New Downtown Traverse City Art Banner

MyNorth News Service

(Press Release provided by The Traverse City Banner Art Committee)

TRAVERSE CITY: The downtown Traverse City art scene is expanding thanks to a new large scale art banner displayed on the Chase Bank building. The banner features the work of Katsushika Hokusai (Japanese, 1760–1849) and was installed by Britten Studios October 20.

Under the Wave off Kanagawa (Kanagawa oki nami ura), also known as The Great Wave, from the series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji (Fugaku sanjūrokkei), is one of the most iconic images in the art world and certainly in Japanese art.

This internationally recognized work is represented in the collections of the Dennos Museum Center at Northwestern Michigan College and was a gift from Robert Jorgenson.

The original work is a polychrome woodblock print; ink and color on paper from the Edo period (1615-1868) and was created about 1830 by the artist Katsushika Hokusai. The actual print is 10 1/8” x 14 15/16” in size, but the reproduction on the Chase building is about 20 times its original size. Over the course of time several thousand prints have been printed from the original woodblock, and prints of this work can be found in museums worldwide.

The breathtaking composition of this woodblock print is said to have inspired Debussy’s La Mer (The Sea) and Rilke’s Der Berg (The Mountain), ensuring its reputation as an icon of world art. Hokusai cleverly played with perspective to make Japan’s grandest mountain appear as a small triangular mound within the hollow of the cresting wave. The artist became famous for his landscapes created using a palette of indigo and imported Prussian blue.

“This is the second of a number of works from the museum’s collection that will be reproduced and hung with the Banner Project as part of the events related to the celebration of The Dennos’ 25th anniversary in 2016,” says Gene Jenneman, Executive Director of The Dennos, “We will be presenting a large exhibition in our galleries focused on the museum’s art collection as we enter our 25th year next summer, and this effort will begin to draw attention to The Dennos collection. Indeed this is also part of the lead up to the anticipated construction of permanent collection galleries for The Dennos in 2016, thanks to a major gift from Diana and Richard Milock.

The Traverse City Art Banner project is the brainchild of former NMC Art Department Chair Paul Welch, who along with a committee of artists and art supporters has been seeking empty walls on downtown Traverse City buildings and asking the owners of the buildings to allow them to become outdoor galleries with reproduction banners of art by regional artists, former NMC art students and imagery from the collections of the Dennos Museum Center, which is a collaborative partner with the Banner Project.

The art banners are hung for several months, during which the Committee and Dennos are working to select new images and find additional buildings to become outdoor galleries for the work.

The project is supported by private donors who provide the funds for printing and installation by Britten Studios of the reproduced art works.

This new installation joins the work Run Before the Wind by Madonna Walters, Calvin Boulter’s work entitled A Space Time Continuum, and the work Thunderbird Man by Aboriginal Canadian artist Norval Morrisseau from the collections of the Dennos Museum Center, that are currently hanging on buildings in downtown Traverse City.

The Traverse City Banner Art Committee

Paul Welch, Chair, Dennos Museum Center ​Executive Director Gene Jenneman, Robin Stanley, Collen Paviglio, Chris Dennos Calvin Boulter, Cherie Correll, Delbert Michel, Charles Murphy, John Williams, Nancy Grist and Kris Schroeder.

The Banner Artist 

Katsushika Hokusai (葛飾北斎, Katsushika Hokusai (1760–May 10, 1849) was a Japanese artist, ukiyo-e painter and printmaker of the Edo period. In his time he was Japan’s leading expert on Chinese painting. Born in Edo (now Tokyo), Hokusai is best-known as author of the woodblock print series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji (c. 1831) which includes the iconic and internationally recognized print, The Great Wave off Kanagawa, created during the 1820s. Hokusai created the “Thirty-Six Views” both as a response to a domestic travel boom and as part of a personal obsession with Mount Fuji. It was this series, specifically The Great Wave print and Fuji in Clear Weather, that secured Hokusai’s fame both within Japan and overseas. As historian Richard Lane concludes, “Indeed, if there is one work that made Hokusai’s name, both in Japan and abroad, it must be this monumental print-series…” While Hokusai’s work prior to this series is certainly important, it was not until this series that he gained broad recognition and left a lasting impact on the art world. It was The Great Wave print that initially received, and continues to receive, acclaim and popularity in the Western world.


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