Photo of Chuzo Tamotzu by Anne Noggle, n.d.
gelatin silver print
Gift of Louise Tamotzu, 1983
When the museum opened its doors in 1917, the country had recently entered the international conflict now known as World War I. The war weighed heavily on the minds of the museum's supporters. Attorney and major donor Frank Springer quelled concerns that it was not a good time to open an art museum in his opening address, stating that art serves as a reminder of mankind's better nature, making it even more important - not less - in a time of uncertainty and conflict.
The atrocities of World War I gave way to World War II, and again the museum found itself having to defend the importance of an art museum. This time a local artist who had served in both the Japanese and American militaries headed the call. Cognizant that he lived so close to where the Atomic bomb had been developed, in 1953 he organized an exchange of children's art between students of the Santa Fe Public Schools and those in Hiroshima to promote better understanding and goodwill among the nations. The show traveled through New Mexico, stopping here at the art museum as well as venues in Raton, Gallup, Alamogordo, Portales, Lovington and Los Alamos. Decades later that exhibition was continuously cited by the artist and his widow as one of his prouded accomplishments in a career that had many accolades. With the upcoming 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, many institutions are looking back to the World War II era. Interestingly, some of the Japanese children's drawings were donated to Bowdoin College Museum of Art
in Maine and they will be exhibiting them soon.
Chuzo Tamotzu was a Japanese-born painter who lived in New York City before settling in Santa Fe in 1948. His formal education was in political science at Senshu University in Tokyo. He taught himself sumi-e (Japanese ink brush painting) and left Japan in 1914 to further his study of art throughout Asia and Europe. He came to U.S. in 1920 where he befriended several other artists, such as Philip Evergood, Yasuo Kuniyoshi and John Sloan . When Sloan became President of the Society of Independent Artists, Chuzo served on the board. Chuzo was also a founding member of the Artists' Equity.
Chuzo Tamotzu drawing of John Sloan
The Smoker, mid-20th century
ink on paper
Bequest of Melinda Miles Phister, 2010
A critic of the Japanese military, he and fellow Japanese-American artists denounced the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Tamotzu volunteered to serve the U.S. military and was assigned to the Office of Strategic Services (a wartime intelligence agency, precursor to the CIA).
From Roof, 1952
oil on canvas
Gift of Arnold D. Kates, 1965
When Tamotzu moved to Santa Fe he rented John Sloan's former studio. He soon began exhibiting regularly at this museum. Shortly after his death in 1975 the Governor's Gallery at the State Capitol honored him with a solo exhibition. In 1981 we curated a retrospective exhibition held at the Santa Fe Armory for the Arts while the museum was closed for renovation.
Tamotzu's art is held in the collections of the New Mexico Museum of Art in addition to Metropolitan Museum, St. Louis Art Museum, and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden of the Smithsonian.
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