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Asian-American works on display at Harrington Gallery

'Transformation' celebrates 25 years of artists' evolution

Walk into the current exhibit at Pleasanton's Harrington Gallery slowly and allow your imagination to be captured by a 6-foot glass kimono with photo silk-screened images, held together with copper wire. This piece ties in with a nine-panel painting series by Lucy Liew.

"Her work usually features vivid botanical compositions, and in this particular collection, she has painted gray scale, decaying leaves over a backdrop of varying even-toned pastel hues," said Julie Finegan, gallery director and curator.

The exhibit is "Transformation: 25 Years of Asian American Women Artists," and it features works by 42 women who are members of the Asian American Women Artists Association. AAWAA began in the late 1980s as an artists' collective and has grown into an influential arts organization.

"I reached out to their executive director about two years ago after doing a little research about their group, which is headquartered in San Francisco," Finegan recalled. "They were excited about showing at the Harrington and elicited past and present member artists for entries, which they then juried."

"Transformation" celebrates the evolution of the members as they have worked to build a legacy of art.

A few of the notable artists, in addition to Liew, are the following:

* Barbara Horiuchi, who works with Sumi ink on large sheets of handmade Iwano paper. She's a third generation American of Japanese ancestry, and her work unearths her family history while addressing associated historical injustices experienced by West Coast Japanese in the last century.

* Lydia Nakashima Degarrod, who is from Chile, has an installation entitled "Landscape of a Dream" that explores dreams and their causes, including fear and joy. She said her goal is "to produce artworks which convey the aesthetics of social events or places in which individuals share events of an extraordinary nature."

* Betty Nobue Kano, a lecturer at San Francisco State University, is showing a large acrylic and mixed media painting. She co-founded Art Against Apartheid, AAWAA and Women of Color Camp.

This Harrington exhibit includes framed poetry, paintings, collages and a 3-foot mandala displayed on the floor. It also has audio elements.

"Visitors can listen to artist sound performances while looking at the corresponding visual arts piece," Finegan said.

The Harrington Gallery is located at the Firehouse Arts Center, 4444 Railroad Ave. Its regular gallery hours are 12-5 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays; and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays, as well as during performances in the theater. "Transformation" will run through Sept. 3.

"It is definitely a different exhibit, with many of the artists providing commentary about their experiences of growing up Asian in this community, or touching on the experiences of their family's early immigrants," Finegan said, adding:

"I feel that this cultural exhibition featuring the works of Asian American women will be interesting, thought-provoking, evocative and inspiring, and will serve our growing diverse population here in Pleasanton and the Tri-Valley."

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