Sculpture by Design: Artist and landscape architect Isamu Noguchi’s lasting influence on a variety of themes of design and creative pursuits was evident during the “Noguchi at Night” benefit celebration at The Noguchi Museum on Tuesday night.
Designer Sandy Liang, Mission Chinese chef and owner Danny Bovien and artist Christine Park co-chaired the musical and culinary experience, which celebrated Asian American and Pacific Islander creatives. It also raised funds for the museum and its 2022 Artists Banner project, which began last year as a gesture of solidarity against anti-Asian violence. The project was also created as an open call for AAPI artists to have selected work displayed in the museum’s exterior banners.
While guests mingled under a Japanese pine tree in the museum’s serene sculpture garden reflecting the totality of Noguchi’s original design, Hisham Akita Bharucha offered a solo drum performance in the indoor-outdoor gallery. Guests enjoyed small dishes prepared by Bowen and Suntory Cocktails. Some guests circled through the galleries and others were noticed by the attic lighting sculptures in the minimalist museum shop, before Michelle Zuner of Japanese Breakfast performed an acoustic solo set in the museum’s main gallery. In keeping with the event’s natural setting, Amy Yip of Yip Studios provided rock-shaped cake pops.
The Noguchi Museum in Long Island City was the first museum in America to be established by a living artist. Museum director Brett Littman said, “Noguchi probably represents one of the most important biracial figures in the 20th century in terms of American art. His identity is the basis on which his entire artwork sits – East-Western, American -Japanese. For us, I want to start tying all those threads together and really start thinking about Noguchi’s values and being able to bring the AAPI creative community forward through performance, music, dance – Whatever it may be. This festival is the first step in that direction.”
Just a few weeks ago, the International Woolmark Awards commended this year’s seven finalists in a short film directed by FKA Twigs, which came with an immersive showroom and partnership with the Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum. Seeing the moderately attractive crowd in the garden, Littman found the artist’s renewed appeal.
“Young people are very attracted to Noguchi at the moment, and especially in the world of fashion and design,” he said. “We just did the project with the Woolmark Prize and FKA Twigs. A lot of people are looking at Noguchi as a person who was thinking about nature, the holistic thinking in placing things, ecology and identity.
Continuing, Littman said, “He’s also a great polymath. He was seamlessly doing industrial design, architecture, garden design. He was someone who walks through things so quickly and non-stop. Of course, Everything was sculpture to him, so he had the rubric under which he could work and organize everything…. Plus, [he had] This feeling of minimalism or inevitability. What you see here looks very minimalistic and laid back. He was more about the physicality. Of course, that leads to lesser things. Noguchis look really cool, when there’s only one thing in space. Overall, I would just say that he is a performer who feels of the time – again, which is lovely. He’s not a modernist fossil — at all.”
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