To be seen as part of the exhibition “Underdogs and Antiheroes: Japanese Prints from the Moskowitz Collection“, which opens March 19, the work is one of many in the museum’s collection that focus not only on sakura, or cherry blossoms, but related activities: gathering to celebrate spring. The Japanese tradition of flower viewing, known as hanami, can take several forms. Here are some other clever ways to celebrate spring.
In April 2020, the digital artist from Munich Tamiko Thiel found herself isolated in her apartment, longing for the cherry trees that made her childhood joy in Japan. Spring was in the air, but so was infection, so Thiel – an engineer, computer artist and one of the main designers of the first supercomputer – turned to technology to bring the flowers to her fingertips. The result, an app-based augmented reality artwork, “Spring suspended”, uses your smartphone camera to create the illusion that you are surrounded by floating pink petals. Starting March 20, the artwork will be available throughout the DMV via a mobile app. Thiel hopes this will be thought provoking, noting that cherry blossoms once represented young samurai warriors killed in battle. “In Japanese culture, the cherry blossom symbolizes the fleeting beauty of life itself,” Thiel said, via email. “The cherry blossom asks us to open our senses and focus intensely on the beauty of the moment.” “Suspended Spring” is part of “ReWildAR“, a commissioned project for the Smithsonian’s”Futures contracts,” on view through July 6 at the Arts and Industries Building, 900 Jefferson Dr. SW. aib.si.edu. “Suspended Spring” will be available in a geofence surrounding the DC, Maryland and Virginia area on the app ARpoiseavailable for iOS and android. It will be available until April 17.
You might think social media is a 21st century phenomenon. But in Edo period Japan (1603-1867), some woodblock prints circulated so widely that you could say they went viral. Long before Instagram, print series as popular as Utagawa Hiroshige“The Fifty-Three Stations of Tokaido” – which documents his journey along a famous route in Japan – inspired ordinary viewers with wanderlust. And the vivid impressions of ukiyo-e (or “floating world”) provided new ways of viewing everyday life – Kabuki theatre, sumo wrestling, pleasure quarters – similar to social media posts. Emphasizing this connection, the exhibition “Exploring Hiroshige and His Influence on Social Media” presents contemporary photographs that reflect Hiroshige’s style, combined with works by the printmaker from the American University collection. March 22 through May 13 at the Japan Information and Culture Center, 1150 18th St. NW, Suite 100. 202-238-6900. us.emb-japan.go.jp/jicc/. Free.
If seeing cherry blossoms with your own eyes isn’t enough, you might want to experience them in the highest pixel resolution ever seen, because Artechouse promises in its promotional material for “pixel flower.” The fifth annual Cherry Blossom Show at the tech-centric art space will take viewers on a journey through digital blossoms with a 22-minute, 18-channel floor-to-ceiling projection featuring scenes that have up to to 94,000 individually simulated petals per tree. Known for its Instagram-worthy installations, Artechouse tends more toward spectacle than substance. But if you’re looking for an immersive virtual experience (or just a good shot), this will do the trick. Until May 30 at Artechouse, 1238 Maryland Ave. SW, artechouse.com. $17 to $26.
For the second year, local artists have been invited to decorate their own large-scale flower sculptures, which can be found throughout the city and its surrounding suburbs. Called ‘Art In Bloom’, the 26 outdoor installations include works showcasing Japanese art, such as the vibrant ‘Flower Kuties“, inspired by the Japanese artist Takashi Murakamiand “Sakura+Seasons” by Tracie Griffith Tso, which imitates Japanese sumi-e, a traditional brush-and-ink painting technique developed by monks in the 14th century. Other pieces take a more local approach. At “The real benchmarks” flourish, artists Diane D’Costa and Nia Keturah Calhoun painted images of Ben’s Chili Bowl and Howard University to challenge what their statement calls the “visitor’s gaze.” The two note that these places “may not be marble statues or national icons, but they are what makes DC home.” From March 20 to May 31 at various locations. Map available on nationalcherryblossomfestival.org/art-in-bloom-2022/. Free.
Cherry Blossom History and Culture
the Library of Congress has a surprisingly large trove of prints adjacent to cherry blossoms that show hanami parties, courtesans enjoy the spring and the striking Japanese landmarks (meisho-e) enhanced by flowering trees. Although these works are too fragile to see in person, you can browse many of them on a website. Gallery. The library also hosts several educational cherry blossom events. A series of three virtual “object lessons”, presented by Mari Nakahara and Katherine Blood, authors of the book “Cherry Blossom: Sakura Collections from the Library of Congresswill cover cherry blossom varieties (April 6); the history of the 1912 cherry blossom gift (April 7); and seasonal themes in Japanese art (April 8). In April, the library will host its annual Japanese Culture Day, with presentations of Japanese drumming and karate, as well as Japanese arts and crafts. Japanese Culture Day is April 9 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Library of Congress, Jefferson Building, 10 First St. SE. 202-707-5000. loc.gov/exhibits/cherry-blossoms/cherry-blossoms-in-japanese-cultural-history. Free. Timed entry Reservations necessary at the entrance of the building.
If you’re looking for reliable spring flowers – rain or shine, whatever the erratic temperatures – the National Gallery of Art Rotunda is an annual showcase for the Ames-Haskell Azalea Collection. With 250 azaleas, some half a century old, the collection is a collage of spring colours: brilliant whites, bright pinks and bright reds – a warm contrast to the cool, dark marble of the museum’s interior. (In one promotional video, NGA Deputy Horticultural Services Chief Juli Goodman likens them to “living art.”) The flowers have a connection to Japan: Many evergreen azaleas are native to Japan, including Kurume azaleas , which feature prominently in the collection and are used in bonsai practices. The museum also plans to restart its evening lineup — formerly known as NGA Nights — with a flower-themed event from 6-9 p.m. on April 14. Titled “Flowers After Hours,” the event will include art and pop-up performances. In the museum, it is worth stopping in the galleries of Impressionist and Dutch still lifes to see painted flowers as well. Discover the lively and meticulous work of Jan Brueghel the Elder dating from 1615 “Flowers in a basket and a vase“or Claude Monet’s 1899 Meditative Oil Painting,”The Japanese footbridge.” The Ames-Haskell Azalea collection is on view indefinitely, at least until March 27 at the National Gallery of Art, West Building, Constitution Avenue at Fourth Street NW. 202-737-4215. nga.gov. Free. “Flowers After Hours” requires pre-registration by March 21 at nga.gov/nights.
- Cherry Blossom Family Celebration at the American Art Museum: The free in-person event will feature traditional taiko drumming; a performance on koto (a stringed instrument) Masayo Ishigure and the Miyabi Koto Shamisen Ensemble; and a DJ set. March 19, 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Smithsonian American Art Museum, F Street plaza between Seventh and Ninth streets NW. Online activities later this spring include a oil painting workshop with Lea Craigie-Marshall, official artist of the National Cherry Blossom Festival (March 27; $15); and one flower preservation workshop (April 9; free). americanart.si.edu.
- National Museum of Asian Arts Events: Cherry blossom-themed events at the Freer and Sackler Galleries include a outdoor koto concert by Yumi Kurosawa with classical Japanese and Chinese music, as well as a new piece inspired by the exhibition “Mind Over Matter: Zen in Medieval Japan.” April 2 at 1 p.m., weather permitting. Enid A. Haupt Garden, 1050 Independence Ave. SW. From March 26 to April 10, the museum’s website will show films by Japanese animator Satoshi Kon and a documentary about Kon’s life. asia.si.edu. All events are free.
- Virtual Guided Meditation at the Phillips Collection: Online meditation session on the theme of cherry blossoms inspired by the painting of Marjorie Phillips “Tidal pool at cherry blossom time.” April 6, 12:45 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. phillipscollection.org. Free.
- Cherry Blossom Jubilee at the Torpedo Factory: Taiko Drums; exhibition of cherry blossom-inspired works by artists and galleries Torpedo Factory; live music and art demonstrations. April 10, noon to 3 p.m. Torpedo Factory Art Center, 105 N. Union St., Alexandria. From April 2 to May 1, the artists of Torpedo Factory will display colorful works inspired by spring and cherry blossoms outside their galleries. Free. torpedofactory.org.
- Hirshhorn Art Cart: Cherry blossom art activity for children. April 21, 10 a.m. to noon. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Independence Avenue and Seventh Street SW. Free. hirshhorn.si.edu.