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Behind the Glass Eye: Photographs by Toyo Miyatake

April 5 – July 31, 2016, Marion Pelton Gallery

This exhibition brings to the Beach Museum thirty photographs created by Toyo Miyatake (1895-1979), chosen from the archives of the Miyatake Studio by guest curators Hirokazu Kosaka, artistic director of the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center, and the artist’s grandson Alan Miyatake. Toyo Miyatake took up photography soon after moving to the United States from Japan and maintained a successful photography studio in Los Angeles. In the 1920s and 1930s, Miyatake was a member of a group of painters, photographers, and poets that promoted modern art and sponsored exhibitions. His friendship with photographer Edward Weston and the choreographer Michio Ito had significant influence on his art, cultivating his interest in movement and form created in contrasting light and shadow. He made studio portraits of famous Japanese and American personalities, including Michio Ito, artist Yumeji Takeshita, and Nobel Prize winner Thomas Mann. He also covered the 1932 Olympics for the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun. The first half of “Behind the Glass Eye” shows examples from this early period.

Toyo Miyatake, The Boys Behind Barbed-wire, year unknown

Miyatake’s artistic endeavors were interrupted when he and his family were forced to move into the Manzanar War Relocation Center in 1942, following the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941. The artist smuggled a film holder and lens into Manzanar, a potentially dangerous act as cameras were prohibited in the camps. Eventually, he was able to persuade the administration to let him establish a photography studio in the camp, which served the community by recording graduations, births, weddings, and daily life. Miyatake and his staff, for example, were responsible for most of the photography for the high school yearbook. The second half of the exhibition shows Miyatake’s work from this time.

After being released, Miyatake returned to Los Angeles and reestablished his photography studio. His son recounted that he insisted on going to work every morning until two weeks before his death in 1979. Miyatake is still remembered in Little Tokyo as the photographic chronicler of over fifty years of Japanese American life, unrivalled in his contribution to the documentation of this segment of the American population.

The opening of the two shows will be celebrated by a brief conversation between Hirokazu Kosaka and Alan Miyatake, co-curators of “Behind the Glass Eye,” followed by an arrow ceremony performed by Mr. Kosaka, a master of Japanese archery (kyudo), in honor of the two feature artists. In his final years, Toyo Miyatake enjoyed watching Mr. Kosaka practice archery. The arrow ceremony will be accompanied by a performance on piano of Gabriel Fauré’s Pavane Op.50 by K-State junior Amanda Krieg.  This piece links to Michio Ito, who had choreographed a dance to the piece.  Ito worked with Toyo Miyatake on photographs exploring movement, light, and shadow. There will also be a piano performance by musicology graduate student Brian Anderson, of Rain Tree Sketch II by Toru Takemitsu. Takemitsu knew Miyatake, Ito, and Kosaka, and he, too, was deeply affected by World War II and its aftermath. The opening reception will highlight the artistic and social connections found among some of the most important Japanese American artists of the modern era.

For more information, please visit the exhibition page on our website.

Related Programs

All programs take place at the Beach Museum of Art and are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted.

Thursday, April 7, 5 p.m.
Opening Reception for “Behind the Glass Eye: Photographs by Toyo Miyatake” and “Minidoka on My Mind: Paintings and Prints by Roger Shimomura”

Guest curators of “Behind the Glass Eye,” Hirokazu Kosaka and Alan Miyatake, will make brief remarks, and Kosaka, a master of Japanese archery, or kyudo, will perform an arrow ceremony in honor of all those affected by the Alien Registration Act of 1940. Musical performances highlighting the artistic and social connections among American artists affected by World War II and its aftermath will be offered.

Saturday, April 9, 2016, 2 p.m., Leadership Studies Building, Town Hall (Room 114)
You People: Mistrust of the Other

Live Stream

Inspired by the exhibitions “Behind the Glass Eye” and “Minidoka on My Mind,” this forum offers an opportunity to unpack moments in American history when entire ethnic groups were marginalized and classified as inferior and/or dangerous by the mainstream population. Join a panel of scholars and artists for an informed discussion of the lessons we can learn from history, and participate in a dialogue about racial profiling and stereotyping, then and now. Panelists include Roger Shimomura, artist and University of Kansas professor emeritus; Dr. Steven Dandaneau, vice provost for undergraduate studies, Kansas State University; and Hirokazu Kosaka, guest curator of “Behind the Glass Eye.” Moderated by Dr. Zelia Wiley, interim associate provost for diversity, Kansas State University.

Thursday, April 14, 5:30 p.m. , Pelton Gallery
Saxophone Expressions: An Exploration of Musical Turmoil

Thursday, April 21, 5:30 p.m., Pelton Gallery
Hip Hop Dance Workshop
Workshop fee $5.00.  Advance registration required, call 785-532-7718 or email beachart@k-state.edu.
Optional Post-Workshop Photo Shoot, 7-8 p.m.

Thursday, May 5, 5:30 p.m., UMB Theater
Film Screening: The Cats of Mirikitani (2006), with director Linda Hattendorf

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