By J.K. YAMAMOTO, Rafu Staff Writer
“The Price Collection: The Buddha and the Floating World” opened Sept. 18 at the George J. Doizaki Gallery of the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center in Little Tokyo.
World-renowned art collectors Etsuko and Joe Price were on hand as visitors viewed silk scroll paintings depicting everyday life in the Edo period (1600-1868) and divine images from the Buddhist world. The exhibition also features flower arrangements by the Ikenobo, Ohara-Ryu and Sogetsu schools.
Items from the Price Collection, including screens and fan-format paintings, have been displayed at many venues, from the Tokyo National Museum to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Bowers Museum. Joe Price has said, “The works are so coupled with the heart of nature that they can appeal to people from all walks of life — no scholarly explanations needed.”
The opening reception began with a Buddhist ceremony in which Rev. Yukinori Gyokei Yokoyama of Long Beach Buddhist Church, Rinban William Briones of Nishi Hongwanji and Rev. Nobuko Miyoshi of Higashi Honganji chanted while Jose Secido of the Ikenobo School, with Izumi Minamitani as attendant, created an ikebana arrangement just for the occasion.
JACCC Board Chair George Tanaka said, “Those of you who follow the art world understand the reverence we have for the Price Collection. It’s almost a baffling thought that the JACCC — now two years running — we have the honor of displaying your works of art. I can see that it’s not only artistic or cultural, it’s also a spiritual journey for us … I cannot thank the Prices enough for allowing us to be the part-time shepherds of your treasure to help us to allow the greater Los Angeles community to enjoy it.”
JACCC Artistic Director Hirokazu Kosaka noted that the opening coincided with the Buddhist observance of Ohigan (autumnal equinox), which signifies reaching nirvana or enlightenment. Thanking the Buddhist priests for participating on a Sunday despite their busy schedules, he said, “We are very lucky to have this perfect timing for Ohigan.”
Kosaka said that when he looked at scrolls in preparation for the exhibition, he was astonished by their pristine condition. “In temples we burn incense, we burn candles … so most artwork is just darkened by soot. But look at this — like it was painted yesterday … I was in tears.”
To protect these centuries-old works, they are kept in a climate-controlled room and no flash photography is allowed.
The exhibition, which is made possible by grants from the Shin’enkan Foundation, the Northern California-based Henri and Tomoye Takahashi Charitable Foundation, and the Japan Business Association of Southern California, is on view until Oct. 16. Free admission. Gallery hours: Wednesday through Sunday, 12 to 4 p.m.; closed Monday and Tuesday. JACCC is located at 244 S. San Pedro St. in Little Tokyo. For more information, call (213) 628-2725 or visit www.jaccc.org.
Photos by J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo