Despite the chaotic panic of Corona Virus, the natural world continues its own steadfast course. Birds fly. Flowers and trees bud and bloom. And fish swim.
This week, thousands of tiny salmon were released into the Sumida River by school children in Koto Ward, who had grown them from eggs in their classrooms. We wish them long life!
FISH GOTTA FLY
On Monday, 150 Indigo Carp came to swim at Blue and White from Factory Ai, a facility for Special Abilities people using indigo dyeing as therapy for their disabilities. The flashing, multi-patterned, indigo creations are dancing from the ceiling where they will be on display til May 5, Boys’ Day, celebrating the bravery of boys, like the carp who courageously swim up waterfalls.
Sophie Wise, a gifted young American weaver living in Tokyo takes inspiration from the natural world of Japan as well as its contemporary architecture and features it in her weaving. We will present her Koi (Carp) inspired textiles in Blue & White from Saturday March 15. Her tapestries will swim with the indigo carp of Ai Kobo. Like us, you too will be intrigued with her ingenuity and dedicated craftsmanship when you see her work.
Table runners. tapestries, wall hangings, Sophie’s original creations are sure to brighten your life, and remind you of the flash and spirit of Japan.
Things are different at our new 10 Day Tokiwa Gallery! Silly! Quirky! Unexpected! Laughable! and Surprising! It ends today. Sunday 8 March.
Starting with a SPECTACULAR SHISHI MAI DANCE (first time we’ve ever tried to use a video. Hope it works! It didn’t!) performed by Father and Son who live in the neighborhood. Son, an evolved and accomplished 40 year old Down’s Syndrome artist, was the head. Father was the tail. Their teamwork, punctuated by a lively drummer and recorded music, was perfectly performed and deeply touching, to say nothing of hugely energetic! The two men were clothed in a long homemade body of colorful sewn together strips of varying patterns and fabrics, and a heavy red ShiShi mask of thick layers of paper mâché, they danced for maybe 20 minutes as they cavorted from the street to inside the shop, exorcising all evil spirits and protecting the celebrants as they pranced. How we all need it in these frightening Corona Virus times!
It has been an exciting opportunity to show our collections, and Becky Well’s imaginative reworkings of Flea Market treasures, as well as the works of two special abilities centers that we feature at BLUE & WHITE. Tamagawa Fukushi Sagyo Center and Sora to Umi in Funabashi. Plus a special room filled with BORO! So many images to share, that we will be quiet and let the photos speak for themselves with the occasional caption.
At the entrance, a beaded African Yoruba beaded prince from Nigeria welcomes visitors with his folded paper gohei from Shimane to purify, and his indigo shibori mask to protect him from any virus. Indigo is said to grant immunity from bugs and snakes and germs.
Next to the entrance, is an altar with a Goddess, perhaps, of colorful silk threads by a 19 year old woman, floating on a thread sampler cloud also from SORA TO UMI Special Abilities Facility in Funabashi, just outside of Tokyo.
Houses, houses, houses. A favorite thing to collect for both Becky Wells, artist, and my fellow collaborator, and me. In clay and cloth and glass and wood and stone – houses of all kinds, hold our lives and house our dreams together. Behind a backdrop of raw washi by an aspiring young washi artist in Niigata who makes thick indigo and natural color washi buttons as well!
on the top right is a miraculous tapestry of the Sumida River sewn by the gifted young man who performed the ShiShi Mai dance. It took him three years to complete. The needlework is impossibly dense and brilliant! The waves and fireworks and bridges are all in sight in front of the gallery, just minutes away from where he lives. We share the river with the famous haiku poet Basho.
Whether it be a stitched length of cloth, or a carved wooden face, a button or a painting; whether it was created by a child or a person with disabilities, an old man or woman or someone without impairment, art comes from somewhere within. There is a spark of creativity that all these artists were born with. Conscious or unconscious, that spark can be encouraged and nourished. Our POP UP SHOP AND SHOW shone a light on a selection of artists who bring lightness and joy to our lives with no boundaries between able artists and others. We thank and encourage them all.
More Spirit than Art is the upcoming BLUE & WHITE SHOP AND SHOW at the 10 DAY Tokiwa GALLERY. FEBRUARY 29 – March 8, 12 – 5 Daily
What do Boro, Special Abilities Art, and Bonito Flakes, above, have in common? What power do they share that infuses them and imparts energy and wonder and hope? Why am I so drawn to these disparate forms of expression? It may simply be that they are spontaneous and unintentional, unplanned pieces of art. They work with what is available and make the best of their abilities to express something that cannot be created rationally.
This Goddess of lustrous silk threads comes from somewhere within the artist that otherwise might not have found an outlet for expression. What was he thinking? Did he know that my dream is of a Textile Museum in Tokyo? and when it happens, she will hold the special place there.
Snippets of embroidery on scraps of material were sewn onto lengths and pieces of linen to be used as wall hangings or shawls or scarves or any which way by SORA & UMI Special Abilities Workshop
I wanted to buy this mysterious message of small embroideries sewn onto a piece of ecru linen. Of course it had been sold before I returned, but the owner has kindly agreed to let us display it for our upcoming show.
Years! ago, I bought this enchanting embroidery of faces on a simple piece of spotted cloth at NishiNishi in Takamatsu, Shikoku. Through moves and changing exhibits, I have treasured this moving thread work map of human feelings.
And then there is the eternal BORO, the art of making do, making things last. Made of thick linen bags for straining sake, mends and all, by forgotten people, sake brewers probably, making every bit of cloth matter, using whatever was available and unknowingly infusing it with unintentional, intuitive beauty. The beauty of usefulness. The usefulness of what is available.
MORE SPIRIT THAN ART
Spirits have no boundaries. Here an African Yoruba beaded prince, waves the cut and folded washi Gohei of the Ariga ?Matsuri in Shimane. Below a huge and fearsome Dragon of painted washi and bamboo curls up in a corner of The Pola Gallery in Ginza at a marvelous recent exhibit of the little known arts and culture of Japan. Noticing my interest, they generously presented me with the paper and bamboo Gohei..
Special effects fireworks explode from his mouth! (Dragon photos by Becky Wells)
What is it in festivals, special abilities artists and flea markets that ignite a flame of shared vitality in us? Why do we have to keep returning. No money left, but still there are things we must have! Must live with. Must try to create new things with. More than an addiction, it is a spark of energy and life that we find in these varied expressions of spirit, of something beyond us. We reach out to touch their unintentional beauty and their spirit of innocence! Become a part of it.
POP UP SHOP & SHOW AT TOKIWA TEN DAY GALLERY FEBRUARY 29 -MARCH 8 OPENING PARTY SATURDAY FEBRUARY 29 FROM 6 PM. DRINKS AND SHI SHI MAE PERFORMANCE