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2017 Art in the Garden Exhibitions

Three major Art in the Garden exhibitions are planned in celebration of the opening of the Cultural Crossing this year. The themes are: ceramics and calligraphy, Kabuki costumes, and Noh masks and costumes. Related lectures, demonstrations, and art activities are being planned for each Art in the Garden exhibition and we invite you, our members, to come enjoy this exciting year ahead.


Hosokawa Morihiro: The Art of Life, A Rebirth in Clay

In the earlier 1900s, Okakura Tenshin, the scholar who introduced Japanese art and tea culture to

/ Photo by Yoshihiro Saito

Boston society, explained to his students that the tea ceremony is really just the art of life itself. In honor of the Grand Opening of our new Cultural Village, the first exhibition of 2017 is a celebration of tea culture in the art and life of Hosokawa Morihiro, a former Prime Minister of Japan. He is also the 18th generation descendant of the Hosokawa clan of daimyo (feudal lords), one of the most illustrious samurai families in Japanese history. Bunbu-Ryodo, the Twofold Path of Pen and Sword, has been a part of the warrior tradition in Japan since the feudal ages. With 600 years of family history as warriors, tea masters and poets, Hosokawa left a career in politics behind in the late 1990s to pursue the life of an artist in clay and ink. This contemporary Renaissance man knew it was time to leave the battleground of modern politics and embrace the art of life. After a formal apprenticeship as a potter, this accomplished artist, calligrapher and poet, expresses a love of simplicity and originality in his work and in his life. As a descendant of some of the great warrior/ tea masters of Japan’s feudal period, today he practices tea ceremony in a manner that is uniquely his own in a tea house/tree house that he had specially made. The Way of Tea plays a primary role in the cultural programs of the Portland Japanese Garden and we are honored to have former Prime Minister Hosokawa’s exhibition to open the new Cultural Village in both the Pavilion Gallery and the new Tanabe Gallery.


KABUKI: A Revolution in Color and Design

Summer brings an exhilarating, new direction in the Art in the Garden series when we explore Japan’s most flamboyant and fanciful performance art through 10 elaborate costumes in the exhibition Kabuki: A Revolution in Color and Design. Kabuki is a classical Japanese dance-drama, which originated in the 17th century and continues to the present day under the auspices of Shochiku Co. of Tokyo. Kabuki theatre is known for the popular stylization of its drama and for the elaborate make-up worn by the performers. It became a common form of entertainment in the lively entertainment district in old Kyoto and Edo (now Tokyo). Crowd of enthusiastic fans from various levels of society gathered under one giant roof for these lively performances, a mingling of the strictly regulated social classes that happened nowhere else in the city. The Kabuki stage provides exciting entertainment with music and dance performed by famous actors, who were the wildly popular celebrities of their day.

Their brilliantly hand-painted and lavishly embroidered silk costumes exploded on stage in a riot of color.


Mirrors of the Mind: The Noh Masks of Otsuki Koukun

In October, thirty hand-carved masks by Otsuki Koukun and eight elegant brocade costumes from the traditional silk looms of Orinasu kan in Kyoto bring the elusive world of Noh drama to Portland in the exhibition Mirrors of the Mind: The Noh Masks of Otsuki Koukun. This aristocratic form of theater art is vastly different from the exuberant peoples’ art form of Kabuki. Solemn and slowmoving, the stories often depict famous historical characters and restless spirits who return to earth to settle unresolved issues that haunt the consciousness of the living. In his quiet studio tucked away on a Kyoto backstreet, Mr. Otsuki is one of a handful of professional Noh mask carvers working today. The exhibition is highlighted by performances by Living National Treasure Noh actor Kawamura Haruhisa during the opening days of the exhibition.

A demonstration of Noh mask carving will be presented by Mr. Ohtsuki, who will also be present for the opening.