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Collections Up Close | 2018
Beginning in 2018, the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center's gallery has become an archival processing center to inventory, catalog, and photograph Oregon Nikkei Endowment's permanent collection. This year is an opportunity to observe collections staff and volunteers at work during the collections process, as well as to view never-before-seen artifacts from our collection that will be displayed in small exhibitions throughout the year.
Baseball and Bowling: Sports Memorabilia from Minidoka and Post-WWII Portland
Arts and Crafts Made in the Japanese American Incarceration Camps
A Soldier’s Story: The Photo
Album of Yukimori Okimoto Who Served during WWII with the 522nd Field Artillery, Liberators of the Subcamps of Dachau
Oregon Nikkei Endowment presents artifacts belonging to Yukimori Harold Okimoto, a sergeant in the Japanese American 522nd Field Artillery Battalion of the 442nd. In 2017 Okimoto's daughter, Debra Whitecotton, donated this collection to Oregon Nikkei Endowment in honor of her father. The highlight of the collection is an album kept by Okimoto of photos taken while he was stationed in Europe during World War II. This display is a rare opportunity to see snapshots of Nisei soldiers in camp and traveling around war-torn Europe.
The 522nd Field Artillery Battalion was comprised of Japanese Americans, many of whom had family members living in incarceration camps back in the States. One of the fastest and most efficient artillery units in Europe, the 522nd played a major role in liberating the Nazi sub camps of Dachau.
Only the Oaks Remain: The Story of Tuna Canyon Detention Station
Only the Oaks Remain tells the true stories of those targeted as dangerous enemy aliens and imprisoned in the Tuna Canyon Detention Station, located in the Tujunga neighborhood of Los Angeles, by the US Department of Justice during World War II. Rare artifacts such as photographs, letters, and diaries bring the experiences of prisoners—who included Japanese, German, and Italian immigrants and extradited Japanese Peruvians—to life.
During the decade before World War II, the US government compiled lists of people they saw as potential risks to national security. When the war began, Presidential Proclamations 2525, 2526, and 2527 authorized the FBI and other agencies to arrest such individuals—mostly spiritual, educational, business, and community leaders from the Japanese, German, and Italian immigrant communities. The government also rounded up Japanese and other individuals who had previously been forcibly removed from Latin America.
Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the US Department of Justice took over a vacated Civilian Conservation Corps camp in the Tujunga neighborhood of Los Angeles and converted it into a detention station by installing twelve-foot-high barbed wire fences, guard posts, and flood lights. The Tuna Canyon Detention Station became one of many initial confinement sites set up by the government. Targeted individuals were quickly arrested in their homes, leaving behind confused and frightened families; most detainees were later sent to Department of Justice or Army internment camps.
Only the Oaks Remain commemorates the history of the Tuna Canyon Detention Station and seeks to educate the public about the violation of civil rights that took place there. The exhibition features photographs, letters, diaries, interviews, declassified government documents, and other rare artifacts that serve to illuminate a largely untold story that goes beyond the more widely-known story of the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans. By taking an unprecedented look at war’s impact on a disparate group of detainees, examining striking similarities as well as differences among them, the exhibition encourages present and future generations to learn from our nation’s mistakes.
Only the Oaks Remain is organized by the Tuna Canyon Detention Station Coalition, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising public awareness about the site’s history. It is working to develop a permanent Tuna Canyon Detention Station Memorial, which will include a plaque and educational posts installed along a walking path lined with mature oak trees, to further educate future generations. For more information, visit www.tunacanyon.org.
This project was organized by the Tuna Canyon Detention Station Coalition; funded, in part, by a grant from the US Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant Program; and sponsored by the San Fernando Valley Japanese American Community Center.
American Obon: Dancing in Joy and Remembrance
The summer obon festival is an eagerly anticipated event within Nikkei communities throughout North America. People come for the memorial observance, camaraderie, cultural performances, and food, but perhaps the most iconic element of the obon festival occurs when participants gather in a circle for the bon odori (obon dancing).
Reverend Yoshio Iwanaga introduced this tradition to numerous Nikkei communities along the West Coast in the 1930s, and now his pioneering activities will be celebrated in an exhibit at the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center.
American Obon will trace the development of bon odori in North America through archival photographs, audio, and rare video footage on loan from the Iwanaga family, dance scholar Linda Akiyama, and Buddhist Churches of America.
In addition, the obon tradition in Portland will be highlighted with photographs from Oregon Nikkei Endowment's Frank C. Hirahara Collection. Curated by Dr. Wynn Kiyama (Portland State University and Portland Taiko), this exhibit will be the first of its kind in North America.
Yellow Terror: The Collections and Paintings Of Roger Shimomura
Oregon Nikkei Endowment is proud to present Yellow Terror: The Collections & Paintings of Roger Shimomura. This powerful exhibition is a rare opportunity to view Roger Shimomura's artwork alongside his extensive collection of memorabilia and objects depicting racial stereotypes of Asians and Asian Americans. The collection, accumulated by the artist over the last twenty years, was recently donated to the archives of the Wing Luke Museum in Seattle.
In his signature Pop Art style, Shimomura's paintings uncover and challenge the role of the media and material culture to define the American norm while establishing the perpetual Other. The exhibition features five of Shimomura’s paintings paired with a selection from his extensive collection of Asian stereotypical ephemera, one of the largest in the nation. His collection, consisting of salt and pepper shakers, Halloween masks, assorted toys and everyday household items, and many other objects largely dating between the early twentieth century and World War II, testifies to the pervasiveness of stereotypes and questions their lasting legacy today.
Our exhibition is a condensed version of the original 2006 exhibition Yellow Terror the Collections and Paintings of Roger Shimomura, co-curated by Roger Shimomura and Dr. Stacey Uradomo-Barre, the Curator for the Art in Public Places Program of the Hawai’i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, and produced by the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience, the nation's only pan-Asian Pacific American museum.
Captain Hardy and the Black Ship Scroll
The Black Ship Scroll in the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center's museum collections is one of only a handful of existing scrolls in the world which depicts the first Perry Expedition to Japan in 1853. Captain Hardy and the Black Ship Scroll shares how Commodore Perry's diplomatic mission opened this long-secluded country to the outside world. It also tells the story of the owner of the scroll, Captain William H. Hardy, a Portland resident who was celebrated nationally as the last surviving member of the expedition. Less than two years before his death, Hardy returned to Japan in 1917 on an eight-month goodwill tour accompanied by members of the Nikkei community from Portland.
Unsettled/Resettled: Seattle's Hunt Hotel
Of the over 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry who were incarcerated in concentration camps during World War II, thousands returned homeless and jobless to their former communities in the Seattle area. Unsettled/Resettled recalls the resettlement experience of the families and individuals who found lodging at the Seattle Japanese Language School from 1945 until 1959, when it operated as a temporary hostel. Learn more about this lost chapter of history through interviews, archival footage, photographs, and original artworks by Aki Sogabe.
Developed by the Japanese Cultural & Community Center of Washington, this traveling exhibit made its Portland debut at the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center before heading to the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles.
During the forced removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans, some 33,000 individual contracts were issued for seasonal farm labor, with many Nikkei working in the sugar beet industry. Uprooted: Japanese American Farm Labor Camps During World War II introduces their story. The exhibit features a selection of images from federal photographer Russell Lee's documentation of Japanese American farm labor camps near the towns of Nyssa, Oregon, and Rupert, Shelley, and Twin Falls in Idaho. Visitors will learn about the farm labor camps through Lee's photographs, interpretative text panels, and a short documentary film featuring firsthand accounts about life in the camps.
In this all new traveling exhibit, historic images shot in 1942 by War Relocation Authority staff photographers Dorothea Lange, Tom Parker, and others are juxtaposed with contemporary images of the same individuals taken by Sacramento Bee photojournalist Paul Kitagaki, Jr. Please join us for this visual exploration of the Japanese concept of gambatte, or to triumph over adversity, and discover the ways in which multiple generations of Japanese Americans persevered through their incarceration during World War II.
This exhibit was brought to the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center thanks to the Tanforan Assembly Center Memorial Committee and the Contra Costa Japanese American Citizens League. Additional support has been provided by a grant from the US Department of the Interior, National Parks Service, Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant Program.
In closets and attics across America, many people discover artifacts from the Great Pacific War. These are "battlefield souvenirs" that were carried home by returning veterans seventy years ago during World War II.
Some artifacts, like rifles, helmets and bayonets, were issued by the Japanese government. Other artifacts came directly from the family and contain the signatures of parents, relatives, wives and loved ones.
In many cases these personal items are the only remaining trace in existence of that person who is still listed as "missing in action."
This leads to a perfectly valid question: "What are these items?" Are they legitimate souvenirs? Are they precious family heirlooms? Or are these hand-made and beautifully adorned items a form of Japanese art?
The exhibit Yosegaki Hinomaru: Souvenir, Heirloom or Art? will explore and explain each possibility.
Celebrated local photographer Motoya Nakamura has created a body of work by making photographs and videos of sakura (cherry blossom trees) throughout one year at the Japanese American Historical Plaza and Bill of Rights Memorial in Portland's Tom McCall Waterfront Park. The trees, which were a gift from Japan, manifest Japanese American history that is unique to this region and evoke Nakamura's desire to explore the notions of belonging, identity and diaspora—notions with which the artist constantly grapples.
According to Nakamura, "As a resident of the United States and an immigrant from Japan I have lived half my life in each country. My identity has changed as I have assimilated to the new culture. I often feel as though I am a foreigner in this new land while simultaneously feeling like a stranger in the old. The trees embody this change and complexity."
Over a career in photojournalism spanning 17 years, Nakamura's work has been featured in the pages of the Oregonian, Mix Magazine, and other publications. Blending with his background as a photojournalist, his art photography has been exhibited at local museums, colleges, and contemporary art galleries including the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center, Portland Art Museum, Reed College, Newspace Center for Photography, and Disjecta. His photos have also been published in the seminal Communication Arts Photography Annual.
Nakamura will exhibit several photographs at the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center as part of Sakura Sakura. Through these beautifully rendered oversize digital prints, Motoya Nakamura captures the natural beauty and awakens the cultural wonder these trees hold. This exhibition and its public programs are made possible in part through a grant from the Regional Arts & Culture Council.
Before Memories Fade:
When evacuation orders were issued in April of 1942, Kenjiro and Kay Kida, along with their son George, were farming, raising cattle, and growing fruit on seven hundred acres of their family-operated ranch outside of White Salmon, Washington. Classified as "enemy aliens" by their own government, the Kida family had days to pack only what they could carry and report to the Portland Assembly Center.
The Kidas' experience was not unlike those of 120,000 others of Japanese ancestry who were forcibly removed from the West Coast. What made their story unique is that upon evacuation, residents of the town of White Salmon signed a petition attesting to the character of their "good neighbors" and asking that an exception be made of these "loyal citizens."
Both heartbreaking and inspirational, Before Memories Fade gives voice to a family's story that was at risk of being lost forever. Using first-hand materials and community recollections, our all-volunteer exhibit committee has been able to walk in the footsteps of Kenjiro and Kay Kida and their son George. While this branch of the Kida Family ended when George passed away in 1998, the memory of the family continues to be carried in the hearts of their friends and neighbors.
This hands-on, multimedia exhibit analyzes photographs, oral histories, newspaper articles, and other primary resources. As history detectives, our audience of youth and adults alike will be encouraged to discover history for themselves! Visitors will be able to watch videos and view photos of our exhibit committee visiting historic sites, interviewing friends and neighbors of the Kida Family, and uncovering clues that tells us more about the Kidas and the overall Nikkei experience.
We invite you to join us on their journey from immigration, through World War II, to the end of a century. Along the way, find out how the road that led us to the Kidas intersects not just one Japanese American family but the American experience itself.
This exhibition and its public programs are made possible in part through a grant from the Oregon Heritage Commission.
Art Behind Barbed Wire:
Art Behind Barbed Wire is a travelling exhibition from the Japanese Cultural & Community Center of Washington's Northwest Nikkei Museum, featuring arts and crafts from the Pacific Northwest community created by Japanese Americans in World War II incarceration camps. Largely made from scrap and found materials, objects such as carved wooden bird pins, shell brooches, dolls, inlaid furniture, and paintings are a testament to the spirit, strength, and creativity of Japanese Americans who created beauty in the harshest of physical and human conditions. The voices and humanity of those unjustly deprived of their civil liberties are remembered through their art created behind barbed wire.
Capturing a Generation through the Eye of a Lens:
Capturing a Generation through the Eye of a Lens features an extraordinary collection of post-war photographs taken of Portland's Nisei (second generation Japanese Americans), providing a revealing glimpse into their community and lives. Between 1948 and 1954, Frank C. Hirahara, a serious amateur photographer who worked for Bonneville Power Administration, captured hundreds of photographs depicting community picnics, beach outings to the Oregon Coast, teen socials and dances, wedding receptions, and life in the heart of Portland's Japantown. As an active member of the Portland community, Frank served on the Portland Japanese American Citizens League, bowled with the Oregon Nisei Bowling League, and was vice president of the Young Buddhist Association representing the Portland region.
As a member of the Photographic Society of America, Portland Photographic Society and the Oregon Camera Club, where he served on the Board of Directors, Hirahara also took photographs of aspiring local models, Portland's Rose Festival Parade, and was an award-winning photographer in Portland. A native of Yakima Valley, Washington, Frank honed his skills as a young photographer and photo editor of the Heart Mountain High School Tempo Annual while incarcerated during World War II with his family at the Heart Mountain concentration camp in Wyoming.
This locally curated, multimedia exhibition features artifacts on loan from Washington State University's Manuscript and Special Collections and the City of Anaheim Public Library along with a short segment of the documentary film, Witness: The Legacy of Heart Mountain, by Los Angeles ABC7 News Anchor David Ono. The exhibit also shares historic photographs from the Washington State University George and Frank C. Hirahara Collection of Heart Mountain which is considered to be the largest private collection of photos taken in the camp from 1943-45.
Come learn about the man behind the camera and hear the stories his photos have to tell!
Our Humble Heroes:
Our Humble Heroes honors the Nisei, or second generation Japanese Americans, who bravely served their country during World War II. Beginning with the attack on Pearl Harbor to the final occupation of Japan, this exhibit traces the journey of the 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and the Military Intelligence Service. Along the way, Nisei also served in other U.S. Army units such as the Women's Army Corps or aided the war effort as civilians. On the battlefields of Europe and the Pacific, to the incarceration and training camps here on the home front, these courageous men and women fought against suspicion and intolerance to gain the trust and respect of the nation. They are our humble heroes. These are their stories.
Our Humble Heroes has been developed in conjunction with the traveling exhibit American Heroes: World War II Nisei Soldiers and the Congressional Gold Medal, to be displayed at the Oregon History Museum. Presented in partnership with Oregon Nikkei Endowment, American Heroes was on display in Portland August 24 - September 29, 2013. The Congressional Gold Medal was awarded to Japanese American World War II veterans by the United States Congress in recognition of their exceptional service, sacrifice, and loyalty to America, even while many of their parents and other family members were held in internment camps.
American Heroes has been developed by the Smithsonian in collaboration with the National Veterans Network. The national tour is made possible by the support of lead sponsor Cole Chemical and additional support from AARP, Comcast/NBC Universal, Japanese American Veterans Association, Pritzker Military Library, the Shiratsuki Family, Southwest Airlines, and the Spirit Mountain Community Fund. Learn more about this traveling exhibit at www.sites.si.edu.
Congressional Gold Medal on APA Compass
Shadows and Black Rain: Memories, Histories, Places, Bodies
Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center is excited to debut two exhibitions by groundbreaking local contemporary artists. Yukiyo Kawano's Black Rain: Memories, Histories, Places, Bodies and Anna Daedalus and Kerry Davis's Shadows uniquely address the use of atomic weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As we move through the run of these two shows, we look forward to announcing public programs leading into the 68th anniversary commemorating this unforgettable tragedy.
Shadows, by Anna Daedalus and Kerry Davis, features life-size prints of anonymous silhouettes, or shadows, created by the Shadow Box, a memory instrument built to create images that evoke the shadows left by victims who were vaporized by the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Shadows is supported in part by a project grant from the Regional Arts & Culture Council. Learn more about the artists at annadaedalus.com and at kerrydavisphotography.com.
Black Rain features the artwork of Yukiyo Kawano, a Portland resident and a third generation hibakusha (nuclear bomb survivor), whose installation pieces and performance art reflects the lasting attitudes towards the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Learn more about Yukiyo Kawano at yukiyokawano.com.
Coming Home: Voices of Return and Resettlement 1945-1965
Coming Home: Voices of Return and Resettlement, 1945-1965 is a locally curated exhibit that traces the reestablishment of the Japanese American community in Oregon after World War II and examines the injustices of war-time relocation. The Coming Home exhibition has been woven from personal stories of return and resettlement by Nikkei — men, women, and children of Japanese descent — forced from their Oregon farms and homes and incarcerated as "enemies" during World War II. Most were American citizens. Many had lost everything. Determination and memories of place, family and community guided them home.
For those that chose to return, what kind of homecoming did they face? How did they reestablish themselves, their community, homes, families and businesses in a still unwelcoming America?
On display from November 17, 2012 through May 12, 2013, the videos, photographs, oral histories, and artifacts gathered for Coming Home feature the unique stories of nine community members. Modeled after a program at the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California, their firsthand accounts speak to the uniqueness of being Japanese and living in Oregon, the establishment of families and livelihoods, the catastrophe of internment, fighting for civil rights and civic engagement.
This exhibition and programming are made possible in part by the Oregon Heritage Commission and Oregon Parks and Recreation Department; Oregon Humanities (OH), a statewide nonprofit organization and an independent affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, which funds OH's grant program; Portland State University, Center for Japanese Studies; University of Oregon; Samuel Naito; and Friends of Oregon Nikkei Endowment.
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