ARTS + ENTERTAINMENT

Granddaughter of Chiura Obata to present lecture on artist’s work in Moab

Mar 12, 2024, 10:22 AM | Updated: 10:33 am

Chiura Obata, "Topaz War Relocation Center by Moonlight," 1943, watercolor, gift of the Estate of C...

Chiura Obata, "Topaz War Relocation Center by Moonlight," 1943, watercolor, gift of the Estate of Chiura Obata, from the Permanent Collection of the Utah Museum of Fine Arts.

MOAB, Utah — Kimi Hill will present a lecture on the art of Chiura Obata, a renowned artist, at the Moab Museum on March 28. 

Hill is the granddaughter of Obata. According to a press release from the Moab Museum, she has presented similar lectures for over 30 years.

Additionally, she has worked as a consultant on several books and exhibitions featuring Obata’s work. 

The lecture will take place at 7 p.m. on March 28. Following Hill’s presentation, the museum will screen Obata’s Yosemite, a film made by Adam Prieto and produced by the Yosemite Conservancy and the National Park Service. 

The life and work of Chiura Obata

According to the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Obata was one of “the most significant” Japanese American artists of the 20th century.

According to the Denver Art Museum, Obata trained in traditional and modern styles. The artist became known for his paintings and sketches of the American West. 

Chiura Obata, “Upper Lyell Fork,” woodcut. Purchased with funds from The William H. and Wilma T. Gibson Endowment, from the Permanent Collection of the Utah Museum of Fine Arts.

Obata emigrated from Japan, arriving in San Francisco, California in 1903. 

He became a prominent figure in the California art community, serving as an art professor at the University of California Berkeley. 

Per the Smithsonian, Obata’s tenure at UC Berkeley was interrupted in 1942. He and his family were forced to relocate to Tanforan, similarly to thousands of other Japanese Americans when Executive Order 9066 was signed.

While at Tanforan, Obata founded an art school at Tanforan. Following relocation to the Topaz Internment Camp in Millard County, Utah, Obata re-established the art school, with permission from administrators. 

Following their release from Topaz, Obata and his family went to St. Louis, Missouri, where his son was living. In St. Louis, Obata worked for a commercial art company for “about two years,” per the Smithsonian. 

After Executive Order 9066 was lifted, Obata was reinstated as a professor at UC Berkeley. He continued to teach there until his retirement in 1954. 

Following his retirement from teaching, Obata and his wife began making trips to Japan, leading art tours for American travelers. 

Viewing Obata’s works in Utah

The Utah Museum of Fine Arts said it acquired 35 of Obata’s works in 2021. The new works are in the museum’s permanent collection. 

The Moab Museum press release said the UMFA will present an exhibit featuring Obata’s work. Chiura Obata: Layer by Layer will open on March 23. More information can be found on the UMFA website

Related: Utah Cultural Celebration Center gallery to be named after Spanish artist Pilar Pobil

 

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Granddaughter of Chiura Obata to present lecture on artist’s work in Moab