Saturday, October 15, 2011

Kaneko at Lauritzen Gardens

To celebrate Omaha's Lauritzen Gardens 10th Anniversary, Jun Kaneko has many of his wonderful large scale ceramics on display throughout the grounds. My husband and I were lucky enough to catch the exhibit before the closing.

Although I was a horticulture major in college, I'd never been to the Lauritzen Gardens. I graduated and moved away from Nebraska before the botanical gardens in Omaha had opened. And, most of my visits back to Nebraska were for the Christmas holiday to see my family. So, I was excited when we not only had an excuse to be in Omaha already (my friend Malindi's wedding), but there were these marvelous sculptures on display, as well.

I had heard about Kaneko, but didn't know much about him before visiting the gardens. Incidentally, we walked in at the exact time as a young "docent" and her grandmother. We followed behind her for a bit and caught little tidbits that she had heard while watching a documentary on Kaneko.

She expounded upon the fact that most of his pieces were unnamed because he didn't want to influence the viewer's experience or interpretation of the work.

I learned that he had visited Bullseye glass in Portland, Oregon for a collaborative work when I visited the Bullseye Gallery four or five years ago. So, I had seen his glass, but did not know anything about him at the time. Of course, upon moving to Nebraska, I'd heard his name tossed around quite a bit. And it's no wonder, as he's opened a working studio in Omaha and been based in Nebraska since 1986 (that's well before I knew anything about anything in the art world). If you know nothing about Nebraskans, then I will tell you, we're loyal! (The Nebraska Cornhuskers football team holds records for the most sold out games and downtown becomes a sea of red on game days....and the stadium becomes the "third largest city" in Nebraska.) Nebraskans are proud of Kaneko!

Apparently, the large scale ceramic sculptures are 1"-2" thick and take up to a year to dry before going in the kiln for two firings: a bisque firing and a glaze firing (which can last up to 10 days). Talk about being patient for a piece to be done.

A special little treat for my husband (and I quite enjoyed it, as well) was the miniature forest where the model trains were set up. Omaha was the Eastern end of the Union Pacific line of the Transcontinental Railroad, you know the Golden Spike thing...
There were several buildings of downtown Omaha represented in the little hobbit village.

Go check it out if you get the chance!

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