The Huntington Library and Gardens have several marvelous stones displayed in their Japanese Gardens. The ones that fascinated me particularly come from the Eel River in Northern California and are so smooth and pleasant to look upon that they captivated me entirely, and I began to make plans to visit the Eel River solely for the purpose of seeing the parent rock material that these stones sprung from. Well, I haven’t made the journey yet,ut I have decided to put it on my list of Resolutions for the New Year. Fortunately, there is a society called California Aiseki Kai dedicated to the Japanese tradition of suiseki, or the appreciation of stones shaped by natural forces to evoke landscapes. They meet on the fourth Wednesday of each month at the KenNakaokaCommunity Center in Gardena to talk about the structure and aesthetics of these stones and how to best display them. They even organize field trips to go hunting for appropriate stones and have workshops on how to construct wooden bases for their display.
Suiseki is a word made up of “water” and “stone”. This is because they must attain their forms solely by means of natural forces. These stones are collected for the contemplation of the world in miniature. It is a sister art to that of the more widely familiar concept, the cultivation of bonsai. They are often displayed together in a tokonoma, or viewing alcove. Suiseki stones are prized for their beauty (particularly as it evokes comparison with mountain, island and landcape views), patina (the surface luster), harmony and balance. They are generally displayed in bases specially made for each stone, called daiza, or (in the case of the island type of suiseki) trays of sand, or suiban. Part of the aesthetic pleasure in these stones derives from the Zen-derived value of wabi-sabi. It is a way of finding something mysterious or spiritual in the ordinary, and often beauty in decay.
California Aiseki Kai is mounting a show of viewing stones at the Huntington “Friends Hall.” They are also sponsoring a lecture by “the most renowned woman connoisseur of Chinese Scholar’s Stones in 400 years,” Kemin Hu, also at the Huntington. She is the author of the books, The Spirit of Gongshi: Chinese Scholar’s Rocks, Scholar’s Rocks in Ancient China-Suyan Stone Catalogue, and Modern Chinese Scholar’s Rocks- A Guide for Collectors. She will be talking about collection and appreciation of Scholar’s Stones, the philosophy of Scholar’s Stones, judging them, the types of stones selected, and the art of choosing the stand style. You might want to head up to the Huntington anyway, while they’re building their Chinese Garden. The pavilions are not up yet, but the waterways, bridges and foundations are there to be strolled through on the way down to the Japanese Garden (or up to the glasshouse).
While we’re onto Chinese subject matter, the 108th Annual Golden Dragon Parade celebrating Chinese New Year will be held in Chinatown, downtown Los Angeles, Saturday February 24 and will run down North Broadway from 2:00pm to 5:00pm. The festival will go from 10:00am to 8:00pm. This is a good place to get to by Metrolink. Happy Year of the Boar!
If you’re more intrigued by the whale than the boar, the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium and L.A. Chapter of the American Cetacean Society will be hosting their annual Whale Fiesta. There will be a Duct Tape Whale Sculpture Contest, their Great Cetacean Creation Sand Sculpture Contest, and puppet shows, talks by whale experts, music, games, and all sorts of doings.
If Quilting is your delight, or you just like to enjoy them without all of the work, the Road to California Quilt Show will be at the Ontario Convention Center Thursday-Saturday January 18-21, 9:30am-6:00pm and Sunday 10:00am-4:00pm. Admission will be $10.00 for all 4 days.
Viewing Stones Show
December 27-January2 (closed January 1)
10:30am-4:30pm – Friends’ Hall
Chinese Scholar’s Rocks lecture by Kemin Hu
Wednesday February 28 7:30pm – Ahmanson Classroom
1151 Oxford Rd., San Marino91108
Cabrillo Marine Aquarium Whale Fiesta
3720 Stephen M. White Dr., San Pedro
For more information, call Larry Fukuhara at 310-548-7562