Karhu printed these invitations for his shows at the Tolman Collection, the Tokyo gallery which had long represented him and his work. These were done in large numbers, about 800, in the late 1970's and early 1980's, yet were very rare to have been kept or seen on the secondary market. We've been fortunate to have carried a few of these invitation prints from different exhibitions, and this one has the interesting feature of of showing a carving knife and brush in the image, central tools of the woodblock printers trade. This particular print reads "ue mino washi," An Eagle Doesn't Look [Up] Where There is Nothing," a very Zen-like saying. This image is finely framed and is in good condition. Inside mat Image Size: H.6.5 x W.24", Frame Size: H.9.5 x W.27.375".
Clifton Karhu was born in Duluth, Minnesota in 1927. He passed away on March 24, 2007 in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, at the age of 79. His early experience in Japan was as an American soldier, stationed at Sasebo from 1946 to 1948; then later as a missionary for the Lutheran Church from 1952 to 1958. In between, back home in the U.S., he attended the Minneapolis School of Art from 1950 to 1952.
His home had long been Japan, specifically Kyoto, where he lived since 1963. After leaving missionary work and returning to the arts in 1958, he painted and sketched while living in Gifu Prefecture and had his first exhibition there in 1961. Woodblock printing has been his mainstay since moving to Kyoto, where he has built a strong reputation in the Japanese art community. He has also exhibited widely throughout Japan, the U.S. and Europe. He enjoys somewhat of a celebrity status in Kyoto, where he often described as “more Japanese than a Japanese,” often seen wearing kimono and living the life of a traditional Japanese artist. Inspiration for his works often come from his immediate surroundings, showing local architecture and landscapes; old houses, streets, temples, and the like. Considerable biographical and exhibit information is available on the web and a recent retrospective of his work, “Karhu @ 77: A Tribute" was published by Norman Tolman of the Tolman Collection in Tokyo, who had long been a leading representative of Karhu’s work in Japan.
His recent passing on March 24, 2007 was a great loss to the Japanese print world. A link to an obituary in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune in his birth state of Minnesota can be found here: http://www.startribune.com/466/story/1083623.html