Forgotten masterpieces


In our attempt to assist our clients who are slowly building their own collections of Japanese prints, we found that Kyoto always fascinates the foreign community who are searching for some very “Japanesey" art work that will provide depth that other collections may not include.

For many years since we began our gallery in 1977, the Tolman Collection featured half-a-dozen artists who were themselves foreigners.  Clifton Karhu was the artist with whom we first started our gallery, and then we slowly added Brian Williams, Sarah Brayer and Daniel Kelly, all of whom we had gradually collected ourselves and about whom we noted interest in our clients comments. Then Daniel Kelly kindly introduced us to Joel Stewart.

Joel was born in California in 1959, graduated from Pitzer College in Claremont in 1982. He enjoyed a growing number of exhibitions in California and Washington in the ‘80s; his first showing in Kyoto was in 1986.  He embarked on a number of regular showings throughout Japan.

Joel's first major involvement with the Tolman Collection was in 1999 when we staged a mammoth event at the Sogetsu Kaikan on Aoyama-dori. It was meant to be an all-American effort; Ambassador Foley was our big backer and The American Chamber of Commerce showed their support of our show by coming to help install the many prints we showed. It was a big event - the American Ambassador, the American dealer (NHT) and the five major American artists of Kyoto. I wanted to show that our five artists could do everything that Japanese artists could do and how well they fit in with our Japanese artists. It was a huge success - Mr. Karhu’s 100 pieces all sold out, and the works of Brian Williams, Sarah Brayer, Daniel Kelly, and Joel made big splashes in the sales column, too. For years we sold the foreign artists’ works successfully.

But that was in 1999 and here we are in 2019.  Whatever has happened in the meantime? Each of the artists followed his own agenda and little by little some wished to go on his own way; Mr. Karhu passed away in 2007, Brian and Sarah had developed their own ways of doing things. After a hiatus Daniel Kelly continued with the Tolman Collection but then somehow, Joel faded from our consciousness.

Well that was until the start of this year when I traveled to Portland, Oregon to help my daughter Allison who was participating in an exhibit at the Portland Art Museum. Then, just like at Christmas time, "what to my wondering eyes should appear” from the works she was selling but works of Joel Stewart; and now you know the rest of the story.

Attached here are eight Images of the pieces that I have acquired from Joel when I got back to Japan from that trip; seven prints and an original painting are shown here and will be exhibited at Shiba Daimon.  Those who are interested only need to contact us for details.