are near San Franciso, or Los Angeles, or even Dubai, they have branches there.  I did not find their website user friendly, even the USA page is in Japanese.  You just have to go there, and browse, and buy, and wish your wallet would call and say "Get as many books as you want, dear!"

I did not find this Japanese book at Kinokuniya, but at Lacis in Berkeley earlier this year.  It is absolutely gorgeous to look at.

Eye candy from, where else, Japan!  (I think; Charlie brought them home from a trip several years ago.  I took a photo before they disappeared.)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Inspired by Native American Artisans

On my trip Up North this summer, I was lucky enough to see three museum exhibits featuring the art and craft of Native American artists. The pictures that can be made with tiny beads, porcupine quills, and moosehair is amazing. I’ve done a lot of beadwork, using Indian techniques, but I would love to try my hand at things like moosehair embroidery. (I wonder if all the saved cat whiskers might work in this technique. I've saved a LOT of them over the years!)

Carolyn and I went to a really good exhibit at the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, called Rethink! – American Indian Art.    The exhibit is up until January 6, 2013, and includes the work of well known contemporary artists such as Teri Greeves, click here and here; Jeremy Frey; Marcus Amerman, and many others.  

Note: You can click on any text that is in dark red, to follow a link to another website.

I love Teri Greeves’ Beaded High Top Sneakers. What a hoot! Teri is teaching a Beaded Baby Moccasins workshop at the museum on November 4. Wish I could take it!

There were several wall hangings by Teri Greeves that were really interesting. This bead technique looks similar to working with number 11 seed beads, but she used BIG beads and on a large scale.

I have been seeing Marcus Amerman’s beaded portraits for many years (see Chief Joseph portrait here), but I did not know about his high fashion pieces and glass work.  I love the beadwork lapels on this 'Indian Tux' (my description, I do not know the title of this piece).  The jacket in the background was also fascinating, all done in a beadwork version of ledger drawings. 

The Berkshire Museum will also host workshops this fall with Jeremy Frey (an amazing Passamaquoddy basket maker), October 7, and Niio Perkins, ‘Iroquois Beaded Whimsey’ on December 4.

The exhibit at the Berkshire Museum also features artifacts the Museum has collected over the years.  I love this sweet European China doll beautifully dressed in Crow costume:

Visiting Kathy in New York City, I discovered TWO museum exhibits featuring Native American art! Of course I always go to the National Museum of the American Indian in New York, now located in the Wall Street area, but I used to go to it when it was up in Harlem and was called the Heye Foundation Museum of the American Indian. The NMAI has some amazing, amazing pieces in their collections, and there are always new exhibits up when I visit. This time it was DOLLS!

There were some beautiful, and charming, dolls in the exhibit. The lighting was low, and no flash, so the photos aren’t great, but you can see the NMAI doll collection online by doing a search (and you can see the BACK of the dolls too, which I couldn’t in the exhibit).   Click here. 

One of several ‘dolls’ by Joyce Growing Thunder:

I like the face painting on these dolls:

These dolls were from Alaska, are made of grasses, and I think they are a kind of basketry:

The exhibit is now closed, but there is a catalog, sort of. It doesn’t feature the dolls in the exhibit, but it is an excellent book about Native American dolls.
Order it from the museum store:

Anishinaabe Birch & Quill House:

Cool!  A Choctaw coat (circa 1900) from Mississsippi!  This was part of another exhibit, "Infinity of Nations," at NMAI, and in additional to the actual exhibit, there is a fabulous online exhibit of Native art of the Americas, from earliest history to contemporary.

More Inspiration Pieces!

After visiting the NMAI, and a bite to eat from a cute little Farmer’s Market in front of the Custom House,

we head up to the Metropolitan Museum for yet another exhibit of Native American art & craft.  These items are from the The Coe Collection of American Indian Art, and are on exhibit through October 14. 
(Photography allowed, no flash.)  Here is Joyce Growing Thunder again!. This ‘doll’ was incredible, the design and workmanship are so exquisite. And this time I got to see the figure in the round, as well as the inspiration pieces that inspired the work!
Here is the inspiration piece that inspired Joyce Growing Thunder's figure, front and back.  It is a Girl's Cape, Assiniboin, from 1890-1905.

You can search the Metropolitan online data base for photos and information about museum objects and collections, including Joyce Growing Thunder: 
I love the internet!  It is wonderful for people like me who live hundreds (and thousands) of miles from the large museums.  To search the Museum's online data base, click hereTry looking up 'dolls' and see what comes up, it's amazing.  There are so many objects in a museum's collection that are not currently on display which you can see online.
I did a search “beadwork in the coe collection” and found lots of beautiful pieces to study, including this Iroquois Glenngary style cap.  I want to make one of these.

Lastly, I love this figure in the Museum.  I’m afraid I do not know what it is, but I call it “Curmudgeon Baby,” because that is what it looks like to me!  Cute Curmudgeon Baby.

Tip for visiting the Metropolitan Museum.  The recommended fee for admission for adults is $25 (seniors $17).  When my daughter and I visited we arrived later in the afternoon.  I asked if I could pay less, as we would only be there less than two hours, and they said we could pay an amount of our choosing, so I paid less than the suggested amount.  But if I had been able to spend all day at the museum, $25 is a bargain for what you get at this BEST art museum in the U.S.!