Matsumi Kanemitsu’s “Fish in a Pond” (1949). (Estate of Matsumi Kanemitsu)
Matsumi Kanemitsu’s “Man Near Barbed-Wire Fence, 1947” is on view at The Baltimore Museum of Art. (Estate of Matsumi Kanemitsu)

The Little Tokyo Historical Society’s monthly general meeting will be held on Saturday, June 3, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. in the Tokyo Villa Community Room at 222 S. Central Ave., Los Angeles (between 2nd and 3rd streets).

This meeting will include a presentation that will highlighs the life, career and works created by artist Matsumi (Mike) Kanemitsu, and will introduce the community to several projects that are under way to preserve and disseminate his legacy, including his contributions to the art world as well as to the Japanese American community at large and specifically to Little Tokyo.

Kanemitsu’s life partner, artist Nancy Uyemura, will present a brief video that she created to provide insight into the scope of his work, and a glimpse into the artist’s working methods and philosophy.

Kiana Quan, who is about to receive her master’s degree in library and information studies at UCLA, and curator Genie Guerard will describe their work since January 2023. They are organizing, arranging, and describing the materials that comprise the archives of Kanemitsu, in preparation for their stewardship by a research institution where his legacy can be further explored by historians, artists and human rights activists.

Matsumi Kanemitsu’s “Embrace (Recto): Abstract Composition Study (Verso),” 1950. (Estate of Matsumi Kanemitsu)

Ana Iwataki, Ph.D. candidate at USC, will describe the research and discovery path that has led to her in-progress dissertation that draws from the Kanemitsu archive and the history of 800 Traction, a building in the Arts District that was until recently home to several community artists.

Iwataki and Uyemura received a George and Sakaye Aratani Community Advancement Research and Endowment (CARE) Award grant from UCLA that will focus on Gallery IV, an exhibition space at 800 Traction, where Kanemitsu and Uyemura showed works by emerging and established local and international artists. The project will culminate in an exhibition at LA Artcore and its preparation will include oral history interviews with artists who showed at and were associated with 800 Traction.

These oral histories will also further complement those being conducted by historian Dorothy Wong, who previously received an Aratani CARE grant with LTHS to conduct research on Japanese Americans at 800 Traction.

Matsumi Kanemitsu’s “Curled Up Dog” (1952). (Estate of Matsumi Kanemitsu)

Through these projects, the participants’ intentions are to document the life and work of one of the most accomplished abstract artists of the 20th century, and how racial discrimination that he and other artists faced in Los Angeles and the U.S. minimized, if not erased, the recognition they were due.

Metered parking is available on 3rd Street. Those who are unable to attend in person can participate via Zoom. For more information, email

For further information about Kanemitsu, see

Kanemitsu’s work can be seen currently in two exhibitions:

“Sam Francis and Japan: Emptiness Overflowing” at LACMA (through July 16):

“Matsumi Kanemitsu: Figure and Fantasy” at the Baltimore Museum of Art (through Oct. 8):

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