Friday, April 17, 2009

Pacific Asia Museum

In the Hindi religion, many different gods are celebrated and revered. The Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena houses some of the most inspiring artworks and eclectic exhibits in the Los Angeles vicinity, which honor this tradition along with other Asian customs. The museum is located at 46 North Los Robles Avenue, and a trip to check out the art can easily be squeezed in between shopping on Colorado Boulevard and dinner at El Paseo. Additionally, the museum is fairly inexpensive—tickets are $9 for adults and $7 for students and seniors, with free admission on the fourth Friday of every month. There are also many events offered by the museum, including lectures, yoga classes, and free family concerts.

Currently, “Discovering Ganesha: Remover of Obstacles,” will run until Sept. 20. Although the collection is very small (it fits into one small room,) there are amazing photographs depicting the Ganesha festivals in Mumbai, India. The room that houses the collection is brightly painted to go along with the colorful photographs, and there is a 30 minute movie displayed that discusses the different rituals surrounding the Ganesha festivals.
The Ganesha is an elephant figure that is a much-revered god in the Hindu religion. Annually (usually around August or September,) there is a 10-day festival honoring Ganesha called Ganesh Chaturthi. Homes in India are decorated with bright flowers, and the festival culminates in a trip to the sea where representations of the Ganesha (usually made of clay) are submerged in the water. This act is symbolic in the hopes that Ganesha will visit the following year, bringing good luck again.

Shanna Dressler captured some of the most impressive art featured in the exhibit. She was inspired by the Indian people’s dedication to Ganesha, and the faith placed in his ability to make lives better. Dressler writes in her artist statement, “Regardless of religious or cultural background, universal questions will present themselves: ‘What obstacles would you like removed from your life? What would your life look like if you removed all of the everyday obstacles related to money, relationships, career, and health? What would it be like if everyone in your community was connected to something beyond the material world that gave deep meaning and purpose to their lives?’” Most of Dressler’s prints are untitled pieces, but they all embrace the color of the festival and demonstrate the devotion and hope displayed by the people celebrating.

Another interesting exhibit is “The Samurai Re-Imagined: From Ukiyo-e to Anime” in one of the main galleries. The exhibit, which will run until Aug. 9, shows how the definition and depiction of samurais has changed and evolved over centuries. To demonstrate how the samurai has been incorporated into American culture, there are posters of Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill” movies, in which samurai violence is glorified and celebrated. The art of anime is represented by various animation cells and comic books that are extremely popular in Japan.

For more information on the museum, visit

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