Welcome to Cynthia Shaver Asian Art Appraiser Newsletter September 2023

The lectures for The Society of Asian Art at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco have begun for Fall 2023. These lectures, given for the public and for the education of the docents, I have attended for nearly fifty years. This has been my education of Asian Art, generally a specific topic that illuminates a particular story or maybe the process of making the art or the popular medium of different eras within a culture.

I moved to San Francisco in 1975 and immediately started going to the Asian Art Museum to explore works of art and attend the evening Society for Asian Art lectures. I was an eager sponge. In the auditorium, I often sat behind an older woman with long thick dark hair, in a hairdo that was held together with long, pointed, colorful ornaments with coral and turquoise, generally extraordinary pieces from Nepal or Tibet. I too, had long hair and was attracted to hair adornment from around the world. In 1980, I traveled with my sister to China with 20 members of The Society for Asian Art, including the President of the Board of Directors, Phoebe. Three years later, Phoebe called her nephew living in Seattle to ‘check out’ my husband’s honor, as I fell in love at first sight with a man living in Seattle through an art function for The Society For Asian Art. That nephew’s collection of Chinese furniture sold this March 2023, Bonhams, for $7.3 million. My professional network also started when I fell in love with Asian Art.

In the early 1980’s, I was elected to The Board of Directors for The Society of Asian Art. I was enthusiastic, eager to learn from other Society members, and from visiting scholars representing the great institutions with collections or study material from around the world. I was so honored. I was privileged to much of the international trade and gossip of Asian Art, invited to people’s homes that I would have never crossed paths with and made friendships that last until today. I was lucky.

During this time, Forrest McGill, present Wattis Curator of South and Southeast Asian Art, came to the museum and started his illustrious career at the AAM. He has been generous with his knowledge a long time with me. He started this Fall lecture series with A Curious Affair – Toward an Understanding of Art and Globalization, a brilliant discussion of designs and materials exchanged and interpreted over various Asian cultures with examples from 500 CE till today. https://calendar.asianart.org/event/arts-of-asia-lecture-series-views-from-the-other-side/

As an example of our friendship, after nearly two decades, I asked him about the long-held family, bronze sculpture, my sister now owned. How humble he was. His first words were “Cynthia, I don’t think this is the Buddha but a Bodhisattva.” I had repeated the phrase I heard for decades, ‘the Buddha’, without really looking with open eyes. His patience, and humanity, solidified again between us. Yes, my network is golden.