Friday, December 8, 2023

What's the Opposite of Zen-like? --- Day 12/335

Walk: Asian Art Museum, SFMOMA

Distance: 5.5 miles

Asian Art Museum visitor(?) enjoying Chestnuts
Ciwt read that our Asian Art Museum had transformed one of its galleries into a low-lit, hushed, contemplative, winding path of shoju walls for its The Heart of Zen exhibition. So a peaceful contemplative experience like the one pictured above is what she had in mind when she went reserved her timed ticket for it.

“Persimmons” (left, detail) and “Chestnuts” (detail) — composed of ink on hanging scrolls and attributed to the 13th-century Chinese monk Muqi

She would be going to see two rare Zen ink paintings, Persimmons and Chestnuts at a very rare event indeedThe delicate, light-sensitive paintings were on their first ever and very brief trips out of Japan and would only be shown together for three days.  

They had been acquired in China by a Japanese merchant in the 15th or 16th century, brought to Japan and displayed regularly at tea gatherings before being donated in the 1600s to Daitokuji Ryokoin temple. The temple is closed to the public, and aside from a 2019 exhibition at the Miho Museum outside Kyoto, both paintings remain out of view for those not members of the temple community.  

The wish and rationale of the abbot of the Temple in releasing Persimons and Chestnuts to San Francisco was to share "even a fragment of the pure, transparent (Zen) air that..the monks in Ryokoin" live right in the center of from morning to night."

The precious event had been brought to people's attention in various journals around the Bay Area, and Ciwt later learned the New York Times and who knows what other media.  So, when Ciwt arrived to contemplate with her member-only timed ticket, so had several - read at least 600 - others:
It took one hour to get here from outside the museum, and would take another 90 minutes to reach the 'low-lit, contemplative...' gallery where the small paintings were hung.  

As the time in the lines went on and on, Ciwt became less and less zen-like, decided her peaceful experience didn't have a chance of happening even after she got to the gallery.  So she dropped out and went outside into the clear, fresh, nippy air of San Francisco and enjoyed a nice long walk.

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