Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Fashion in the Middle Ages 5/20 - 9/4

Lolitas are in general fascinated by fashion. That's a given. But while the majority of the community is enamored by Rococo periods, there's no harm in studying further into the past.

Starting on May 20, the Morgan Library and Museum presents "Illuminating Fashion: Dress in the Art of Medieval France and the Netherlands." The exhibit covers over 200 years of fashion before the French Renaissance, and features full-size replicas of clothing illustrated in the manuscripts.

The exhibit aims at those interested in the fashion aspect of medival dress -- how it was worn, by whom, what was used for everyday, what was worn for special occasions, etc.

The Morgan has a whole line up of events in honor of the exhibit.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Warhol in Union Square

Most of the people who past this statue recognized it was Andy Warhol, but not his reference to Campbell Soup.

As a mini art lesson, Warhol took a common but iconic household item (i.e. Campbell Soup) and perceived it as art. Hence pop art, as in art that is derived from popular culture.

The statue will be around until October 2nd, and was a creation of Rob Pruitt and sponsored by the NY Public Art Fund. Made of chrome, atop of a concrete pedestal, Warhol is remembered in a way that is shiny and blindingly glowing.

And if you notice it has slowly become a small shrine to the artist who used work, live, and breath abstract expressionism. (Note: Make sure your Campbell Soup cans are empty. Best to use Tomato Soup)

Andy Warhol Statue
Union Square
17th and Broadway

Uki Uki and Bye Bye Kitty

Thanks to an open house at Japan Society, I had the opportunity to see Bye Bye Kitty – the organization’s latest art exhibition. The open house was part of their “Uki Uki Nights” a way to bring in a youthful crowd with cosplay parade, go-go dancing, and games with the girls and guys behind Apple Kissa, a maid performance troupe created by the New York Anime Festival.

Bye Bye Kitty is an exhibit advertised as the darker side of kawaii – an antithesis to Hello Kitty, the well-known feline character known for its incredible cuteness. The first few rooms hold artwork that is a fusion of Japanese techniques (i.e. ukiyo-e style prints) with modern creative ideas. It is also one of the few exhibitions Japan Society has done that is more modern in concept.

When you first enter you gravitate towards an image of an at-like hill mound, only to realize the mound is composed of salarymen and women. It sort of hits home with the idea of Japanese men and women trying to climb to the top of the corporate ladder, as well as a play on Japan’s increasing unemployment.

There are two pieces by Manabu Ikeda, prints of massive proportions illustrating a version of a type of "Tree of Life." I was greatly impressed by the use of cross-hatching and the time-consuming idea of it all that can only be seen through a magnifying glass, available nearby the two prints. Even then it’s still hard to take it all in.

All of pieces in the exhibit will shock and awe, but then again that's what Japan is known for. Bye Bye Kitty is a representation of today’s view on Japanese culture – a mish-mash fusion of past, present, and future in art. One could also try to describe it as “gurokawa” a term that Gashicon uses to describe Hangry and Angry. While Hangry and Angry depict a more kawaii than grotesque, Bye Bye Kitty is more grotesque than kawaii.

I hope that Japan Society continues their series of Uki Uki nights because it’s an excellent way to expose today’s Japanophiles with the more examples of Japanese culture that's not associated with anime, manga or Pokemon.

Were you at Japan Society’s Uki Uki Night (if you were what did you think)? What do you think of Bye Bye Kitty?

Bye Bye Kitty
March 18 - June 12th, 2011
Japan Society
333 East 47th Street 
New York, NY 10017

Admission: $15 / $10 seniors and students

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Mighty Harajuku Project

Harajuku is known as the area where Japanese youths go to express
themselves through fashion. From Goths, Lolitas, Punks, morigirls, decora and
cosplayers alike, they all come to Harajuku to become a melting pot of fashion styles and subcultures. 

With the increase in "fast-fashion" and big box stores, the desire to be unique and creative with expensive brand-name items is in decline. 

The Tohoku Earthquake discouraged a lot of people from visiting Harajuku because of that underlying fear of "the big one." Not Sebastian Masuda. 6%DokiDoki was one of the first Harajuku shops to reopen, and Masuda has be recording the area's recovery through pictures and Tweets.

This is known as the Mighty Harajuku Project.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Sakura Matsuri Redux

Sakura Matsuri was a perfect and brief introduction to spring. The sun was out and the weather held out for the massive crowds the Brooklyn Botanical Garden was soon expecting.

Whether it was the programming or the ultimate end to cabin fever, people attended in droves. The grass was covered in a sea of people enjoying the beauty of recently bloomed cherry blossoms amongst friends and other Japanophiles. And if you were old enough, you could enjoy the flowers in true Japanese fashion: lying on the grass with a bottle of sake to share.

Providing a mixture between old and new, Sakura Matusri’s programming featured everything from Taiko Drumming to Butoh Dancing to Swordfighting skits to anime-focused comedians to a cosplay fashion show as the festival's closing number.

This of course attracted all forms of people interested in Japan.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Savage Beauty Opens Today at the Met

Amazing artists always leave the world too soon. But like all great artist that cut their lives short, the legacy of work they leave behind becomes ever more precious.

Alexander McQueen was one of those great innovators of fashion.

Today marks the opening of "Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty" exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The exhibit features pieces from his post graduate collection to his more recent additions -- including his final collection.

There are around 100 pieces will be on display, all illustrating his evolution from his student beginnings to signature designs he's most known for (i.e. bumster trousers, origami frock coat).

Long live McQueen!

Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty
May 4 - July 31, 2011
Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10028

Monday, May 2, 2011

Support Japan, Eat a Cupcake

Magnolia Bakery is supporting Japan by doing what it does best, baking cupcakes. They have created a special "Japan Cupcake" where $1 from each cupcake sold will go Japan Society's earthquake relief fund.

They come in vanilla or chocolate cake, with white cream cheese frosting and a raspberry on top.

And to make it a real seller, they're keeping tally of each cupcake they sell.

Note: I recommend getting them early as they tend to be one of the first flavors to sell out each day.

401 Bleecker St
New York, NY 10014

(Columbus Avenue)
200 Columbus Ave
New York, NY 10023

(Rockefeller Center)
1240 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020

(Grand Central)
15 Vanderbilt Avenue
Dining Concourse, Lower Level
New York, NY‎ 10017

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Natsume Ono at Kinokuniya May 10th!

While I'm not as big a manga and anime fan as I used to be, but I still admire the various storylines and the artwork that artists create.

One of my recent favorites is Ristorante Paradiso. It's a about a young woman, Nicoletta, who works at Casetta dell'Orso - a unique restaurant in Rome where the servers are all male and wear glasses.

A slice of life story that explores the many faces of each character and their relationships with each other (Note: Hate to disappoint but it's not yaoi. On the other hand if it were I would not be reading it).

Thanks to Kinokuniya, Samurai Beat Radio and Viz, on  Natsume Ono, the creator, will be giving talk about her works on Tuesday May 10th at 7PM.

There will also be a raffle where one lucky winner will receive an original artwork signed by the artist; two runner-ups will each receive a print by the artist. She's also known for House of Five Leaves. 

Hope to see you there!

Natsume Ono at Kinokuniya Bookstores
May 10th, 2011
1073 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10018