Six decades in the making | Cape Cod LIFE August 2016

Highfield Hall & Gardens

Highfield Hall & Gardens exhibits “Kanreki: A 60 Year Journey,” a colorful collection of Japanese prints

An exhibition of world-class contemporary Japanese prints may seem like an odd fit for the local art scene, and conversely, a cultural center on Cape Cod might seem an unusual venue for a Japanese print exhibition. But Cape Cod has two parallel artistic traditions: the homegrown and the imported. Considering that artists of all persuasions have been traveling over the bridges for decades to introduce their work to new audiences, “Kanreki: A 60 Year Journey,” on view at Highfield Hall & Gardens in Falmouth through this fall, fits nicely within that century-old tradition.

This special exhibition marks milestones for both host organizations: College Women’s Association of Japan (CWAJ) and Highfield Hall & Gardens. Kanreki refers to the 60th birthday, an honored occasion in Japan, and this exhibit is the 60th one for CWAJ. This year also marks 10 years since Highfield Hall & Gardens opened as a cultural center celebrating the arts. “For our 10th anniversary we were hoping to find an extraordinary exhibition,” says Annie Dean, Highfield’s director of programs and exhibitions. “The CWAJ show does not travel often. This was a remarkable opportunity, and I embraced it.”

The exhibition has garnered a reputation as a celebration of cutting-edge printmaking styles and techniques. “This internationally renowned exhibition of contemporary Japanese printmakers travels overseas to major cultural centers every 10 years—the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. 10 years ago, and 20 years ago, the British Museum in London,” explains Peter Franklin, executive director at Highfield. First shown in Tokyo and later in Kobe, Japan, Kanreki showcases the work of nearly 200 emerging and established printmakers, many of whom live in Japan.

Most impressive is the range in virtually every facet of the exhibited works, from technique to content. “The diversity of the techniques used and the technical skill exhibited by these printmakers is thrilling,” says Dean. Even the size range of the prints is extensive, with the smallest being letter-sized and the largest approaching five feet. The exhibit features woodcuts, lithographs, intaglio (etchings and engravings), stencils and screen prints, and digital processes, with many printmakers combining several methods in one print.