M o re
Shimomurasherry Leedy Contemporary Art
Sherry Leedy Contemporary Art
2004 Baltimore Ave. Kansas City, MO 64108 816.221.2626 sherryleedy.com
Sherry Leedy, Director firstname.lastname@example.org
Elise Gagliardi, Gallery Assistant email@example.com
Allison King, Catalog Design
ROGER SHIMOMURA: 100 MORE WHITE LIES
November 4, 2022 - January 21, 2023
Back in 1970, a year after I joined the faculty at The University of Kansas, an invitational faculty exhibition was staged at the Spencer Art Museum on the KU campus. The exhibition was not conventional in that each entrant was asked to exhibit their individual “creative process” for generating ideas for finished work.
After much thought I decided to flip through the pages of Webster’s dictionary, inspecting every word that was printed. Every time a word caught my eye, for whatever reason, I typed it on a sheet of 8 ½ x 11 paper. Each page held approximately 50 words on a sheet. Upon finishing this listing with the letter, I stapled the 13 sheets in a block on the wall. In the center of these words was an antique artificial leg that I found at a Goodwill store in Syracuse, N.Y. several years prior. The pool of resources/words simulated the art making process. The piece was titled “13 Sheets of Art”.
It occurred to me that a similar process was used, now 55 years later in the making of this exhibition, “100 More White Lies”. There were elements of chance, choice and randomness shared by the two pieces. The artificiality of the selection process at times worked better than a democratic process.
-Roger Shimomura, 2022
100 MORE WHITE LIES
“This suite of 100 small paintings…., offers images and juxtapositions that may first appear random in relation to each other…. [It] is an attempt to make fresh sense out of nonsense, or to discover inherent truths in lies.”- Roger Shimomura
The series of paintings, 100 More White Lies, was started in the middle of the covid pandemic in Roger Shimomura’s studio in Lawrence, Kansas. The word “More” in the title refers to the suite’s immediate pre decessor, Little White Lies, which too was comprised of 100 paintings. Taken together the paintings, which began in late 2019 and complete in this series in late 2022, span the pandemic and political confusion of our recent history. They reflect a visual record of ideas and images but not a logical narrative. Instead, the combination of images in each painting echoes themes that run throughout Shimomura’s over 50-year career. Images are paired with elements of chance, choice and randomness, which is in itself a theme in the artist’s work.
References to his own life experience are central in Roger Shimomura’s paintings. Barbwire and wood en buildings reference the Minidoka “interment” concentration camp where he and his family were sent during World War II. Shimomura often confronts racism head on and does not shy away from using de pictions of ugly racial caricatures of the Japanese “enemy” from publications of the time. This experience continues to resonate today.
Roger Shimomura is a third generation Japanese American and he grew up immersed in American culture. His love of comic books and later Pop Art imagery, with its’ inspiration in popular and commercial culture, developed into a painting style uniquely his own. Shimomura’s paintings tell a story, through a distillation of information, pared down to an essence of visual economy. The design, crisp, flat and lively color carry the story.
Shimomura’s visual language takes on the history, art and stereotypes of American identity. He compares and contrasts East and West, Superman and Donald Duck, Warhol’s American icons, Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor, rice cookers and samurai figures painted in the style of 19th Century Ukiyo-prints, to name but a few. This is a sophisticated shifting play of subverted or reinvented cultural icons.
The paintings in 100 More White Lies, like all of Shimomura’s work, pulls the viewer in with recognizable images combined in unexpected ways with humor and beauty. A longer look often poses more questions than answers. The artist pokes and prods the thinking viewer to look and think and look again.- Sherry Leedy
Roger Shimomura’s paintings, prints, and theatre pieces address sociopolitical issues of ethnicity. He was born in Seattle, Washington and spent two early years of his childhood in Minidoka (Idaho), one of 10 concentration camps for Japanese Americans during WWII. Shimomura was a distinguished military graduate (1962) from the University of Washington, Seattle and then served as a field artillery officer with the First Cavalry Division in Korea.
In 1969 he received his M.F.A. from Syracuse University, New York. Shimomura began teaching at the University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS in 1969. He has had over 150 solo exhibitions of paintings and prints, as well as pre sented his experimental theater pieces at such venues as the Franklin Furnace, New York City, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, and The Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. He is the recipient of more than 30 grants, of which 4 are National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships in Painting and Performance Art.
In the fall of 1990, Shimomura held an appointment as the Dayton Hudson Distinguished Visiting Professor at Carleton College, Northfield, Minnesota. Shimomura has been a visiting artist and lectured on his work at more than 200 universities, art schools, and museums across the country. In 2002 he received the College Art Associ ation Distinguished Body of Work Award. The following year, he delivered the keynote address at the 91st annual meeting of CAA in New York City. In 2003 he was a recipient of the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painting Award. In 2006, he was accorded the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the School of Arts & Sciences, University of Wash ington, Seattle, and five years later was one of 50 alumni to be presented with the “150th Anniversary Timeless Award”. A past winner of the Kansas Governor’s Arts Award, in 2008, he was designated the first Kansas Master Artist and the same year was honored by the Asian American Arts Alliance, N.Y.C. as “Exceptional People in Fashion, Food & the Arts.” In 2011 Shimomura was designated a United States Artist. The next year he delivered the commencement address to Garfield High School, Seattle, his alma mater, then elected to the school’s Hall of Fame. In 2018 he was designated a Distinguished Minority Graduate at the University of Washington.
During his teaching career at the University of Kansas he was the first faculty member ever to be designated a University Distinguished Professor (1994), receive the Higuchi Research Prize (1998) and the Chancellor’s Club Career Teaching Award (2002). In 2004 he retired from teaching and started the Shimomura Faculty Research Support Fund, an endowment to foster faculty research in the Department of Art.
Shimomura is in the permanent collections of over 125 museums nationwide including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, Los Angeles County Museum, Museum of American Art, and the Na tional Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.
He was awarded with an Honorary Doctorate of the Arts degree from The University of Kansas, Spring of 2020.
2004 Baltimore Ave. Kansas City, MO 64108 816.221.2626 sherryleedy.com