UC Riverside ARTSblock Receives Nearly $200,000 Gift of Art

Collectors Ernest and Elaine Nagamatsu donate 25 works of art dating from 1907 to 2014

Ernest and Elaine Nagamatsu

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (www.ucr.edu) – The Jack and Marilyn Sweeney Art Gallery and the California Museum of Photography (CMP) at the University of California, Riverside’s ARTSblock, will receive 25 works of art from the Los Angeles-based philanthropist, race-car enthusiast, and retired dentist Ernest T. Nagamatsu, and his wife Elaine. The pieces date from 1907 to 2014, with a majority of the works dating back to the 1960s and ‘70s, and in total are valued at nearly $200,000.

The gift includes works by modern artists such as Matsumi “Mike” Kanemitsu, Sister Corita Kent, Jannis Kounellis, Claes Oldenburg, Robert Rauschenberg, and Andy Warhol, as well as contemporary artists Jonathan Borofsky, Jeff Colson, and the Date Farmers. It builds on a previous gift of 13 works donated by the couple in 2015, valued at nearly $50,000, which included photographs by Ansel Adams, Hiromu Kira, and Man Ray – as well as works by Oldenburg, Rauschenberg, and John Millei – some of which are currently on display as part of the “Rotation 2015: Recent Acquisitions,” exhibition at the CMP.

“We are deeply honored to be chosen as the new home for part of the Nagamatsus’ collection of modern art, amassed over a lifetime of passionate collecting,” said Tyler Stallings, interim executive director of ARTSblock. The couple’s collaboration with ARTSblock dates to early 2015 with their significant support of the exhibition “Interrogating Manzanar: Photography, Justice, and the Japanese American Internment.”

“The CMP is grateful for our continued collaboration with Dr. and Mrs. Nagamatsu, and for their incredibly generous support of our programs and collections,” said Joanna Szupinska-Myers, curator of exhibitions at CMP.

More about Ernest T. Nagamatsu

Dr. Nagamatsu built his dental practice in Los Angeles after growing up the son of vegetable farmers in Orange County. He attended East Los Angeles College, and graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in dentistry. “I am so grateful to my parents for enabling me to pursue the profession of dentistry,” Dr. Nagamatsu said. “Their sacrifices were so clear to me when I went to the USC registrar’s office to pay my term tuition, my pockets filled with rolls of cash from our family’s small vegetable stand.”

Collectors Ernest and Elaine Nagamatsu donate 25 works of art dating from 1907 to 2014.

Collectors Ernest and Elaine Nagamatsu donate 25 works of art dating from 1907 to 2014.

Concurrent with his dental studies, Dr. Nagamatsu’s interest in art led him to enroll in life drawing and medical illustration classes at the University of California, Los Angeles, and painting and ceramics courses at Otis College of Art and Design. Drawing on his artistic skill and medical knowledge, he went on to produce illustrations for a medical textbook, but ultimately was drawn more to the world of modern art. He cites Kanemitsu, teaching at Otis at the time, as an early mentor and friend. “We spent hours late into the night talking about art, and I was inspired by his tenacity to overcome discrimination,” he said, citing their shared Japanese-American heritage.

Dr. Nagamatsu’s introduction to the Pop Art movement came on meeting Sidney Felsen, one of three partners of Gemini G.E.L. – an artists’ workshop and publisher of limited-edition prints and sculptures. Dr. Nagamatsu thanks Felsen for the introduction to visit Gemini artists including Ronald Davis, David Hockney, Jasper Johns, Isamu Noguchi, and Frank Stella. “Sidney referred Gemini artists to me for dental treatments,” Dr. Nagamatsu explains, arranging “trades” of dental work for artworks by Kounellis, Nauman, Oldenburg, and Rauschenberg.

“Just as UC Riverside reflects California’s diverse culture,” said Milagros Peña, dean of UCR’s College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, “this phenomenal gift to ARTSblock reflects an important moment in the history of American modern art and also the contributions that Southern California artists have made to this history.”

Visitor Information and Press Inquiries

UCR ARTSblock is located at 3824 and 3834 Main St., Riverside, Calif., and includes three venues: California Museum of Photography, Barbara and Art Culver Center of the Arts, and the Jack and Marilyn Sweeney Art Gallery, which are open Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m., plus 6-9 p.m. for First Thursday ArtWalks. Admission is $3, which includes entry to all three venues, and is free during First Thursday ArtWalks. For film screenings, the Culver Center opens 30 minutes prior to the start time. www.artsblock.ucr.edu.

Media Contact

Tel: (951) 827-5893
E-mail: mojgan.sherkat@ucr.edu
Twitter: mojgansherkat

Additional Contacts

Tyler Stallings
Tel: (951) 827-5191
E-mail: tyler.stallings@ucr.edu

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