Monday, October 3, 2016

Japanese Ladies

Some of you may be familiar with my Fair Use blog.  Over my many years of collecting old photographs, I've also ended up with more than a few non photographic bits of ephemera.  I had wanted to post them somewhere, but there weren't really enough examples to justify a separate blog.  As it so happens, I had also down loaded a fairly large number of images, from the internet, that I found fascinating.  In the end, I solved the growing problem of having too many things stored on my hard drive, and the whole what to do with the non photographic stuff by combining them on

This afternoon, I ran across a collection of paintings and one drawing by Estelle Peck Ishigo.  Since I made the decision that I didn't want to spend a lot of time typing up biographical information on the artists and photographers posted to Fair Use, and since I have this photo that is somewhat related, I'll do it here.

Estelle Peck was born in 1899 in Oakland, California.  Her mother, Bertha Apfels was an opera singer.  I wasn't able to find much about her, other than that she may have been German born, and that her career was limited, mostly, to the California stage.  Estelle's father was Bradford Peck, a portrait and landscape painter.  He wasn't a major American artist, but his work occasionally comes up for auction, and he is collected.  He was born in 1845 in New York and died in Los Angeles in 1921.  As a child, Estelle showed promise in both music and art.  She went to the Otis Art Institute.  In 1929, she met Arthur Shigeharu Ishigo, and aspiring actor who had a job at Paramount.  In 1929, inter racial marriage was illegal in California, so the young couple eloped to Mexico.  According to Wikipedia, she was disowned by her family.  After Pearl Harbor, her husband was arrested for no other crime than being of Japanese ancestry, and even though Estelle was exempt from being interred, she chose to accompany Arthur to the Heart Mountain Relocation  Camp at Heart Mountain, Wyoming.  While there, she made paintings and drawing of her life at the camp.  After the war, she and Arthur returned to Los Angeles, where they worked for a fish canary.  Arthur died in 1957.  In 1972, Estelle published a book of her drawings.  She died in poverty, in 1990, just months before a documentary about her life and art was released.  Days of Waiting won the 1991 Academy Award for best documentary short subject.

Anyway, because the one woman in this snapshot appears to be wearing a kimono, I'm fairly certain they are Japanese.  Because I found it at an antique store in Los Angeles, I'd bet that it was taken in the United States.  If I'm right about all that, then it's almost certain these four ladies were sent to a relocation camp, and it's possible that they may have ended up at Heart Mountain, and if so, they probably met Estelle Peck Ishigo.

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