Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Endless Smiles at Hongik University Seoul, Korea

Tal Moon Streeter was visiting artist in residence at Hongik University in the 1970's.

South Korea at the time was under the dictatorship of a man who's name I can't recall.
It was a pretty hard place. People barely surviving the bitter winters, living in shipping compartments, no insulation. With only a charcoal brazier for heating.

Nothing like the South Korea of today. A wealthy, bright metropolis with an enlightened mayor who has pushed through inspired community building projects like the opening of the Han river walkway. This has dramatically changed one's experience of the city.

Tal has many friends there. He was/is deeply touched by Korean culture. Loved its artists,writers and musicians. He still loves listening to traditional and contemporary Korean music. He calls himself "Tal Moon" (that translates to "Old Moon" ). We are sure there is an important part of him that is deeply "Korean" as amazing as that may sound. 

I know he feels a special connection to this sculpture which while cerebral in nature, encourages you to "look up" towards the blue sky, a better future. Yes, it moves/pivots and turns in a wind.

Endless Smile (also translated as Eternal Smile ) is how he saw Korean spirit and the welcome he received from this culture.

I wanted to ask if he wished to add something to his published writing about the piece for the students and passers-by of today's Hongik circa 2014 but I don't think I'll have that chance.

Found this Tal Friends Card in the "precious things" area of his library in Verbank, New York.

It is dated 8/1/1992. His 58th birthday which he celebrated in Seoul.

And this in the catalog for his Total Museum of Contemporary Art exhibition - "At the Far Place of Sky's End" :

"In speaking of his appreciation of Korea : I note that though the modern super highway looms on the horizon, a Korean woman still plants flowers in its path. In my quiet moments here I read old Korean shino poetry looking for the place of my heart. I derive much of my inspiration from the poetic spirit and the appreciation of art and nature which I find in Korea. I am very great full (sic) for all my Korean friends and colleagues who have given me encouragement in Korea...and a second home, one which I love dearly. "

Brice Gordon ( pseudonym of Tal Streeter )

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