What do Greg Kucera and my sister’s bathroom have in common?
Way back in 2010 I had the pleasure of visiting the Wing Luke Museum in Seattle to see Roger Shimomura’s exhibit “Yellow Terror.” It was a show devoted to the painter Roger Shimomura’s collections of vintage WWII paraphernalia depicting the Japanese as the evil enemy (hence “Yellow Terror, which is what the Japanese were called by Americans at the time), “little yellow devils,” in postcards, posters, even salt and pepper shakers. His vast collections were joined by his own paintings on the same subject.
Greg Kucera (http://gregkucera.com/shimomura.htm) is now hosting a new exhibit of Roger Shimomura’s called “An American Knockoff: Paintings.” Even though I have never seen this new work, I recommend you check it out.
It’s important to note that Roger Shimomura is an American. Japanese-American, or American-Japanese, whichever it is. His grandmother was in one of the internment camps (and her journals from that time inform another of his painting series, but more about that in a second). His work combines the beauty of Japanese woodcuts with cartoon-like images from American culture. He straddles his conflicting identities with aplomb, yet opens wide a lens through which we can see, clearly, how those identities can co-exist, with beauty.
Oh yeah, my sister’s bathroom? She has a painting (which she designed the entire room around) of Mr. Shimomura’s, from his series inspired by his grandmother’s internment journals.