Teshima: Art Museum (Benessee Art Site)

In addition to the Yokoo House, we toured the famous Teshima Art Museum, which combines art, architecture and the environment to create an art experience (or something like that. I actually loved this place and found it quite moving. Aardvark, on the other hand, was fascinated for all of 5 minutes and then wanted to leave and run around the grounds, so Don and I took turns watching her.)

It’s another museum where photography was not allowed inside, and while we have some friends (ahem!) who snuck photos on their visits (which admittedly were much less crowded – we travel in a pack of 25 on these field trips – and so the site was even more photogenic than when we saw it), I did not. I DID try sketching it, inspired by the students, and by Aardvark’s brave attempt at the Yokoo House, but I am a terrible artist who has only been called upon to draw cats and stick figure family members in recent years, so my drawing is even worse than Aardvark’s Yokoo sketch. However, I will include it here for posterity – and a good laugh at myself.

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I wouldn’t bother looking too closely, but should you risk your eyes that way, you will see I gave up in parts and just wrote down notes since my drawing was so useless.

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The required “route” takes you all along the hilltop where the museum is located, where tree lined areas of the path give way to breathtaking views of the ocean, before you wrap around again to the main exhibit building.

The main building is a huge concrete shell with two large ovular openings in the roof, each with a 1/2 inch wide gossamer ribbon strung from it. The openings give a view of the sky and sometimes, trees, depending on where one is standing or sitting, and obviously depending on the weather, time of day, etc., it changes the atmosphere of the entire building. At first glance, the ribbons seemed a silly and almost tacky addition – so insubstantial in comparison to the vastness  of the concrete building itself. But when the wind blew, the ribbons danced in waves – or even like jump ropes – and softened the building, small though they were.

The cold (very cold – and no shoes were allowed in) ground was bare, except for tiny, ping-pong ball-like objects scattered here and there, from which water would periodically bubble, and the water itself, which also bubbled up from nearly invisible holes in the concrete. The motion of the water was a major part of the exhibit: the water would separate into little blobs, slide across the floor, reform and reshape with other blobs. Watching these tiny little water blobs was absolutely fascinating – even though it does not sound like it at all. And I don’t know what the floor was really made of: it seemed like concrete, but the water never sunk into it, never got absorbed, it just stayed as a stream or blob until it reached the tiny drain points, and it never stayed wet, either – as soon as the drops moved away from one spot, that spot was dry.

I encourage you to check out the official website, where you can see some photos that do a much better job portraying this than my paltry description.

And some other random photos from & remarks about Teshima:

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Aardvark “performing” as a ballerina at one of the Triennial exhibit spaces.

Teshima also grows great mikan, a type of small citrus like satsumas or clementines (we basically swarmed a little stand and bought them out) and is well known for its olive oil (one of the students bought some olive oil popcorn – not just cooked in olive oil, but drenched in it as a flavoring. I love olive oil, and popcorn, but that was not my thing). Basically, I feel like it should be a sister city to ours in CA. So many similarities!

 

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