Come Back Koi – PORTAND JAPANESE GARDEN

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GardenNews.biz – Apr 07,2011 – PORTLAND JAPANESE GARDEN

Art in the Garden: Come Back Koi!
Art in the Garden Spring 2011
April 8–May 1, Garden hours
Garden Pavilion
Included with Garden admission

A vital part of both the beauty and the ecology of a Japanese garden are the colorful koi that bring the ponds to life with their graceful and calming presence. As the second in the 2011 Art in the Garden series focused on the theme of Living in Harmony with Nature, this exhibition is in honor of the koi that were tragically lost in the winter storm of 2008.

The title of the exhibition “Come Back Koi!” reflects the successful “Come Back Salmon!” campaign that took place in Northern Japan more than three decades ago, when the citizens of Hokkaido sought to restore salmon to their natural habitat at a time when the numbers of fish returning to spawn each year had begun to diminish. In addition to the aesthetic and ecological contributions of koi to the Garden, these fish are also the stuff of ancient legend, the most famous of which tells of a koi who swam up a waterfall and turned into a dragon, making the valiant fish exemplary of the kind of perseverance needed to succeed in all of life’s endeavors.

This exhibition features Kunio Kaneko’s woodblock prints of koi, traditional kites created by four artists, and Naoteru Hayashi’s private collection of antique koi-nobori and nobori-bata banners traditionally flown on Children’s Day. Hayashi works for the prestigious Yoshitoku Company, a 300-year-old establishment specializing in Japanese festival dolls and accoutrements. The elaborate banners being featured in the exhibition were hand-painted or decorated in the tsutsugaki style of paste resist, and flown atop bamboo poles from the households of families with male children. Although the exhibition closes on May 1, a selection of koi banners will decorate the Garden’s Children’s Day event held this year on Saturday, May 7, the day we release our first batch of live koi to bring the Garden’s ponds back to life.

The kites featured in this exhibition are courtesy of the Drachen Foundation. They were created by Mikio Toki (Tokyo), Nobuhiko Yoshizumi (Kyoto), Greg Kono (Seattle), and Scott Skinner (Colorado) and display images ranging from purely traditional to abstract, from humorous to thoughtful. Most important to note, however, is that these kites fly, and that flight is their primary purpose. As art they may evoke emotions of childhood, and as flying sculpture they bring great joy.

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