Saturday, October 22, 2011

Day Six

It is 2 pm and I am writing to you as we journey down the road to visit some studios of local artists. This morning was Amazing.... Am I using that word too much?
This morning we said good by to Cassie and Gordon and checked out of our hotel.  Some of us had the hotel do our laundry and had big surprises when the bills arrived! I guess 5 star hotels anywhere in the world will charge a lot for laundry and this was no exception! oh well, we all have clean clothes to start week two.
Our first stop was the Kwanwu International Museum in Nunhi. The museum timed our visit to coincide with the Grand Opening of the Museum and once again we were the honored guests. The place was full of important people and reporters. Remember those paintings that each of us brought from home? Well, they have been on display at this museum since we arrived in China. To our delight the entire show sold! Every painting now has a nice red ribbon hanging on it!
Our show was just one part of the celebration. Mr Kwanwu is one of the artists that painted with us all week and was part of our show in Shunde. This museum is dedicated to him, his paintings and his marvelous sculptures. This outstanding artist was born in Nunhi, the same city that is honoring him with this museum. Mr Kwanwu now lives in Kansas City and does many commissions there.
Surrounding this museum is a beautiful park. As part of the ceremony, they unveiled 5 huge sculptural monuments in the park. Each was covered in red silk. Confetti shot into the air as the cloth was pulled away to reveal the beautiful sculptures.
While we were at the Kwanwu Museum, we were honored with young student interpreters. Gloria (my interpreter) is 19 years old. She is studying English literature in the school of business. This was the first time that she was able to use her English with a foreigner. It didn't take long before we were laughing and talking freely. I admire anyone that learns how to speak a second language. Chinese has strong underlying tones that rise and fall like the song of a bird. It is very beautiful.
After all the ceremonies and photos, we were back on the bus to go to a celebration lunch with the artists and the organizers. This was punctuated with several toasts and we lifted our glasses high! Unlike our evening meals when we toasted with wine, we were toasting with Coca Cola.... but it worked just as nicely as wine! The glass is held with two hands and the eyes meet as we whisper shayshay (thank you).
The government of China is emphasizing the importance of the fine arts in their cultural development. There are academies established that give the artists salaries and space to work and in many cases, even pay for their housing (how about that)? What an honor for an artist to be chosen for an academy. We toured one of these academies and had a chance to talk with the artists (I am very grateful for interpreters). As we nibbled on delicious peanuts, giant oranges and bananas, we discussed the art world. We were in agreement that paintings are a universal language, uniting us all and need no interpreters only the hearts of the viewers. They talked about their Russiona influence in the past century. Now they desire the influence from the western cultures for their artistic growth. We agreed that we have much to learn from each other. This really was a chance for us to relate to the Chinese artists. And the world began to shrink some more.
As an interesting side note..... The compositional design in all cultures is determined by the direction that the culture reads their individual language. For instance: in the USA we read form left to right. Our words start on the left side of the page and read over to the right. Consequentially, our culture is more comfortable with compositions that start on the left and the eye travels to the focal point on the right.
For thousands of years, the Chinese read in vertical columns from top to bottom and their paintings reflected that trained eye movement. They are very beautiful vertical paintings that read from top to bottom. Well, about 50 years ago, the Chinese changed the direction of their writing. They now read with the same eye movement as the western world, namely left to right. Growing up with the new way of reading the artists in China are now creating paintings that read with the eye movement left to right. I find this so fascinating! From 1975 to 1978, I lived in Pakistan as an art teacher for the Lahore American School. I learned so much while I was living and painting there. That was the first time that I noticed that the direction of the written word is directly influencing the compositions of that culture's paintings. Urdu, the official language of Pakistan, reads from right to left..... and so do their paintings. If you are interested in this concept, there are great articles on the Internet covering this very subject.
Back to our day....
Then we were back on the bus and traveling to our beautiful hotel on a lake. At first none of us could figure out the air-conditioning in our rooms and they were very hot. One by one we figured it out in preparation for a good night's sleep.
Dinner was once again delicious and once again we had a huge variety of entrees. The evening air had cooled off just enough to be absolutely delightful. It reminds me of the wonderful evenings in Florida, or Venezuela or even the Bahamas.
Today is Calyton's 47th birthday! What a great way to celebrate his birthday in a land of a thousand surprises and delights. Each day is a present here!
Oh, dear, no Internet at this hotel. They have been working for hours to get it set up, but we still can't get on the Internet. That means that this blog won't be posted for a couple days. Hopefully tomorrow at our next hotel, we will be able to use our WiFi.
Here are some pics of the day:

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