Tuesday, August 14 , 2018, 11:04 pm | Fair 72º


‘East Meets West’ Exhibit Opens with Preview Party at Santa Ynez Valley Historical Museum

Collectors exhibit tells story of Japanese kimono tradition and was provided by museum board member Steve Graves and wife Kathleen


An exceptional and never-seen-before exhibition opened on a warm and breezy Sunday afternoon at the Santa Ynez Valley Historical Museum. The “East Meets West: A Collectors’ Choice” exhibit tells the story of the Japanese kimono tradition from its insular Japanese culture to its integration with the West during the mid-19th and early 20th centuries.

The unique exhibit in two museum galleries has been made possible by board member Steve Graves and his wife, Kathleen, who moved to the Santa Ynez Valley 10 years ago. The couple have been collecting for more than 25 years.

The event included private tours of the galleries narrated by the collectors. The rare display of exquisite works of art in textiles included both Samurai and Japanese kimonos whose workmanship, detail and design will never be replicated. The exhibit was presented by the Costume Council.

The preview party featured a late afternoon snack of fresh sushi, authentic Japanese appetizers, sake, beer and wine, plus an authentic performance by Japanese taiko drum group Togen Daiko.

“It is the pattern on the surface of the kimono, rather than the cut of the garment, that is most significant,” Kathleen Graves said. “The emphasis on the surface pattern is in stark contrast to Western fashion where the cut of the garment signifies trends, status and wealth.

From left, Bill Reynolds, board member Kristin Reynolds and Karen Voorhis. (Rochelle Rose / Noozhawk photo)
From left, Bill Reynolds, board member Kristin Reynolds and Karen Voorhis. (Rochelle Rose / Noozhawk photo)

“With the kimono, social status, personal identity and cultural meanings are expressed through color and decoration. The choice of obi, the broad sash worn around the waist of a kimono, and accessories, such as combs and pins worn in the hair, are also important.

“Only Japan’s elite regularly wore the luxurious kimono. Most people would have only donned these beautiful silk garments on special occasions and were sometimes forbidden to do so all together.”

Steve Graves added, “This is a stunning exhibit and as good as any in the world. I am so proud of this museum.”

The special collection of kimono and obi illustrates the specialized skill used in the dyeing process. The method known as shibori, or tie-dyeing, completely unique to Japan, involves the binding, stitching, folding or clamping of the cloth before immersion in the dye.

In addition to the exquisite palettes on display, guests saw several different embroidery techniques used to create patterns and elements such as flowers and leaves. Most stitches are made from floss (untwisted) silk, but occasionally metallic thread also is used to dazzling effect in Japanese embroidery.

The Santa Ynez Valley Historical Museum and the Parks-Janeway Carriage House celebrate the rich history of the Santa Ynez Valley, its pioneering settlers and the five early townships that formed the foundation of this unique region. Through its collection, exhibits and educational programs, the museum honors the valley’s past for the enjoyment of generations to come.

Click here for more information about the Santa Ynez Valley Historical Museum & Parks-Janeway Carriage House. Click here to become a member.

Noozhawk contributing writer Rochelle Rose can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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