Kings Art Center to Open Two New Exhibits

The Kings Art Center is celebrating its 25 year anniversary this month with a “Past to Present” exhibit open from September 23 to November 11 in the center’s Marcellus Gallery.

In the Members Gallery, the center will exhibit “Internment 1942,” the 75th anniversary of the Japanese-American Internment with the work of Henry Sugimoto, a Hanford High graduate.

Both exhibits will have an opening reception on Friday, September 22, from 5:30-7:30pm. Admission is free, tours are by appointment. The center is located at 605 N. Douty, Hanford, CA.

“PAST TO PRESENT: Celebrating our first 25 years”

The Center is celebrating the many people who have contributed to what has become a premier art center in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley.

Most especially those visionaries who met just over 25 years ago to create what at the time seemed like the impossible–a Center for art in Kings County. The visionaries: Bill Banister, Lloyd Christensen, Bob Marcellus, Steve Robinson, and Sid Sharp, spearheaded a campaign that included the donation of a building by the Women’s Club, and the donated skills of a local architect, contractor, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, masonry contractors, landscapers, and many others.

It was through their efforts and the financial donations of over $12,000, from the community, that the Center opened to great fanfare in 1960.

The work in this exhibit represents a small sampling from the many local artists who have exhibited their work at the Center over the past 25 years. For some of us, it will be a visual walk down memory lane.

We are all extremely thankful for all who helped made the Kings Art Center a reality and to those who continue to support the goals of our Center.

Bruce Kane, Executive Director

John Robinson, Guest Curator

 

Internment 1942: The Art of Henry Sugimoto

Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941, let the United States into World War II and radically changed the lives of 120,000 men, women, and children of Japanese ancestry living in the United States.

The attack intensified racial prejudices and led to fear of potential sabotage and espionage by Japanese Americans among some in government, military, news media, and public.

In February, 1942, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 authorizing the Secretary of War to establish military areas and to remove from those areas anyone who might threaten the war effort.

Without due process, the government gave everyone of Japanese ancestry living on the West Coast, only days to decide what to do with their homes, farms, businesses, and other possessions. Most left possessions with friends or religious groups.

Some abandoned their property. They did not know where they were going or for how long.

Each family was assigned an identification number and loaded into cars, buses, trucks, and trains, taking only what they could carry. Japanese Americans were transported under military guard to 17 temporary assembly centers located at racetracks, fairgrounds, and similar facilities in Washington, Oregon, California, and Arizona. They were then moved to one of 10 hastily built relocation centers.

By November, 1942 the relocation was complete. The war ended in 1945, Manzanar was closed and the Japanese American’s housed there were sent home to rebuild their lives.

Henry Sugimoto graduated from Hanford High School in 1924, attended UC Berkeley, the California College of Arts & Crafts, and the Academie Colarossi in Paris.

In 1932 he had a one-man show at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco, and eventually married Susie Tagawa and moved back to Hanford.

Following Executive Order 9066, in 1942, he was removed with his wife and daughter to the Pinedale Assembly Center and the Jerome Relocation Center.

After arriving in camp, Sugimoto began painting on sheets, pillowcases and other scrap materials, hiding his early work from Administrators because he feared his critical depictions of camp life would be confiscated.

However, after receiving encouragement from WPA officials he began to paint openly, creating 100 oil paintings, watercolors and sketches during his confinement.

Upon his release in 1945 he briefly returned to San Francisco to reclaim about 100 paintings, but found that they had been auctioned off while he was in camp. He failed to reclaim the proceeds from the sales and relocated to New York City.

Sugimoto continued to participate in various exhibitions, including a 1960 show of the Society of Washington Printmakers at the Smithsonian Institute and in 1962 his work appeared at the New York Galerie Internationale.

In 1972 two murals he had created at Topaz were highlighted in “Month of Waiting,” an exhibit of art work from the camps.

He then began to create new woodblock prints exploring camp themes and became involved in the redress movement and continued to work until his death in 1990.

Upon his death much of his work was donated to the Kings Art Center by his family and it become central to our permanent collection.

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