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Virtual Asian-American Art Museum Project

Alexei Taylor, Author

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Shimomura and Pop Culture

Roger, with the recent paintings that you’ve done integrating figures such as Hello Kitty (American Hello Kitty, 2010) or Dick Tracy to create Roger Tracy (fig. 15), one thinks a great deal about popular visual culture, which I know is something you’ve also dabbled in as a collector of objects. Could you speak a little bit about the relationship of those two activities—your role as collector of tchotchkes and other revealing cultural artifacts and then your role as a painter who enshrines popular imagery in other contexts or through other means?
Dick Tracy, Captain Marvel, those characters were part of my childhood, and I loved them all. Sometimes people mistake my usage of them as painting the enemy. But it really comes out of visual reverence for them. My antique toy collection was highlighted by comic-book characters. It was all the better if the antique toy was Popeye and not just a generic sailor.
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