Saturday, September 10, 2011

Ethnically incorrect artistic assumptions

I recently had an appraisal by a bank loan officer.  His name, given to me beforehand,  was recognizably Japanese.  So, in addition to trying to 'unclutter' every room and make sure the surroundings looked spacious as possible, I polished my three tansus, pulled out additional Japanese artifacts, and awaited favorable comment.  (I even stuffed several large dog beds into my car, front and back, because there was no other place to get them out of the way.)

Lesson learned.  After entering my "Japanese" bedroom, and getting no response.  I pointed out one of the tansus.  "Oh, I thought it might be Craftsman," was the reply.  I nodded at another tansu and the pottery tanuki on top, adding "they're vintage Japanese." All I got was a puzzled shrug.

Then my visitor told me all about a home he appraised in Pasadena which was electronically wired against intrusion because the owner had an entire wall of valuable Japanese paintings.  "They must have been old woodblock prints," I suggested.

Later, when he referred to "those block pictures," and told me that the Mexican food in Sedona was the best he had ever had, it became clear that a Japanese heritage does not mean either an appreciation of, or an interest in things decidedly "of a place."

The same must hold true of any culturally-specific artifact, or food, or clothing -  not necessarily appreciated nor recognized by someone from the culture.

No comments: