Turning Japanese

Back in the late '70s and early '80s, when everyone suddenly discovered sushi and Akira Kurosawa, it was hip to be a Japanophile, and I was. And even now, when sushi bars proliferate almost as quickly as Starbucks, I still appreciate not only the unique Japanese sense of grace and subtlety, but also Japan's reverent pop-culture mania. It's only been natural for me to glom on to my nine-year-old's fascination with contemporary anime and the folklore-powered imagination of Hayao Miyazaki, the new, better Disney. And so, with high expectations, I dragged my family down to Pueblo for this year's Japan-themed summer exhibits at the Sangre de Cristo Arts Center and Buell Children's Museum, 210 North Santa Fe Avenue, which had everything to do with all of the above. I was not disappointed.

Lumped under the title Tokonoma: A Place of Simple, Elegant Beauty, the seasonal art shows offer many high points, including the neat, textured graphics of Colorado Springs artist Margaret Kasahara, who juxtaposes cross-cultural images in her paintings; Homare Ikeda's lively, color-splashed canvases; and a stunning collection of classic Japanese textiles. And that all dovetails nicely into Jump to Japan, at the adjacent Buell Children’s Museum, which boasts a life-sized plush cat-bus taken from Miyazaki's cartoon My Neighbor Totoro, a hands-on teahouse, Buddha Board character painting stations and a manga shop among its kid-friendly pleasures.

The museums will host a community opening celebration today, with tea ceremony demonstrations, origami and manga activities, calligraphy, live music, strolling Japanese characters, Japanese food and more. Family events are scheduled from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., with a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. Exhibits remain on view through August; for details, call 1-719-295-7200 or go to www.sdc-arts.org.
Aug. 25-Nov. 10, 2007

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Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd