“Endangered Birds of Japan,” is the greatest achievement by American Nihonga artist Robert Crowder (1911 – 2010). The title is a series of large-sized byobu paintings that treats as their subject, birds on the point of extinction.
Disappearing breeds such as the crested ibis, short-tailed albatross and Japanese crane are rendered life-size with exquisite precision.
Traditional materials and techniques are used, such as mica and gold leaf applied to the background and tsuketate, a type of ‘boneless’ brush painting method. The resulting compositions are dynamic and contemporary.
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The Shumei Arts Council will have a special one-year memorial gathering for Robert Crowder, which will include a poetry reading and musical performance on Thursday, Dec 8, at 7:00 pm. The music presentation will feature a very special violin made in the late 18th century by Fernando Gagliano that used to be played by Robert Crowder.
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“100 YEARS: The Imagination of Robert Crowder, Vralati, and Shoji Kuroda” Nov 13, 2011 – Jan 8, 2012, Shumei Hall Gallery, Pasadena
Robert Crowder (Aug 14, 1911 – Dec 8, 2010), also known as Vralati and Shoji Kuroda, was a painter and printmaker who employed diverse styles to reflect wide cultural influences from Japan. Besides being a visual artist, he was also accomplished musician, horticulturist, and poet.
Among his literary publications are his autobiography titled “My Lost Japan” and his book of poems, “The Blue Furoshiki,” in which he investigated the emotional depths of his biographical experiences.
Crowder went to Tokyo to study Nihonga under the master Mochizuki Shunko (1893-1979) in pre-war Japan. He took the artist name of Shoji Kuroda at that time.
In the final years of his century-long life, Robert Crowder created his greatest achievement, a series of powerful byobu (folding screens) in traditional Japanese style. He called this project “The Endangered Birds of Japan.”
His murals have decorated sets of many well-known Hollywood films from the 50s and 60s, and TV shows in the 70s and 80s.
Crowder’s wallpaper designs cover the halls of numerous luxury hotels throughout the world.
Crowder often painted in oils. He signed his floral still-lives, ‘Vralati.’
“100 YEAR: The Imagination of Robert Crowder, Vralati, and Shoji Kuroda” introduces the three faces of an artist that lived for a century.
“100 YEARS” is presented by non-profit art educational organization, Shumei Arts Council at its own Shumei Hall Gallery, 2430 East Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91107. www.shumeiarts.org (626) 584-8841.
Gallery hours are 9:30 am – 6:00 pm on Monday –Saturday. Sunday by appointment, contact email@example.com. Admission free.