New York City may claim to be this country's melting pot, but Los Angeles can definitely give it a run for its money. While the cultural landscape is more spread out than its east coast rival, it's just as rich with a population that encompasses communitues from all over the globe.
Fusion Fridays at the Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena is the perfect place to get a taste of L.A.'s Asian community. The monthly summer event treats guests to live performances and games in the courtyard, food trucks in the parking lot, the opportunity to wander the galleries and a chance to get down to an eclectic mix of dance tracks. July's event gave visiting designers the chance to wander every inch of the museum for inspiration from Thailand, Korea and Pakistan.
In the Courtyard…
The night's outdoor performances included a traditional Thai Umbrella dance, a Korean Ariang dance and a Three Drum Dance. While the precision with which the performers executed each dance showed a deep reverence of history and tradition, it was their colorful costumes that could really spark a designer's imagination. The unabashed combination of bright pink, teal, lemon and red set against a neutral background illustrated how breathtaking a pop of color can be when done thoughtfully.
Upstairs in the museum, resident artist Naina treated guests to a demonstration of the traditional Pakistani art of making Ralli quilts. Watching Naina hand sew the intricate designs and then taking in the finished product added weight – these aren't just beautiful decorative blankets but works of art imbued with tradition that has been passed down for generations.
Down in the Gallery…
Downstairs in the gallery, the “Art of Continuity: Revering Our Elders" continued the focus on lineage, history and ritual in the Asian arts. This small collection of paintings and sculptures was an ode to the importance Eastern cultures place on their elders. The exhibit even encouraged guests to partake in tradition by writing down their own memories.
At the other end of the museum, Takashi Tomo-oka illustrated how tradition can be honored using updated techniques. Though his collection of flower portraits resembles painted hanging scrolls, they're actually a series of photographs. It's a clever lesson on how to create something that simultaneously feels like a modern piece of art and an ancient artifact.
For more information on the Pacific Asia Museum and Fusion Friday's visit: http://pacificasiamuseum.org/index.aspx
All images by Megan Mostyn-Brown