In this first entry to CultureSnob, artist/photographer and Friend of Snob, Jada Prather checks out the new "Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens" art show featuring the work of Brooklyn-based, biracial Japanese-European artist Tim Okamura. A mash of photo-realism meets graffitti, street-art, his paintings add a goddess-like mythological granduer to everyday black women and other urbanites.
Check out other photos from the event in the slideshow and the story below.
Story By Jada Prather
I enjoy viewing the work of gifted artists. I especially like seeing work that celebrates the human form in general -- especially female beauty -- while displaying an artist's ability to capture a moment in time. It's a rare skill to be able to encapsulate a mood within the confines of a canvas, board, paper, clay, stone, or a myriad of other mediums. But one such artist who has mastered this would be Mr. Tim Okamura.
I was invited to a gallery exhibition showcasing his work Thursday, Sept. 8th, and to say I was impressed would be an understatement. The exhibition entitled, "Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens" is a testament to the inherent beauty of women of color, as well as a celebration of their strength and individuality. The work features muses of Mr. Okamura's that inhabit the urban landscapes of the boroughs suggested in the title, although I'm sure there was a play on words to some extent with the Queens aspect of the name.
It was very obvious that the women in the paintings all displayed the quiet confidence and the easy poise of someone used to having the attention of others. The level of detail present in each of these "single panel glimpses" into the lives of these urban orchids was astounding to observe, making me feel as if I was viewing women that were an integral part of the urban landscape they inhabited, yet somehow also larger than that environment, making them unconfined by it as well. The looks in many of their eyes suggested they had been privy to information and harsh truths at an early age that imbued them with a strength that belies their delicate forms.
There were a few attributes that many of the larger paintings shared, such as the use of crowns, hand-gestures, bees, Kanji lettering, graffiti, Egyptian hieroglyphs and sign language symbols, and possibly my favorite thing is how on many paintings he seemed to go from virtual photo-realism, to less detail in the outer area, and bottom of the work, sometimes even creating a the look of the paint bleeding, or streaking, then back to photo-realistic again. It gave it a surreal quality, to the gritty reality represented by the background filled with brick walls, rusty fire-escapes, sidewalks, and streets. The textures looked so natural, you almost wanted to touch a queens “royal mane,” but the look she was shooting you in the painting made you realize that may be un-wise unless invited.
Okamura's "Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens" show is currently on display at Lyons Wier Gallery on West 21st St. in New York City through October 8th, Tuesday - Saturday, 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. or by appointment. For more information contact the gallery at (212) 242-6220. For more of Okamura's work, click here.
Next time on CultureSnob: The Mountaintop, a new Broadyway play about slain civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr. starring Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett, opening this fall.
Jada Prather is a Bronx-based artist and photographer. Learn more about him here.
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