(Tell you why) I don’t like Mondays

Arts - July 7th, 2010
Spiral Garden and Spiral Cafe

I find an enormous frustration in the fact that galleries and museums in Tokyo all seem to be closed on Mondays. Of course, I’m being unreasonable. There is no reason to expect they be open all the time for my personal convenience. But I think it’s the latent misanthropist in me that wishes I could go to shows on Mondays — working Monday to Friday has led me to recognize that Tokyo on a weekend is a many-tentacled thing, thrashing and grasping for entertainment, and that going to a popular gallery is a good way to ensure that you’ll spend more time irritated by the bad manners of others than contemplating the art.

So quite frequently, once the weekend is over, I find myself fired up to go see a nice, quiet evening exhibition. And more than once, I have arrived at the gallery, happy and expectant, only to face a closed door.

Fair enough, I suppose. It is not a hospital. Not a public service. It’s not a convenience store, or even a Starbucks. Why should I expect the gallery to be open all days of the week? But Monday seems like a good art day to me. Or at least, I’d like it to be. And these people are out to thwart me.

That said, I thought I might compile a list of venues that you can indeed visit on a Monday. There aren’t many. And while some are open seven days a week, the trade-off for most is to close on some other day — a Tuesday or Wednesday or Sunday. So the lesson to be learned is: don’t go dashing off anywhere without checking the web page first.

King among convenience art is the Mori Art Museum. It’s open 10 to 10 every single day, but on Tuesdays closes at the modest hour of 5 o’clock (another fact which has left me standing at the door in frustration, but I digress.) MAM is in between shows at the moment, but the three-artist show of new works called Sensing Nature starts up on the 24th. So you’re set for Mondays from then until early November.

Spiral Garden is another place that is always open, though perhaps not so late as MAM. Located in the Sprial building — which despite its postmodern pedigree for architecture, isn’t really all that fascinating — Spiral Garden is not a standard gallery, but more of an open display area, making it an interesting alternative space. At the moment, at least for a few more days, Swiss-based photographer Cedric Bregnard’s iGrow brings closeup photography of plants and seeds for a feel of late spring in the early summer.

I’ve never been a huge fan of the Suntory Museum of Art, since they’ve basically been a little stuffy for my tastes in past visits. They have, however, opened a new venue in Tokyo Midtown, Roppongi, which I haven’t visited yet. So if you like Noh masks and want to check it out for me, just don’t go on a Tuesday.

Also closed on Tuesday, and more or less across the street from Midtown, is the National Art Center, Tokyo. NACT can be genius and it can be awful. It mostly depends on what happens to be coming through. But you can’t beat its beautiful building, and the free galleries of local sumi-e and calligraphy work. Currently showing post-impressionist works from the Musée d’Orsay, it seems to be bent on making this a contemporary-art-free week for me, but the show is still worth having a look-see.

Tokyo Teien Art Musuem does its best to be the most confusing of the lot. It closes on the second and fourth Wednesdays of every month. That is, unless Mars and Jupiter are in alignment, or the moon is full. Okay, I made that last part up.

And two that I have yet to visit are the hip, if silly to pronounce, NADiff, which is open every day as far as I can tell; and Yuka Contemporary which is closed Sundays and Tuesdays. Go figure.

If you’ve got more, leave ’em in the comments!

-Owen Schaefer