Daily Art Moment: Frank Okada

Consanguineous, Frank Okada, oil on canvas, 72 x 72 inches. A square abstract painting featuring bold colors on a largely deep yellow ground. The lower left corner holds an arc of undulating stripes that dip slightly in their center. The stripes alternate from vivid red to orange then back to red again. A rectangular shape composed of trapezoidal shapes and stripes juts downward into the center space from the top center. The rectangle sits at an angle slanted to the left. It begins with a brilliant blue at the middle top of the painting followed by a thin stripe of deep red, then a dark olive-green trapezoid. A golden yellow that matches the background color follows, forming another trapezoid. It is followed by a cream trapezoid separated by narrow golden yellow stripe from a pale gray trapezoid shape. The textured golden yellow ground is bisected horizontally two thirds of the way down from the top. The upper portion of the painting is the largest segment with the bottom third containing the red and orange arc and three more golden yellow segments. The segments differ slightly in hue. The lightest is at left next to the red/orange arc. The remaining two segments continue to the right with a thin, sharp uneven streak of cream interrupting the yellow ground from the lower right edge. Brushstrokes are clearly visible with the edges of the shapes being slightly ragged and uneven.

Frank Okada once described his work as being “dedicatory in nature.” He said, “My parents, through good and bad times, always placed the first portion of newly cooked rice before their modest Buddhist shrine, dedicating that portion to the memory of those past and as an abiding affirmation of their faith. Occasionally, in thoughts conjured in my studio reflections, I sense my work as being metaphorically that daily first portion of rice.” While this painting appears to be a bold, colorful abstraction, Okada’s choice of title hints at the connection to memory and family. Consanguineous is a word denoting kinship, especially people descended from the same ancestor. Come by and visit this work in the Museum’s Hoffman Lobby.

Sara Krajewski, The Robert and Mercedes Eichholz Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art

Frank Okada (American, 1931–2000), Consanguineous, 1969. Oil on canvas. Museum Purchase: Caroline Ladd Pratt Fund, 71.4

Mary Randlett (American, 1924–2019), Portrait of Frank Okada, 1972. Gelatin silver print, image/sheet: 10 3/8 in x 10 9/16 in, Gift of Bill Rhoades in memory of Murna and Vay Rhoades, 2012.86.14

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