December 29th, 2000


Teach Me

I gaze at his hands. Old, wrinkled. They tremble as he dips his brush into a small earthen pot of ink. A drop drips off the tip, sending ripples through the surface. Then, quick as lightning, he makes his move. Ink flies off the brush onto his ivory paper. Quick. Flawless. His image begins to emerge - a line. A hill. A sheer cliff. A waterfall cutting between. Trees. Fish. Granite. Yosemite Falls.
All in less than half an hour, he renders the falls in black and white without any guiding save his mind's eye. I'm in awe. Amazed. I want to do that. I want to effortlessly capture moments in my work.

This artist's work was at the de Young Museum in San Francisco, the exhibit on its final week. So is the museum, which will be torn down because of building regulations. Because it can't withstand another earthquake, so they're rebuilding it from scratch.

I could cry. All the sculptures, baskets, paintings, murals, wall scrolls, artifacts - it will all be homeless for years while the new museum is being built. Some will be a traveling show - some will be packed up in a warehouse.

But how can the masters teach if they're locked away from their pupils?
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