Grants Pass , OR
“Toyokawa, Tokaido Vicinity” Woodblock Print by Walt Padgett 11″x17″ $550
I enjoy entering shows that have a theme because they give me the opportunity to go through my inventory and take something out of the context of the series of works and enter it on the basis of its’ own unique merits and individual subject matter. Also I feel that such exhibitions are especially meaningful to viewers, giving them specific imagery to think about, be challenged by, seduced by, perhaps be offended by, but more often enjoyed, expressed in the variety of ways a selection of diverse artists have chosen.
These two woodblock prints belong personally to a broader theme, that being traditional Japanese imagery and culture. I began learning and working in the Japanese woodblock method in 1978, and since that time have traveled in Japan on numerous occasions searching for meaningful images for prints. Of particular interest to me are the ancient historic roads, and places, their record in famous prints and literature; also of interest are the complex elements of the natural world– mountains, waterfalls, plants, animals, seasonal weather– and particular cultural associations, potently steeped in Japanese legend, mythology, symbolism and artistic relevance.
About Toyokawa, Tokaido Vicinty:
The Tokaido is an ancient highway that was the most traveled route connecting Kyoto with Edo (now Tokyo); in the historical record it has been used for over a thousand years. In the early 1600s the government improved the road and established 53 rest stops (stations) between the two cities where travel credentials could be checked, provisions could be purchased, and tired travelers could find accommodations. The scenery, history, legends of life and travel along the Tokaido have inspired artists, writers and musicians for centuries. Despite travel now being routed on the Shinkansen, the Tokaido rail line and Route 1, many sections of the original road still exist as main streets through the old section of towns or under the main street through major cities, as country roads, and in some places still a stone lined path.
A few kilometers off the Tokaido, the city of Toyokawa is home to a prominent large temple/ shrine complex, the Toyokawa Inari, a popular pilgrimage destination since 1441. It is considered to be one of the three most important Inaris in Japan, believed to grant prosperous business. Inari are mythological fox-like creatures often associated with temples and shrines, and thousands of stone sculptures depicting this creature can be found at this complex. Indeed it is prosperous from local support and protected by the Yakusa (Japanese mafia); a multitude of pigeons roam the grounds freely but human visitors must be much more careful!
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