Margaret Kasahara was almost half an hour late to the opening reception of her first Denver solo exhibit, at the Sandra Phillips Gallery along the Arts District on Santa Fe Drive. Her fans, friends and collectors milled around soaking in the art on the wall, and made chit-chat until she entered, flustered from being stuck in traffic on this rainy spring evening.
The Colorado Springs-based painter began making the rounds, and one acquaintance made slight of the fact that she was late -- it's no big deal, she told Margaret, who gave a wan smile in return. "No, I bet she's mortified," I said. "Japanese are supposed to be early to things. It's in our DNA."
I wondered if I had offended her by saying it, but the quip fit the exhibit -- Kasahara's work is a statement of her very Japaneseness, her Asian values on display in colorful two dimensions.
Besides, tardiness didn't matter. Late or not, her opening was a hit, with a big crowd in spite of the lousy wet weather. The space is small, and her main pieces are 4 feet by 4 feet square, so there's only room for 13 works in the gallery. But that's enough to give you a scope of Kasahara's ability with oil paint (and oil paint sticks) as well as her wit and clever vision, which infuses statements about race and identity in an engaging package of pop art and yes, politics, even though in her artist's statement Kasahara says she's not a particularly political artist:
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