Yesterday I got to hitch along with the Middle School's fieldtrip to go look at pieces of artwork produced in Oita-ken. After watching a 30 minute video about some old dead Japanese dude of whom the premises were named after, we looked at his sculptures of people, monkeys, and cats (there were so many that Taro naturally came to mind) and took a short tour around the museum that was built in his honor. Then the kids were given a large 1.5x2 foot piece of paper and instructed to spend the next five hours painting anything that they wanted to in the vast grounds of the park surrounding the museum. This place was a nicely balanced microcosm, complete with mini-forest, a lawn with mini-rolling hills, a mini-mountain with a panaramic view, a mini-lake, and a mini-stream. The only thing that was missing, much to my dissapointment, were mini-people (but I guess that JHS students will do in a pinch). Anyways, scattered throughout the crafted landscape were sculptures created by students of Oita University. They ranged wildly in their degree of abstractness, size, and how they looked relative to the site upon which they came to spend the rest of their existance.
I asked the teachers what they were going to do during the whole day, and they all said "ah, I have to work" or something in that vein. To translate this I had to use tried and true refined scientific methods. I broke out my linguistic bunsen burner, along with the graduated cylinder, titration set, beakers of various girth, and Erlenmeyer flask to set about distilling the scant traces of hidden true meaning from the words that actually spewed forth from their maws. After processing the raw input and passing it through filters and amplifiers, the following was yielded: "I am going to shoot the breeze with all of the other teachers (and occasionally a student) while sitting in the shade of the gazeebo, drinking tea and smoking many cigarettes, keeping a loose eye on the kids to make sure that they don't commit any felonies, and eventually spend the rest of the time sleeping, texting on the mobile telephone, or when the boredom becomes too overpowering, breaking out the easil and paintbrush to show these kids what watercolor painting is all about." I chose to hike around, take pictures of the art, sketch stuff, and to read a couple more chapters of Quicksilver . All in all, not a bad day at the office.
Mental Block: This piece is the physical incarnation of my brain and its functions when I try too hard to have an honest conversation with most of the Japanese teachers with whom I work. I think that they experience something similar when I forget to mask what I really mean behind a couple of layers of opaque implication while at the same time slapping on some polite Japanese to give it a nice shiny gleen. Perhaps a precision expertly timed "bitchslap" can make them understand where mere words fail! Actions speak louder than words.
This frog was chillin' in a piece of "Art". The sculpture looked more like a giant kiln or old fashioned oven, made from adobe, but apparently it was a hit with the judges. However, unlike a lot of art out there it seems to have fulfilled more of a purpose than just sitting there as a lump of aesthetically pleasing dead weight (although most likely unintentionally). It is now a nice castle for a very small frog, so that he can look down upon all the other lesser frogs that make their homes under the rotting logs, in the pond, or huddled under the leaf litter! Bow down!
Over the day I completed this sketch with a student, doing a little at a time. it looks better from up close (you just have to take my word for it). Brought back countless memories of sketching stuff in class, throughout my career as a student. I remeber thinking "maybe one day these scribbles on my college ruled notebook paper will be worth some serious money...". Hahahahaha!
Mini-stream with mini-islands and probably some mini-giardia and mini-chollera.
Remains Of A Dream: This piece looks to be a Semi (Cicada) between the larval and adult stages, lying on it's back on top of a leaf. In my opinion, this Kafkaesque piece should have won the competition. What won instead? A long metal chrome tube painted red inside the bore, tied with steel cable to a chunk of granite upon which it rested! Uh, I think the judges had their berets on a little too tight during the competition.