As the Sun Slowly Sets in the East

Setting Sun of Sacramento Valley, 1922, Chiura Obata

Setting Sun of Sacramento Valley, 1922, Chiura Obata

At the Saint Louis Art Museum is a small show, “Chiura Obata: Four Paintings, Four Moods”. The signature piece in this show is a recent gift to the museum, Setting Sun of Sacramento Valley. This hanging scroll was made with ink and color on silk. Most of the composition is devoted to the dusk sky, which is energized by flame-like clouds over a blue-tinged landscape. This painting, arguably the most iconic work by the artist, resonates with the work of a close contemporary, Georgia O’Keeffe, who shared an interest in depicting desolate landscapes of the American West.

Born in Japan, Chiura Obata (1885-1975) immigrated to San Francisco in 1903, at the age of seventeen. He survived the 1906 earthquake. He taught at Berkley from 1932 to 1953, except during World War II, when he was interned. After internment he briefly liked in Webster Groves, while his son, Gyo, attended Washington University. On a personal level, Anne bought some earrings from a woman named Obata, then living in Maplewood. We don’t know if she was any relation or not.

It was 17 °F when I awoke this morning and it was still 17 °F at noon, when we headed out on foot to the art museum. We walked cross-country through Oak Knoll Park, Concordia Seminary and the Kennedy Forest portion of Forest Park. The winds were calm and we were bundled up, so the walk was actually quite pleasant. The museum was relatively empty. Everyone else must have decided to cocoon for the day. On the way home, we stopped at Katie’s Pizza for a late lunch or early dinner. That was a good way to end the day.

3 thoughts on “As the Sun Slowly Sets in the East

  1. The woman Anne and I have both bought earrings from is Nori Obata, a glass bead and ceramic artist. Gyo Obata is her father and also one of the cofounders of HOK (Helmuth, Obata & Kassabaum), an architecture and design firm known world wide. Her husband, Esteban Prieto, made those colored drinking glassed you have.

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