"Japan/America," at the Long Beach Museum of Art (through Aug. 17), is an exhibition of works by eight Japanese-born artists living and working in the United States. According to curator Patricia Boutelle, this merging of clearly defined cultural traditions "proposes to raise questions about heritage and environment, about past and present."
Although the artists seem to have little in common stylistically, they apparently share a common intellectual and spiritual tradition that has been nurtured and expanded by the Western aesthetic milieu.
This often manifests itself as a pronounced dialectic between formal understatement (usually focused upon the "spiritual" resonance of natural materials such as wood and stone) and a more secular expressionism, epitomized by painterly effusion or the subtle manipulation of surfaces.
Thus, Keiko Kasai's delicate constructions of painted branches and handmade paper seem to draw upon both the economy of the haiku and the chance juxtaposition of dreams, while Minoru Ohira injects the ordered formalism of found branches with the mythological iconography of Mexican folk traditions.