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Ikki & Polly Matsumoto exhibit coming to BIG ARTS

By Staff | Dec 31, 2008

An exhibit featuring the fine art of former island residents Polly and Ikki Matsumoto will open on Wednesday, Jan. 7 in BIG ARTS Founders Gallery. A special artists’ reception has also been planned for Tuesday, Jan. 13 from 5 to 6:30 p.m.

Ikki Matsumoto came to Sanibel Island in 1975 and became enamored with the native birds, fish, and wildlife found on the island.

“I began painting sandpipers on the beach with a humorous twist and it became a hit tourist item,” he said. “Silkscreen printing suited my style of flat color and design.”

Born in Tokyo, Japan, Ikki came to the United States as a 20-year-old. Sortly after graduating from the Art Academy of Cincinnati where he studied under renowned humorous wildlife artist Charles Harper, he married fellow student Polly Adamson and became an illustrator and designer.

In 1961, Rand McNally published a book of Ikki’s “punch-out” animals. A decade later, he illustrated the best-seller, “The Joy of Cooking.” at the time, the couple owned a 50-acre farm in Loveland, Ohio. According to his Web site, “The family grew to two sons, one daughter, five horses, one donkey, three dogs, a lot of cats, four goats, a dozen or so chickens, a few ducks, one monkey and a skunk.”

In addition, Ikki was chosen by then-First Lady Nancy Reagan to paint an Easter egg, which is now in the collection of The Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C. That same year, C&S National Bank on Sanibel commissioned 30 original paintings, the largest corporate collection of Ikki’s work

While many of Polly Matsumoto’s works are mixed media — weavings on painted canvas with found objects on top or bottom of the piece — she also creates fiber wall hangings.

According to Polly Matsumoto, she began weaving in the 1960s or 1970s after her sister in-law — a weaver — was going back to Japan. Polly kept her loom for her for a year, giving her the opportunity to join a weaving guild and learn the basics of the craft. After creating her own weavings, she began gluing them on canvas, then painting the canvas to continue the pattern.

“There’s always this thing, that weaving’s not considered as much an art as a craft, so putting in on the canvas gave it more presence, a step up from hanging it on a rod,” Polly explained

The Ikki and Polly Matsumoto Exhibit is supported by Visual Arts Season Sponsors Deborah and John La Gorce and will be open from Jan. 7 through Jan. 24. During the showing, some Matsumoto artwork will be available for sale.

Founders Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Phillips Gallery hours are 1 to 4 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

For further information about this exhibit, information about upcoming events at BIG ARTS, to purchase tickets, sign up for workshops or become a member, call 239-395-0900, e-mail info@BIGARTS.org or log on to www.BIGARTS.org.