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December 12, 2017

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Library News Release

Release Date: 09/10/2015

Images By 1920s-Era Seattle Photographer Frank Kunishige On Display at The Seattle Public Library Sept. 24-Dec. 15, 2015

"Femininity 1941, ca. 1926" by Frank Kunishige

The Seattle Public Library will hold its first modern-day solo exhibition of images by 1920s-era photographer Frank Kunishige from Sept. 24 to Dec. 15 at the Central Library, 1000 Fourth Ave., in the Level 8 Gallery.

 

The exhibition, "Frank Kunishige at The Seattle Public Library," includes a selection of prints that represent the full range of his artistic photographs, including flowers, landscapes, nudes and cityscapes.

 

About 30 prints will be on display but all 56 images in the Frank Kunishige Photo Collection will be available online for the public to view.

 

Kunishige was a well-known local Pictorialist photographer who co-founded the Seattle Camera Club in 1924. Kunishige's work was donated to the Library in 1961 by his widow, Gin, who later in life married fellow Seattle Camera Club member Iwao Matsushita. This is the first time the images have been shown in a solo exhibit in Seattle since Kunishige's death in 1960.

 

The exhibition in the Level 8 Gallery is the first in a series called "Discover Special Collections," which will spotlight some of the unique and historically significant materials collected and maintained by the Special Collections librarians at the Central Library.

 

Guest curator Elizabeth Brown, former chief curator for the Henry Art Gallery, is selecting and presenting about 30 of Kunishige's images to display. She also is working with the Library on a public program to provide an overview of the photographer's work and the Seattle Camera Club, as well as conduct a guided tour of the exhibit.

 

"I was delighted to work with these beautiful photographs, which provide a marvelous first glimpse of the treasures inside the Library's Special Collections," Brown said. "The photographs display the full range of the work that won Frank Kunishige international acclaim and awards."

 

The photographs encompass a range of genres - still lifes, landscapes and cityscapes, figure studies, and mythological scenes - as well as styles, from elegiac to modernist.

 

Pictorialism was a painterly style of photography that took hold in the late 19th century and became an international phenomenon in the early 20th century. Out of the movement, "camera clubs" popped up in cities across the globe where amateur and sometimes professional photographers could share techniques and ideas, as well as their deep love of the medium.

 

The Seattle Camera Club was one of the most integrated camera clubs in the world, both in terms of race and gender. Its founders, including Kunishige, were first- and second-generation Japanese immigrants to America and they wanted to be as inclusive as possible. Kunishige and his wife, along with the other co-founders of the camera club, were interned in Minidoka, Idaho, during World War II.

 

"The Kunishige photo collection is a terrific example of the hidden gems we care for here," said Jodee Fenton, managing librarian of Special Collections. "This exhibition is the first step in highlighting our collection in a beautifully curated way and it's a wonderful opportunity to show off our Level 8 Gallery space that will house many other exciting treasures in the very near future."

 

Special Collections offers materials in person at the Central Library and online at www.spl.org/specialcollections and includes the Aviation History Collection, the Genealogy Collection, the Seattle Collection and the Albert Balch Autograph Collection.

 

The Level 8 Gallery will host Shakespeare's First Folio in spring 2016 as part of the Folger Shakespeare Library's national tour of one of the world's most treasured books. Special Collections librarians will be working to bring more exhibits to the space as part of its "Discover Special Collections" series later in 2016.

 

For more information, call the Library at 206-386-4636 or Ask a Librarian.


For more information contact:

Andra Addison, communications director
206-386-4103


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