Section 1 (Poston watercolors)

Tokutaro 'Kakunen' Tsuruoka was confined along with his family to Poston Camp III, part of the Colorado River Relocation Center in Arizona and one of the ten camps to which Japanese-Americans were forcibly relocated during the Second World War. Commonly called the Poston Internment Camp, it was comprised of three separate camps (called Units) approximately three miles from each other, which the internees aptly renamed Roasten, Toastin, and Dustin. A single fence enclosed the entire complex, but the location was so remote it was deemed unnecessary to build the ubiquitous guard towers that loomed over the other camps. During his time at Poston III, Kakunen's artistic production differed dramatically from the decorative bird and flower paintings and Japanesque landscapes of his earlier years. He made few images of the buildings in the camp itself, preferring to go out into the foothills to paint what natural beauty he could find in the barren landscape. The vistas are consistent but for the ever-changing light and darkness of the sky, and most feature at least one gnarled mesquite tree (one wonders if he literally painted the same specimen, over and over again). Viewed together, the twisting mesquite, struggling in the unforgiving elements, suggests a profound loneliness and despair.


Scholten Japanese Art is open Monday - Friday, and some Saturdays by appointment only

Contact Katherine Martin at
(212) 585-0474 or email
to schedule a visit between 11am and 4pm preferably for no more than two individuals at a time.
Visitors are asked to wear face masks and practice social distancing at their discretion.

site last updated
September 22, 2022

Scholten Japanese Art
145 West 58th Street, suite 6D
New York, New York 10019
ph: (212) 585-0474
fx: (212) 585-0475