Bridging the Pacific
Torrance Art Museum, Torrance
Through March 4, 2023
Written by Genie Davis
Two very fine exhibitions make up the Spring presentations at TAM, offering a range of beautifully presented work.
In the main gallery, Bridging the Pacific, curated by Torrance Art Museum’s own Max Presneill, is a feast of works by Japanese American artists. The exhibition also commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Sister City program between Torrance, Calif. and the city of Kashiwa, Japan.
Presenting artists include Tetsuji Aono, Yumiko Glover, Kio Griffith, Clement Hanami, Bryan Ida, Ichiro Irie, Takeshi Kanemura, Wakana Kimura, Ibuki Kuramochi, Kaoru Mansour, Yoshie Sakai, Macha Suzuki, Misato Suzuki, Tomoaki Shibata, Devon Tsuno, Miki Yokoyama, and Bruce Yonemoto.
There are a mix of immersive video works, ceramic sculptures, and fine arts presented in many mediums throughout the main gallery spaces.
Among the many standouts, the work of Bryan Ida is profoundly beautiful and deeply moving. Ida’s intensely detailed ink on panel works are accompanied by black and white photographs taken of the subjects he’s depicting: his mother and father, being “evacuated” from the San Francisco Bay area in 1942, when Japanese Americans were summarily dispatched from their homes and livelihoods due to race-driven paranoia fueled by World War II. The photos of his young parents were taken by Dorthea Lange. Each large-scale ink work uses minutely painted words to shape the image. Both “Father II” and “Kimiko Kitagaki” are astonishing in detail and heart-rending. Ida’s powerful work is the rare combination of meticulous talent with important, vital meaning. See it, read it, absorb it, and weep.
Takeshi Kanemura’s sinuous plastic sheet and photo, “Masaru – Between 311 and Future”is a haunting sculptural creation that evokes a man reaching, crawling, and emerging all at once, a form in gestation. The beautiful, colorful natural images in Wakana Kimura’s delicate watercolor wash “Heavenly Maiden I” and “Heavenly Maiden III”are entirely different yet equally riveting and are serenely lovely.
Like starting into a universe of colored stars and the sky through the tops of trees, Misato Suzuki’s appropriately named acrylic paintings, “Aldebaran” and “Forest,” are mesmerizing. A viewer can easily get lost within the surface of these pointillistic works. Equally so is the wall-sized acrylic diptych from Yumiko Glover, “Transience,” which evokes the creation or shifting of a watery world.
Also large in scale, Macha Suzuki’s “Death Do Us part,” created from rope and pins, spreads conjoined, seemingly conversational skeleton heads across another wall. The artist’s “Untitled (communion table)” creates a traditional table-top guitar, a musical instrument of sorts, inscribed with the words “This Machine Kills Fascists,” which certainly strikes the right political chord for our times.
Devon Tsuno’s “Jurodo” is suspended from the ceiling, a lush, masterfully floral work that evokes a traditional painted screen, created in spray paint and acrylic. A steampunk rickshaw is the sculptural, motion-filled work by Clement Hanami in “Goon Squad Garage.”
Tetsuji Aono’s “Untitled” series of mysterious and magical looking ivory-colored ceramic sculptures stands on wood pedestals running through the center of the room, uniting the curatorial conversation on both sides of the first of the main galleries. In the second room, two sculptural works from Bruce Yonemoto utilize the practice of kintsugi in new ways bisecting and uniting the exhibition space.
Spread throughout both main gallery spaces, video projects from Kio Griffith, Yoshie Sakai, Ichiro Irie, and Ibuki Kuramochi are each very different in approach and intent, and equally worth absorbing. Kuramochi also includes a fascinating AR performance mask.
Also on view are Kaoru Mansour’s acrylic, pastel, and charcoal abstracts, which rise like mysterious architecture from the artist’s canvas; Miki Yokoyama presents denser, swirling abstracts with vision-like figurative shapes passing through surreal landscapes in acrylic and acrylic pen.
While space precludes mentioning every piece exhibited, suffice to say that all the artists present thoughtful works, diversely and richly representing both Japanese and American culture.
In Gallery Two, Rochelle Botello’s solo exhibition, Free Fall provides viewers with a look into a wonderful, absurdist world. That world is rendered in vivid colors in both her fascinatingly fragile looking free-standing sculptures and in Botello’s playfully chaotic, yet perfectly structured wall art. Using mediums such as duct tape, carboard, and wood, the floor sculptures seem like alien life forms, brilliant jungle spiders, or fantastical skeletons. Framed watercolor and ink drawings appear like models for the sculptural work. Each of these fantastical creations invite the viewer to enter a different universe – that of the artist’s creation.