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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Geting into the Christmas spirit

Okay, so it's not even December 1 yet (just minutes away though!) but the Christmas season has officially started in my mind. And I couldn't be happier to break out "White Christmas" on my iTunes, pop "Love Actually" into the DVD player and start decking the halls with boughs of holly (fa la la la la la la la la).

Yesterday Melissa and I went to the Seoul Museum of Art to check out the special exhibition of pieces from Paris' le Centre Georges Pompidou, an amazing museum. The exhibit was such a breath of fresh air after two months of Asian art and seeing some of my favorite artists displayed together -- Matisse, Picasso, Klimt, Chagall, Braque -- definitely warmed up a cold winter day.

Seoul Museum of Art

The highlight was the Matisse cutouts which are always among my favorites and I had never seen any from this particular series before.

Funny thing: the museum had no information or brochures in English, but luckily those six years of French class paid off and I was at least able to read the names of the artwork to get an idea of what it was about.

The exhibit had an interesting variety of art, from Picasso cubism to Chagall nudes to some slightly weird modern pieces like a room filled entirely with bales of heavily-scented leaves.

Besides the quality of the art, there are two important criteria to consider when deciding whether a museum is "good" or not: the quality of the gift shop and cafe. I'm happy to report that the Seoul Museum of Art succeeds on both counts. A place definitely to return to and do some shopping in the future. And it had that all-important "museum smell" -- which I've decided is a combination of bleached cleanliness and artiness, whatever that smells like.

(Yes, museums *do* have a distinct smell. Anywhere in the world there's a certain scent I immediately associate with the Natural History Museum main entrance.)

SMoA gives Asian architecture a modern twist -- plain, whitewashed walls and large windows giving the entire museum an airy, open feeling. Wasn't exactly the same as being back in France -- and definitely made me yearn to return to beautiful Paris -- but has an aura of tranquility in the center of busy Seoul.

Seoul Museum of Art cafe

Today I had to get up early for church but it's so worth it -- isn't the cathedral pretty?

Seoul Anglican Cathedral

After the service, Natalie (who I had met my first Sunday there) and I went for lunch at the adorable Catbird Cafe. We spent some time wandering aimlessly, enjoying the not-completely-freezing weather and bright sunshine, and ended up peeking into a stunning Presbyterian church we had seen perched atop of a hill. The music director (I think) spotted us and offered a tour of the church. The coolest part was seeing the inside of their massive, 4000-pipe organ. Being inside this gigantic beast of an instrument was incredibly loud and fascinating to see all the pipes, big and small, work together to produce a breathtaking sound.

They were having a special afternoon service with a Juilliard-trained opera singer so we stuck around for a little bit to hear him sing. It was all in Korean but he had an amazing voice nevertheless.

Later we met up with Rachel and Fabs, two new friends, for coffee, the evening Advent service at church, and dinner. It's been wonderful to meet more people these past few weeks and build a community outside of work. Definitely opens up my tiny world to different possibilities and experiences. And a candlelit Advent service was the perfect way to bring in December and the holiday season.

Simone comes tomorrow! I'm so excited to show her Seoul and just spend time together, since we've barely been in the same country, much less had quality hang-out time, in more than two years.

1 comment:

  1. OMG!!! When I decorated my tree, I put on "Love Actually"!!!!!! We're soul mates, Erin. Truly.