Free admission at the museum today, I enter the room of East Asian Art, feeling the need to bow before a Korean screen opened to reveal a world obviously too perfect. The Japanese ceramics are slightly askew, and Ho Mok's theriomorphic brushwork, thick black ink still dripping, says To consider one's own profit is shameful thinking. Outside stands a wooden bodhisattva with nose only, I'm inspired by the curved flow of her stance.

Slide hands down the smooth flanks of another bodhisattva, returning me to the 12th Century. I sense the sculptor as a small grizzled man, more smile then frown, surprised to see a foreigner in his workshop. The guard has suddenly returned. "Please don't touch the art," she says, giving me the urge to touch a Buddha's marble head. Being Oriental, does she feel the agony of my restraint?

Closer to the briny smell of an ocean, John Marin's watercolors crash over the heavy, sharp-toothed paper. On a pedestal in the hallway, in a highly polished head, Brancusi's Carpathian skills are revisioned in which I see myself reflected. In a corner is David Smith's "Portrait of Don Quixote," a centaur of quest and practice masterfully welded together. 

Upstairs reside works by Northwest shamans: "Bear," "Raven," "Thunderbird," along with split painted panels of a house, all from the Tlingit; and some masks from the Kwakwaka' Wakin. Sacred objects stolen from around the Primal World morphed into commodity, too soon. We are just beginning to try on masks of the myriad gods who made us who we are, and glimpse who we may become.

 

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