In Japan, there are some art festivals, for example, Art Setouchi (Triennale) and Echigo Tsumari Art Field. I like going to them, so I’ve been to both several times.
Now, Japan Alps Art Festival 2017 is being held from June 4th to July 31st at Omachi in Japan. There are about 30 pieces of art in this festival. The pieces of art vary widely, some are inside and some outside, and are from small to huge. Visitors can buy a passport, which allows them to see all the art, for 2500 yen, but they can also see some of the art for free.
This time, I worked as a volunteer there. On that day, there were 30 people working as volunteers, including me. I didn’t know which piece art I would be taking care of until at that morning. I was excited!
The art piece I was working with was “I came Upon a Book in Omachi” by Jimmy Liao. Mr. Liao is a Taiwanese picture book illustrator. Although the signboard in front of the gallery indicates “Jimmy’s book shop”, it is actually a library. Inside there are many old books displaying his painted book covers. There are about 50 different book covers. The visitor can choose a book only the cover art. We don’t even know the title of the book. It is a place where visitors can experience unusual and unexpected books. If you want to borrow a book, you can do it for 3 weeks.
The inspiration for the display was that in Omachi there are some wagons with old books on the street. People can borrow those books. Jimmy Liao was impressed the system and he made many different great painted book covers. And then for the exhibit, about 10 people including volunteer workers (not me), put the covers on old books, which took all day.
Visitors can leave their own message on blank pages, as well. They can buy a few of his goods, for example, postcards(250yen), wallets and name tags, etc. Also, there is a small cafe, where one can drink and eat snacks.
The street that the exhibit and cafe are on has a campaign. It is if the visitors buy goods, drink coffee, buy cookies (100yen), etc, they can get a stamp on a card. Once two stamps are gathered they can get a copy of one of the artist’s book covers.
Middle: the book cover (one of 19 book covers)
Bottom left: stamp card / bottom right: cookies
I bought these cookies at a cafe within the art exhibit. They were delicious. The cookies were made by people with disabilities.
My responsibility was not only reception and explanation of the art pieces but also I had to be a cashier. But honestly, I didn’t want to, as it was work related to money. I was just a volunteer, and if the money didn’t match up at the beginning and end of the day, who’s responsible?
There were not only Japanese visitors but also some Taiwanese and a few people from other countries. So I sometimes talked with them using English and Japanese. The Taiwanese I talked with were especially friendly. Although I have never been to Taiwan, I think I want to go there someday, too.
I was smiling a lot all day, and after finishing the volunteer work, I had a little muscle ache in my cheek. 😆
New words (Not corrected):
Don’t judge a book by its cover. = Don’t be superficial.
Plus: $1 = about 110yen