Docent will speak to the meaning of flowers in Asian art

09/07/2017

For some, a lotus may just be a lotus, but according to Yoshi Fukamiya, a Stinson Beach resident and docent at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, it’s a symbol of transcendence and purity in Asia since the flower emerges from the mud unstained. That’s the image reflected in 17th-century Chinese artist Yun Bing’s ink-on-silk artwork, one of many pieces in the Asian Art Museum’s ongoing exhibition “Flower Power: The meaning of flowers in Asian Art.” Mr. Fukamiya will give a presentation on the exhibition next Tuesday, Sept. 12 at the Stinson Beach Library in which he’ll “take the museum outside of the museum.” The exhibition, which runs through Oct. 1, comes during the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love, when flowers, inspired by Buddhist art, were symbols of peace. “Obviously, beauty and vitality have always motivated us, but sometimes, particularly with the Summer of Love, [flowers] reflected the protest,” Mr. Fukamiya said. “People used the power of a flower to protest the gun.” The exhibition features rugs, ceramics, sculptures and modern installations to explore the symbolism behind six significant blooms: the lotus, plum blossom, cherry blossom, chrysanthemum, tulip and rose. (The cherry blossom, widely celebrated in Japanese art, is used as a metaphor for the transience of life, while the tulip was associated with power, wealth and sophistication in the Ottoman Empire.) Mr. Fukamiya emigrated to the United States from Japan when he as 19. After “semi-retiring” from a furniture exporting business a few years ago, he began to educate himself on Asian art, leading to his involvement with the museum—but he’s quick to dismiss any artistic ambitions of his own. “I’m not an artist,” he said. “It would be nice, but it’s too late. My purpose is to share my knowledge.”