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The Freer and Sackler Galleries Celebrate Spring With A National Cherry Blossom Festival Sponsorship and New Exhibition
Media only: Brenda Kean Tabor: 202.357.4880 ext. 319
Barbara Kram: 202.357.4880 ext. 219
Public only: 202.357.2700

The Freer and Sackler Galleries Celebrate Spring With A National Cherry Blossom Festival Sponsorship and New Exhibition

The Smithsonian's Freer (Jefferson Drive and 12th St., N.W.) and Sackler (1050 Independence Ave. S.W.) galleries are celebrating the arrival of spring by serving as a sponsor of 2001 National Cherry Blossom Festival® Parade and opening the Freer exhibition, "Real and Imagined Places in Japanese Art" on March 4. The Festival, which celebrates the friendship between the United States and Japan, takes place March 25 through April 8 with the parade on March 31 from 9:30 am to noon along Constitution Avenue.

As part of the sponsorship, the Freer and Sackler galleries donated the design for the official artwork of the Festival, which is featured on promotional materials and items that will be on sale during the event. The artwork features the woodblock print, "Washington Monument," by Japanese artist Kawase Hasui (1883–1957) in the Sackler collection. The print shows the Washington Monument in cherry blossom season by the Potomac Riverbank. It is typical of the artist's work in the traditional woodblock print technique. Like many artists born in the mid- to late-Meiji period, Kawase Hasui studied both Japanese and Western-style painting. His prints, for which he became renowned, reflect his dual artistic training. This print will be on view in the Sackler Gallery for the first time since it was acquired in 1998 from March 1 though April.

"We are honored to be part of this important community tradition," said Director of the Freer and Sackler Milo Beach. "As the national museum of Asian art, we are committed to celebrating the long and treasured relationship between the United States and Japan, and our involvement in the Festival is a perfect reflection of that commitment."

The galleries will also have a banner in the parade held by staff members and volunteers and a booth at the 12th Street Sakura Matsuri also held on March 31 from noon to 5 p.m. at 12th Street between Constitution and Pennsylvania Avenues, NW. The Sakura Matsuri cultural bazaar features a showcase of art groups from the U.S. and Japan, martial arts demonstrations, traditional Japanese food, activities for children and a Ginza shopping arcade in which the Freer and Sackler shops will have a booth. The booth will feature various cherry blossom-related merchandise and other items inspired by the arts and culture of Asia.

The National Cherry Blossom Festival annually commemorates the 1912 gift to the city of Washington of 3,000 cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to enhance the growing friendship between the United States and Japan and to celebrate the continued close relationship between the two nations. Now 65 years later, the Festival has continued to grow with more than 750,000 people visiting Washington each year to admire the blossoming cherry trees and participate in the Festival, which heralds the beginning of Spring in the nation's capital.

Visitors to the Festival can continue the celebration of Japan at the Freer Gallery's "Real and Imagined Places in Japanese Art," a thematic selection of 29 Japanese scrolls, paintings, ceramic, and lacquer works created between the 12th and the 19th centuries. Assembled to illustrate contrasting approaches to the depiction of landscapes, both real and imagined, this installation, which runs through October 21, includes works by internationally acclaimed artists such as the great painter Katsushika Hokusai (1760—1849) and the 18th-century potter Ogata Kenzan (1663–1743).

On view in the exhibition are paintings of real, culturally significant places such as Mount Fuji, the city of Edo (now Tokyo) in Japan and the Yangzi River in China. Idealized landscapes by artists of the Nanga School, and illustrations of imagined places in China and India that were seldom seen but were described in sacred Buddhist texts also are included along with scenes from Japanese legend and literature.

The Freer Gallery of Art (12th Street and Independence Avenue S.W.) and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery (1050 Independence Ave. S.W.) together form the national museum of Asian art for the United States. The Freer also houses a major collection of late 19th and early 20th-century American art. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day except Christmas Day, Dec. 25, and admission is free. Public tours are offered daily. The galleries are located near the Smithsonian Metrorail station on the Blue and Orange lines. For more information, the public may call 202.357.2700 or TTY 202.357.1729, or visit the galleries' Web site at www.asia.si.edu.

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