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Stanford University
East of the Pacific: Making Histories of Asian American Art
Temporary Exhibition

East of the Pacific: Making Histories of Asian American Art

September 28, 2022–February 12, 2023

A painting depicting three naked women

George Matsusaburo Hibi (American, born  in Japan, 1886–1947), Three Muses, 1930. Oil on canvas. Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University. The Michael Donald Brown Collection, made possible by the William Alden Campbell and Martha Campbell Art Acquisition Fund and the Asian American Art Initiative Acquisitions Fund, 2020.54

Freidenrich Family Gallery

About the Exhibition


 

For thousands of years, people have made treacherous journeys across bodies of water. Apart from Indigenous and First Nations peoples, all inhabitants of North America are the product of such transoceanic movement. This exhibition considers the ongoing artistic impact of many peoples’ migration across a particular body of water: the Pacific Ocean. What would it mean to understand the United States as being situated not just west of the Atlantic but east of the Pacific? How would this understanding reorient our perception of American art and its significant participants? The works of art presented date from the mid-nineteenth century through the present day. Organized in chronological sections that highlight key moments of intersection between Asia and the United States, this exhibition features artists who worked between and beyond these worlds.

East of the Pacific: Making Histories of Asian American Art is the largest of three inaugural Asian American Art Initiative (AAAI) exhibitions to open at the Cantor Arts Center. Publicly launched in 2021, the AAAI is dedicated to the study of artists and makers of Asian descent and aims to establish Stanford as a leading academic and curatorial center for the study of Asian American art and history. The AAAI is co-directed by Marci Kwon, assistant professor of Art and Art History, and Aleesa Pitchamarn Alexander, Robert M. and Ruth L. Halperin Associate Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art.

In addition to featuring artists of Asian descent, East of the Pacific pays tribute to those who set the stage for the AAAI. Scholars Gordon H. Chang, Mark Dean Johnson, and Margo Machida laid critical groundwork for the field of Asian American art, with work featured in the landmark study Asian American Art: A History, 1850–1970 (Stanford University Press, 2008). Many of the works on view appeared in the groundbreaking Bay Area exhibitions With New Eyes: Towards an Asian American Art History in the West (San Francisco State University Art Department Gallery, 1995) and Asian/American/Modern: Shifting Currents, 1900–1970 (de Young, 2008). Others are drawn from the 141 objects the Cantor acquired from an unparalleled collection of Asian American art amassed by the collector Michael Donald Brown, and from additional recent gifts from artists, artist estates, and collectors intended to bolster the AAAI. The Cantor recognizes the scholarly contributions and generosity of this community that enables a rethinking of our artistic past toward a reimagining of our cultural future.

East of the Pacific cannot tell a comprehensive story of Asian American art. Due to the current collection strengths and the historical migration patterns from Asia to the United States, the exhibition primarily focuses on artists of East Asian descent. South and Southeast Asian Americans, and artists from the Pacific Islands, are little represented. Future projects and acquisitions aim to address this gap. Nevertheless, the show celebrates that the Cantor now has one of the most extensive collections of Asian American art at any American university art museum. The collection continues to grow strategically and intentionally, acknowledging current limitations while simultaneously addressing them.

This exhibition is organized by the Cantor Arts Center. We gratefully acknowledge support from the Robert Mondavi Family Fund, the Terra Foundation for American Art, and Pamela and David Hornik. Funding for the conservation of eight works in this exhibition was generously provided through a grant from the Bank of America Art Conservation Project.
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Exhibition Overview

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Exhibition Artworks

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Exhibition Overview


 

 

 

Points of Contact


In the nineteenth century, two significant geopolitical changes impacted the relationship between Japan, China, and the United States. The first was Commodore Matthew Perry’s 1853 expedition to forge a trade agreement with Japan, which led to artists traveling across the Pacific Ocean in both directions, creating a unique period of cultural and artistic exchange. The second was the arrival in the 1850s of the first major wave of Chinese immigrants to the United States to work in the gold mines and on the railroads. Works of art in this section represent the mutual but powerfully imbalanced fascinations between artists working across cultural lines during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

painting of persimmons in basket

Persimmons in an Indian Basket

Toshio Aoki (Japanese, active in U.S.A., 1854–1912), Persimmons in an Indian Basket, 1895. Oil on canvas. Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University. The Michael Donald Brown Collection, made possible by the William Alden Campbell and Martha Campbell Art Acquisition Fund and the Asian American Art Initiative Acquisitions Fund, 2020.21
 

A painting of cattle over mountains

Logging Saratoga Gap, California 1880

William Hahn (German, active in U.S.A, 1829–1887), Logging Saratoga Gap, California 1880, 1880. Oil on canvas. Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University. Gift of Donald Brewster in honor of Professor Dwight Miller, 2021.147
 

A painting of a group of people in a flower arrangement lesson

A Lesson in Flower Arrangement

Theodore Wores (American, 1859–1939), A Lesson in Flower Arrangement, c. 1893. Oil on canvas. Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University. Gift of Drs. A. Jess and Ben Shenson, 1995.163

 

 

The East West Art Society


The early twentieth century saw the rise of many Asian American art associations and societies in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Among the most prominent and ideologically distinct was the interethnic collective East West Art Society (EWAS) of San Francisco. This section highlights Asian American members of the EWAS and features work demonstrating their interest in engaging with forms of image-making that blend various influences.

sleeping man

Sleeping Man

Miki Hayakawa (American, born in Japan, 1899–1953), Sleeping Man, 1926. Oil on canvas. Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University. The Michael Donald Brown Collection, made possible by the William Alden Campbell and Martha Campbell Art Acquisition Fund and the Asian American Art Initiative Acquisitions Fund. Funding for the conservation of this artwork was generously provided through a grant from the Bank of America Art Conservation Project, 2020.48

an image of a woman with wings

Wings

George Matsusaburo Hibi (American, born in Japan, 1886–1947), Wings, 1930. Oil on canvas. Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University. Cantor Arts Center, The Michael Donald Brown Collection, made possible by the William Alden Campbell and Martha Campbell Art Acquisition Fund and the Asian American Art Initiative Acquisitions Fund. Funding for the conservation of this artwork was generously provided through a grant from the Bank of America Art Conservation Project, 2020.55

A scene of a cove

Monterey Cove

Tokio Ueyama (American, born in Japan, 1889–1954), Monterey Cove, 1924. Oil on canvas. Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University. The Michael Donald Brown Collection, made possible by the William Alden Campbell and Martha Campbell Art Acquisition Fund and the Asian American Art Initiative Acquisitions Fund, 2020.129

 

 

Visions of Chinatown


Established in 1848, San Francisco Chinatown is the oldest in North America and has been a site of artistic exploration and occupation for many. Here, works created across a broad chronological range by Chinatown community members and other artists of Chinese descent showcase a spectrum of Chinatown’s representational possibilities.

A painting of a chinese dragon

Chinatown Dragon

Martin Wong (American, 1946-1999), Chinatown Dragon, 1993. Acrylic on canvas. Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University. Gift of The Martin Wong Foundation, 2019.202

a painting of hands with a cane

Hands

Wing Kwong Tse (Chinese, 1902–1993), Hands, c. 1970s. Watercolor on paper. Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University. The Michael Donald Brown Collection, made possible by the William Alden Campbell and Martha Campbell Art Acquisition Fund and the Asian American Art Initiative Acquisitions Fund, 2020.123

A painting of an Asian American man walking down the stairs

Kin Gee Zapatería

Livien Yin (American, born in 1990), Kin Gee Zapatería, 2021. Acrylic on linen. Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University. Gift of Pamela and David Hornik in support of the Asian American Art Initiative, 2022.39

A painting of Chinatown

Chinatown, Clay and Grant

Dong Kingman (American, 1911–2000), Chinatown, Clay and Grant, c. 1950. Watercolor on paper. Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University. The Michael Donald Brown Collection, made possible by the William Alden Campbell and Martha Campbell Art Acquisition Fund and the Asian American Art Initiative Acquisitions Fund, 2020.71

A painting of lanterns in SF

Lanterns-S.F. Chinatown

Jade Fon Woo (American, 1911–1983), Lanterns-S.F. Chinatown, c. 1943-1949. Watercolor on paper. Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University. The Michael Donald Brown Collection, made possible by the William Alden Campbell and Martha Campbell Art Acquisition Fund and the Asian American Art Initiative Acquisitions Fund, 2020.146

 

 

After Executive Order 9066


Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, on February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which authorized the forced evacuation of more than 120,000 Japanese Americans to isolated detention centers and concentration camps. Most of the historic works in this section were created in the detention centers and camps. The more contemporary works were created by Japanese American artists reflecting upon, and grappling with, the aftereffects of their experiences in the camps.

A painting of an Asian woman wearing a long coat and a head piece

Lush Life #2

Roger Shimomura (American, born in 1939), Lush Life #2, 2008. Acrylic on canvas. Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University. Gift of Marilynn and Carl Thoma, 2010.97

An abstract painting about the United Nations

U.N. and Its Struggle For Peace As I See It

Hisako Hibi (American, born in Japan, 1907–1991), U.N. and Its Struggle For Peace As I See It, 1947. Oil on canvas. Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University. The Michael Donald Brown Collection, made possible by the William Alden Campbell and Martha Campbell Art Acquisition Fund and the Asian American Art Initiative Acquisitions Fund, 2020.52

A linocut of a mother breastfeeding a child

Thoughts of Him

Henry Yuzuru Sugimoto (American, born in Japan, 1900-1990), Thoughts of Him, c. 1965. Linocut. Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University. Gift of Patrick and Sandra Hayashi in support of the Asian American Art Initiative, 2021.110

A watercolor painting of a landscape

Untitled

Koho Yamamoto (American, born in 1922), Untitled, 1944. Watercolor on paper. Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University. The Michael Donald Brown Collection, made possible by the William Alden Campbell and Martha Campbell Art Acquisition Fund and the Asian American Art Initiative Acquisitions Fund, 2020.153

An abstract sculpture made of four black bronze pillars

Victim

Isamu Noguchi (American, 1904–1988), Victim, 1962. Bronze. © Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY. Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University. Museum purchase made possible by gifts from Mr. and Mrs. John Freidenrich, Burton and Deedee McMurtry, Marilynn and Carl Thoma, Bobbie and Mike Wilsey, and the Modern and Contemporary Art Fund, 2009.96

 

 

Histories of Abstraction


Works in this section by artists of Asian descent showcase varying approaches to abstraction across the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. These objects broaden our historical, geographical, and cultural understanding of nonrepresentational modes of making and counter the prevailing art historical narrative that Asian Americans were not significant creators of nonrepresentational art during this time.

A stoneware vase with glazes

#8

Toshiko Takaezu (American, 1922–2011), #8, c. 1990s. Stoneware with glazes. Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University. Gift of the artist, 2008.230

Black abstract images in yellow background

New York Series

Takeshi Kawashima (Japanese, born in 1930) New York Series, 1967. Oil on canvas. Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University. The Michael Donald Brown Collection, made possible by the William Alden Campbell and Martha Campbell Art Acquisition Fund and the Asian American Art Initiative Acquisitions Fund. Funding for the conservation of this artwork was generously provided through a grant from the Bank of America Art Conservation Project, 2020.69

Abstract painting in beige, brown, and blue shades

Tiki

Noriko Yamamoto (American, born in Japan, 1929), Tiki, 1960. Oil on canvas. Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University. The Michael Donald Brown Collection, made possible by the William Alden Campbell and Martha Campbell Art Acquisition Fund and the Asian American Art Initiative Acquisitions Fund. Funding for the conservation of this artwork was generously provided through a grant from the Bank of America Art Conservation Project, 2020.155

A paragraoh written over pink paper

Friendship Series/Cardinal Points

Masako Takahashi (American, born in 1944), Friendship Series/Cardinal Points, 2003. Artist's hair and silk. Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University. Gift of the artist in support of the Asian American Art Initiative, 2021.148

 

 

Revisiting Other Sources: An American Essay


In 1976, Carlos Villa put together the expansive exhibition Other Sources: An American Essay as a radical rejoinder to the celebrations surrounding the American bicentennial. Villa, a Filipino American, curated a sprawling selection of work by a diverse array of makers, which he called “Third World artists.” The exhibition was an example of what would later be commonly known as multiculturalism, featuring artists whose primary influences were not the Western artistic canon. This section brings together work by artists originally included in Other Sources.

Acrylic and feathers on unstretched canvas

First Coat

Carlos Villa (American, 1936–2013), First Coat, 1977. Acrylic and feathers on unstretched canvas. Estate of Carlos Villa and Friends Indeed Gallery, San Francisco

An image of a coat as an abstract art work

First Coat

Carlos Villa (American, 1936–2013), First Coat, 1977. Acrylic and feathers on unstretched canvas. Estate of Carlos Villa and Friends Indeed Gallery, San Francisco

an abstract painting with black, blue, yellow, green, and red tones.

Blue Mountain No. 4

Bernice Bing (American, 1936–1998), Blue Mountain No. 4, 1966. Oil and acrylic on canvas. Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University. Gift of Alexa Young. Funding for the conservation of this artwork was generously provided through a grant from the Bank of America Art Conservation Project, 2020.14

An image of an orange oval and an orange square on white background

Rothkokoro

Leo Valledor (American, 1936–1989), Rothkokoro, 1980. Acrylic and enamel on canvas. Estate of Leo Valledor, Courtesy of Brian Gross Fine Art

An abstract painting with dark, blue, and gray tones

Untitled

Arthur Okamura (American, 1932–2009), Untitled, 1961. Oil on canvas. Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University. The Michael Donald Brown Collection, made possible by the William Alden Campbell and Martha Campbell Art Acquisition Fund and the Asian American Art Initiative Acquisitions Fund, 2020.94

 

 

 

Audio Tours Brochure


 

cover for a brochure

For You Audio Tours Brochure

View the For You Audio Tours brochure, which is available in hard copy in East of the Pacific: Making Histories of Asian American Art.

Explore Brochure

 

 

Audio Tours


To enhance the exhibition, the Cantor collaborated with the Institute for Diversity in the Arts with support from the Stanford Arts Incubator pilot program to commission the Asian American artist performance collective For You to create a series of original audio tours. These nondidactic, imaginative audio experiences offer a different mode of engaging with the exhibition. To listen to a tour, please open the link in a separate tab, start the audio, then return to this page to view the accompanying slideshow. If experiencing the tour in person, we highly recommend the use of personal headphones.

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Tour One: Masako Takahashi


 

sleeping man

Sleeping Man

Miki Hayakawa (American, born in Japan, 1899–1953), Sleeping Man, 1926. Oil on canvas. Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University. The Michael Donald Brown Collection, made possible by the William Alden Campbell and Martha Campbell Art Acquisition Fund and the Asian American Art Initiative Acquisitions Fund. Funding for the conservation of this artwork was generously provided through a grant from the Bank of America Art Conservation Project, 2020.48
 

a painting of hands with a cane

Hands

Wing Kwong Tse (Chinese, 1902–1993), Hands, c. 1970s. Watercolor on paper. Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University. The Michael Donald Brown Collection, made possible by the William Alden Campbell and Martha Campbell Art Acquisition Fund and the Asian American Art Initiative Acquisitions Fund, 2020.123

A painting of an Asian American woman

Eva Wong

Wing Kwong Tse (Chinese, 1902–1993), Eva Wong, c. 1954-1959. Watercolor on paper. Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University. The Michael Donald Brown Collection, made possible by the William Alden Campbell and Martha Campbell Art Acquisition Fund and the Asian American Art Initiative Acquisitions Fund, 2020.122
 

A linocut of a mother breastfeeding a child

Thoughts of Him

Henry Yuzuru Sugimoto (American, born in Japan, 1900-1990), Thoughts of Him, c. 1965. Linocut. Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University. Gift of Patrick and Sandra Hayashi in support of the Asian American Art Initiative, 2021.110
 

A paragraoh written over pink paper

Friendship Series/Cardinal Points

Masako Takahashi (American, born in 1944), Friendship Series/Cardinal Points, 2003. Artist's hair and silk. Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University. Gift of the artist in support of the Asian American Art Initiative, 2021.148
 

An image of an orange oval and an orange square on white background

Rothkokoro

Leo Valledor (American, 1936–1989), Rothkokoro, 1980. Acrylic and enamel on canvas. Estate of Leo Valledor, Courtesy of Brian Gross Fine Art
 

 

 

 

Tour Two: A Dinner Party in Chinatown


 

an abstract painting with organe tones

Evening

Hisako Hibi (American, born in Japan, 1907–1991), Evening, late 1970s. Oil on canvas. Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University. The Michael Donald Brown Collection, made possible by the William Alden Campbell and Martha Campbell Art Acquisition Fund and the Asian American Art Initiative Acquisitions Fund, 2020.53
 

A painting depicting Chinatown in San Francisco

Clay and Grant, San Francisco Chinatown

Jade Fon Woo (American, 1911–1983), Clay and Grant, San Francisco Chinatown, c. 1943-1949. Watercolor on paper. Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University. The Michael Donald Brown Collection, made possible by the William Alden Campbell and Martha Campbell Art Acquisition Fund and the Asian American Art Initiative Acquisitions Fund, 2020.147
 

A painting of Chinatown

Chinatown, Clay and Grant

Dong Kingman (American, 1911–2000), Chinatown, Clay and Grant, c. 1950. Watercolor on paper. Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University. The Michael Donald Brown Collection, made possible by the William Alden Campbell and Martha Campbell Art Acquisition Fund and the Asian American Art Initiative Acquisitions Fund, 2020.71
 

A painting of lanterns in SF

Lanterns-S.F. Chinatown

Jade Fon Woo (American, 1911–1983), Lanterns-S.F. Chinatown, c. 1943-1949. Watercolor on paper. Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University. The Michael Donald Brown Collection, made possible by the William Alden Campbell and Martha Campbell Art Acquisition Fund and the Asian American Art Initiative Acquisitions Fund, 2020.146
 

A painting of a chinese dragon

Chinatown Dragon

Martin Wong (American, 1946-1999), Chinatown Dragon, 1993. Acrylic on canvas. Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University. Gift of The Martin Wong Foundation, 2019.202
 

A painting of nightlife in a club

Chinese Night Club

Jade Fon Woo (American, 1911–1983), Chinese Night Club, c. 1940. Watercolor and graphite on paper. Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University. The Michael Donald Brown Collection, made possible by the William Alden Campbell and Martha Campbell Art Acquisition Fund and the Asian American Art Initiative Acquisitions Fund, 2020.142.a-b
 

a still life painting of bottle, glass, and cigarettes

Still Life

Henry Yuzuru Sugimoto (American, born in Japan, 1900-1990), Still Life, 1932. Oil on canvas. Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University. The Michael Donald Brown Collection, made possible by the William Alden Campbell and Martha Campbell Art Acquisition Fund and the Asian American Art Initiative Acquisitions Fund, 2020.112
 

 

 

 

Tour Three: Lush


 

painting of persimmons in basket

Persimmons in an Indian Basket

Toshio Aoki (Japanese, active in U.S.A., 1854–1912), Persimmons in an Indian Basket, 1895. Oil on canvas. Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University. The Michael Donald Brown Collection, made possible by the William Alden Campbell and Martha Campbell Art Acquisition Fund and the Asian American Art Initiative Acquisitions Fund, 2020.21
 

A painting of a group of people in a flower arrangement lesson

A Lesson in Flower Arrangement

Theodore Wores (American, 1859–1939), A Lesson in Flower Arrangement, c. 1893. Oil on canvas. Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University. Gift of Drs. A. Jess and Ben Shenson, 1995.163
 

A still life with fruits

Untitled

Emiko Nakano (American, 1925–1990), Untitled, 1943. Acrylic on canvas board. Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University. Gift of David and Linda Keaton in support of the Asian American Art Initiative, 2021.39
 

A painting of root vegetables

Tanforan, Mr. S. Yamamoto, Mr. M. Kimbara First Vegetable Raised

Chiura Obata (American, born in Japan, 1885–1975), Tanforan, Mr. S. Yamamoto, Mr. M. Kimbara First Vegetable Raised, 1942. Ink on paper. Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University. Gift of the Estate of Chiura Obata in support of the Asian American Art Initiative, 2022.29
 

A painting of an Asian woman wearing a long coat and a head piece

Lush Life #2

Roger Shimomura (American, born in1939), Lush Life #2, 2008. Acrylic on canvas. Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University. Gift of Marilynn and Carl Thoma, 2010.97
 

 

 

 

Exhibition Artworks


 

A painting of a town

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