Sunday, February 15, 2009

Chinese Mammoth Tusk Carvings

Currently Reading: A Wild Haruki Chase by The Japan Foundation

Spent the whole day working on pictures and video from last week's trip to the museum. The last entry gave a brief summary and a few pictures (but with links to the gallery on facebook). This entry is for the remaining video clips. There are only three and they're short but I uploaded them to YouTube in high quality so you'd get a better shot of the detailed work.

If you haven't seen the previous entry with the picture links and the remaining video, scroll down and have a look.

The Belz

Currently Reading: A Wild Haruki Chase: Reading Murakami Around the World by The Japan Foundation

Last week, CC and I decided to take a break from our usual pattern and go downtown. I wasn't too thrilled with the idea at first. Yes, that's where the famous Peabody Hotel is located (seen it, ducks and all) and Beale Street (seen it from a distance), but downtown never appealed to me. In fact, I usually avoid it, if possible. What can I say, there just isn't much down there that I like.

Well, she found this place called the Belz Museum of Asian & Judia Art. It's a small museum with pieces from, as the name implies, Asia (with some Jewish art in another wing off to the side). I thought that was an odd combination. Certainly not two styles of art you generally see together.

Anyway, so off we go. They had some REALLY nice pieces there and I was surprised by how MANY pieces they had. The place isn't very big and it doesn't really stand out in any way. I suppose the view from the outside is rather deceptive. It's actually in the basement of whatever building it's in. You go through an entry hall and then downstairs to the museum. That really does work to its advantage because it keeps things nice and quiet.

They had pieces from various places and historical periods. I didn't really try to figure out if they were laid out in any particular pattern. Mostly I just kept taking pictures of things. They allowed picture taking provided you don't use a flash. I just kept on taking shots of anything that looked nice (which is pretty much everything) but I also figured that, with no flash, low light, slow shutter speed, your chances of getting blurry pictures goes up. Turns out I held my camera pretty steady. I have over 100 photos from the trip posted on Facebook. I had to break it down into two galleries so you can find them here and here.

The museum's collection is light when it comes to all art. Very few paintings or hangings. What they DO have is a wide variety of sculpture, including quite a bit of jade, quartz and ivory. There is also a section towards the end of the Asian wing where a small collection of puppets are on display.

They have several ivory sculptures, both large (free-standing pieces that are at least as big as me, some standing near 6 feet tall!) and small (quite a few glass cabinets filled with smaller, book-sized carvings, no more than 10 inches), and they've included some carved, mammoth tusks. These things were carved with such amazing detail that the pictures alone really didn't do it justice so I took video of them. Here's the first:

Pretty cool right? So, when you've got some time, head on over to galleries and look at the pictures. I'll post more of the video as I get it uploaded.

We spent quite a long time in the museum, then went over to Beale street for lunch. CC had already researched where she wanted to go so we had our lunch then went down the street a little bit. I got a chuckle later when CC mentioned that Beale street smelled like beer. Yeah, that was probably leftover from the previous night's partying. Then again, that happens pretty much every weekend so it probably has a permanent smell by now.

We also stopped in at a great little country store. Very old-fashioned place. They only took cash. It would have been a great place to buy souvenirs if we were tourists.

Finally, we rode the trolley for a bit. We basically just took it through one loop down Main street and then over to the river and back. It was a nice ride but there are so many parts of downtown that are just plain depressing. There are just too many buildings that have been left to decay.

So there you have it, our trip to the museum last week. Don't forget to look at those pictures. And if you're IN Memphis, or in the area, stop in at the Belz Museum. It's a great place to visit.