culture – Cultivating Culture http://www.cultivatingculture.com Thinking and writing about culture around the world Thu, 23 Nov 2017 01:32:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.3 50009989 de Young’s Tribal and Textile Art Show Kicks it Off with Gala and Focus on Indonesian Art http://www.cultivatingculture.com/2017/02/24/de-youngs-tribal-textile-art/ Fri, 24 Feb 2017 18:50:48 +0000 http://www.cultivatingculture.com/?p=5175 San Francisco’s de Young Art Museum recently held an opening night gala for its Tribal and Textile Art Show. Collectors, designers, and well-wishers gathered to celebrate the collection and its focus for this year: art from Southeast Asia, the Oceanic Islands, the Middle East, Central and South America, Africa, Polynesia, and more. With organizers including […]

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Indonesian fabrics

Indonesian textiles such as these were part of the de Young Art Museum’s recent Tribal Art and Textiles Art Show.
Image: Manamana / Shutterstock.com

San Francisco’s de Young Art Museum recently held an opening night gala for its Tribal and Textile Art Show. Collectors, designers, and well-wishers gathered to celebrate the collection and its focus for this year: art from Southeast Asia, the Oceanic Islands, the Middle East, Central and South America, Africa, Polynesia, and more.

With organizers including Honorary Chair Ardi Hermawan, Consul General of Indonesia, and Benefit Chair Thom Weisel, Co-Chairman of Stifel Financial Company, the Tribal and Textile Art Show officially began its 31st year with the gala on February 8. Held at the Fort Mason Center in the Festival Pavilion, the gala included live music, cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and plenty of opportunities for philanthropists, artists, and other community members to mingle. Proceeds from art purchases at the gala will go to support tribal art and textiles housed by the de Young Museum.

The de Young’s collection of textiles and arts from Africa, Oceania, and the Americas have been highly valued by the community for years. Originally created by Caskey Lees, the San Francisco Tribal & Textile Art Show showcases over 80 national and international galleries. The annual opening night gala lets collectors get an early view of what the new year’s collection will look like.

Of course, any good gala needs some entertainment. For the Tribal and Textile Art Show, this meant a variety of unusual performances and edibles, including live performances by Gamelan Sekar Jaya, a California-based sixty-member Balinese dance troupe; Indonesian cuisine provided by Lime Tree; demonstrations of traditional Indonesian fabric dyeing techniques; and of course the art pieces themselves, some on loan from the Jakarta Textile Museum and others part of a curated collection called “Indonesian Textile Treasures, A Living Legacy.”

Several other curated collections were on view as well. “Artful Weavings,” presented by Peter Pap (an expert on antique rugs and tribal weavings), showcased a collection of rare Antique Nomadic and Village Rugs from a variety of private collections. Nearly 100 pieces from the prestigious John Corwin Collection were on display. On the more contemporary side, the “Spirit Talkers” collection featured new work from James Havard, known for his Abstract Illusionism.

The gala may have passed, but the fun is just beginning! There will be several more opportunities to see art and textiles from these collections at the de Young Museum.

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Has Silicon Valley Lost its Taste for Art? http://www.cultivatingculture.com/2017/02/10/silicon-valley-art-trends/ Fri, 10 Feb 2017 22:42:04 +0000 http://www.cultivatingculture.com/?p=5140 In the early days of the Silicon Valley tech explosion, it was pretty common for wealthy execs to invest heavily in their own art collections, many of which were eventually bequeathed to area art museums. The newest generation of tech wealth, however, seems less inclined to invest in quite the same way. Is there less […]

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A photo of people looking at a painting at the De Young Museum in San Francisco.

The De Young Museum in San Francisco.
Photo courtesy of Mark Gunn at Flickr Creative Commons.

In the early days of the Silicon Valley tech explosion, it was pretty common for wealthy execs to invest heavily in their own art collections, many of which were eventually bequeathed to area art museums. The newest generation of tech wealth, however, seems less inclined to invest in quite the same way. Is there less interest in art in general? Or are the new Silicon Valley wealthy simply focusing on putting their money into other things?

The heyday of big name tech investors like Thomas Weisel, whose donations have gone to SFMOMA, the deYoung Art Museum, and more, may very well be over. Still, the legacy continues to a certain degree with the continued interest in art fairs like San Francisco’s Untitled Art Fair. Big names in tech, like Ruchi Sanghvi, the first female engineer at Facebook, and Connor Zwick, whose lucrative flash card app was acquired by Chegg, are regularly in attendance at these kinds of fairs. But their desire to plop down massive amounts of money for the latest in modern art is thin at best.

“When a $1,000 piece brings me just as much enjoyment as a $30,000 work, I don’t see why I would ever spend $30,000,” says Zwick. Sanghvi notes that, despite her interest in art, she finds “investing in the art market intimidating. I don’t know where to start, and I don’t know how to educate myself.”

Sanghvi also argues that the drive for physical possessions has dimmed with this generation of tech maven—another possible reason why new tech millionaires aren’t as keen to add to their personal art collections.

That might also explain why the current tech elite are more likely to invest in local art nonprofits as opposed to collecting art to hang in their mansions. For example, the nonprofit Silicon Valley Creates, located in San Jose, relies on donations to help support their mission to improve the “cultural and aesthetic quality of life in Silicon Valley.” Their programs support local creators, raise the visibility of the arts, and increase access to creativity. They do this through seed funding, grants, and workshops available to local participants from all walks of life. In addition, they publish Content Magazine, a bimonthly publication collecting news on the arts scene in Silicon Valley. They also support local artists through their Artist Laureate and Poet Laureate programs.

While investors may be turning to art organizations rather than art pieces, that doesn’t mean art museums don’t still have an important place in the community. Many museums in the surrounding area, including the Portland Museum of Art, have embraced the tech scene and offered their locations up as conference venues. Portland’s TechfestNW has made its home at the PMA, allowing visitors to get in on both the latest in technology developments and the opportunity to experience art in the moment as they spend two days in the museum learning about virtual reality, artificial intelligence, design, and entrepreneurship.

Silicon Valley still maintains its iconic love of art. But like art itself, that love is ever evolving. There are now even more opportunities to invest and ensure that art—both what can be hung on the wall and what can be created within the community—will be available and accessible for years to come.

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The Forbidden Art Form http://www.cultivatingculture.com/2016/12/13/forbidden-art/ Tue, 13 Dec 2016 14:52:06 +0000 http://www.cultivatingculture.com/?p=5042 In the Middle East, tattoos are considered forbidden. But that doesn’t stop 30-year-old Hazim Naouri from giving them. Naouri is the owner of Huzz Ink, a popular tattoo parlor in Jordan. For him, tattoos are more than just skin deep. “My goal is to give the chance to people to express themselves on their skin,” […]

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A beautiful woman wearing a turban. She has tattoos on her hands.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

In the Middle East, tattoos are considered forbidden. But that doesn’t stop 30-year-old Hazim Naouri from giving them. Naouri is the owner of Huzz Ink, a popular tattoo parlor in Jordan. For him, tattoos are more than just skin deep.

“My goal is to give the chance to people to express themselves on their skin,” Naouri told CNN.

It sounds simple enough, but due to the country’s religious influences, tattoos are still considered highly taboo. And it’s not just Islam that looks down on the practice, either. Judeo-Christian traditions also forbid it, as it is seen as marking the “holy temple” of one’s soul.

Texana Mubaidin, assistant manager of Huzz Ink, says that she feels displaced because of her tattoos. Mubaidin has a half-sleeve tattoo that extends up her right arm. She says that because of her tattoos, most people wouldn’t think she was from Jordan.

But times are changing and Naouri claims that a lot more people—particularly young people—are getting tattoos.

“Nowadays it’s being accepted more and more because of TV and the way people see it as art,” Naouri explained.

Since the practice itself is not illegal, an increasing amount of people are beginning to break the social norm. And it’s not just men who are getting tattoos, either. Naouri reports that he has just as many female clients as he does males.

Part of the reason that tattoos are becoming more acceptable is due to a new photo-documentary series by Jordanian photographer Bashar Alaeddin. The series, called “Arab Ink,” shows the relationship between culture, art, and self-expression.

“We are Arabs at the end of the day,” Naouri said.

And so Naouri keeps his business running in the hopes that someday, people will change their views on tattoos. It’s certainly possible given that at one point in the U.S., tattoos weren’t socially acceptable, either.

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Honoring Native Americans This Thanksgiving http://www.cultivatingculture.com/2016/11/21/honoring-native-americans-thanksgiving/ Mon, 21 Nov 2016 17:25:18 +0000 http://www.cultivatingculture.com/?p=5003 While most people celebrate Thanksgiving with family get-togethers and food, we must remain culturally sensitive to the fact that it’s a day of great sorrow for many Native Americans. In fact, we as a society have lost sight of what Thanksgiving truly stands for. It commemorates the arrival of the pilgrims, which resulted in mass […]

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A drawing of a Native American Chief.

Image credit: Shutterstock

While most people celebrate Thanksgiving with family get-togethers and food, we must remain culturally sensitive to the fact that it’s a day of great sorrow for many Native Americans. In fact, we as a society have lost sight of what Thanksgiving truly stands for. It commemorates the arrival of the pilgrims, which resulted in mass genocide and land theft. So it’s rather understandable that most Native Americans don’t give thanks for that.

Rather than feast on turkey and pumpkin pie, Native Americans have their own tradition. It’s called the National Day of Mourning. Every Thanksgiving since 1970, indigenous people have gathered at Cole’s Hill in Plymouth to pay tribute to the countless lives, customs, and rituals that have been erased. It can be thought of as a protest to the systemic racism and oppression that persists even today. But more than anything, the National Day of Mourning is about the pain and hardship that Native Americans have gone through.

Just to be clear, Native Americans don’t have a problem with expressing gratitude for life’s countless blessings; they have a problem with celebrating the annihilation of an entire people. Fox Tree illustrates this point well. Tree is a Native American public school teacher. She and her family have their own version of Thanksgiving.

“Our people have always been thankful for the Earth and our natural resources. My family hosts a dinner of thanks on the September equinox, where we give thanks for the seasons,” Tree stated in an interview with the Boston Globe.

Tree, like many other Native Americans, finds it disturbing that people openly celebrate a day of mass murder. But she also understands that the actual meaning of the day has been lost on many people. And yet, this is a perfect example of privilege. Those on the winning side of history can afford to forget about the suffering of their opponents. But those on the losing side? They will never forget.

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Honoring the Cultural Heritage of Voodoo http://www.cultivatingculture.com/2016/10/18/honoring-cultural-heritage-voodoo/ http://www.cultivatingculture.com/2016/10/18/honoring-cultural-heritage-voodoo/#comments Tue, 18 Oct 2016 19:15:42 +0000 http://www.cultivatingculture.com/?p=4927 When we think of voodoo, it automatically conjures up images of voodoo dolls and curses. But it’s important to understand that we’ve been conditioned to think that way by a dominant European-Christian ideology. The history of voodoo dates all the way back to ancient Africa. But like many other African traditions, it’s been stripped away […]

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A photo of a skull with a knife in front of it.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

When we think of voodoo, it automatically conjures up images of voodoo dolls and curses. But it’s important to understand that we’ve been conditioned to think that way by a dominant European-Christian ideology. The history of voodoo dates all the way back to ancient Africa. But like many other African traditions, it’s been stripped away from black people and turned into something ominous.

“Voodoo” is derived from the word “vudu” which comes from the Fon language of Dahomey. It means, “spirit god.” Dahomey was a kingdom in Africa that existed from 1600-1894. It is now known as Benin.

During the slave trade of the 17th century, people were forcibly taken from Dahomey and brought to Haiti to work on plantations. But the Dahomey people brought more than just their physical bodies; they carried with them the traditions, teachings, and religious beliefs of their culture. They brought with them the ancient practice of voodoo.

However, Christian slave owners didn’t like the practice very much. In fact, most slaves were forced to convert to Christianity. It even got to the point where masters strictly forbid the practice of voodoo, and any slave who was caught taking part in it was severely beaten.

This resulted in cultural genocide. The deliberate erasing of an entire culture was just another form of manipulation and control. But in order to ensure the complete destruction of voodoo, Christians began attributing negative attributes to it.

“Witch craft,” “sorcery,” and “black magic” were just some of the terms that masters assigned to the practice. The tactic worked well, and many people began to associate voodoo with being demonic.

But that’s not true. The original practice of voodoo was used to bring about health, prosperity, and success. Voodoo followers would summon spirits in the hopes of attaining special knowledge and blessings. It’s funny because gaining knowledge and blessings by worshiping an omniscient being doesn’t sound too much different than Christianity.

But Christians took issue with voodoo rituals and falsely misinterpreted them as being Satanic. The truth is, voodoo is an overwhelmingly positive religion. Yes, it has evolved over the years and yes, there are people who try and use it for evil purposes. But it’s important to understand that the prevailing stereotypes are not only false, but were created for the sole purpose of erasing an entire culture.

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