Friday, October 11, 2013

East Meets West: A Day with Artist Ayomi Yoshida

Last Thursday, Oct 3, a group of us from American Frame had the honor and pleasure of attending the opening of Fresh Impressions

at the Toledo Museum of Art, an exhibit featuring the museum’s collection of Japanese woodblock prints from the early 20th century.  Many of the works featured were by artist Hiroshi Yoshida. If you have even the slightest interest in Japanese art and artifacts, do not miss this exhibit. The collection is vast and is being shown for the first time since the 1930’s. Here are a few pictures from the gallery.

‘American Framers’ left to right: Brenda, Jennifer, Holly and Sandi. I’m in the middle and to the far right is Aubrey, our Social Media maven.

Now, for us (or should I say, lucky for us) there is more to this story. Over the past year, we have had the pleasure of framing a series of fine art prints for by artist Ayomi Yoshida, grand-daughter of Hiroshi Yoshida .  Over the course of this last year, we have gotten to know each other via email so I was happy to hear from her, a few months ago, that she would make her debut trip to Toledo to attend the opening of her grandfather’s work. I previously had travel plans, which I cancelled, as to not miss her visit. Good call!

Image from the Water Series of woodblock prints available at

The night of the exhibit we met briefly. But the next day, we had the honor of hosting her visit to our facility accompanied by her husband, sculptor Bidou Yamaguchi, along with friends Laura Semba and Pat Tosseti. Bidou is a fine artist in his own right, a Master Noh Mask Carver from Japan. Here is a link to his site

The Yoshida family legacy spans four generations and 8 artists of which Ayomi is the youngest. In her early years, Ayomi had not planned on becoming an artist. She actually had come to the US to study architecture, where she happened upon a silk screening class and fell in love with the technique. When she returned to Japan, the materials she had used to create screen prints were simply not available so she created her own process based upon woodblock printing techniques she had learned from her grandfather, creating an aesthetic all her own with pieces ranging from monumental installations as seen in Target Center to contemporary woodblock prints accessible to the everyday collector.

Before I go further, I have to say that I am personally humbled beyond words by the fact that these fine artists and their friends took their entire morning during a busy trip to visit us and learn about our operation. Apparently Ayomi is completely fascinated with what we do and how we do it. To quote Ayomi: “Your frames make my art look better. I cannot get these frames in Japan”. I was, and still am, simply, stunned.

So here are some of the pics we took throughout the morning. Does it look like we had some fun? Yes, we hit it off!

It was so exciting to walk the plant with such craftspeople, interested in all the details of our framing operation.

There is always surprising art in the Print Department. Here is a giant archival inkjet canvas fresh off the press that impressed our guests.

Ayomi and her friend Laura were very interested in how we frame the pieces we print from start to finish. Sandy demonstrates.

In the stacks! It was a ‘hands on’ perusal of solid wood mouldings.

Here, Emily demonstrates how wood frames are joined, first glued, then v-nailed, then allowed to cure before receiving a final ‘frame shop finish’.

Details, details. Ayomi and Bidou were interested in the sharpness of our corners, and how frame components are packaged and labeled per order.

The mat board deparment is always entertaining! It’s easy to become mesmerized with the speed and accuracy of the various mat board machines as they magically produce precision cut products.

After the tour we exchanged gifts. Presentation is a fine art in the Japanese culture. Ayomi presented me with an exquisitely beautiful and delicious pastry from Japan. I think it had about 6 layers of fine packaging, starting with the beautiful box (which now sits on my desk).

In turn, we presented Ayomi and her friends with our American Frame aprons. She loved them and requested that we ship a quantity to her in Japan for her assistants as they work on her installations.

Group photo: Left to Right: Friends Laura Semba and Pat Tosseti, Ayomi’s husband Bidou Yamaguchi, Artist and Guest of Honor, Ayomi Yoshida, me, my daughter Dana Jajko (new AF Sales Associate), American Frame CFO my sister Dana Dunbar, and my brother, AF Photographer Matt Mickel.

At the end of our time together, Ayomi invited us to attend a lecture she is giving at the Chicago Art institute on April 10. Readers: Please join us if you’re in the area. Beyond that, we were also invited to assist her on her next installation up in Minneapolis in the Fall of 2015. Yes, my sister Dana and I are going to be understudies! Bidou warned us: she is a task master on the job. We would expect nothing less.


  1. What a great story, Laura! Also, nice to see the ladies from AF out on the town. Tell them I said hi!

  2. It was a once in a lifetime experience! And we were all happy to be out on the town!

  3. Ayomi Yoshida is a Japanese artist, right now best known for her room-sized establishments of woodchips that have been shown in displays and exhibition halls in Japan and the United States.

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