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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The fox, or kitsune, is supernatural being in Japanese folklore, and everyone knows how important cats are to Japanese culture.
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.
One thing that stood out was the prevalence of skulls in several works.
All works are available for purchase, with 50% of the proceeds going toward the JAA Charitable Fund.
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.