With New Eyes

Sunday, September 24, 1995 to Thursday, October 26, 1995


  • K. Asaishi
  • Ruth Asawa
  • Bernice Bing
  • Eva Fong Chan
  • George Chann
  • Fay Chong
  • David Chun
  • Victor Duena
  • Akira Furukawa
  • Yun Gee
  • Taneyuki Dan Harada
  • Sabro Hasegawa
  • Miki Hayakawa
  • Sessue Hayakawa
  • Hon Chew Hee
  • Hisako Hibi
  • Teikichi Hikoyama
  • Wai Cheu Hin
  • Tsunekisi Imai
  • Taizo Kato
  • Kem Lee Photo Studio
  • Ernie Kim
  • Pearl Kimura
  • Dong Kingman
  • Masatoyo Kishi
  • Hideo Kobashigawa
  • Kyo Koike
  • Frank Kunishige
  • David Kuraoka
  • Val Laigo
  • Chee Chin Cheung Lee
  • Frank Matsura
  • The May's Photo Studio
  • George Miyasaki
  • Toyo Miyatake
  • Johsel Namkung
  • Win Ng
  • Kenjiro Nomura
  • Chiura Obata
  • Haruka Obata
  • Arthur Okamura
  • Mine Okubo
  • Irene Poon
  • Zenkishi Sakato
  • F.Y. Sato
  • Kay Sakemachi
  • Sueo Serisawa
  • Harry Shigeta
  • W.F. Song
  • Kai Suck
  • Henry Sugimoto
  • Shuryo Suzuki
  • Henry Takemoto
  • Mary Tape
  • Hodo Tobase
  • Kamekichi Tokita
  • Chin K. Toy
  • Wing Kwong Tse
  • George Tsutakawa
  • Byon Takashi Tsuzuki
  • Sadayuki Uno
  • Shigemi Uyeda

Organized and curated by Irene Poon Anderson, Mark Johnson, Dawn Nakanishi and Diane Tani.

Exhibition Reviews From the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Francisco Examiner

ART REVIEW: Asian Immigrant Arts Revealed
KENNETH BAKER, Chronicle Art Critic
Thursday, October 12, 1995
©1999 San Francisco Chronicle URL: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/1995/1...

From the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 to Executive Order 9066, which ordained internment of Japanese Americans, to Proposition 187, Asian immigration to the United States has had a fraught history.

The social record of Asian immigrants has come in for careful study in recent years, but their cultural history has been overlooked. To stir interest in the neglected background of Asian American artistry is one purpose of "With New Eyes: Toward an Asian American Art History in the West'' at San Francisco State University.

Incredibly, this is the first exhibition to survey the material record of early Asian American arts. Although the show contains about 100 objects, its curators acknowledge that it is only a small beginning.

"With New Eyes'' challenges the assumption that because the lives of many immigrants were so difficult, creativity played no part in them.

There may be no stronger contradiction to this idea than the roomful of pieces made by Japanese Americans held in internment camps during World War II.

Here we see a photograph of young prisoners lolling against barbed wire, made by Toyo Miyatake with a makeshift camera he assembled with a smuggled lens. The documentary power of Miyatake's image pales beside the emotional force of paintings such as Sadayuki Uno's "Guard Tower'' (1944) and Henry Sugimoto's "When Can We Go Home?'' (1943).

Sugimoto set a mother and child within a splintered cubo-futurist space that evokes stabs of memory and fear and the pain of being torn from ordinary life.

How Asian memory and art tradition interacted with the currents of realism and European modernism astir in the American West is a fascinating area of study opened up by "With New Eyes.''

Sometimes the interplay of sensibilities is strained, as in Yun Gee's cubist-influenced "Where Is My Mother?'' (1926-27). Sometimes it redoubles their power, as in Chee Chin Cheung Lee's "Woman Sewing'' (1932), which gives a Chinese seamstress the towering presence of an allegorical figure by Diego Rivera.

A distinctive strain of Asian American pictorialist photography is one of the show's most important discoveries. The only known print by Los Angeles photographer K. Asaishi, for example, is a soft-focus shot of standing books that creates the kind of prismatic space we see in Lyonel Feininger's paintings.

Asian artists test U.S. waters
October 20, 1995
©1999 San Francisco Examiner URL: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/examiner/archive/1995/10...
Cultural blindspots get needed airing in two exhibitions

ASIAN AMERICAN artists and their achievements remain largely unknown, though sculptor Isamu Noguchi and painter Yasuo Kuniyoshi were two of the most widely exhibited and popular artists in the United States during mid-century. But two exhibitions currently in The City attempt to correct that cultural blindspot by featuring artists of Asian backgrounds who work (or worked) in this country.

[ ... ]

"With New Eyes: Toward an Asian American Art History in the West," at the San Francisco State University Gallery through Oct. 26, is happily a more successful exhibition. Initiated "out of curiosity" about what Asian artists did here on the West Coast, where they lived in greater numbers than anywhere else in America, it answers its question by showing that they did quite a bit.

The show, which includes 100 works from 1865 to 1965, is terribly uneven, but its virtue is its inclusiveness. And it has brought back to attention some real talent. Unlike the current generation, forging a separate cultural identity isn't so much an issue, although a hard-to-pin-down Asian aesthetic and a definite Asian subject matter are readily apparent.

The two painters that struck me as the most accomplished are Chee Chin S. Cheung Lee (1896-1966) and Chiura Obata (1885-1975). Lee is represented by two canvases, a fanciful landscape and a realist depiction of a Chinese woman sewing that shows the architectonic solidity of the Mexican muralists. Obata is also represented by two works, both of which depict the California landscape in a traditional Japanese style filtered through American modernism.

The wall of Japanese-American pictorialist photographers from Los Angeles is also particularly interesting. Shigemi Uyeda's circa-1925 print, "Reflections on the Oil Ditch," in which circles of oil float like orbs in an endless field, marries romanticism with a modernist objectivity. It's a formalist masterpiece that makes you want to see more of his work.

September 24 - October 26, 1995
With New Eyes: Toward an Asian American Art History in the West