Japanese American National Museum
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Chris Komai - - 213-830-5648


Los Angeles

Allen Say’s Journey: The Art and Words of a Children’s Book Author, the first retrospective exhibition of the art of award-winning children’s book author and illustrator Allen Say, will open on Friday, July 28 at the Japanese American National Museum. This comprehensive survey dedicated to the art of Allen Say will feature fifty-five original watercolor paintings and pen-and-ink drawings, including works from Say’s Caldecott award-winning book Grandfather’s Journey, and will preview paintings from his newest book, The Sign Painter, due for release this fall. The exhibition will run through February 11, 2001 and will be presented in the Manabi and Sumi Hirasaki Family Theater Gallery in the Museum’s Historic Building.

Represented in the unique medium of the children’s book, Say presents art that is highly accessible to diverse audiences. The amalgamation of simple prose, complex themes, and exquisite illustrations provides a glimpse into this artist’s own life and journey reflected through artistic expression. Core to this exhibition is the belief that Say’s early life plays an integral part in the artist and author we see today. Essentially, one cannot look at Say’s work without glimpsing into an artist’s life and journey, cite co-curators Kaleigh Komatsu and Maria Kwong.

Born in Yokohama, Japan, Allen Say began his art training in both Japanese and Western styles before immigrating to the United States as a teenager. Following a successful career in commercial photography, Say returned to his first love: drawing and painting. From memories of his home in Japan, family photographs and experiences of his life in America, Say transforms and interprets these images into real-life experiences for both young and older audiences.

In addition to the 55 drawings and paintings, Allen Say’s Journey highlights preparatory drawings and sketches, as well as photographs and artifacts which explore creative sources and the artistic process essential to this artist. Presented in the exhibition will be works from: Allison, Bicycle Man, Boy of the Three Year Nap, Dr. Smith’s Safari, El Chino, Emma’s Rug, Feast of Lanterns, Grandfather’s Journey, How My Parents Learned to Eat, Lost Lake, Lucky Yak River Dream, The Sign Painter, Stranger in the Mirror, Tea with Milk, Tree of Cranes, and Under the Cherry Tree.

Say is best known for his children’s books, combining elegant watercolors and powerful stories, which throughout his career have garnered him critical acclaim and numerous awards. Say has been recognized by the Boston Globe, American Library Association, and received two Newbery Caldecott Medals, one for The Boy of the Three-Year Nap and in 1993 for Grandfather’s Journey. Beginning in 1988 with the book A River Dream, Say began writing and illustrating his own works exclusively.

In a review of Say’s 1991 book Tree of Cranes, The New York Times wrote, “The simplicity and the complexity are contained in each other, so that the satisfaction yielded at the end of the first reading and gazing (for the pictures here enrapture) reverberates with the promise of what is sensed though not yet understood.” In another review of Grandfather’s Journey, one critic observed, “As in the best children’s books, the plain understated words have the intensity of poetry. The watercolor paintings frame so much story and emotion that they break your heart.”

For additional information on the exhibition, visitors to the Museum can refer to the Hirasaki National Resource Center in the Pavilion.

Allen Say’s Journey: The Art and Words of a Children’s Book Author opens to the public July 28, 2000 at the Japanese American National Museum, located at 369 East First Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012. For more information about this exhibition, call 213.625.0414. Museum hours are Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Thursday: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Metered Street parking and public parking lots are conveniently located near the Museum for a nominal fee.



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