After a two year break with no exhibition, I was certainly ready for this one! My work keeps me chained to the benches most days, and although I don't mind being by myself day after day, it is certainly necessary for me to get 'out and about' now and then, or I would turn into a complete hermit!
So once this exhibition was scheduled, I was looking forward to it quite a bit. Preparation was more difficult than usual, as the extremely restricted space available in the narrow Ginza gallery meant that I had to jettison many of the usual components of my exhibitions, including many of the older prints I have made, the gallery talk, and the (important!) coffee corner.
It was just 'basics' this time: display of the completed My Solitudes series, a corner devoted to the Mokuhankan publishing venture, and - of course - the display of the first print in the new Mystique of the Japanese Print series.
One thing about this exhibition that was of great interest to me in the runup to it was the question of how being in the Ginza would affect the show. I previously chose to be in Shinjuku (and then later Yurakucho) because I felt those districts were representative of a cross-section of society - something for everyone - and thus quite suitable for my work. I previously avoided the Ginza, feeling that it was too 'up scale' and exclusive for me.
But as all Japanese readers know, things have changed, and although there are indeed still many very high priced boutiques in the Ginza, they now stand side-by-side with discount clothing shops, and it's pretty much 'anything goes', including woodblock prints.
It would have been nice to be in a place on the 'main street', but as that was far beyond my means, a small back street gallery had to suffice. It was thus never crowded with random passers-by; the show was mainly intended as a way to get re-acquainted with the collectors. And that's pretty much how it turned out, with a steady stream of them dropping by during the week.
Just as I was 'recovering' from the exhibition and getting back to work, I found out about another venue for displaying artwork, something completely different from anything I have tried before.
This was the Design Festa, a gigantic show that takes over the huge Tokyo Big Sight convention center twice a year for a weekend. It is completely open to all - anybody with anything remotely related to 'design' - from amateur to professional. Each event includes more than 2,000 exhibitors, and attracts many tens of thousands of visitors. The entrance fee is quite reasonable, and although it promised to be a noisy and somewhat chaotic event, I thought 'why not give it a try?' and signed up.
It was indeed both noisy and chaotic, and even more crowded than I had imagined. I was in a pretty good location on the show floor, on a main aisle with good visibility, and at some times on the Sunday there were so many people passing by my booth that they were unable to stop and look properly, due to the pressure from the people coming along behind them. But because I was doing printing demonstrations almost constantly, this was a good 'attraction', and a great many people did stop to chat for a while.
I heard time and again from people who had seen my work on TV or in a magazine, and who were now getting a chance to see it 'in real life', and I posed for dozens of 'souvenir' photos.
My booth space was very small, just a single tatami in size, and by the end of each day I could barely stand up, my legs were so cramped. After the close of the show on Sunday evening, I very nearly fell asleep on the train on the way home, something I have never experienced before!
All in all, it was a lot of fun, and I am happy that I chose to participate. But for the next little while, I'll be sticking close to my own bench, in my own quiet room!