Walls of Creativity, Part 2


Continuing with this week’s photo challenge of walls, another great exhibit at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art (VMFA) was that of Japanese woodblock prints.

There were two exhibits – prints from Kawase Hasui (1883 to 1957) and a commission from a more contemporary artist, Miwako Nishizawa.

Sign to the Kawase Hasui Exhibit

Sign to the Kawase Hasui exhibit

Unfortunately, I could not take pictures at the Kawase Hasui exhibit. I watched a film of his process and how the woodblock prints are made, which was interesting. The chisels and knives used to carve out the prints and the precision to get it done was incredible. This process took years to learn and Hasui had two different men who helped him – one that created the woodblock and the other that mixed the dyes and created the print. Hasui’s work is on display on the Internet at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and also at the Hanga Gallery. The Hanga Gallery can be accessed by clicking here, then at the top selecting the artist Hasui, Kawase.  Unfortunately, I cannot provide a direct link.  Note also that these links are good at this time; if they stop working, please let me know.

Miwako does her own woodblock prints, from creating the woodblock to making the print itself. She taught a class at the VMFA and made a short video of the woodblock process:


Miwako was commissioned to do an exhibit “Twelve Views of Virginia“. She spent considerable time traveling around the state, taking sketches, and deciding on how to best convey what Virginia is about. I know many of the places she visited – Skyline Drive, Colonial Williamsburg, Natural Bridge, Hollywood Cemetery, Manassas National Battlefield. Others were not familiar to me, but her work made me feel that I would easily recognize them when I visit.

The display also had information showing her sketches and preliminary work, as well as other information about the exhibit. I don’t recognize the sketches in any of the woodblock prints, so it is likely they were studies she did but ultimately did not use.

One other curious thing that my favorite boy toy and I both noticed was that almost every picture had three stamps on it – two black ones together and a red one on the other side. We’re not sure what they signified but we speculated it could be the stamp of authenticity by the woodblock preparer, the inker, and the artist.

The Kawase Hasui exhibit and Twelve Views of Virginia commission were donated courtesy of VMFA members René Balcer and his wife, Carolyn Hsu-Balcer. Carolyn grew up in Richmond and is active in education and the arts. René is known as a television writer, director and producer. His shows include Law & Order and Star Trek: The Next Generation. I very much enjoyed their generosity in viewing these exhibits and am fortunate to have such beautiful things available to me here in my hometown.

Part 1 of Walls of Creativity is here. To see what others did with this week’s challenge, click here.