This exhibition features two painters, Kamekichi Tokita and Kenjiro Nomura, known in 1930s Seattle for their American realist style of landscape painting. They shared the cultural legacy of Japan and the active cultural life of Seattle’s Japantown, while they found a public audience for their work in mainstream art institutions and participated alongside the city’s advanced artists, such as Mark Tobey, Ambrose Patterson and Walter Isaacs. Their work received critical support from the Seattle Art Museum and is significantly represented in its permanent collection.
Tokita and Nomura were the most prominent of a group of first-generation Japanese-American painters in the 1920s and '30s in Seattle. Both exhibited regularly in regional annuals and were selected to represent the Northwest in national exhibitions. World War II interrupted their careers as they and their families were incarcerated at Minidoka. Tokita died in 1948. Nomura developed an abstract style influenced by Mark Tobey. The work of both artists can be said to foreshadow characteristics of the Northwest School, but more broadly it contributes a distinctive Issei (Japanese-American immigrant) perspective to American art of its time. The exhibition will consist of approximately twenty paintings, of which nine are in SAM’s collection.
–Barbara Johns, guest curatorEducational Resources
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Alley, ca. 1929, Kamekichi Tokita, American, 1897–1948, oil on canvas,
20 1/2 x 16 1/2 in., Seattle Art Museum, Gift of the artist, 33.229, © Kamekichi Tokita, Photo: Paul Macapia