Thursday, August 30, 2018


Several years ago on a trip to Japan our tour stopped at this incredible museum that contained only the work of Itchiku Kubo. This man made it his life's work to perfect the ancient art of the fragile dyed silks of the 16th century. They used stitch-resist dyeing (shibori), ink drawings, embroidery, metallic leaf and complex layering of colors. He used these techniques to make breathtakingly beautiful seven feet tall Kimono. He had this museum built, with a view of Mount Fuji, to house his incredible works. Our tour only allowed us an hour there and I could have spent all day. I bought the big heavy hard covered book and lugged it around the rest of our trip. I get it out once in awhile and look and sigh.

So when I found out that a large selection of his work was at the Munson-Williams-Proctor Art Institute in Utica, New York I knew that I had to go. I grew up in Utica and the museum was there then, but it has since been added to and now has a wonderful modern section. Kimono, the name of the exhibit, was displayed so beautifully and you could get your nose right up to each work and study the stitches and painting.  I took a lot of pictures. Here are just a few. Please click on any one for a bigger view, especially to see some of the stitching.

Another reason for the trip was to see a couple of cousins who still live in the area. I drove up with my sister and her daughter, a 3 1/2 hour trip. It was so good to see them when it was not for a funeral or memorial and we had a grand time reminiscing about our childhoods.

Some of the kimono were displayed together as they were meant to convey a scene. He was very fond of Mount Fuji and it was featured in many of his works.

Detail of above.

Some colors were very vivid. Detail below.

My sister in front of another featuring mountains .

 Cousin Chrissy with my sister and me.

Chrissy with my sister and her daughter, Lauren. I missed getting a picture of my other cousin, Marcella. Sorry, Marcy!

Itchiku Kubota died in his 80's but his work continues on. The museum in Japan has about 20 artists, along with his son, who continue his vision and produce only about one kimono a year. That's how intense the work is. The exhibit in Utica is there  until Sept. 16 so if you are anywhere nearby in upstate New York it is worth the drive. It certainly was for us. We had a lovely dinner that evening, spent the night at the beautifully restored Hotel Utica (now a Hilton Double Tree) and drive home the next morning. A weekend well spent.

You can read more about the exhibit here

I'm also linking up with Off The Wall Friday.


Linda M said...

Oh, how I wish I could see that exhibit, what magnificent work.

LA Paylor said...

almost unbelievable. How beautiful, and the display is awesome. Your group is pretty too!

Nina Marie said...

So glad I gave you a little push to visit Utica. I got all nostalgic entering the city. I thought wow - where has the time gone. My husband has promised to go with me next time and I'm going to keep an eye on what they are exhibiting!!

Gwyned Trefethen said...

First the artwork - I'm in awe. Thank you for sharing it with us.
Second, who knew we had Utica in common. My birth father was born and raised there. I've been there multiple times to learn more about my roots, most recently in May as we drove from Appleton, WI to Cohasset, MA. I wanted to stop by my birth grandmother's grave. If only I had thought art, too. Next time...

Vivien Zepf said...

I'm so glad you brought this incredible work to our attention! AMAZING!!!