|Consul General's News Letter From Houston|
Remarks by Consul-General Jota Yamamoto
at the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony : Passage to the Future: Art from a New Generation in Japan
at Blue Star Contemporary Art Center on March 1, 2012
March 1, 2012
I was supposed to have another engagement today in Houston, thus originally I thought I could not come to San Antonio. In the end, I was able to change my schedule and now join you here, for a couple of reasons. First is for the enthusiastic invitation by the tenacious Executive Director of Blue Star Contemporary Art Center, Mr. Bill FitzGibbons. Indeed, not so many can challenge your persuasive point, as tonight also marks the beginning of the renowned Contemporary Art Month in San Antonio.
The second reason is that considering the circumstances of another exhibit successfully opening in another city, the City of Houston, I find it my duty to underline the interconnection between these two projects.
On February 19th, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston opened the long-awaited Arts of Japan Gallery and, in its inaugural exhibit, 26 masterpieces graciously loaned from the Tokyo National Museum are now on display. They represent courtly and religious art between 1000 BC and the 17th century, as we call it the perfect elegance.
On March 1st , now you open here in San Antonio, the exhibition, Passage to the Future: Art from a New Generation in Japan. It presents paintings, sculptures, installations, photographs, and video works by contemporary artists. Those seem to be simple, representing not courtly or religious values but the immediate day-to-day surroundings or the personal reality of the artists. One may call the exhibits in San Antonio and in Houston sharply different. Actually, it is not the case, as basic and common elements of Japanese culture can be found in both exhibits.
Thus I have to invite, or entice tenaciously, Mr. FitzGibbons and people in San Antonio to see this exhibit and then go to Houston to see the Arts of Japan Gallery. Drawing from both the contemporary and ancient world, the total of understanding from the art will surely give you a comprehensive and quite fundamental picture of what Japan is. Obviously, Houstonians shall also be advised to do the same. In pursuit of such understanding, we will all be encouraged to go back and forth between our two cities, which should be enjoyed by more than those who do so chasing the Spurs or the Rockets.
I would like to note with appreciation the collaboration by The Japan Foundation which made this project possible. The Japan Foundation has served for the past 40 years to promote exchange with foreign cultures. The Foundation is very lucky to have been partnering with Blue Star, a relationship which was formed in 2008, and has been confirmed again this year. As pointed out by the Japan Foundation, the exhibit this time will “provide an opportunity for renewed thinking and debate about the fundamental appeal and meaning of art.”
The Honorable Judge of Bexar County Nelson Wolf, the Honorable Councilmen David Medina & Diego Bernal, the Honorable Commissioner Chico Rodriguez and all distinguished guests,
I have one more reason to come to San Antonio, which is rather a personal reason. I was born in Japan, in the City of Kumamoto, which by lucky coincidence is the sister city of San Antonio. To my delight, this year, 2012, marks the 25th anniversary of this relationship. It seems that it is not yet well noted by many people at this moment, but I am not surprised. In fact, the sister-city agreement was drawn in 1987 on December 28. This date at the end of the year gives us good reason to celebrate the 25th anniversary not this year alone but next year as well.
I have full confidence in the Japan-America Society of San Antonio, chaired by Ms. Mimi Yu, of the East Asia Institute at the University of Texas at San Antonio, who is sure to lead us in the celebration of the sister-city relationship. I also have full confidence in the Honorable Judge and all the people of San Antonio, who will surely extend communal support for the sister-city relationship and my birth-place, Kumamoto. Kumamoto is a nice city, in population it is a bit smaller than San Antonio, but exactly like San Antonio, it accommodates a castle, rivers lined by forests, a long & exciting history and smiling citizens who always strive to be good ambassadors of the city. These are the reasons we are joined as sister cities.
The upcoming 3.11 will mark the first year anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake. Thanks to your enormous support and with their own painstaking efforts, now the people of Japan are steadily returning to the normal life. We in Japan will commemorate 3.11 not only with grief, rather with the convincing prospect towards a brighter future. And we in Japan shall never forget the sense of solidarity expressed by the people in San Antonio, by the people in Texas. Once again, I would like to thank Mr. FitzGibbons and Chair of the Board Mr. Edward Valdespino, who gave me the chance to directly communicate my thanks on my country’s behalf, to all of you in San Antonio. Accept my salute, I thank you very much.