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Roger Shimomura American Muse


Roger Shimomura American Muse April 5th - May 25th, 2019

SHERRY LEEDY CONTEMPORARY ART 2004 Baltimore Ave. Kansas City, MO 64108 816.221.2626 sherryleedy.com Catalog design by: Allison King


American Muse April 5th - May 25th, 2019

The paintings of Roger Shimomura pack a visual knockout punch. They are loaded with imagery ranging from pure Pop Americana to cringe-worthy racial stereotypes, visual puns, humor and barbed wire. Shimomura’s complex pairing of influences is masterfully composed and depicted in bold flat color and confident line. The thought provoking content is filtered through the lens of his personal experience as an American of Japanese heritage. As a child, Shimomura was imprisoned, along with his family, in Minidoka (Idaho), one of ten concentration camps for Japanese Americans during WWII. The long lasting impact of that experience and the subsequent reckoning with what it means to be an American have provoked and sustained Shimomura over his career, spanning more than fifty years. Shimomura’s current exhibition American Muse at Sherry Leedy Contemporary Art presents more than a 100 paintings from three series, The Great American Muse, Minidoka and Beyond, and Muslims and More. These three series of paintings offers visual stories of our time and serve as a metaphor for the anxiety and threat posed by current events. The paintings sound a warning and remind us not to repeat past mistakes. If paintings can effect social change, then these are the paintings that lead the way. Roger Shimomura is in the permanent collections of over 125 museums nation wide including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, Museum of American Art, National Portrait Gallery, LA County Museum and American Art Museum, Smithsonian. His personal papers and letters are being collected by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.

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Muslims and More

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Muslims and More Series, 12” x 12”, acrylic on canvas

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Muslims and More Series, 12” x 12”, acrylic on canvas

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Muslims and More Series, 12” x 12”, acrylic on canvas

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Muslims and More Series, 12” x 12”, acrylic on canvas

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Muslims and More Series, 12” x 12”, acrylic on canvas

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Muslims and More Series, 12” x 12”, acrylic on canvas

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Muslims and More Series, 12” x 12”, acrylic on canvas

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Muslims and More Series, 12” x 12”, acrylic on canvas

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Muslims and More Series, 12” x 12”, acrylic on canvas

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Muslims and More Series, 12” x 12”, acrylic on canvas

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Muslims and More Series, 12” x 12”, acrylic on canvas

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Muslims and More Series, 12” x 12”, acrylic on canvas

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Muslims and More Series, 12” x 12”, acrylic on canvas

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Muslims and More Series, 12” x 12”, acrylic on canvas

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Gallery installtion: Muslims and More Photo credit: E.G. Schempf 19


Great American Muse

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Great American Muse Series, 24” x 24”, acrylic on canvas

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Great American Muse Series, 24” x 24”, acrylic on canvas

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Great American Muse Series, 24” x 24”, acrylic on canvas

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Great American Muse Series, 24” x 24”, acrylic on canvas

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Great American Muse Series, 24” x 24”, acrylic on canvas

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Great American Muse Series, 24” x 24”, acrylic on canvas

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Great American Muse Series, 24” x 24”, acrylic on canvas

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Great American Muse Series, 24” x 24”, acrylic on canvas

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Great American Muse Series, 24” x 24”, acrylic on canvas

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Great American Muse Series, 24” x 24”, acrylic on canvas

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Great American Muse Series, 24” x 24”, acrylic on canvas

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Great American Muse Series, 24” x 24”, acrylic on canvas

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Great American Muse Series, 24” x 24”, acrylic on canvas

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Great American Muse Series, 24” x 24”, acrylic on canvas

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Great American Muse Series, 24” x 24”, acrylic on canvas

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Great American Muse Series, 24” x 24”, acrylic on canvas

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Great American Muse Series, 24” x 24”, acrylic on canvas

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Great American Muse Series, 24” x 24”, acrylic on canvas

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Gallery installation: Great American Muse Photo credit: E.G. Schempf 39


Minidoka and Beyond

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Patriot

Stacks

Minidoka and Beyond Series, 24” x 24”, acrylic on canvas

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The Don

The Enemy

Minidoka and Beyond Series, 24” x 24”, acrylic on canvas

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Infamy Repeated

Dancing Shoes

Minidoka and Beyond Series, 24” x 24”, acrylic on canvas

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Bad Boy

Lieutenant

Minidoka and Beyond Series, 24” x 24”, acrylic on canvas

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2 Prisoners

Enemy

Minidoka and Beyond Series, 24” x 24”, acrylic on canvas

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Enemy Alien #5

Minidoka and Beyond Series, 24” x 24”, acrylic on canvas

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The Enemy #2

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Minidoka and Beyond Series, 24” x 24”, acrylic on canvas

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Mouse

Chesed Shel Emeth

Minidoka and Beyond Series, 24” x 24”, acrylic on canvas

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In Or Out

Enola Gay

Minidoka and Beyond Series, 24” x 24”, acrylic on canvas

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Patriot #2

Practice

Minidoka and Beyond Series, 24” x 24”, acrylic on canvas

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Fleetline

Toyo and Andy

Minidoka and Beyond Series, 24” x 24”, acrylic on canvas

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Wonder Woman

Minidoka and Beyond Series, 24” x 24”, acrylic on canvas

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Gallery installation: Minidoka and Beyond Photo credit: E.G. Schempf 53


Artist Statement A few years ago, my wife gave me a book on artist Tom Wesselmann inviting me to re-examine his paintings, and collages. Even though I was quite familiar with Wesselmann’s work, I hadn’t really focused on his “Great American Nude” series. As I investigated the series, I began to understand that these compositions were based on fixed combinations of images and locales, for example a female figure in a bath or in a kitchen with groceries, art, and appliances. Upon this realization, I began to juxtapose similar images that I had used in my own work, through the years, images that commonly have ethnic connotations such as woodblock prints, World War II, a samurai, or a geisha. The resulting series, “The Great American Muse,” led me to conclude that the level of interpretation rose exponentially, as each additional component brought its own history and associations, creating endless possibilities for dialogue and debate. After two years and 50 paintings in this series, I began to add key personalities, symbolic objects and locations that enrich the interpretation of these paintings. While most of the situations are located in the camp environs, they are frequently coupled with incongruous objects and personas that attempt to expand individual interpretations of the work. This cluster of approximately 30 paintings, all 24 x 24 inches, is titled “Minidoka and Beyond”. The last series, titled “Muslims and More”, emerged as I moved to a smaller format (12 x 12 inches), making possible a rapid shift from one idea to the next. To date there are over 50 paintings in this series that mix and match contentious subjects such as the President, Muslims, comic superheroes and other topics. Roger Shimomura 54


SHERRY LEEDY CONTEMPORAY ART 2004 Baltimore Ave. Kansas City, MO 64108 816.221.2626 | sherryleedy.com

Profile for Sherry Leedy Contemporary Art

Roger Shimomura "American Muse" 2019