Don't go to Kiki Smith

Parcells Says "No Disrespect", Roger Shimomura, 2008
acrylic on canvas, 20 x 24 "
photo courtesy of Greg Kucera Gallery

The description of Kiki Smith's upcoming lecture at UW Seattle is described on Brown Paper Tickets thusly, "Basically, art is just a way to think," says Smith in her Art:21 segment. "It's like standing in the wind and letting it pull you in whatever direction it wants to go."

It doesn't sell me. I'm tired of artists blowing in the wind. The nonchalance execution and ambiguous content comes off as cowardice. Her work usually looks... well... effortless. Like a high school project that maybe, almost, kind-of might deal with feminism, but not even in a well-rendered manner.

Sailor Moon, Roger Shimomura, 2004
Acrylic on canvas, 36 x 48"

photo courtesy of Greg Kucera Gallery

Instead, I have a better idea for your money. Go see Roger Shimomura at the Wing Luke. His current show Yellow Terror has teeth, and his artist talk, entitled An America Dairy, will too. Instead of standing in the wind, Roger locates an important message and looks for a way to communicate that to a wide range of audiences, including me (a white dude). As a white dude, I still relate more to Roger's themes of prejudice and stereotyping than I can themes of light, texture or any of the other insular "art about art" shows that crowd our museums and galleries.

Housing Discrimination, Roger Shimomura, 2003
acrylic on canvas, 20 x 24 "
photo courtesy of Greg Kucera Gallery

Rarely, do I hear a complaint about Roger's work; except that his work seems "angry". But allow yourself to be innocent, try looking at his work without being defensive. What I've found is that those people who come into a museum defensive leave as defensive. For example: if you're ready to defend to the death that you are not racist, then you will leave feeling attacked for being racist. But you came in with that, Roger just exposed you.

Roger and Janet, Roger Shimomura, 2008
acrylic on canvas, diptych, 14 x 11 " each
photo courtesy of Greg Kucera Gallery

Mixing and Matching #2, Roger Shimomura, 2008
acrylic on canvas, diptych, 14 x 11 " each
photo courtesy of Greg Kucera Gallery

Take it from me, white dude in Chinatown; I live and work here. I've worked with and love both the Wing Luke and the Henry. Few would dispute that the Wing Luke presents on social issues more than the Henry, which presents on... um... light(bulbs)? So if you are going to two artist lectures this month, go to Kiki Smith and Roger Shimamura. But if you are only going to one, make it Roger's.

If you can't make this lecture, contact me personally and I will make sure you at least get in to see Yellow Terror before it closes April 18th.

Make a day of it. Go see Roger's other outstanding show at Greg Kucera Gallery (up through March 27th). When Greg closes his door at 5:30, head up Jackson St. to Sun Bakery and get a banh mi sandwich ($2.50) and tell them Lucas sent you. I'll see you at the Wing Luke at 6:45.

An American Diary
Thursday, March 18th at 7 pm
Tickets are $10 for members, artists and seniors,
$15 for general admission

I know a Japanese, Roger Shimomura, 2003
acrylic on canvas, 20 x 24 "
photo and text courtesy of Greg Kucera Gallery

In 1974, at the opening reception of his solo show at Washburn University in Topeka, Roger gave a slide lecture on his work. A woman sitting in the front row during the lecture asked several questions about his paintings, and then approached Roger after the lecture. She asked him what part of Japan he had said he was from, because she once knew someone who was from that country.