Diversity, Creativity, and a Few Skulls at JAA’s Art Exhibition

For more than two decades, the Japanese American Association has held an art exhibition that has supported local Japanese artists while raising money for JAA’s initiatives. May 5 marked the opening of the 21st JAA Art Exhibition of Japanese and Japanese American Artists in New York, featuring 68 works by 36 artists who have exhibited locally and beyond. The diverse works show the artists’ range in creativity and theme.

JAANY, JAA, Japanese American Association of New York, NYC, Japan, Japanese artists, art, art exhibition, charity, JAA Charitable Fund, Ushio Shinohara, Noriko Shinohara

JAA President Susan Onuma (far left) and Art Exhibition Committee Co-Chair Yoko Sasaki (far right) honor the artists who have participated in JAA’s exhibition for all 21 years

Among the artists are “boxing painter” Ushio Shinohara and his wife, Noriko, who were featured in the Academy Award-nominated documentary Cutie and the Boxer. Noriko has two entries in this year’s exhibit, postcards of her “Cutie” persona. Ushio’s “Oiran with Tattoo” is a continuation of the artist’s series about the highly regarded courtesans, which Hiroko Ikegami described as “a kind of Pop ukiyo-e” in post, an online branch of MoMA with writing about art and the history of modernism.

JAANY, JAA, Japanese American Association of New York, NYC, Japan, Japanese artists, art, art exhibition, charity, JAA Charitable Fund, Ushio Shinohara, Noriko Shinohara

“Cutie’s Love Post Card ‘Cutie as French Can Can'” (left) and the back of “Cutie’s Love Post Card ‘Cutie as Les Miserables'” by Noriko Shinohara

JAANY, JAA, Japanese American Association of New York, NYC, Japan, Japanese artists, art, art exhibition, charity, JAA Charitable Fund, Ushio Shinohara, Noriko Shinohara

Ushio Shinohara talks with a guest in front of his work “Oiran with Tattoo.”

Mizue Sawano‘s works are currently on view at Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Conservatory Gallery, and her two watercolors on display at JAA’s exhibition also reflect the theme of nature.

JAANY, JAA, Japanese American Association of New York, NYC, Japan, Japanese artists, art, art exhibition, charity, JAA Charitable Fund, Ushio Shinohara, Noriko Shinohara

“Tree” by Mizue Sawano

JAANY, JAA, Japanese American Association of New York, NYC, Japan, Japanese artists, art, art exhibition, charity, JAA Charitable Fund, Ushio Shinohara, Noriko Shinohara

(from left) “Bunny, Dias y Flores Community Garden, East Village” and “Animals, El Sol Brilliante Community Gardens, East Village” by George Hirose

The photography of George Hirose also focuses on nature. An adjunct professor at Pratt Institute, Hirose documents East Village community gardens.

Nature can be artificial, as in Reina Kubota‘s flower arrangement.

JAANY, JAA, Japanese American Association of New York, NYC, Japan, Japanese artists, art, art exhibition, charity, JAA Charitable Fund, Ushio Shinohara, Noriko Shinohara

“Uncontllable” by Reina Kubota

Kunio Iizuka was the first president of a different JAA – the Japanese Artist Association – in 1973. He, along with fellow exhibition contributors Shinohara, Sawano, Seiji Saito, and Masaaki Sato, were part of a wave of artists that left Japan for New York in the 1960s.

JAANY, JAA, Japanese American Association of New York, NYC, Japan, Japanese artists, art, art exhibition, charity, JAA Charitable Fund, Ushio Shinohara, Noriko Shinohara

“FOX” by Kunio Iizuka

JAANY, JAA, Japanese American Association of New York, NYC, Japan, Japanese artists, art, art exhibition, charity, JAA Charitable Fund, Ushio Shinohara, Noriko Shinohara

“Lucky (Cat) 2005” and “Lucky (Cat) 2016” by Seiji Saito

The fox, or kitsune, is supernatural being in Japanese folklore, and everyone knows how important cats are to Japanese culture.

JAANY, JAA, Japanese American Association of New York, NYC, Japan, Japanese artists, art, art exhibition, charity, JAA Charitable Fund, Ushio Shinohara, Noriko Shinohara

“The Little Owl on Grove and Bedford St” by Kazuya Morimoto

Recent works by Kazuya Morimoto is concentrated on historic cityscapes in New York City, painting watercolors of daily life in the Village.

The dots on this mixed-media piece by Okinawan-born artist Shigeno Ichimura are actually paint drops that the artists placed by hand, one by one.

JAANY, JAA, Japanese American Association of New York, NYC, Japan, Japanese artists, art, art exhibition, charity, JAA Charitable Fund, Ushio Shinohara, Noriko Shinohara

“Relationship #15” by Shigeno Ichimura

One thing that stood out was the prevalence of skulls in several works.

JAANY, JAA, Japanese American Association of New York, NYC, Japan, Japanese artists, art, art exhibition, charity, JAA Charitable Fund, Ushio Shinohara, Noriko Shinohara

“Chaos” by Masaki Takizawa

JAANY, JAA, Japanese American Association of New York, NYC, Japan, Japanese artists, art, art exhibition, charity, JAA Charitable Fund, Ushio Shinohara, Noriko Shinohara

“Founding of Nation” by Yasuaki Okamoto

JAANY, JAA, Japanese American Association of New York, NYC, Japan, Japanese artists, art, art exhibition, charity, JAA Charitable Fund, Ushio Shinohara, Noriko Shinohara

“Does the World Go Pop?” by Yuki Ideguchi

All works are available for purchase, with 50% of the proceeds going toward the JAA Charitable Fund.

JAANY
49 W. 45th Street (between 5th and 6th Avenues), 11th Floor
Exhibition hours: Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.; Saturday from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.
For more information, please visit JAA’s website.