the American Indians of the Northwest,nare aborigines living on Hokkaido,nthe large northern island of thenJapanese archipelago. The objects displayed,nthough of tvpes dating fromnthe late Edo (1615-1868) and Meijin(1868-1912) periods, were executednroughly between 1800-1910. ThenAinu designs of elongated C’s, S’s,nU’s, half O’s are forceful remindersnthat more visionary explorers like ThornHeyerdahl are needed. Such designsnoccur on tiny Ainu stirrers and tobacconpipes but are best seen in their texhies.nAwed by their art, I wondered if onenpeople had in fact been dispersed onntwo continents. If so, did they crossnfrom the Bering Strait or sail across thenPacific? In any event, as far back as then1800’s, John Batchelor (a missionarynamong the Ainu for over 50 years)nnoted sadly that the tradihonal Ainunway of life was in decline and that thenAinu themselves were a fast disappearingnpeople!nRobert Moes of the Brooklyn Museumncurated the Mingei show andnwrote its catalog, which is fully illustratednin black and white with a fewncolor photographs. Copies of the catalognmay be obtained for $14.95 fromnthe Brooklyn Museum, 200 EasternnParkway, Brooklyn, NY 11238, ccnShehbaz Safrani is a writer andnpainter based in New York City.nSTAGEnClass Actsnby Caroline MorgannCurse of the Starving Class; Writtennby Sam Shepard; Directed by RobinnLynn Smith; Presented by PatricianDaily and Arthur Master Productions,nInc.; The Promenade Theatre;nNew York.nThere is a kind of unity in Sam Shepard’sncareer—as dramatist and actorn—that seems the result more of artnthan of chance. A new staging of hisn1977 play Curse of the Starving Classngives us a rare opportunity to looknback. Bradley Whitford, who plays thenson Wesley, even looks like a youngernSam Shepard. With Wesley’s sensitivitynand proclivity to moral outrage, it isneasy to imagine him growing up ton401 CHRONICLES OF CULTUREnbecome another Shepard. Wesley’snmore adventurous tendencies, such asnhis flights of fancy in the model airplanesnbanked across his ceiling, alsonprovide an early glimpse into the SamnShepard who played Chuck Yeager sonconvincingly in The Right Stuff.nThe passion and emotional depth ofnthe father Weston wells up again innShepard’s more recent drama Fool fornLove. In this dramatic piece of theater,nthe motley kitchen of Curse becomes antawdry motel room at the edge of andesert. The two lovers grapple withneach other and the power of theirnpassion just as the family in Cursenmust defy and yet define the bloodynknot of family ties.nShepard’s most obsessive thematicnconcerns include the corrosive effectsnof plutocratic “progress” on the Americannfamily. In Curse a land developernis slowly but inevitably acquiring thensmall farms that surround the family’snland. Although the son makes a naivenattempt to rally the family to action,nhis efforts are ridiculed bv his alcohol­nic father, avaricious mother, and selfcenterednadolescent sister. His hungernand desperation drive him to slaughternthe lamb that we finally understandnwas marked for sacrifice from the verynbeginning.nShepard says a lot about families innthis play, especially about the violentnlove that lies at the heart of familynconflict. Through dramatic actionnsuch as Curse and in the parts he hasnchosen to play in movies like Country,nShepard seems to be telling us that thenAmerican family remains a kind ofnimpossible necessity.nShepard expresses the paradox innbeautifully crafted poetic language.nWhile the son’s opening soliloquy remainsnstructurally weak in the contextnof the play, the words bring close tonhome the drunken father in his recklessncar, with lines such as “headlightsngoin’ back to black.” Sam Shepard’snpoetic potential has been fulfilled innlater works such as Fool for Love, and itnwas an exciting experience to see thatntalent beginning to blossom.nKathy Bates and Karen Tull star in Curse of the Starving Class. Photo bynCarol Rosegg, Martha Swope Associates.nnn