In many Asian countries, the annual ritual of spring cleaning is carried out during the Lunar New Year holiday. After moving to the States, my family found Thanksgiving weekend most suitable for observing this tradition. While cleaning and decluttering my living space this year, I came across a copy of del Mano Gallery’s brochure highlighting its 16th annual Hot Tea! Exhibition in 2007. The image of my mom and me standing in front of the showcased teapots, smiling, critiquing, and pondering, is still vivid. Why didn’t I write a T Ching post back then? Oh, that’s right – I wasn’t yet a contributor.
Many of the whimsical, inscrutable, and even idiosyncratic works featured in the exhibit possessed no traits of conventional teaware, thus transforming the gallery’s space into one a world apart from, say, that of Colors of Tea: Taiwanese Teaware and Tea Settings held in 2011. Teapots made of wood were especially indelible simply because teapots are not supposed to be made of wood. Art Liestman’s signature puzzling illusion-style teapots, redolent of Stave Puzzles, would be my first choice for collection from the 2007 exhibit. (A jigsaw puzzle enthusiast, I recently completed several lenticular puzzles.)
Then there were Tania Radda’s exquisite basswood teapots – perfect décor for any tearoom, be it oriental or occidental, commercial or private.
The exhibition period specified on the gallery’s website for this year’s Hot Tea! Exhibition generated more excitement as I contemplated a revisit during this holiday season. Clicking on the website’s Gallery Info link was a conscious step towards preparing for the outing. My heart sank a little after learning that the gallery had gone entirely online.
So what has happened to the space and the location in this quaint neighborhood? Perhaps I should revisit after all.