We remember Michael Parks, who covered China for the Baltimore Sun and as the Bureau Chief for the Los Angeles Times.
A Collector's Journey
The opening exhibition of objects at The Maridon Museum, the only museum in the Western Pennsylvania region with a specific focus on Chinese and Japanese art and culture, is entitled A Collector's Journey and presents selections from Mrs. Phillips' holdings that reflect the scope and evolution of her interests as a collector.
The first gallery provides a dramatic introduction to the Asian art collection. Its center platform contains ornate jade and ivory sculptures, some of which are as are as large as 4 feet tall. Contrasting Chinese paintings hang on opposing walls — on one wall is a framed landscape painting on silk, made in the mid-seventeenth century. On the opposite wall is a set of six large scrolls executed in 2002 by contemporary Chinese artist, Wan Qingli.
Second and Third Galleries
The second and third galleries continue the journey theme and present objects of particular value to Mrs. Phillips because of their uniqueness, age, material, or provenance. These galleries reveal the preferences and temperament of the collector, for in spite of their differences, they are connected by Mrs. Phillips' affinity for a human focus. Many of the objects depict people; they include portrayals of ordinary people and scenes of daily life as well as emperors and legendary figures.
The third gallery features a special exhibit of objects relating to the world of the Chinese scholar, or mandarin. Scholars endured a rigorous educational process in order to achieve their status as "cultivated gentlemen" as well as representatives of the emperor. Part public official, part educator, part guardian of morals and ethics, a mandarin strived for the highest level of refinement in the arts of painting, calligraphy, and poetry. The Maridon display includes a number of scrolls fronted by a scholar's table covered with all the implements that the scholar used for his artistic pursuits — ancient, decorated ink blocks; ink stones; scroll boxes; brush pots; flywhisk; a contemplative rock; and even a scholar's chair.
The Meissen Gallery, the fourth gallery in the Maridon Museum, houses Mrs. Phillips' extensive collection of Meissen porcelain. Started in 1713, the Meissen factory began producing the figural objects that have enticed collectors like Mrs. Phillips ever since. In addition to those qualities inherent to Meissen — its luminous colors and delicate molding — the company's use of the same molds over decades, or even centuries, of time attracts collectors who seek individual pieces of a particular set or vignette. Mrs. Phillips' collection at the Maridon, for example, includes almost all the objects in groupings such as The Monkey Band, The Paris Criers, The Arts, The Senses, and The Satyrs.
Meissen collectors will appreciate the extent of Ms. Phillips' collection, but even casual visitors will enjoy the artistry and vibrancy of these pieces as well as the wit, whimsy, and sentiment they portray. Mrs. Phillips' collection contains portrayals of both notable and ordinary people, animals, caricatures, humorous incidents, and dramatic scenes. One does not need to be a connoisseur of fine porcelain to enjoy their subject matter or appreciate their exquisite figural detail.
In addition to the display, a 45-minute video presentation and free docent tours are available. Reservations are required for group tours, and are suggested for docent tours and the video presentation.