Friday, June 24, 2011

Daegu Art Museum, farewell, automobile excursion

Daegu Art Museum is newly opened on May 26 of this year: many of our hosts had not visited it yet, but Kim Yeonguk had attended the opening. We learned she had studied with Park Sa__ in Seoul. I love his work that was in the museum, and, interestingly, one of his Ecriture series is in the Hyundai hotel in which we are staying (below). This opening exhibition featured mostly Korean minimalist artists. There is a special gallery for work involving the natural world and one wall is really a massive window to the landscape. Richard Long's work, employing stones collected in Korea was exhibited in this gallery during our visit. On the edge of town, near the sports stadium, it sits in foothills, surprising since building and farming seem to take place in the river plains, and the mountains are full of trees. Madeleine had remarked on this phenomena and it's difficult to overlook. The art museum is a beautiful building with polished granite ( the dominant stone in Korea) and glass and metal reflecting some traditional Korean building iconography.
Farewell to Ryu Seesook and Kim Yeonguk. Dynamos of organization and gracious hospitality, they drove us everywhere or arranged for drivers. Seesook helped me de-install Una Kim's work, and served us a wonderful last lunch with the artists from Russia. Kim Yeonguk arranged for us to stay in the Hyundai Hotel (luxury resort) at Bomun Lake at a wonderful price with all comforts. I am writing from the 10th floor in a spacious room with decent wifi and large bath, overlooking a glass pyramid.
Seesook has arranged a stay for us near Tongyeong along the south coast.

Jim and I got up early, took a taxi to Dongdaegu train station (the KTX high speed train runs through this station) to get a rented car. Instead of directing us to Avis or Hertz, Korail now has its own car rental and at a rate ($65/day for midsize with navigation and insurance) much more favorable than what we saw in guidebooks (of course gasoline is more expensive here, but we don't have as far to drive to see things). Our plan is to drive to Gyeongju and Tongyeong and any place we want along the south coast, in search of Admiral Yi Soonshin. We are driving a Hyundai Avante, sporty with ok mileage and navigation in Korean only. I'm looking at maps in English and Korean (most tourist maps are printed in at least those two languages) to determine the Hangul version of where we want to go: then we can read the signs: I found Kyungbook University on the nav system this way. The nav systems here are characteristic of much 21st Century Korean design: beautiful and easy to understand visually, using pastels and white instead of bright colors and black as we do in the US. Some in taxis have three dimensions, making me feel I'm in Grand Theft Auto or Godzilla Attacks Seattle. The one in our car is elegant and a dotted blue line always directs the destination as the crow flies.

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