Sunday, January 20, 2008

Beyond Beyond Ultraman -- A New Year, A New Show 

I'm having a hard time wrapping my brain around the fact that Beyond Ultraman has come and gone already. The last day of the show we had a program with David Gonzales that brought in a standing-room-only crowd of over 150 to a space that held chairs for 70. It was a heady way to end a successful exhibition. A great front page article in the Pasadena Weekly preceded the event and attracted a wonderfully diverse crowd, many who had never visited the PMCA before.

We are still in the process of summarizing the metrics of the show (how many visitors, how many press imprints etc.) But here are a few factoids: The exhibit appeared on television three times – on KNBC news as part of Pasadena’s Art Night coverage (10/12/07); on KTLA as part of Gayle Anderson’s live broadcast (11/27/07); and again on KNBC for a solo piece by Cary Berglund on Beyond Ultraman (12/13/07). The exhibit was written up in the Los Angeles Times Guide section at the beginning and the end of the exhibition run. Other articles about the show appeared in Artillery Magazine and the Daily Bruin. David Gonzales was featured in two large articles because of the show – one in the LA Times and one in the Pasadena Weekly. We were a top listing on Flavorpill.com for many weeks and managed to appear in all the best blogs.

So where do we go from here? Well, we are currently working on another museum collaboration with the Japanese American National Museum, with an exhibition scheduled to open in 2009 (yes, 2009 does seem far away, but in museum time, it is tomorrow!) OK, I guess I can say this much, the show will be about kokeshi dolls – the simple, limbless wooden folk dolls that have come to embody Japanese-ness. But it won’t just be a display of old kokeshi dolls – it will have a LATDA twist to it which we hope will send people away with a broadened view of this cultural icon. We will be working with Christina Conway, curator of the lovely and wonderful kokeshi show at Subtext Gallery in San Diego. We will also be working with a number of artists and collectors as well as combing the National Museum’s permanent collection for significant kokeshi.

Since submitting the proposal for the new show, a number of eerie signs have come to pass that (to me)reinforce the energy of the venture. The best happened during a recent first visit to the Shine Gallery in Farmer’s Market led to the discovery of a pair of vintage kokeshi-shaped, hand-painted paper lanterns. Upon closer inspection, I noticed that there was a vintage cardboard box next to the lanterns, the assumption being that this was the box the lanterns were stored in. When I looked at the yellowed mailing label, it bore the logo of “Quon-Quon Co.” Imagine my astonishment, as this was where both my parents worked when they met. Cue a lower jaw-drop when the person whose name appeared in the address field of the 50+year-old box was a man that I knew had been a friend of my mother’s – who had no apparent connection to Quon-Quon, according to her. Well, maybe that doesn’t read as dramatically as it seemed to me as I stood over the case at Farmer’s Market, but it made me feel as if the kokeshi show was about to lead me to some very interesting connections. The pair of the Shine Gallery lanterns will be part of the exhibition.

Nothing, they say, can be harder than your first major exhibition. Beyond Ultraman was not only hard, it was audacious. Thanks to everyone who came to see our show and who became new members or supported LATDA’s mission by shopping. We hope to get faster at producing audacious and interesting shows for your enjoyment and edification. Your faith keeps us stoked!

P.S. Credit to my husband who pointed out the Quon-Quon box to me at the Shine Gallery!

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