Two new pavilions and a rock grotto to open to the public March 8, 2014;
fundraising continues to complete Phase II of construction
The new Clear and Transcendent pavilion in the Chinese Garden at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Photo: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens
Phase II Donors • Musician in Residence • Images
SAN MARINO, Calif.—Visitors who thought the Chinese Garden at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens was beautiful already are in for another feast this March: the unveiling of two new pavilions and a rock grotto as part of Phase II construction of the garden known as Liu Fang Yuan, the Garden of Flowing Fragrance.
A group of 23 artisans from Suzhou, China, worked from September 2013 through January 2014 on the three new features on the west and north sides of the garden’s central lake. (The south and east sides were completed during the garden’s first phase, which opened to visitors in 2008.) The new features that open to the public on March 8 are a rock grotto, eloquently named Lingering Clouds Peak, which includes a waterfall that visitors can walk through as water cascades from a stream overhead, and two new hand-crafted, tile-roofed buildings: the Waveless Boat pavilion, facing a picturesque view of the existing Jade Ribbon Bridge, and the Clear and Transcendent pavilion, an intricately carved performance space.
The Clear and Transcendent pavilion was funded by a $2 million gift from Judy Yin Shih and Joel Axelrod; the Waveless Boat pavilion was made possible by a $1.5 million gift from Peggy and Andrew Cherng, owners of the Panda Restaurant Group; and the Lingering Clouds Peak was made possible by a $1 million gift from Wallis Annenberg and the Annenberg Foundation. Another $1 million gift from Shih and Axelrod is funding a courtyard known as the Court of Assembled Worthies, construction of which is now just getting under way.
Like the Phase I elements of Liu Fang Yuan, the garden’s three newest areas are richly layered with artisan details evoking intertwined metaphors and centuries of Chinese literary tradition. For example, the cracked-ice-and-flower patterns repeated in stone-inlaid pathways and visible in hand-carved lattice in the Clear and Transcendent pavilion are meant to conjure the signs of early spring in China, when frozen lakes begin to melt and the plum blossoms start to bloom. The hand-made roof tiles (produced with clay from the Yangzi river delta) along the drip line of the Clear and Transcendent pavilion are imprinted with a symbol of the peony, a reference to The Peony Pavilion, a famous epic (more than 20 hours long) play by poet Tang Xianzu (1550–1616). The Peony Pavilion was performed as Kun opera—an ancient opera form from the Suzhou region.
“In this pavilion that we will also use for performances, we have quiet references to a great playwright who is sometimes called the ‘Chinese Shakespeare,’” said June Li, curator of the Huntington’s Chinese Garden, who led a committee of scholars to advise on historic and literary references in the garden. “You can sit in the Clear and Transcendent pavilion and enjoy the serenity of the lake view and the shade of the oak tree for their intrinsic beauty, or let the subtle symbolism around you slowly unfold. Across the lake is the teahouse from the first phase named the Hall of the Jade Camellia, the name of Tang’s residence in the Ming dynasty.”
The Clear and Transcendent pavilion is also ornamented with carved panels of blond ginkgo wood depicting Chinese musical instruments (another reference to the performances that will take place there), auspicious symbols such as the mushroom (representing longevity), and exquisitely worked scenes from The Peony Pavilion. Specially commissioned calligraphic panels of memorable couplets from The Peony Pavilion also adorn the structure. The Waveless Boat pavilion is equally rich in unique carvings and calligraphic panels. Eleven calligraphers contributed to the project—two from Suzhou, four from Hong Kong, and five from Los Angeles.
Plants in the new portions of the garden are similar to those in the earlier sections of the landscape, with an emphasis on specimens normally represented in Chinese gardens—such as pine, maple, peach and plum trees; camellias; and bamboo.
Development of Phase II of the Chinese Garden continues The Huntington’s international partnership with the Suzhou Institute of Landscape Architecture and Design and the skilled carpenters, stone masons, and tile experts of Suzhou Garden Construction Co. The earlier work by this team on the Chinese Garden’s pavilions, bridges, and courtyards has been praised for the authentic craftsmanship and exquisite detail that evokes the classical 16th-century scholars’ gardens that inspired Liu Fang Yuan. (The general contractor for the Chinese Garden project is ValleyCrest Landscape Development Co., based in Calabasas, Calif.)
Fundraising for the completion of Phase II, expanding the approximately 3.5-acre garden to about 12 acres, remains a high priority for The Huntington. Critical elements to come include a celebration courtyard (Court of Assembled Worthies), anchored by a small gallery for displaying Chinese art; a penjing court (Chinese penjing is a style of horticulture similar to Japanese bonsai); and a hillside pavilion. About $11 million of the $22 million needed to complete the project has been raised so far.
“We continue to be steadfast in our desire to create a comprehensive Chinese scholar’s garden that reflects the nature of The Huntington’s mission, with an eye toward education and research, and of course, authenticity and quality,” said Steven S. Koblik, president of The Huntington. “For the garden to fully realize its role as a center for learning about and celebrating Chinese culture and contemplative arts, the completion of Phase II is critically important,” he added.
Each of the new features that open to the public on March 8 carries deep symbolism and meaning:
Clear and Transcendent pavilion (Qing Yue Tai 清越臺)
This intricately designed pavilion with an elegant roof structure is located on the north bank of the Lake of Reflected Fragrance. Its open sides are designed as a stage for music and other performances. To the south, the pavilion faces the lake. To the north, it ultimately will overlook the Court of Assembled Worthies, capable of seating 350 people for performances and other events. The simple name Clear and Transcendent evokes the crystal pureness of music gently floating over the water, permeating the other structures around the lake.
Lingering Clouds Peak rock grotto (Liu Yun Xiu 留雲岫)
This rockery of tai hu rocks, a limestone imported from the Lake Tai region of China, is called Lingering Clouds Peak and takes its name from the grotto in the elegant Lingering Garden, Liu Yuan 留園, in Suzhou. Situated on the northwest side of the lake, Lingering Clouds Peak is an essential element in a Chinese garden: Rocks, which represent ever-lasting strength, are complemented by the garden’s water, which is ever-changing. Rocks and mountains represent stability and endurance in both Daoist and Confucian thought.
Waveless Boat pavilion (Bu Bo Xiao Ting 不波小艇)
This boat-shaped pavilion, just south of Lingering Clouds Peak on the west side of the Lake of Reflected Fragrance, provides a scenic view of the pavilions and bridges in all directions across the lake. The name recalls a similar pavilion in the Verdant Mountain Villa, Yongcui Shanzhuang 擁翠山荘, a historic garden in Suzhou. The word “Waveless,” or bubo, is often used in literature to describe a serene atmosphere—a boat gliding effortlessly over the water. This pavilion can flexibly be used for intimate gatherings and educational activities.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: High-resolution digital images available on request for publicity use.]
Lisa Blackburn, 626-405-2140, email@example.com
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About The Huntington
The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens is a collections-based research and educational institution serving scholars and the general public. More information about The Huntington can be found online at huntington.org.
The Huntington is located at 1151 Oxford Rd., San Marino, Calif., 12 miles from downtown Los Angeles. It is open to the public Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from noon to 4:30 p.m.; and Saturday, Sunday, and Monday holidays from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Summer hours (Memorial Day through Labor Day) are 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Closed Tuesdays and major holidays. Admission on weekdays: $20 adults, $15 seniors (65+), $12 students (ages 12–18 or with full-time student I.D.), $8 youth (ages 5–11), free for children under 5. Group rate, $11 per person for groups of 15 or more. Members are admitted free. Admission on weekends: $23 adults, $18 seniors, $13 students, $8 youth, free for children under 5. Group rate, $14 per person for groups of 15 or more. Members are admitted free. Admission is free to all visitors with advance tickets on the first Thursday of each month. Information: 626-405-2100 or huntington.org.
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View of the Clear and Transcendent pavilion in the Chinese Garden. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.
Detail of carved woodwork within the Clear and Transcendent pavilion in the Chinese Garden. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.
View of the Lingering Clouds Peak rock grotto in the Chinese Garden. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.
View from behind the waterfall in the Lingering Clouds Peak rock grotto in the Chinese Garden The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.
Waveless Boat pavilion in the Chinese Garden. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.
Detail of window panels in the Waveless Boat pavilion in the Chinese Garden. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.