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Frank S. Matsura: Portraits from the Borderlands photo exhibit to open at the MAC

Photographer Frank Sakae Matsura spent less than a decade in northern Washington state in the early 20th century but left an unforgettable visual legacy of the Okanogan River Valley.

Matsura, born in Japan in 1873, grew up in Tokyo. His family, from a line of samurai warriors, was aristocratic but he was orphaned and raised by an aunt and uncle, who taught him English at a school they started.

At some point, he was trained to use cameras and process photographs, and his prospects changed.

It’s not clear why, but Matsura left Japan in his 20s, and traveled to the Seattle area, and he briefly visited Alaska. In 1903, he answered a newspaper ad for a cook’s helper in the Elliott Hotel in Conconully, Washington, and stepped off a stagecoach in a frontier area where farmers were planting orchards, workers were building an irrigation dam and small towns were popping up wherever settlers put down roots.

While working at the hotel, Matsura also snapped photos and processed them in the hotel laundry.

Around 1907, Matsura opened a two-room photography studio in the town of Okanogan, where he did portrait sessions, sold postcards, novelty photos and scenic pictures. The diminutive man mostly used a 5-by-7 view camera to document the people and landscape of the Okanogan Valley for several years, creating an impressive portfolio of work that is still treasured today for the depth and breadth of the subject matter and the detail of the photos.

Michael Holloman.

Washington State University art and history professor Michael Holloman, who is also an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, has edited a group of Matsura’s portraits of American Indian neighbors into a new exhibit called “Frank S. Matsura: Portraits from the Borderland” which opens Saturday at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture.

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The Spokesman Review

Center for Arts and Humanities named for David G. Pollart

David Pollart.

Washington State University has announced a generous philanthropic investment in the Center for Arts and Humanities at WSU’s College of Arts and Sciences from alumnus David Pollart to support new educational programs, research, and creative activity that cross traditional academic boundaries. In recognition of his transformational support, the center will be named the David G. Pollart Center for Arts and Humanities.

“The David G. Pollart Center for Arts and Humanities will enhance and grow programming and scholarship in the arts, music and humanities for generations to come,” said Kirk Schulz, president of WSU. “This recent addition to the WSU system offers opportunities for the campus—and public in general—to encounter new ideas and discover new passions. With Mr. Pollart’s investment, the center is poised to reach even greater heights.”

Pollart’s gift of more than $1.5 million provides perpetual annual funding for arts, music and humanities programming, including student engagement opportunities like internships and study abroad. In addition, it will support artist-in-residency collaborations with the Department of Fine Arts, School of Music, the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art and other humanities departments.

Todd Butler.

“The center was established in 2019 to be a ‘front door’ to the creativity, challenge and meaning that the arts and humanities can bring to all of us,” said Todd Butler, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “David’s gift has flung that door wide-open to magnify the visibility of the arts and humanities across our university, positioning the Pollart Center to thrive for generations to come.”

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WSU Insider


AAPI college students celebrated with a public mural

On Jan. 17, in a bustling hallway on the main floor of the Washington State University (WSU) Compton Union Building–known by students as the “CUB”–some people had stopped to stare. In between the crimson pillars was a long panel half-painted in earthen shades, periwinkles and soft warm tones. Off to the side, the accompanying sign read: “AAPI Mural.”

The AAPI Mural was one of the events taking place on the Pullman campus in celebration the National Day of Racial Healing, which encourages conversations and healing around race.

From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., mural designer Jeimei Lin worked in collaboration with Fine Arts graduate student Reika Pratt, Fine Arts undergraduate student Kau’i Marley Samio and Pullman High School junior Heidi Lee. WSU junior and double-major in Fine Arts and Mathematics Roslyn Djang also joined in after seeing the mural while on her way to get lunch.

Joe Hedges.

Associate professor of Painting/Inter-Media and mural facilitator Joe Hedges expressed how the mural provided public visibility to AAPI students’ identities and challenges they may face.

He said it was inspiring to see artists from different parts of the AAPI community coming together to celebrate their identities and helping with the mural.

“It’s those little things whether it’s painting a mural or stopping to share a moment of real solidarity,” he said. “It’s those little things that add up and move the needle and make things a little better for the next generation.”

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Artists’ books on display through October in Terrell Library on Pullman campus

Kevin Haas.

Washington State University printmaking professor Kevin Haas has collected artist’s books for roughly 25 years. With each new acquisition, a unique creative exploration is revealed. For example, Margot Lovejoy’s “Book of Plagues” examines the AIDS crisis, the fear and stigmatization surrounding it, and government indifference to the epidemic, with parallels to current crises. Lukaza Branfman-Verissimo made her book “We Are All Speaking at the Same Time” during 2020, echoing the Black Lives Matter protests, to celebrate and bring awareness of the LGBTQ and black, indigenous, and people of color communities and their voices.

Other books are meant to be playful, such as Eroyn Franklin’s “Just Noise,” which illustrates the bickering, arguments, and love that are part of a relationship.

“I am still thrilled when I discover these surprising, interactive, and affordable works of art,” said Haas, a member of fine arts faculty. “Getting to experience artist’s books firsthand and for the first time can be pretty magical. We don’t usually get to hold works of art in our hands like we do with artist’s books, so the viewing experience is very personal.”

What is an artist’s book?

The term “artist’s book” refers to publications that have been conceived as artworks in their own right, Haas said. Emerging from experiments in design and publications by artists in the early 20th century, the field of artist’s books took hold in the 1960s as artists sought out alternative ways of presenting their work. Artist’s books provide opportunities for artists to explore text, images, sequence, juxtaposition, time, and interaction, creating everything from cheaply made zines and handmade books to decks of cards and other printed ephemera.

“The book format is attractive to artists, since it allows their work to be accessible to a wide audience, as well as being very affordable,” he said.

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WSU Insider


Emerging organizations and businesses are reworking the composition of Pullman’s visual arts scene

There’s a new picture developing of Pullman’s visual arts scene, one that adds an additional focal point besides Washington State University and its venerable Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art.

Over the past few years, several new arts-related entities have emerged in town: the new nonprofit Pullman Arts Foundation, the arts-forward Hotel McCoy, Terracotta clay arts studio, and a new art gallery. Added to Pullman’s existing venues, these newcomers are helping highlight the college town’s evolving arts community.

Joe Hedges.

“Part of the genesis of [Pullman Arts Foundation] was, honestly, the difficulty of creating some kind of public art project here in Pullman that connected with the Black Lives Matter movement,” says WSU art professor Joe Hedges, who co-founded the nonprofit with his wife and fellow artist, Jiemei “May” Lin.

In addition to murals at Kamiak and Jefferson elementary schools and the Palouse Discovery Science Center, the foundation also realized it could fulfill other needs for artists, arts supporters and the community-at-large, Hedges says.

“We had started to meet people that were really engaged locally and really cared about the arts,” he adds.

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