travel

Throwback Thursday Travel: China Pt 3

My final installment of the Throwback Thursday Travel series takes me back to China. This time, I’m reflecting on Shanghai, the last city I visited in China. I’ll always remember SH as a dynamic city with a vibrant nightlife and fantastic shopping. Here are some of my photos from my trip. Enjoy!

Stopping at Gucheng Park
Shopping in SH
The hotel where I stayed
Interior chandeliers
Mini fountain display at the hotel
The larger hotel fountain
Sightseeing
More sightseeing
At Meters/Bonwe
Going to see the acrobats

art · culture · travel

Throwback Thursday Travel: China, Part 2

Happy Thursday, friends! I first posted about my trip to China several years ago, and then I shared a Throwback Thursday Travel post highlighting my time in Beijing. But my trip to China didn’t end with Beijing: I also traveled to Hangzhou and Shanghai. Today, I’m sharing some pictures from Hangzhou, my favorite city in China. I loved West Lake, and I learned that many Chinese citizens love Hangzhou for weekend getaways. It’s such a picturesque city: I can’t wait to return!

At The Ramada in Hangzhou: such a beautiful lobby!

Touring the Dream Town Incubator

At beautiful West Lake

Shopping at Hefang Old Street

Riding around in Hangzhou

Visit to a tea plantation

art · culture · international · travel

Throwback Thursday Travel: China, Part 1

I shared some photos of my trip to China almost two years ago (to the date!) on this blog. I remember this trip fondly and I can’t wait to return when international travel is an option again. Until then, here are some photos that I haven’t shared before. These are all from Beijing: I’ll add pictures from Hangzhou and Shanghai in a separate post. Enjoy!

Meal I enjoyed at a local mall: one of the best veggie curries I’ve ever had!

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A quick snap at The Forbidden City

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The Great Wall

Local shopping district: I visited Plastered8 t-shirt shop and found some cool stuff

Yum!

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Spots of beauty everywhere

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Cute bib from Haidilao restaurant (their hotpot was superb!)

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A philosophy for life

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art · life curation

My Art Highlights for 2018

After a fantastic year of enjoying art, I thought it would be good for me to post some of my highlights from the last 12 months.

There really are too many highlights to cram into one post but I’m going to do my best!

I started this year off with viewing the terracotta army statues from China. As you all know, I visited China a few years ago and fell in love, so seeing the statues was like getting a taste of authentic China. I loved it and had a great time viewing the exhibition.

Next, nothing could top seeing Kenyan art while in Kenya! I wrote a post about Tom Mboya as well as some other Kenyan artists that I enjoyed. Getting to see art overseas is always a treat, since there is no guarantee that I will see these artists’ works stateside.

Paintings by Tom Mboya

I viewed Portuguese contemporary art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art and was reminded of my goal to visit Portugal within the next 2 years. Just so you all know, I’ll be resuming my Portuguese language lessons in the upcoming year. I mean it: I’m going to speak Portuguese so that I can enjoy my trip and get around a little better than the average tourist.

At the Smithsonian American Art Museum and Archives of American Art, I viewed the exquisite and timeless work of Edmonia Lewis. I’m still impressed by her masterful handling of marble and her amazing ability when it comes to depicting her subjects with dignity and full of emotion. I was so impressed with her work that I recently did a comparison of her work with a similarly themed piece, because I simply can’t get tired of discussing Lewis’s work!

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The Death of Cleopatra by Edmonia Lewis

I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Amy Sherald’s work at the National Portrait Gallery. Her portrait of Michelle Obama is a beautiful and unique interpretation of the former First Lady’s beauty, quiet resilience and charm. Seeing the painting in person impressed me far more than I expected, especially since Sherald’s signature technique forgoes capturing the rich tones of the subjects’ natural complexion and paints skin tone in greyscale, forcing art appreciators to focus on the expressions, posing, and attire depicted. I’m going to view some more of her work and maybe I’ll do an analysis of her style.

I also took a trip to Philadelphia and enjoyed the Philadelphia Museum of Art. There was so much art that I had to make a Part 1 and Part 2 to capture all of what I saw with my visit. I was delighted to see a Jean Leon Gerome painting that I’d never seen before.

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Night Flight by Howardena Pindell

I ended my year with the Howardena Pindell exhibition, that I loved so much that I had to visit it multiple times. Pindell is a living treasure, and I am thrilled that I got to see such a comprehensive retrospective of her work.

Those are my art highlights for 2018. I’m looking forward to bringing you all more art and more adventures in 2019!

 

 

 

art · international

My Top Picks from Bonham’s Asian Art Auction

Happy Saturday, friends! I’ve got more of my top picks for Asian Art Week. Today’s post is all about Bonhams Auctions. Bonhams refuses to be left out of the Asian Art Auction fun: the auction house will be having three auctions featuring Asian art exclusively. Just like in my last post, I’ll be focusing on just a select few items from the sales that caught my eye.

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The first auction is on September 10 at 10 AM EST. The sale – Chinese Works of Art and Paintings – features just a little less than 300 lots covering several different historical periods. I swooned when I saw these stunning silk robes. The vibrant hues and intricate detailing are the things that dreams are made of. Every now and then, I want to rock the traditional dress of a different country, so this is right up my alley. I love both the blue and red robe, and I’d gladly wear both! The robes could easily sell for more than $5000, per the auction estimates.

Two Han Lady ‘s Embroidered Silk Informal Robes

The other two auctions will occur on September 12. Earlier in the day, the Ancient Skills, New Worlds: Twenty Treasures of Japanese Metalwork auction will occur (starting at 10 AM). This carefully curated selection of 20 pieces from a private collection will sell quickly but the items are all distinct and unforgettable. The piece that I adored is this iron and gold miniature cabinet. This cabinet is a marvel: the perfect blend of strength and style, it is one of the most ornate pieces in the collection. This shiny jewel could easily sell for more than $30,000.

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Komai Otojiro, Iron and Gold Miniature Cabinet

Finally, at 1 PM on September 12, Bonhams will have its last Asian-themed auction, the Fine Japanese and Korean Art auction. Kudos to Bonhams for being one of the few auction houses to have a sale devoted exclusively to art originating from outside of China. While I love China and Chinese art, I enjoy browsing a collection that focuses on different Asian countries. This auction is predominantly Japanese art: out of 307 lots, roughly 10 of them are Korean.  From the Japanese art, I found I was smitten when I saw the small lacquer writing box. I loved its elegance and the fact that this beautiful box held writing instruments. Even though I won’t be bidding on this beauty (it could sell between $4,000 to $6,000+ at auction), I love the notion of having a luxurious container to hold your writing utensils. That’s an idea I may have to try for myself.

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Shiomi Masanari, Small Lacquer Writing Box

When it came to the Korean art in this auction, I really liked the calligraphy attributed to Kim Jeong-Hui. There’s something minimalist but still very lavish about this fine piece. The timeless nature of this piece is especially impressive when considering the fact that is is over 200 years old. Also, the simplicity of the design means that it could hang in any room of a home with ease. Prices for this one could soar over $4,000, and it’s easy to see why.

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Calligraphy Attributed to Kim Jeong-Hui

Those are my top picks from Bonhams’s Asian Art Week. This auction house has fewer pieces overall but the focused themes make Bonhams’s events stand out among the other auctions occurring during Asian Art Week. Be sure to check out their catalogs and see if anything catches your eye!

art · international

My Top Picks from Doyle’s Asian Art Auction

As we move steadily toward Asian Art Auction Week, it’s time to highlight another auction house that will be offering Asian art during this event. Today I’m sharing my favorite pieces from Doyle Auction House.

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If you’ve never heard me mention Doyle, it’s because I wasn’t familiar with the house. However, I’m glad that the name crossed my path, as they have an impressive auction scheduled for September 10 at 10 AM. Here are a few of my top picks:

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Pair of Chinese Jade-Covered Vases

These jade-covered vases are a stunning pair, with a charming bit of patina adding character to the set. The set is perfect for a home office, at a small but significant 10 inches tall. These could sell for anywhere between $12,000 to more than $18,000.

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Chinese Lapis Lazuli Mountain

I’ve never wanted a mountain before, but this piece is an eyecatcher. This Chinese Lapis Lazuli Mountain is just a little shy of 8 inches tall but is sure to be the star of any art collection. The mountain has vivid shades of denim, cobalt, cerulean and (naturally) lapis blues. The carving depicting a mountainside village is simultaneously heartwarming and hypnotizing. I expect this to easily surpass the $12,000 high end estimate.

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Japanese Silver Inlaid Bronze Miniature Cabinet

Finally, this Japanese bronze miniature cabinet is another jewel from this collection. The silver inlay work features intricate patterning and an avian motif. The cabinet would make a wonderful holding place for tiny treasures. I wouldn’t surprised if this went for well over the $5,000 higher estimate.

Unlike some of the more popular auction websites, the bulk of the collection is featured in the digital catalog as opposed to having separate webpages for each item. That being said, the digital catalog features an array of lovely pieces from Asia. This auction is definitely one to check out if you’re in the New York area on September 10, 2018.

art

My Top Picks from Freeman’s Asian Art Auction

Freeman’s Auction is kicking off Asian Art week by holding the first Asian-themed auction of the season. This auction has a lot of Chinese art, though there are a few pieces available from India, Japan and Korea. The pieces span multiple dynasties and the expected prices are refreshingly reasonable, with most items expected to sell for less than $5,000. Of course, I have a few items that caught my eye and I’m going to share them with you all in this post. However, I encourage you to peruse the entire catalog and go to the auction in person, if you can.

The first pieces that caught my eye were this vivid pair of turquoise blue luduan. Luduans are symbols of luck in China, and are an amalgam of a deer, horse and unicorn. This pair is especially beautiful and well-preserved. They could go for $8000 or more.

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Pair of Chinese turquoise-glazed pottery luduan

Next, I saw this lantern and immediately fell in love. The lotus design is gorgeous, and the fact that it would work with several different decorating themes appealed to me. This is one of the Japanese pieces in the lot: the age of the lantern wasn’t provided, but my guess is that it isn’t extremely old, as it’s expected to fetch somewhere between $1000 and $1500.

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Japanese bronze spherical lotus lantern

I then saw this pair of striking Chinese vases – one in creamy jadeite and the other in intense lapis lazuli – and I was blown away. So many times, vases that are seen in auctions are very standard in appearance: they look much like the vases we can find in most home decor stores around the country. However, the organic shape and unusual materials make these vases very special. The jadeite one is expected to sell somewhere between $1500 and $2500, while the lapis lazuli vase will probably go for a bit less (between $1000 and $1500). It’ll be interesting to see the final selling prices for these beauties.

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Chinese jadeite “magnolia” vase (Qing Dynasty)

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18th-19th Century lapis lazuli incense tool vase with (later) sterling mount

What auction is complete without jewelry? The jewelry lot that I loved came from India. The item that caught my attention was a set of gilt turban ornaments. While I rarely wear turbans, these incredible ornaments make me want to reconsider my current fashion choices. These make me want to wear turbans daily!

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Indian gilt metal and white stone turban ornaments

Those are my top picks from the Freeman’s Auction. The Asian Art Auction will happen on September 7, in Philadelphia. You can also view the collection on the days prior to the auction (September 3 – 6, from 10 AM to 5 PM [September 3 by appointment]). I hope that you all take some time to see what Freeman’s is offering!

art · international

That One Time in Beijing . . .

I mentioned my China travels in passing since I’ve had this blog, but since it’s almost the two year anniversary of that trip, I wanted to take a stroll down memory lane.

In Spring 2016, I spent two weeks doing a tour of China as a graduation gift to myself. I visited Beijing, Hangzhou and Shanghai. I fell head over heels for Hangzhou: I loved idyllic West Lake and all of the luxury experiences you could have in the city. That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy Beijing or Shanghai: I loved them, too! But there was something so tranquil about Hangzhou: it was a relaxing location.

Anyhoo, Beijing was full of history (yes, I visited the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City) and I enjoyed touring around and going to different shopping “hubs” here and there. Shanghai is great for shopping and had a fast-paced city feel that I found thrilling.

Here are some of my favorite photos from my China adventure. I can’t wait to return!

Beijing

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Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City

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The Great Wall of China

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Beijing National Stadium

Hangzhou

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West Lake – Lin Ying Temple and Buddha statues

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Hefang Old Street

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Tea plantation (I bought longjing tea there)

Shanghai

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culture · international

An Unforgettable Army

A few days ago, I got to return to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts to spend some time with the exhibits. When I found out that the museum was featuring statues from the world famous terracotta army (the 8,000 Chinese sculptures created to accompany China’s first emperor in the afterlife), I knew I couldn’t miss it.  The exhibit, Terracotta Army: Legacy of the First Emperor of China, appealed to my love of Asian art and history. Since I didn’t see any of the terracotta soldiers during my trip to China in 2016, this exhibit was the perfect chance to glimpse into the first Chinese empire.

You all may recall a few months ago I visited VMFA to see the Yves St. Laurent exhibit. I felt awful about only going once: I wish I had visited several times before the exhibit left.

I learned my lesson well. I gave myself enough time to see this exhibit more than once.

Just as a heads up: this is truly a once-in-a-lifetime exhibit. VMFA states, “More than 40 objects in the exhibition have never before been on view in the United States.  Terracotta Army is the first exhibition the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts has presented in its 80-year history that is devoted to the art and archaeology of ancient China.”

If you can’t make it to see the artifacts in person, never fear! I took LOTS of pictures. I can’t promise that you’ll feel like you were there, but at least you can imagine . . . First, the small artifacts and information posted throughout the exhibit:

And now, the soliders (I’ll share 5 of them in this post):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was awestruck by the artifacts and am so happy that I get to share them with you all. The true treasure, however, is the HISTORY behind each artifact. The Qin Dynasty was revolutionary and set all of the groundwork for Chinese unification. It’s amazing how much Qin Shihuang accomplished during his less than 50 years on earth.

Terracotta Army: Legacy of the First Emperor of China will be at VMFA until March 11, 2018. I implore you to go if at all possible: you won’t be disappointed!

food · international

The Great DC Bun Quest

After trying delicious vegetable buns in Beijing and Hangzhou, China last year, I’ve been searching for a comparable replacement.

I tried to satisfy my craving with dumplings, but those always fall short.

I visited People’s Bao, but they were shutting down – in the middle of lunch rush – so that they could find a good parking space for the evening’s Truckaroo festivities.

Then, I finally came across Momofuku CCDC. Their menu lists shiitake buns as an option.

I was determined to try them for myself.

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I tried them, and they were delicious. These aren’t the filled buns that are typical of dim sum. These buns are like folded-over, open faced sandwiches filled with sauteed shiitake mushrooms. The mushrooms were cooked to perfection and took on a bacon-like texture and flavor.

I highly recommend this dish! I enjoyed it so much, I ordered it again the following day. If you’re vegetarian, don’t forget to tell your server to cook your mushrooms in vegetable oil – otherwise, they will be cooked in tare (which contains pork fat).

Now, finding this delicious dish doesn’t mean that my question for the perfect bun is over. I still have to try People’s Bao (here’s hoping they will be able to stay for the duration of the lunch period next time I visit). And there are other Chinese restaurants in DC that may offer tasty buns, too. If you have any recommendations, please leave them in the comments below!