Thursday, December 10, 2009

Urban Adventures

Japan doesn't have Thanksgiving and had moved directly to preparing for Christmas.  Decorations were everywhere.  Queen's Mall had several large trees and Christmas lights around the facilities.  There was also plenty of public art around the mall.  Of course there are many western chain stores including fast food favorites includnig Wendy's, Crispy Creams (with long lines) and McDonalds.

This is a group of school children wearing their pink school beanies.  Does it remind you of your college freshman days and wearing beanies for identification.  Am I telling my age?

Queen's Mall 2nd Floor Christmas tree.  The mall is multi-leveled and is in three sections with street bridges connecting the sections.  I thoroughly enjoyed visiting the post office and purchasing a beautiful collection of stamps. It was also fun shopping in small drugstores.  The gum and candy flavors are very different.

The Yokohama Art Museum is a grand facility on the exterior.  Unfortunately for us it was closed on the Thursday we tried to visit.  The city planners have made it easy to try a variety of activities within a four block area of the exhibition hall.

This is one of several large scale sculptures around the mall grounds.

One of the most interesting parts of the urban exploration was visiting Ginza in Tokyo which was closed to auto traffic on my Saturday visit.  Folks were taking photos and wondering around the street shopping in the top of the line shops and department stores.  The signage was exciting too.

Now this is a new age angel.

Citizens on parade for some cause.

Of course visiting beyond Ginza was equally interesting.  We had been informed about the 100 Yen Stores the local equivalent of our Dollar Stores.  You know we had to find those.  Hotel staff gave us good direction and after a few missed turns we had fun checking foods, stationary and everything else they had for sale for 100 Yen.

Local street and alleys near subway and 100 Yen store.

It was rainy the first  three days we were in Tokyo but not enough to deter us from our adventures or our photos.

Sculpture of woman and child near 100 Yen store.  I was also interested to find many public phone booths although citizens had cell phones. I still have my ongoing interest in utility covers that I'll be sharing later.  I always look for them in cities that I visit with the hope of creating some work about them in the future. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

One Stitch or Step at a Time

Photos anyone? We could not take many photos at the festival so when we had the chance we snapped away.  Ms. Ishinami and I exchanged cards and smiles.  I imagine she's showing her friends photos of me just like I'm sharing photos of her.

Notice her fabulous bag?  In the marketplace there were as many vendors for bag handles as there were for fabrics.  The prize winners used felts, leather., fabrics and embellishments.  These are some of my favorites.


The other international artists graciously talked about their fiber/stitching traditions and shared beautiful piecework with all of us.  We shared laughs with this charming woman during breaks and when we walked around the marketplace.

We has less time to speak with the Russian artists but they happily smiled for the camera during the opening reception.  Sharing excellent Italian food and beverages we talked with Naomi's help, played bingo for prizes and shared folk music.  The finale of the event was responding to a traditional Japanese party closing song by clapping our hands. 

Dr. Campbell was a prize winner of package of multiple fabrics. After the games Russian and Japanese artists sang a folk song.

Russian fiber artists.

A Russian delegate with Caralyn Williams at the opening.

Now the adventure to get back to Tokyo began.  Making our way to the Queens Mall subway station we saw the Ferris wheel in full color.  It was very chilly so there was time to linger.  Through it all it felt safe to be moving around both cities.  When we arrived at Shinagawa in Tokyo crowds of people were still moving about enjoying their city and so did we.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Crossing the Dateline

During mid-November several members of the Women of Color Quilters Network crossed the international dateline to attend Quilt Week Yokohama (November 12-14, 2009).  We were all delighted to have our Quilts for Obama exhibited in this yearly quilt exhibition that was well attended by local quilters.  We were honored to have joined artists from India and Russia as part of the festival's international guest list.

EdJohnetta Miller was one of several opening speakers who cut the ribbons allowing patrons to see the beautiful work on display.

 In Japanese fashion their mascots wearing quilted outfits waited patiently for the organizers to give opening remarks.

These are the quilted globes at the entry to the festival.  The entry also had a supersized quilt hanging from the Yokohama Pacifico Exhibition Hall.  The facility is on the waterfront and is adjacent to the Queen's Mall where you can find just about anything you want.

We have all heard about the excellent Japanese train service and I can confirm it.  Citizens were very courteous and helpful.  We managed to find our way from Tokyo Shinagawa Station to Yokohama Station without a glitch.  Of course it took a bit of walking or taking a taxi to get to the exhibition hall.  By day two we found we could ride to Queens Mall and walk half a block.

Carolyn Crump and EdJohnetta Miller managed to move faster than me and boarded the train in time.  I had to wait for the next train but it didn't take more than 10 minutes.  Lucky for us we were staying across from the steet from Shinagawa Station, a major hub that connected with all lines serving the city.

I love this No Smoking sign since the Japanese smoke everywhere.  As a Californian I was surprised to find patrons still smoking in public places.  But I can definitely say I was happy to hear over the train and bus public address systems that talking on cell phones isn't allowed as it might disturb the neighbors.  I must admit I have always hated being privy to other folks cell phone conversations in public.

Day 2 of the festival marked the beginning of the lectures about the quilts in the exhibit.  This is Peggy Hartwell speaking about her work.

Carolyn Crump with her quilt.

Cynthia Lockhart speaking about her work.

EdJohnetta and Naomi Ichikawa, the Editorial Director of Patchwork Tsushin.  Naomi treated us wonderfully and made the trip extra special by taking us to a traditional Japanese restaurant with all the delicacies.  Yum!

Naomi and Dr. Denise Campbell in front of Dr. Campbell's work.

Marion speaking about Winds for Change.

Latifah Shakir speaking about her work.

Artists in the House!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Great Castro Valley Book Pass & Library Opening

Community members, politicians, artists, book lovers young and old all showed up for the grand opening of the new Castro Valley Library that was preceded by the Great Castro Valley Book Pass. Halloween weather did play a trick on us with fog rolling in after brief glimpses of sunlight on Saturday morning. We were not deterred as we cheerfully drank coffee, ate bagels and donuts prior to passing some 300 books from the old library to the new facility.

The tough part of course was not to get distracted by the many interesting books that passed along Redwood Road. If there was a lull in the book pass it provided us with an opportunity to see how many unique Halloween costumes we could spot in the crowds.
There was Bee A Reader and the Dictionary with legs.

Families took the opportunity to enjoy the opening of the new library that has been twenty years in the making. Dignitaries came in force to support the effort. Smiling faces could be found all along the route. Diligent workers came early to help with registration, librarians and dignitaries actively participated as we joyfully celebrated a 20 year effort to get our spacious and bright place for books. We are equally excited about all the new parking spaces available at the entrance to the building. We had long outgrown the parking spaces available at the old library.

Our Children's Librarian passes a book across the new bridge with design work for the sculptural fence and bridge railing done by artists David Duskin and David Whippen.

Marion and fellow book passer making the stretch. Wouldn't you know she's a quilter too!

Eden Aoba Taiko Drummers got the party started before the official opening ceremonies.

The Library Manager starts the opening ceremonies. The Tree of Knowledge wall sculpture by Eric Powell can be seen at the entry to the building.

Marion is one of several artists commissioned in the framed works category.

Play On! and Keeping Step are shown in the background in one of the quiet area of the facility.
Marion had an opportunity to meet Senator Ellen Corbett and Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley. Congresswoman Barbara Lee also came to extend her good wishes.

I'm happy to say these pieces were very well received and it's wonderful to see them displayed in such a beautiful setting.

Our new library has a Teen Room with a door that provides privacy. The art on the wall Etched Constellations, by Nancy Mizuno Elliott and Norman E. Moore is fabricated from acrylic sheets, LEDs, painted aluminum and glass is 9" x 20.

We Castro Valley residents are delighted with the new facility that has a cafe, multiple meeting rooms, a bank of computers and large open spaces for adults and children. Art is exhibited through and includes a mural The Free-Form Flight of Lifelong Learning by Jos Santos in the Children's Room, Main Reading Room art by Andre Caradec and Robert Fukuda, framed pieces including pastel on paper works about Lake Chabot by Mark Mertens, another Castro Valley resident, watercolor work depicting everyday people by Karen Frey and mixed media discarded book collage work by Lisa Kokin.

I can say the library journey has been worth the wait.