Flomenhaft Gallery is proud to exhibit recent works by Roger Shimomura, in a show entitled Minidoka on my Mind.
In an exciting body of work, that melds pop art with a derivation of ukiyo-e prints, Roger Shimomura depicts snatches of memories from the years he was incarcerated in an internment camp. This was one of the ugliest events in American history. Roger is a provocative artist determined never to let us forget this terrible event in his and our history. Born in Seattle, he was two years old when he entered the camp with his parents and relatives, torn from their homes, businesses, places of worship and friends. Minidoka was one of ten hostile desert relocation centers and the only one in Idaho. When Japan attacked the U.S. in the Pacific and World War II started, every Japanese American family, most of them American citizens, was thought of as suspect, spies and dangers to our country no matter how long they lived in the U.S. or how devoted they were to our country. They were rounded up, some 120,000 people, and sent to one of the many camps to spend the war years. Roger was five when the Shimomura’s were permitted to return to Seattle.
A great influence on Roger that has always helped to jar his memory was his grandmother, Toku, whose diaries were kept meticulously for fifty-six years, from the day she left Japan to come to America until she died. He says that the images are also scraped from the linings of his mind, not necessarily what he remembered specifically. When he thinks of the camp certain images come to mind. The title of the exhibition is taken from a painting that depicts a child painting with barbed wire in the background. We immediately think of Roger, the budding child artist. Desert Gardens also appear through the doorway, with barbed wire as a sharp backdrop. Not a J.A. (Japanese American) depicts a young baseball player, so American yet locked behind the cruel barriers. The lithograph American Guardian is very poignant: a soldier watches the camp barracks from a spot above with binoculars and machine gun ready for trouble. Night Watch, an acrylic painting on canvas, allows us to imagine family life within the lit up quarters.