That Old Block Magic

Ask any nerd piss-ant what he knows about Japan and he’ll probably blather on about manga, the island nation’s sadistic game shows, or those Tokyo vending machines that specialize in used celebrity underwear. We don’t deny that a lot of strange things emanate from that cooped-up otherworld, but there are other aspects of Japan that are often overlooked. Take the traditional art of woodblock printing and its modern derivatives as a case in point.

The combined works of Itow Takumi and Matthew Messmer — currently on display at Lords of Art Town Studio and Gallery — take on both the traditional and the contemporary forces at play in Japan. Their “Tokyo Atelier: New Horizons in Japanese Woodblock Printing” exhibit features Takumi’s woodblock printings of Matsuri festivals, along with his more modern series inspired by the literature of Miyazawa Kenji. Messmer, a Phoenician who studied under Takumi in Japan, shares his own unique perspective on the country with block prints and photographs that peer into a changing society pitted between ancient custom and Western influences.

Fri., Aug. 15, 6-10 p.m.; Sat., Aug. 16, 1-5 p.m.; Fri., Sept. 5, 6-10 p.m.; Sat., Sept. 6, 1-5 p.m., 2008
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Nina Carapetyan