The Life of Shiro Miyazaki
by Shu Miyazaki
Trafford Publishing

"Whenever I say feeling, it is not the power or beauty of lines, forms, colors or dark and light, but feeling of our life itself."

This work is a collection of letters between Japanese-American artist Shiro Miyazaki and two artist-friends during the depression era. Shiro left his adopted hometown of Seattle for San Francisco and Los Angles to further his study and practice of drawing, painting, and linoleum-block printing. Though he received contest prizes and some recognition, Miyazaki never achieved fame or financial security through his art. His letters reflect the struggles and frustrations he faced and provide a unique window onto the mindset of depression era Communism in the United States. He died of undiagnosed lymphosarcoma of the lungs at the age of thirty.

The author is the artist's younger brother who translated the letters in Japanese, leaving the English letters as written. He never knew his older brother, the work being a sort of homage to a person known only through the letters and art they left behind. He thoughtfully includes their father's very old-fashioned and stern missives to his wife and artist-son that reveal a very strong possible motive for the older brother's rebellion. A few reproductions of Miyazaki's prints and drawings are included. The author mostly lets his brother's words and images speak for themselves. What emerges is a somewhat sad portrait of an idealistic dreamer who latched onto the Marxism being offered by Stalin's propaganda machine to make sense of his world. Many intellectuals, the philosopher Wittgenstein among them, did the same in the face of depression era conditions. What remains is whatever artistic or creative work they produced, which can transcend whatever theory that might lay behind it, if it is good. Miyazaki's does and is.

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