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Japanese market to join Ackland Art Museum exhibit

The Ackland Art Museum in-store market is opening this Thursday (10/11/12) and will feature Japanese crafts and products that are a mix of tradition and contemporary. The market will feature silkscreen prints by local artist Vidabeth Benson. The prints are hand-pulled and limited editions that reflect her years traveling to and living in Japan.

The Ackland Museum Store has brought the bustling marketplaces of Tokyo to Chapel Hill.

Complementing the Ackland Art Museum’s ongoing “A Season of Japan,” the store opened a Japanese market last Tuesday.

The market will be selling authentic Japanese products, crafts and artwork until December.

Alice Southwick, manager of the store, said the various items are an exciting combination of traditional and contemporary, reflecting the rich Japanese culture.

Southwick said the museum’s “A Season of Japan” inspired her to organize the market.

“We wanted to share in the excitement generated from the exhibit as well as feature the designs of another culture,” she said.

The Japanese market will feature the artwork and craftsmanship of local artists.

Vidabeth Bensen, an artist based in the Triangle, has some of her hand-screened prints for sale in the store.

Bensen said her artwork is inspired by her travels overseas — including 12 years when she lived in Japan in the ’80s and ’90s.

Available as note cards and small posters, Bensen’s prints depict traditional wedding kimonos and village landscapes that she derived from sketches she drew during her time in Okinawa and Tokyo, Japan.

Bensen worked as an art teacher while living in Japan and would draw sketches of everyday life in Japan, which she says still influences her work today.

“All my work has a flavor of Japan; it just seeps in unconsciously,” she said.

The market also features hand-sculpted tea bowls made specifically for the market. They were made by Takuro Shibata, a Japanese-American based in Seagrove, N.C.

Some of the more traditional items available include “tenugui,” which are delicate hand-screened towels that Japanese women use both as headscarves and home decorations.

“The pieces themselves are contemporary in nature, but they’re a part of old crafts,” Southwick said.

Also in the market are “tabi socks,” which have an individual space for the big toe. This is so they can be worn with “geta,” a type of traditional Japanese flip-flop.

Southwick said she hopes the Japanese market will be a success so the store can do more special cross-promotions in the future.

Melinda Rittenhouse, assistant manager of the store, said the prices of items in the market range from affordable to high-end.

“Some things are fun and quirky and some are more sophisticated,” she said.

“There is something here for everyone of all tastes.”

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