Asian Art Association of the Denver Art Museum tours Sorcar residence
The Sorcar Residence, designed by Manick Sorcar: (left) Front entry, (right) Rear view from the lake side

Sorcar talks describes some of his paintings
September 25, 2001: Manick Sorcar's residence hits the limelight. "Eastern Star", the fascinating Rocky Mountain News article (August 18, 2001) about the unique Sorcar Residence brought a surge of complements and good wishes from friends and strangers from around the nation, but none was so gratifying to the Sorcars as the visit of the Asian Art Association of the Denver Art Museum, when its patron members had a first-hand experience of its unique architecture and interior art work - all done by Manick Sorcar. The tour was an honor to the Sorcars.
The two dozen or so patron members headed by Elizabeth Shwayder, the president of AAA, arrived at the residence at about 6:30 pm, when they were greeted by Manick, wife Shikha, and daughters Piya and Payal. Following the traditional Indian ways, they removed their shoes at the door. The tour began at 7 pm after they saw the beautiful sunset from the large arched windows of the Great Room overlooking lake Hyatt and distant mountain, and lasted for two hours to complete the 7,800 sq .ft. house including the basement studio. It began with an introduction of a large sculpture of Lord Ganesha at the front entry, carved out of the trunk of a mango tree from India. "He is the Hindu God of wisdom and prosperity. We seek his blessings as we go in and out of the home, or start a new venture", said Manick, "so we start our tour with his blessings".

Asian Art Association Touring Sorcar Home
Manick explains his newspaper collage pieces
The group expressed their admiration for the unique architecture of the house with trios of large windows arched at the top, and arched relief work on the stucco exterior. "A series of arches inside an arch is a very Indian architecture", explained Manick, "its roots go back to as early as the Gupta period of Indian history. But its use maximized in the Mughal era of 16th and 17th century when they used it in almost every structure they built. Usually in the Indian architecture, there is a crest at the center arch, but I had to avoid that as I didn't want it to be too Indian. A compromise was necessary - after all someday we have to sell the house".
Manick acted as the personal guide taking the distinguished group room to room on a tour, answering questions, explaining each of his art work on multi-media ranging from traditional water paint on paper, acrylic on raw-silk, straw-paper and bamboo trays, tile paintings, newspaper collages, oil-based markers on newsprints, miniature painting with Indian ink to insulation caulking artwork on a wall covered with floor tiles.

Two-story long chandelier designed by Manick goes through round staircase

The living room was an introductory art gallery for the rest of the house which included a Mother and Child (water paint), a Bengali style folk art of women on straw-paper and bamboo trays, portraits of Mahatma Gandhi made with onion seeds, and a unique portrait of Mother Teresa in a collage with relevant newspapers pieces from Calcutta. "It is a part of Indian history", explained Manick, "each line you see in this portrait is a piece of newspaper from Calcutta that talks about Mother Teresa and her great soul. It is a portrait of her made with her stories".

In the 22 ft high octagonal Great Room, visitors were introduced to some of his other type of work. "Fascinating! How did you do that?" exclaimed one member staring at the 8 ft x 10 ft sculpture of the Street Musicians located 12 ft. above floor, on the wall. "It looks like it is made of marble - how did you get it up there?" "It is actually carved out of a stack of industrial grade styrofoam sheets glued together", explained Manick to everyone's surprise, "I like to experiment with new media all the time. It took me about a month to complete".
The group admires the newspaper collage of President Clinton and
Mrs. Clinton in Manick's basement studio

Tile Paintings by Manick Sorcar
The tile paintings on the east wall were equally fascinating to the visitors. "Each of these art pieces relate to a very special part of Indian history", explained Manick, "these are based on the incredible statues of the 'Sun-Temple of Love' at Konark, India, of the 13th century".

In the dining room the group was introduced to Manick's original art work from his award-winning animation Deepa & Rupa: A Fairy Tale From India. They looked like water paint, but actually they were "paintings on newsprints with oil-based markers", said Manick, "It is a discovery I made by trial and error during the making of the animation. These are some of the hundreds of background scenes from my animation. I painted them on newsprints with oil-based markers as I wanted to paint them fast, simultaneously avoiding any kind of wrinkle that usually are associated with a traditional water paint on paper. And it worked just great".
Sorcar's other rooms exhibited a series of variety of his art work including a spice painting of Baby Ganesha, miniature portraits on peanuts and even on a grain of rice.

Upstairs, the visitors were awestruck at the master bath which itself was "a piece of art work", they said. Looking through the columns of an Indian portico which separates it from the bedroom, the bathroom perimeter walls are covered with multi-layer mirrors of different shades, all cut as a mountain at the top. An abundance of glass block walls tastefully located around the bathroom reflect on the mirror to give an illusion of reflecting water. The mirrors above represent the mountain range.

The interior of the Sorcar's master bath
The 20 ft long high-tech chandelier going thru the sweeping round staircase was of great interest to the visitors. It is a cluster of transparent plastic tubes housing a series of miniature lights that inter-reflect and create an interesting effect. "It is like going thru the space and looking at the glittering stars", said Manick, "in its design I made sure I was not going to change the bulbs every year. These bulb are designed to last for 40, 000 hours. So I don't have to touch them for at least 10 years, and I like that".
Manick's collection of other arts included original art work of Rajasthani painters and prints of artwork of Mughal period and Rajasthan of 17th and 18th century, each enhanced with accent lights, and an explanation card beneath it.
Manick and Shikha with Elizabeth Shwayder, president of AAA of the Denver Art Museum, and
Ronald Y. Otsuka, the curator of Asian Arts
 
The group visited Manick's computer studio in the basement where he does his art work, and the blue-room psych studio where live action shooting is mixed with animation. A large newspaper collage covering the highlights of 1996 election with portraits of smiling President Clinton and Mrs. Clinton brought an awestruck smile in the group's faces. They realized it indeed was a true piece of American history. It carried the story of the entire election and the faces of Mr. and Mrs. Clinton were done with actual newspaper pieces about them! The group admired the dozens of awards received by Manick over the years from international film festivals and other clubs and organizations for his animation films and art work.
The tour ended with some delicious Indian snacks prepared by Shikha, when the group relaxed and gave rave reviews of what they had seen. "It is quite an experience", "Incredible work!", "We are honored to have met you", "when do you find time to do all these?" - were the popular questions asked by most of the visitors. "Our heartfelt gratitude for allowing us the privilege of visiting your magnificent home", said Ms. Shwayder as they left and started walking along the winding path in front of the home... and the Sorcars were contended that they just had the most distinguished guests for an incredible evening the memory of which is going to last for a long long time.

( About Asian Art Association, reprinted from their published brochure: "Founded in 1981, the AAA sponsors educational events and social gatherings, including lectures, symposia, workshops, and behind-the-scene tours of museums, galleries, and private collections. AAA members meet Asian art specialists from around the world and travel to see national and international touring exhibitions of Asian art...The Asian Art Association plays a vital role in the growth and development of the Asian art department where it enhances the Denver Art Museum's efforts to collect, preserve and exhibit Asian art. Through its cultural and educational activities, it promotes an understanding of Asian art and culture among the entire community." )

Copyright © 2015, Manick Sorcar Productions