An American Artist in Tokyo

Frances Blakemore, 1906-1997

Michiyo Morioka

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  • Published: 2007
  • Subject Listing: Art
  • Bibliographic information: 200 pp., 246 illus., 113 in color, 8.50 x 11 in.
  • Distributed for: Blakemore Foundation, Seattle
  • Contents

Northwest artist Frances Blakemore had a lifelong love affair with Japan. She first went to Japan in 1935 and spent most of her adult life in Tokyo. Her experience with Japan encompassed the entire period from pre-World War II militarism to postwar modernization.

Arriving in Tokyo in 1935 to teach art and English, she became fascinated with Japanese life and chronicled her experiences both in art and writing. She spent most of the war years in Honolulu, where she designed propaganda leaflets that were dropped by the millions on the Japanese islands. In 1954, she married American attorney Thomas Blakemore and achieved prominence as an artist and gallery owner in Tokyo.

Illustrated with photographs and striking color reproductions of her work, this book introduces the adventures of a remarkable American artist and provides a new perspective on U.S.-Japanese cultural relations.

1. Seattle, 1925-1935
2. Tokyo, 1935-1940
3. Honolulu, 1940-1945
4. War Propaganda Leaflets, 1944-1945
5. Occupied Japan, 1945-1952
6. Jeeper's Japan: As Seen by the Occupation
7. An American Artist in Tokyo, 1952-1970
8. Fran-Nell (Franell) Gallery, 1965
9. Artist-Farmer-Gallery Owner, 1970-1988
10. Postscript

Appendix A: Letters and Essays from Japan, 1935-1938
Appendix B: "Gold Star" and a Letter to Bradford Smith, 1945
Selected Bibliography

"An American Artist in Tokyo is an important addition to the growing literatuer on artistic relations between Japan and the United States in the dramatic years between 1935 and 1975. Handsomely designed, lavishly illustrated, and clearly written, this biography presents an individual whose complex relations with Japan give an individual face to a number of critical issues in American political and cultural policies. If this book refuses to place Blakemore within the usual academic formula of cultural analysis, it may well be because Blakemore not only resists classification but actively threatens many cherished assumptions."

"Author Michiyo Morioka. . . blends her subject's work with solid and detailed biography. . . .Blakemore's story, a story of Western and Eastern, life and art caught up inextricably, deserves study."
-Northwest Asian Weekly

"This publication accomplishes two important feats: it shines a light on an artist who does not make it into any of the traditional bibliographical indexes, and, perhaps more important, it opens a window into the art world of pre- and postwar Japan as seen through the eyes of an expatriate immersed in the culture."
-Library Journal

"This book . . . introduc[es] the adventures of this remarkable American artist. Recommended for those who love Japan and travel."

"An extraordinary book about an extraordinary artist. . . handsomely produced, well researched, and lavishly illustrated."
-Art Times

"A handsomely packaged retrospective of work."
-Seattle Times