Today I met with my Korean friend Jane, who is one of my favorite living artists and one of my favorite people, a truly warm and radiant soul. We met over 15 years ago when I had just started working as a curator at Pacific Asia Museum. She was a volunteer helping to organize an exhibition of contemporary Korean art, but I soon discovered that she is a very accomplished artist herself and I fell in love with her work and her personality. Though she has experimented with various different painting styles over the years, her Four Seasons and Vines series have become her signature works. These series of vibrantly painted wooden squares can be combined in groups of any size to create a larger whole. Each square features gnarly lines that twist and wiggle like roots or vines across the surfaces of the squares. Though apparently meandering, these lines have been placed mathematically along a hidden grid so that no matter how the squares are arranged, the lines will connect visually and unite all the paintings. The effect is beautiful and clever, like the artist herself.
Jane and I have connected like her Vines in many ways over the years. As professionals in the art world, we have intersected in our love of Japanese ceramics, Zen aesthetics of Korean textile art, in particular the pojagi, or wrapping cloths, of the type that were featured in the exhibition that first brought us together. We have also connected as women who have moved to this country and married American men – both lawyers, coincidentally. We have also connected and understood each other as mothers. Though she is older than me, she has two sons and knows very well what it is like to bring up boys. She did it very well, and her sons have begun to build their own families. We have also connected as women who admire and help each other in as many ways as we can. She has given me great parenting advice, thoughtful books and gifts, most significantly a couple of her paintings, which are among my greatest treasures. I have helped her edit some of her texts over the years and I wrote an article about her work a couple of years ago for KCET Artbound, and today my Giveaway gift to her was a silver pendant that reminded me of the organic lines of her paintings, and so, indirectly maybe, of the lines that have connected us as friends too.
Jane has an exhibition called Return to Roots opening in a couple of weeks, on Saturday July 25 at 5pm at the Ruth Bachofner Gallery in the Bergamot Station art complex in Santa Monica. Now, perhaps if everyone who reads this blog spreads the word to someone they know in the Los Angeles area about her exhibition, we can create some more beautiful artistic and personal vines out there! Thank you!