Monday, January 7, 2013


Marble columns in the dim winter daylight filtering onto the mezzanine level of the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. I was there to see the calligraphy exhibition before it closes on January 13th – but disliked the presentation of the show very much, walking through each room with quick distress, which gave me extra time to fool around with the camera up under the skylights.

Ever since Jay Xu replaced the commendable Emily Sano when she retired as Director, the Asian Art Museum has worked to increase the gate-count by "re-branding" itself as hip and user-friendly. For the current exhibition, calligraphy – that most subtle of art forms – has been successfully bludgeoned into submission, overwhelmed by flashing projections, zigzagging  floor-plans, numberless barrier-screens, high-contrast signage, and the installation of those waist-high phallic-shaped marker-posts commonly used on nature-trails. If the term "over-curated" ever applied, it applies here. You could remove every piece of actual art without noticeably changing the appearance of the galleries at all.