Dennis Reed

Dennis is a curator, collector, artist, and writer who is best known for rediscovering Japanese American art photographers whose works were, to a large extent, lost in the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans at the onset of World War II. He has curated over 50 exhibitions, large and small, for such institutions as the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Huntington, the Oakland Museum, the Corcoran Gallery, the Chinese Historical Society of America (San Francisco), the California Museum of Photography, and the Japanese American National Museum. He has written for Stanford University, Oxford University, UCLA, and UC Riverside. Among his publications are, Pictorialism in California: Photography, 1900-1940, for the Getty Museum and The Huntington, Japanese Photography in America, 1920-1940, for the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center, and Making Waves: Japanese American Photography, 1920-1940 for the Japanese American National Museum. He is the retired Dean of Arts at Los Angeles Valley College and the former Chair of the Photographic Arts Council at LACMA.

Updated September 2022

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Two Worlds: The Life and Photography of Wakaji Matsumoto

Part 2—Wakaji’s Photography

Read Part 1 >> While Tei managed the farm, Wakaji pursued his gifts. He first studied photography through a correspondence course. According to family legend, he moved to San Diego for a period to study photography in more depth. He may have been a student of Masashi Shimotsusa, a photographer who studied in London and Paris before opening a studio in San Diego in 1919, and later a photography school.1 Wakaji may have learned how to make panoramas from Shimotsusa, who was accomplished in the technique (Fig. 3). Whatever his exact path may have been, by 1922, Wakaji was an active…

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Two Worlds: The Life and Photography of Wakaji Matsumoto

Part 1—Wakaji’s Beginnings

Wakaji Matsumoto was like many of the young men, mostly teenagers, who came by transport ships from Japan to Hawai‘i, and then on to the western shores of Canada and the United States. He was seventeen when he first arrived in Vancouver in 1906, before making his way to Los Angeles by train to reunite with his father, whom he hardly knew. When Wakaji was a toddler, he was left with relatives in Japan while his father and mother, Wakamatsu and Haru, immigrated to Hawai‘i prior to 1892. Though Wakamatsu was primarily a fisherman by trade, he had also farmed a small plot adjacent …

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