Saturday, July 12, 2008

Solitude, by Naoko Matsubara

Japanese Canadian printmaker Naoko Matsubara (b. 1937) based the eleven black and white and color woodcuts of her portfolio, Solitude, on an chapter of the same name from Henry David Thoreau's, Walden (1854) which the famous naturalist and transcendentalist wrote during his years living alone on the shore of Walden Pond.  I am so excited to have the complete suite of these prints for sale and on exhibit in my gallery this summer.  Like Matsubara, who made a number of trips to Walden Pond as she designed her print series, I made a pilgrimage to Walden as a young teen with my family, during a summer-long cross country literary tour of the U.S.  As a child, I had readily absorbed my father's enthusiasm (he, a high school English teacher at the time) for the great New England writers and poets and in the ensuing years, I often recalled our excitement as we walked through dried leaves and around trees until we found the foundation stones of Thoreau's original cabin near the shore of Walden Pond.  Fast forward many years, and as I found my way into the field of Japanese prints, I was stuck to learn that someone else (imagine!) had also found a kindred spirit in the words and experiences of Thoreau, and remarkably, had translated her impressions into a set of Japanese prints!  It was as near to finding a message in a bottle as I had ever felt.  My initial excitement was quickly tempered though, when I found out how difficult is was going to be to find a complete folio of the prints.  Thirteen years later, I am thrilled to have this beautiful set -- these images that nearly spring off the page with joyous motion and power and infect us with Matsubara's thoughtful spirit, which has continued to pervade her work these many decades.  Sitting in my own gallery, writing to you about these prints some 20 years after the July day I spent on the edge of Walden Pond, I have to enjoy the moment and the sense that I am tying together two strands of my life. When the prints are sold, (and I encourage you to see the whole suite featured as the Special Exhibit during July and August at I will have been happy to have them for a while and will hope that the next owner will find as much pleasure in them as I have.  

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