Years ago, back when the company I worked for contracted in security guards, there was older (think 90) guy who bragged that he recycled deodorant dispensers by gluing a photo to the dispenser. He would wheel the bottom of the deodorant container and the picture would come out of the top as if on a cheap, jerky elevator and I would say something thoughtful like “uh huh…”. His was a typical case of an untalented folk artist resorting to a desperate medium in order to differentiate himself from people who actually had talent of some sort.
On the other end of the scale you have Itchiku Kubota whose work is currently featured at the Cultural Center for the Arts in Canton, Ohio. Mr. Kubota’s area of expertise was creating exquisite kimonos:
The kimonos as created were never meant to be worn, but just admired for the artist’s handiwork. My first thought was that Mr. Kubota was only seeking to differentiate himself from other artists by working with an unusual medium; some kind of Japanese folk art on ‘roids. The exhibit itself proves otherwise. Rather than just reusing known techniques in some unusual way, he sought to push art forward by engineering new techniques and applying them in a unique way.
His ‘seasons’ set (i.e. Symphony of Light) which is featured in Canton is truly one of a kind. As an example, although the winter themed kimonos could have been a walk in the park, Mr. Kubota was sure to put as much time into them as the more colorfully ornate sets in the series, complete with empty trees and silver highlights. This attention to ‘painting in the corners’ is a staple of all of his pieces.
In addition to the show, the museum is also putting on a slice of fake Japan with some dances and a $20 a serving ‘Lipton’ green tea ceremony.
In Canton (yes, Canton) until April 26th, after that you’re going to have to take a twelve hour flight to see them.