Remember the series of posts on Women of the West? One of those women was Grace Nicholson and her enterprise that would become the Pacific Asia Museum. (See Women of the West Pt. 2) Well today, a friend and I visited that museum. There was a small exhibit of contemporary ralli quilts from Pakistan. They were bedazzled and full of joy. (As you know if you’ve been following Snail’s Postcard Post for a while, I love textiles. If you’re new here and like textiles too, check out my postcards of pieces from Africa and The Navajo Nation.)
The pond in the museum courtyard, by the way, had the biggest koi I’ve ever seen! This vermillion fish must have been fifty years old, and had the most etherial long fins.
I’d never heard of Mogomog. It seems to be called Mogmog now, but remains the seat of the high chief of the atoll in which the island is located. The atoll is called Ulithi. It’s in the state of Yap in Micronesia. These ukiyo-e-meets-Gauguin block prints also introduced me to the artist Paul Jacoulet (1902-1960). Jacoulet was born in Paris, but at the age of four, he moved with his parents to Japan, where his father taught at the University of Tokyo. Unlike some expats, he grew up immersed in local culture, becoming fluent in Japanese along with French and English. In adulthood, as a fan of Noh and Kabuki, he dressed in kimonos and powdered his face.
As a young man Jacoulet started to travel in Indonesia, Micronesia and the Philippines, letting the diverse peoples inspire his art. He also visited China, Mongolia and, as seen in the second postcard, Korea.The artist became one of the few Westerners whose woodblock prints were admired in Japan.
But Japan’s art market dried up in WWII. While other Westerners fled the country, Jacoulet remained, moving to the countryside where he grew produce and raised poultry to sell on the black market.
After the war, he was discovered by the Western world, his patrons including Greta Garbo, Pope Pius XII, and Queen Elizabeth II. He was also supported by General MacArthur, but was denied entry to the United States because he was flamboyantly gay. He came anyway, on foot from Canada at Niagara Falls. He wore a dapper white suit and carried a silver headed cane for the occasion. Paul Jacoulet photographed by Alfred Eisenstaedt in 1946 for Life magazine.