Sitting in style

Having just written a story on how much the world around us has (and has not) changed since the passage of the American Disabilities Act (the story is out in this week's Christian Science Monitor), I was thrilled that "Fashion Follows Form: Designs for Sitting" was still at the Royal Ontario Museum when I was … Continue reading Sitting in style

An otherworldly experience

Human figures amid swirling geometrics.  Shields and spears and a looping tail whip.  Crouched men and women staring into -- and from -- eternity.  Colorful bursts of patterns conjuring at once life's unbridled power and our fear-based need to appease and control it.  Empty masks and the steadying touch of a woman's hand on a man's shoulder. My mind was spinning at "East … Continue reading An otherworldly experience

James Turrell: ” I think we’re made for the twilight.”

Now it is concave, now it is convex;  ephemeral as mist,  solid as an inflated balloon, and always nothing but color and light reflecting, fluctuating, teasing the brain.  Engaging with the work of James Turrell, the mind does not so much reel as it dances between perceptions, grabbing hold of forms even as they shift … Continue reading James Turrell: ” I think we’re made for the twilight.”

Samurai beauty

If anyone knew how to express both pageantry and lethality it was the Edo period Samurai  -- as a show at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, amply demonstrates.  The headline the WSJ gave my review says it all: "Dressed to Kill in Peacetime." Much of their fearsome beauty is due to the textures and rhythm of … Continue reading Samurai beauty


a while back, I announced that Andrea Hull and I would be launching the AA/WV blog  focused on writing + video about contemporary art from Asia in America...  well, what Andrea and I realized as we researched this was that what really truly interested us was exploring the mediums by which we communicate about art.  … Continue reading Alive!…?

Beautiful traces of Arabia’s first “boom”

When my brother Cameron read Gold, Frankincense and Trade, my review of archaeological treasures unearthed in Saudi Arabia and currently on view at the Sackler in DC, he added this: "As I understand in the early 'modern era' centuries, the resin of the boswellia trees cultivated in Saudi Arabia were its first 'petroleum boom', and frankincense … Continue reading Beautiful traces of Arabia’s first “boom”

Scrolling through Chinese art

"I hate theme shows.  I hate shows that bunch a whole lot of works together that should be seen alone."  This -- or words to this effect -- is what an artist friend said when I was telling him about a show of Chinese paintings at the Met I had reviewed.  It hit home because, … Continue reading Scrolling through Chinese art

Unearthed treasures

Okay, I admit it, I have a predilection for terrifying creatures whose sole job is to frighten away demons and evil spirits.  These two tomb guardian beasts (or zhenmushou for those of us who try to learn these terms...not that we always succeed in remembering them...) are typical in form but pretty rare in terms … Continue reading Unearthed treasures

“Wilderness of mirrors…”

This is what Keith Melton called the world that spies and intelligence officers inhabit.  He was giving journalists a tour of "Spy: the Secret World of Espionnage" at the Discovery Times Square and, trailing the little group of notebooks was  former KGB General Oleg Kalugin (whose bio I wish I had read before meeting him), … Continue reading “Wilderness of mirrors…”