After a few mishaps with the trains, I made it to Chiba City to see Masako Otani, owner of Space Galleria. She is one of the coolest people you will ever meet. She also happens to run a small, private gallery on the second floor of a brick building opposite the Chiba City Art Museum. If you blinked, you would probably miss the sign on the sidewalk but you would also miss your chance to see some fine local art. Yes, she rents out the gallery to artists who are willing to pay but she also attracts those who make high-quality of work. It is always a treat to see what is on exhibit here. And unlike larger galleries, the shows are free.
The current show is Yawarakai or Soft by Noe Takahashi and is held until September 29, 2013. Older work included demon dolls and other delicate figurines, but recent work focuses on animals. Some, like the mouse from the Oriental zodiac were predictable, but others were an enjoyable surprise. Many people collect the animals from the zodiac, so these will hopefully earn her some money to help pay for the show. If interested, the mouse is on sale for 18,000 yen. Contact Space Galleria for more details.
Other pieces were straight from Japanese folklore and anime. Children are often told stories about one-eyed monsters, and Takahashi made some that can be worn on your lapel. The small clawlike creatures are available for 2000 yen, and the larger one with the Cyclops stomach is 6000 yen. I have no idea why but the round pieces with eyes are called Close Friends. I do not know where she got the eyes but they are mesmerizing!
Some pieces were obviously theatrical, such as the crow mask and purple velvet cape. I do not know if the mask was ever worn in a performance or not, but the mask is designed to be worn. It has several small holes to see where you are going and straps to secure it on your head. The beak is heavy so the mask tips forward when worn, but Takahashi is trying to lighten it somehow. The purple cape is not needed, because this crow mask is gorgeous all by itself!
The theatrical nature of the animals reminded me of a show I saw at the Winnipeg Art Gallery in the late Eighties by a local female artist whose name escapes me at the moment. Takahashi’s work, however, is smaller — a common trait of work by many Japanese artists who work and exhibit in cramped spaces.
Unlike the Canadian artist who did many figures in an installation, Takahashi mainly did individual, stand-alone pieces. I could not help but imagine how powerful some pieces, such as the wooden dog or tapir, would be if she used moulds to create ten or more figures to fill a space with an installation. She could use them to create a message and have a larger presence. She is a young artist and will hopefully have a long, successful career ahead of her if she gets some support.
Homo-, Hetero- will be held next at Space Galleria from October 3-8. (I do not know why the threes are dropping below like lowercase P’s and G’s. ) I assume that Gen Konnno (sic) is showing his latest sculptures but I do not know much more than that. The postcard is not much of a clue either. The wooden figure on the right will not be seen in the gallery. Why not? It got burnt in a fire — and not on purpose either! It ended up as the figure on the left. The burnt figure is powerful, but the two together would have been amazing! The title of the show is also interesting and suggested a dichotomy, but who knows what the actual theme of his show will be? Intriguing nonetheless and worthy of a visit.