Monday, March 17, 2008

A Buffalo-Japan Connection

I just started reading Ian Buruma's Inventing Modern Japan: From Empire to Economic Miracle 1853-1964 (2003), and I noticed a couple of Buffalo connections to a key event in Japanese history (we who live in the 2nd and 3rd tier cities are always looking for ways to connect our communities to grand historical narratives). The big connection is that Buffalonian Millard Fillmore was the president who sent Commodore Matthew Perry to open up Japan to trade in 1853. (Fillmore is a current Buffalonian, he is buried here). Also, Commodore Perry was the younger brother of Oliver Hazard Perry, "The Hero of Lake Erie" from the war of 1812. There is a statue of Perry in the park at the end of my street (see below).

That's Charles Demuth's My Egypt (1927) standing in for Buffalo in the above image pairing. I don't think he ever did any work in Buffalo but he might as well have, his depictions of grain elevators and water towers, feel familiar. The Hiroshige on the right is from the One Hundred Views of Edo (1857) series.

1 comment:

Eden said...

Couldn't you get any closer to the statue? Ya can't see nuthing!