I swear: That fish I caught was, um, 75 pounds!
It’s easy to embellish the facts when you’re telling a story, as anyone who has heard a good, old-fashioned fish tale can attest. In the mid-19th century, Japanese fishermen came up with a solution. They started practicing gyotaku, or “fish rubbing,” which results in a print or painting that is a mirror image of the actual fish.
Fresno artist Julia Tanigoshi Tinker, an enthusiastic fisherwoman in her own right, has fallen in love with gyotaku. In a new solo exhibition at Chris Sorensen Studio, she features 20 paintings of fish and crustaceans that she caught in local lakes and as captain of her own boat in southern Alaska.
The show is part of ArtHop, the monthly open house of studios and galleries in the downtown and Tower District neighborhoods. Most venues are open 5-8 p.m.
The practice of gyotaku started as a way for fishermen to document their catches, and it transitioned into a traditional art form.
“When a gyotaku is made of the actual fish that is caught, there can be no exaggeration or stretching of the truth,” Tinker says.
Eventually gyotaku transitioned into a traditional art form.
Tinker taught herself by studying and practice, she says. She places sumi ink directly on the fish and then uses rice paper to make a mirror-image print. Traditionally, the fish is left black and white, but she uses watercolors to make the fish look like when it was alive.
Tinker, who is half-Japanese, signs each original with her “hanko” or “chop” of her family name, Tanigoshi, in Japanese kanji. Because the sumi ink is nontoxic, she cleans the fish, fillets it, and eats it.
“In this traditional Japanese art form, no part of the fish is wasted,” she says.
She keeps a boat at Millerton Lake. She enjoys fishing Pine Flat Lake, Shaver Lake, Huntington Lake, Wishon Reservoir, and McClure and McSwain lakes near Merced.
Her favorite fish to catch? The king salmon in Alaska and the rainbow trout locally. Her favorite to eat is halibut.
As for her own version of a “fish tale,” let’s just say that her method of gyotaku isn’t quite perfected.
“I have yet to figure out where to get rice paper big enough to print a 60-pound halibut,” she says.
Don’t worry: We believe you.
Also this month at Sorensen: “Artists of the Studio 2015” includes paintings, sculpture, fiber arts, drawings and assemblage from more than 40 of the sprawling studio’s artists.
Details: Chris Sorensen Studio, 2223 S. Van Ness Ave. , (559) 237-4934.
Other ArtHop picksGallery 25 Fig Tree Gallery Tower District Records