Smith College-turned-Chicago mainstay Miyoko Ito is coming back to New York in spirit (and paints). One of the gems of the eastside uptown circuit, the Adam Baumgold Gallery will gracefully present the artist’s paintings from the 1960s and 1970s from November 7 through December 20, following a successful showing of Saul Steinberg’s works from the 1950s-1980s.
Born in Berkeley, California and spending most of her life in the Windy City, Ito was influenced early on by Cubism. Her “abstract impressionism,” as it is commonly labeled, suggested form as only allusive metaphor—a subliminal tryst that becomes abruptly layered and personal. While always outside of the mainstream spotlight, Ito was known for holding fast to her stylistic identity while many others at the time shifted into the movement of Pop Art.
The end result—Ito passed away at the age of 65 in 1983—of her development was a sort of broad Zen rendering of Arshile Gorky or a much tidier Willem de Kooning. While a hint of surrealistic consequence can be felt within the unrestrictive pictorial geometry of her canvases, the overall palatial gestures of vividness and depth give her work a soft-brooding rapport with an isolated, trance-like reality.
From the confines of a Japanese-American detention camp after the Pearl Harbor incident to the walls of the 1975 Biennial Exhibition at the Whitney, Ito’s subtle hauntings have quietly stood the test of time. And while the abstract (in and of art) is something commonly accepted now, Ito’s work should be unquestionably considered when discussing the Post-War period and how it shaped the artistic landscape of the second half of the century and multiple generations of artists to come.
Adam Baumgold Gallery, 60 East 66th Street, New York, NY 10065. Tues-Sat, 11-5:30.