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Rich deep blue indigos evoke imagery of the deep sea and the night sky in papermaker and print artist Yuko Kimura’s Cosmic Collages.
Her work is the sole focus of the Fulcrum Festival organized by decades-old but little-known Pasadena arts organization, Shumei Arts Council.
In Cosmic Collages, Kimura brings together various print-media, “combining contemporary and traditional printmaking techniques from Japan and the West—including etching, aquatint, and monotype—with indigo-dyeing methods that reference the sea, the night sky, and the Universe beyond,” according to the organization’s website.
Her layered and textured collages feature the artist’s own handmade washi paper with old, worm-eaten pages from printed, antique Japanese books.
Kimura’s technique is inspired by “Japanese boro garments, which are patched together from worn fragments of indigo cloth, and by her grandmother’s habit of saving fabric scraps to patch together into new garments for her family.”
Created in 1998, the Shumei Arts Council is committed to bringing concerts of the highest quality, as well as unique exhibitions and lectures to Shumei Hall, Pasadena, so that everyone can explore and experience highly skilled artistic expression.
The non-profit said its mission is based on the belief that community can flourish through art.
“We believe that people’s hearts and minds can be lifted up through the arts,” board member Ron Helgesen said.
“When the individual’s spiritual level is elevated, then this helps others too, when it spreads. And that’s the deepest aspect,” said Helgesen. “That’s maybe how we might be different from other organizations — we aim to raise the spiritual level of people.”
Aside from the work of famous artists, the Shumei Arts Council has also showcased performances of famous musicians and singers including Paul Winter, Carol Neblett and Gary Burton.
The organization, which is associated with the Miho Museum in Kyoto, Japan, has also presented children’s concerts.
Impact of Pandemic
Just like other organizations in Pasadena, the Shumei Arts Council also had to cancel shows throughout early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the organization’s annual concert.
But Helgesen noted they did not struggle financially despite the canceled events.
“Financially speaking, it didn’t impact us much because the Shumei Arts Council relies on volunteerism. We don’t have hired staff; we didn’t have to pay any salaries. So we were really fortunate in that regard. We didn’t have to lay anybody off or anything.”
“But yeah, it’s unfortunate that we had to be a little quiet there for the period, but we’re, we’re kicking it back into gear here and hopefully we’re going to get everything bouncing again here.”
Helgesen however recognized that bouncing back may be quite challenging because even with easing pandemic restrictions, it seems like less people are ready to go out.
“We did the ArtNight Pasadena and we noted [that] the attendance is a little less. It doesn’t seem like people were quite ready to venture out and join a venue.”
At the Fulcrum Festival, Cosmic Collages is curated by Japanese art historian and independent curator Meher McArthur and features 10 of Kimura’s collaged prints, mostly new works created by the artist for the exhibition and three borrowed from local Pasadena collectors.
The artworks will be accompanied by text that explains Kimura’s artistic motivations and the science behind her techniques, including Western etching, Japanese papermaking and indigo dyeing, according to the organization’s website.
The exhibition opening reception will be held Sunday, September 18 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., with a chance to meet Kimura, and enjoy a Curator’s Tour at 11:30 a.m.
Makoto Taiko will give a drumming performance as part of the festivities. Stalls from Green Life Food Market will also be open from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
According to Helgesen, upcoming events of the organization are still being lined up while the Shumei Arts Council’s annual invitational concert is getting organized for early 2023.
For more information on the Fulcrum Festival 2022, visit: https://fulcrumfestival.org/exhibit/deep-ocean-deep-space-cosmic-collages-by-yuko-kimura/ To know more about Shumei Arts Council, visit: shumeiarts.org.
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