It would be an understatement to say that Texas Collects Asia is one of the most complex projects undertaken by The Crow Collection of Asian Art. Admittedly ambitious, this year-long series of five exhibitions has 39 different lenders from across the state and is guest curated by 16 different scholars from across the globe.
The irony is that the premise is so incredibly simple: find a group of Texans who collect the arts of Asia, in the shared spirit of Trammell and Margaret Crow, and exhibit their works together in an exhibition exclusively dedicated to that end. If this first exhibition is any indication, the reality of the project will vastly exceed our original vision.
When our director, Amy L. Hofland, originally devised this series to herald The Crow Collection’s 10th anniversary, we thought the project would only involve three exhibitions: Japanese art, Chinese art, and Indian art. Given that Texas Collects Asia would stand as the first series dedicated entirely to the genre of the Texas collector of Asian art -and the first series organized entirely in-house by The Crow Collection- we worked overtime, ultimately traveling over 16,000 miles around Texas to visit collectors and scholars. We learned very quickly that our original concept of three exhibitions would be far too limiting.
Simply put, we kept meeting charismatic and generous collectors with increasingly diverse collections of art. The Japanese exhibition expanded into two after we viewed three stellar collections of Japanese folk art with enough materials to warrant their own exhibition. The Chinese exhibition similarly spawned an extra -and equally unexpected-exhibition of contemporary Asian art. Even the Indian exhibition broadened, now incorporating Southeast Asia, after we located an amazing collection of Cambodian sculptures and textiles. The title certainly holds true, as Texas Collects Asia indeed.
The exhibition which opens today, Texas Collects Asia: Japan, contains so many works of the utmost quality that we only have enough space to display half of them. We will rotate in the other half at the end of February, so it will feel more like two exhibitions for the (free) price of one.
There are marvelous painted scrolls that portray ghosts, wolves, fireflies, horses, and festivals with fine, skillful brushwork. There are oversize wood screens with birds-eye views of the city of Kyoto, intricately carved ivory netsuke, and painstakingly crafted lacquer writing-boxes.
Even books, heavy furniture, tanto swords, and magnificent suits of armor are represented in this exhibition. The result is a fabulous sampling of fine Japanese craftsmanship that spans almost 700 years.
So please come enjoy the first exhibition of this groundbreaking series before it closes on March 30 – Texas Collects Asia: Japan is an exceptional opportunity to learn about the arts of Japan, courtesy of the many Texans who are passionate about them. Admission is free.