Artist as Social Critic

A new exhibition focused on a wide variety of social, cultural, racial and political issues opens Thursday at the Schneider Museum of Art. The exhibition features the work of four artists, Enrique Chagoya, Betye Saar, Roger Shimomura, and Ben Sakoguchi.

Shimomura will be in Ashland on Thursday to give a lecture on his work at 4 p.m. in the SOU Art Building, Meese Auditorium, followed by an opening reception at the Schneider Museum of Art from 5-7 p.m.

Chagoya questions and criticizes assumptions about history and the ways in which it was written and interpreted. Appropriating images from American mass media, Mexican folk art, religious icons and Disney cartoons, Chagoya chooses to add humor with his own personal aesthetic. This exhibition features work from his "Poor George," "Disasters of War," and "Return to Goya's Capriccios" series.

Saar's distinguished career spans more than 40 years. Using a variety of media to create her paintings, assemblages and installations, Saar focuses on such issues as civil rights, racism, women's work, heritage and memory. Her works are in the collections of many fine museums, including the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Studio Museum in Harlem, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. She will be in Ashland for the opening reception.

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Betye Saar’s “Gone are the Days (Best for Domestic Use),” 1999, assemblage, 111/2-by-15-by-2 inches.

Courtesy Schneider Museum of Art

"The Orange Crate Label Series" by Sakoguchi are small groupings of individual canvases covering a variety of social, cultural, racial and political matters. Stylistically, they are painted in the language of "realism," utilizing the deceptively cheerful format of orange crate labels, known for their advertising-like depictions of pastoral California and its sunshine-ripened oranges. On exhibit will be four groupings from the series, including "The Caprices," "The Disasters of War," "Postcards from Camp" and "The Unauthorized History of Baseball."

Shimomura's paintings are from his recent work titled "Minidoka on My Mind." This series focuses on the racial conflicts of WWII and the unjust imprisonment of approximately 120,000 Japanese-Americans in internment camps. Shimomura was a professor of art at the University of Kansas for 25 years until his retirement in 2004. During that time, he was recognized with numerous honors and awards for his artwork and teaching. He continues to paint and to show his work. He has had more than 125 solo exhibitions of paintings and prints, and has presented his experimental theater pieces at such venues as: the Franklin Furnace, New York City; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and The Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

For more information about the lecture, opening reception or exhibition, call 552-6245 or visit /sma.

The Schneider Museum of Art and SOU Art Building are located on the campus of Southern Oregon University on the corner of Siskiyou Boulevard and Indiana Street in Ashland. Museum hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There is a $3 suggested donation.

Support for this exhibition is provided by the Jerry and Jeanne Taylor Family Foundation, the Oregon Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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Roger Shimomura’s “Night Watch

1,” 2006, acrylic on canvas, 36-by-45 inches.

Courtesy Schneider Museum of Art

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