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Met Pick: Roger Shimomura Lecture

The local pop art icon covers 40 years of work in 60 minutes. That’s skill.

By Laura Dannen March 18, 2010

Roger Shimomura, Astro Boy, 2004, acrylic on canvas, 36 × 48 inches, courtesy Greg Kucera Gallery.

Last chance to get tickets to tonight’s talk at Wing Luke Museum by local artist Roger Shimomura, who satirizes Asian stereotypes and American culture in his pop art-style paintings. Over the last 40 years, Shimomura, a third-generation Japanese American and Seattle native, has developed a style that can best be described as cathartic, tackling personal issues—the internment of his family during World War II, and diary entries by his grandmother—with cartoon imagery in bright, bold acrylics. He mocks Asian stereotypes from the 1940s by exaggerating the eyes (extra long) and skin tone (jaundice yellow) of his subjects, and often layers a self-portrait over cartoon characters (see Astro Boy, above, a send-up of the 1950s Japanese manga superhero). “I was strangely attracted to the idea of creating art out of something that I hate,” he said at the October opening of his exhibit at Wing Luke: Yellow Terror: The Collections and Paintings of Roger Shimomura.

But it’s not all scathing. Walt Disney’s Mickey and Minnie make an appearance in his paintings; so does Dr Seuss’s Cat in the Hat, each emblematic of Shimomura’s childhood in America, and sharing canvas space with a representative of his heritage. Find out how Shimomura’s work was received when he lived in the heart of America—teaching at the University of Kansas, Lawrence, from 1969 till 2004. The lecture starts at 7pm. Call 206-623-5124 to purchase tickets ($15).

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