From a Distant Road

On display through May 29, 2012

Blending an eclectic mix of Eastern and Western poetry and printing techniques, From a Distant Road features hand-colored Japanese albumen prints and original haiga by Santa Fe poet John Brandi. The exhibit runs Sept. 16-March 4, 2012, in the John Gaw Meem Room.

The exhibit includes: Eighteen of Brandi’s contemporary haiga (haiku poems accompanied by brush art work) that find their source in the poet-painters of 17th-century Japan. The haiga will be displayed on papers marbled by Palace Press Curator Tom Leech in the Japanese technique of suminagashi (black ink floating).  Six hand-tinted albumen photographs from a collection of late 19th-century images of Japan from the Photo Archives at the Palace of the Governors, paired with excerpts from the travel diaries of 17th-century haiku master Matsuo Basho. A new marbled broadside from the Palace Press featuring a prose poem by Brandi.

Download high-resolution images from the exhibit by clicking on "G to related images," below.

To kick off the exhibition, poet John Brandi will speak on “Haiku Painting: The History of Haiga,” and read haiku from his new book, Seeding the Cosmos (La Alameda Press), a selection of 30 years of his work from New Mexico and abroad. The event begins at 6 pm on Friday, Sept. 16, in the John Gaw Meem Room. In this high-spirited program, Brandi’s poems will be accompanied by JB Bryan on alto sax.

The event is free, but seating is limited.

Besides reading from his work, Brandi will talk about the practice of haiku in everyday life, the art of haibun (prose punctuated by a haiku), and aspects of haiga. Nonoguchi Ryūho, a 17th-century poet, was the first person to regularly include paintings alongside his calligraphy, although Japanese poetry was often enhanced by images for centuries prior.

Brandi, a Southern California native, was encouraged by his parents toward the art of traveling, witnessing, writing and painting. After graduating from Cal State Northridge, he joined the Peace Corps and worked with Andean farmers. Returning home, he made contact with Beat Generation poet Gary Snyder. In 1971, he moved to New Mexico and, in his early years here, traveled with Japanese poet Nanao Sakaki, and compiled That Back Road In, the first of his many poetry collections. In 1979, he received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship for Poetry.

Modern American haiku is said to have been given new life by Jack Kerouac, author of the Beat classic, On the Road. Brandi was a consultant for the museum’s 2007 Kerouac exhibit, Jack Kerouac and the Writer’s Life. As a poet, Brandi owes much to the West Coast Beat tradition, but he also refers to poets as diverse as Federico Garcia Lorca, Pablo Neruda, and Matsuo Basho as influences. As a painter, he says, his practice as poet-painter-traveler harkens back to the 8th-century Chinese master Wang Wei. 

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