1900s

Glimpse into #China Past

Mural on the outside of an abandoned building

Famed Ringling Bros. circus closing after more than 100 years

**Sadness! I never got to see the circus. This is completely the end of an era and a great loss. Also a sadness for the conservation center-hope they can find an alternative means of funding or what will happen to the poor elephants there.  Great shout-outs to all the great members of the circus group and all the joy they brought audiences for years. You were seriously a part of the American culture!

“Famed Ringling Bros. circus closing after more than 100 years”

by Tony Marco and Azadeh Ansari via “CNN”

Performers ride elephants during a live perfomance in 2007.

The Ringling Bros. circus is closing down after more than 100 years in operation, according to a press release from Feld Entertainment, which has owned the circus for the last 50 years.

“I have made the difficult business decision that Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® will hold its final performances in May of this year,” CEO Kenneth Feld said.
High operating costs and the decline of ticket sales “made the circus an unsustainable business for the company,” Feld said.
And after “the transition of the elephants off the road, we saw an even more dramatic drop” in ticket sales, Feld said.  Before taking the final bow, the Ringling Bros., will perform 30 shows across the United States between now and May.
For years, the elephants have been in the spotlight and their dance routines featured prominently in the shows. But due to mounting criticism from animal rights groups, the Ringling Bros. phased out the elephant acts entirely.
Off stage, the Ringling Bros. runs an elephant conservation center which sits on 200 acre of rural land in Florida, between Tampa and Orlando. Created in 1995 by Ringling, the facility focuses on the care and study of Asian elephants — an endangered species that it had used in its shows.

READ MORE

This painting was looted by the Nazis, then seized from my living room

“This painting was looted by the Nazis, then seized from my living room”

by Craig Gilmore via “LA Times”

la-dfunke-1480872321-snap-photo

Two agents from U.S. Homeland Security’s ICE unit arrived at my door in September looking for a Polish lady — not a person, but a painting: Melchior Geldorp’s “Portrait of a Lady.” She had, they informed me, been looted by the Nazis from the National Museum in Warsaw.

Unsure if these gentlemen were indeed who they claimed to be, I didn’t invite them in. But I knew exactly what they were seeking: My partner, David, and I had purchased this very portrait — ostensibly the work of a different artist — a decade earlier from a major auction house in New York. 

Upon their leaving, I stood dumbfounded, holding a packet of information about the alleged provenance of our painting. After calling David at work to drop this bombshell, I began a Googling frenzy, eventually bringing me to Poland’s Division for Looted Art website. Seconds later I was gawking at an old black-and-white photo of our beloved lady, a beautiful portrait painted on oak panel in 1628. Tears welled in my eyes with the realization that, without question, if this were true we needed to do our duty and get her safely home.

Being an opera singer, I was among a group of vocalists on a government-sponsored tour of Israel some years ago. During a visit to a community center for Holocaust survivors I was asked to sing. The emotion of being surrounded by people who had prevailed through such unimaginable horrors was overwhelming, and I found myself unable. Excusing myself, I attempted to make up for it by spinning several of the ladies around the dance floor — all the while trying not to look down at the numbers tattooed on their wrists. 

Now this memory flooded back to me, and I found myself once again in tears, hyper-aware of how Nazi atrocities affect us still to this day.

The toll of World War II in Poland — including the deaths of 6 million Poles, Jews, and other outcasts, including homosexuals — is unimaginable. Being gay men, David and I feel a personal connection with these losses and are conscious of how political shiftings can lead to vulnerability. This, added to the knowledge that Poland’s LGBTQ community is still in a struggle for its basic rights, has weighed heavily on our minds. 

READ MORE

Upcoming Event ~ “Taiwan Fest!”

Hey Folks!  

Heard from the ACSEA (Asian-Canadian Special Events Association) and they are putting on what sound’s like a really cool event in Downtown Toronto and Vancouver! 🙂 

Each year, this organization hosts the annual TAIWANfest, and this year it’s going to be called “Dialogues with Asia” starting with “A Cultural Tango with Hong Kong.”  The event’s purpose is the “engage Torontonians and Vancouverites in a cultural dialogue to better understand Asian cultures.” But I’m sure they’d love for people of all locales to stop buy and participate! Sounds like a great opportunity to learn more about not only Taiwan (an awesome place – most of my students say that it is actually more like old-style, traditional China than even the mainland) but also other countries in the Asian sphere.

You can see the schedule for August 26-28 here and September 3-5 here. Special events include an International Pan Asian Culinary event and “A Cultural Tango with Hong Kong Symphony” Check it out!

Who:  ACSEA (Asian-Canadian Special Events Association)

When: August 26-28, 2016 (in Toronto) &  September 3-5, 2016 (in Vancouver)

Where: 

Harbourfront Centre
235 Queens Quay W
Toronto, ON M5J 2G8

The Centre / Granville Street / QE Theatre Plaza
Vancouver Playhouse Annex

More Information: Here.

“TAIWANfest returns to Harbourfront Centre and Downtown Vancouver this summer and begins its “Dialogues with Asia” series with “A Cultural Tango with Hong Kong.” One of the great ways to experience the culture is to take part in the Friendship Picnic – a program designed to cultivate new friendships over food. Mark down the dates and get ready to meet someone from Taiwan or Hong Kong. If you’re a little more adventurous, try the Hakka nutritional beverage called Lei-Cha, made from ground up seeds and nuts. For some great stories, check out the full Experience HAKKA! Redefine your understanding of Asian cultures with exhibits and films August 26-28 at Harbourfront Centre and September 3-5 in Downtown Vancouver.”

 

 

Take in long-lost, wartime art attributed to Chihiro

“Take in long-lost, wartime art attributed to Chihiro”

by “The Japan News

The Yomiuri ShimbunThree long-lost paintings believed to have been produced by the popular picture book author Chihiro Iwasaki (1918-1974) are on display at her namesake museum in Tokyo.

The works were discovered last year at the Nippon seinenkan (foundation of Japan-youth center) in Tokyo. One of the three works is making its public debut at the ongoing exhibition, titled “Commemorating 70 Years of Non-war — Chihiro’s Wish for Peace,” at the Chihiro Art Museum Tokyo in Nerima Ward.

The discovery was significant because many of the artist’s works created before and during World War II were lost in air raids.

“We want people to think about the war through Chihiro’s works, which were produced at a time when people were not allowed to freely create art,” said a museum official. . . . .

READ MORE