San Francisco Bay Area

It was one of those hot mornings when you can tell summer is here. My friend cancelled at the last minute our usual Friday lunch. So I felt I didn’t want to go out and be exposed to the burning sun but I didn’t want to stay at home either. So I thought it was the perfect time to visit a museum. Intermediately I thought about the Asian Art Museum because my daughter used to take acting classes nearby on Sundays afternoons. I never had the chance to visit while waiting as it closes very early on Sunday. Also I needed the time to explore it rather than just visit it! so here I am writing my first post about Museums in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The museum is conveniently located in the San Francisco Civic Center Historic District where one of the BART stations is located. Bay Area Rapid Transit, is a rapid transit system serving the San Francisco Bay Area. The heavy-rail public transit and subway system connects San Francisco with cities in the East Bay and suburbs in northern San Mateo County (which is where I currently live). This is how I travel when I come to San Francisco, otherwise I have to bear with heavy traffic and ridiculous parking regulations!

If you are a tourist or a resident in the San Francisco bay Area and you love Art then this place is a must! It is a great peaceful environment to appreciate the exhibits. There are many places for one to sit and stare at the art in a tranquil environment. The museum is made up mostly of adjoining rooms with each room hosting a specific grouping.  As you move from room to room, you’ll get a feeling like you are traveling from one country to another, from one century to another, from one world to another.

The museum’s collection is divided into 7 distinct groupings:

  • South Asia
  • The Persian World and West Asia
  • Southeast Asia
  • The Himalayas and The Tibetan World
  • China
  • Korea
  • Japan

After you come out of the Civic Center Bart Station you will find yourself in the middle of a charming craft market. Take a look at the stones, jewelry and accessories there but also watch your handbag. Beware of pick pockets and tramps lying around there. Oh yeah, some parts of San Francisco can be quite intimidating!

View of the Opera House. Civic Center

Craft market.

Craft market.

As I was walking towards the main entrance to the Museum, I saw a big poster about the current exhibition . It is called “Gorgeous”. This exhibition shows the artworks from the Asian Art Museum and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, appearing together for the forth time. Gorgeous is about something which can be beautiful or bizarre… Ravishing or repulsive. When it comes to viewing art, it’s all in your eyes, you are the judge! In my opinion it was bizarre but intriguing!

Lion guarding the entrance of the Museum

Lion guarding the entrance of the Museum

Gorgeous Exhibition (Through Sept 14)

Entrance of the Exhibition Gorgeous

Entrance of the Exhibition Gorgeous

From gender-bending to cultural mash-ups and theatrically both playful and serious, these works prompt us to decode the language of self-presentation and consider what happens when fantasy and reality gorgeously come together.

The Himalayas and the Tibetan World 

Enter the Mandala – Cosmic Centers and mental maps of Himalayan Buddhism. This was my next stop in the museum.

From their website:

Mandalas are maps of Buddhist visionary worlds.
Minutely detailed and saturated with philosophical meaning, these works (most often paintings or sculptures) are a feast for the eyes and the mind–nested squares and circles are arrayed to represent the center of the cosmos and the four cardinal directions. For Buddhist practitioners, however, mandalas are not just images to view, but worlds to enter–after recreating the image in their mind’s eye, mediators imaginatively enter its realm.

But is it possible to have this experience without years of meditative discipline?  

Enter the Mandala says yes. In this exhibition, 14th-century paintings align a gallery with the cardinal directions, transforming open space into an architectural mandala–a chance to experience the images in three dimensions, to dwell in the midst of the cosmic symbols and be transported to another world. Visitors can literally “enter the mandala,” exploring places in the cosmos–and perhaps themselves–that might otherwise remain invisible. 

Enter the Mandala

Enter the Mandala

 

The Persian World and West Asia

Iran has a rich history stretching back to about 8000 BCE, when settlements appeal in western Iran and around the Caspian Sea. The first great pre-Islamic power was founded by Cyrus the Great (approx. 330 BCE). The name of his homeland, Parsua was rendered by the Greeks as Persis. The name Persia – which is the word Alexander The Great used for the region when he conquered it around 330 BCE – is derived from this. The country was known as Persia internationally until 1935, when its government asked other nations to use its Persian name, Iran. Arab invasions from the West and the arrival of Islam after 640 brought Persia into contact with the larger Islamic world.

This gallery includes some of the museums’s oldest objects, as well as works spanning many centuries of the Islamic period. The objects on display here come not only from the area that is now Iran, but also from Iraq, Afghanistan, Turmekistan, Uzbekistan, and other lands that were in contact with Persia or under its influence.

 

South East Asia

Burial urns

Burial urns, approx. 600 The Philippines; Mindanao Limestone This limestone jar probably once contained human bones. They were discovered in a cave in Cotabato province, Mindanao. The small size of the jars indicates that the bodies of the deceased had decomposed before the bones were placed in them. A tradition of jar burials existed in the Philippines from the early Neolithic period, and continue in the same parts of Southeast Asia to the present day.

Epic Ramayana

Scene from the epic Ramayana Kumbhakarna battles the monkeys, 1100 – 1200 Cambodia or northeastern Thailand; former kingdom of Angkor Sandstone.

puppets

Rod puppets (wayang golek) of Java, Indonesia. Indonesian Puppet Traditions

Dagger, approx. 1850-1950 Indonesia; Bali Steel, iron, silver, gold and jewels.

Dagger, approx. 1850-1950
Indonesia; Bali
Steel, iron, silver, gold and jewels.

China .-

Amazing Objects made semiprecious stones

Crystal buffalo

Buffalo, aprox. 1800-1900 Qing dynasty (1644-1911) Rock crystal

Chinese Jade objects

Jade objects

Chinese semiprecious stone

Semi precious stone

Buddhas.

Buddhas.

Seated Buddha, approx. 1500-1600 China; shanxi or Henan province. Ming Dynasty This large ensemble is the product of a ceramics industry in northern China that began producing sculpture more than a thousand years ago. By the time this piece was produced, about five or six hundred yeras later, the technology was sufficiently developed that artisans could produce large and complex works.

Seated Buddha, approx. 1500-1600
China; shanxi or Henan province. Ming Dynasty
This large ensemble is the product of a ceramics industry in northern China that began producing sculpture more than a thousand years ago. By the time this piece was produced, about five or six hundred years later, the technology was sufficiently developed that artisans could produce large and complex works.

 

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